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Sure, we’d love to hibernate at the cottage all summer long, but for most on-the-go families nowadays, that just isn’t realistic. Although timing, work or extracurricular commitments might prevent extended stays at your out-of-town oasis (or maybe you simply don’t have one), there are still many ways to bring the beloved cottage lifestyle to your home this summer.

Here’s how to make your cottage dreams a reality from the comfort of your own home.

1. GO FOR ICE CREAM

(Not that we really need an excuse to go for ice cream.) There’s nothing like a family outing for frozen treats to help everyone cool down and relax. For a truly authentic experience, be sure to enjoy it outdoors!

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2. TAKE A HIKE

If a sweaty hike beneath the summer sun and the sweet smells of sunscreen and bug repellent don’t invoke cottage vibes, nothing will. Pack lunch for the whole family and stop for a picnic along the way.

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3. SHOP LOCALLY

We don’t mean all the time. But summer weekends, even in the city, often feature a ton of local options when it comes to antique, flea, craft and farmers’ markets. Look up what’s happening near you and bring along the family for a down-to-earth shopping experience.

4. GET GRILLING

You’ve probably already fired up the grill this season, but now it’s time to kick it up a notch. That means throwing side dishes on the ‘cue along with the meat (think corn on the cob, baked potatoes and grilled, seasoned peppers), lighting the Citronella candles and eating outside at dusk.

5. UNPLUG

Even if it’s just for a few hours! Being away at the cottage means forgetting about constant social media updates, responding instantly to texts and emails as well as spending hours in front of the TV. Encourage (or demand) that your family join you in being FREE of tech for awhile. You’ll all feel refreshed!

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6. MAKE SUMMER COCKTAILS

Or mocktails! The point is that fun, fruity drinks scream sunny, summer afternoons at the cottage. Grab an assortment of your favourite ingredients to mix together (like fresh berries, lemon wedges, juice, sparkling water and pop) and start creating. We love these simple sangria recipes using white and red wine or these mocktail versions of classic summertime drinks.

7. TAKE A DIP

You might not have access to a lakeside retreat or sandy shoreline, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a dip in the water. Scope out local pools (indoor or outdoor – who cares!) and make time to bring the whole family along for a fun swim.

8. HOST A BONFIRE

Is there anything more cottagey than summer nights with loved ones, sitting by a backyard fire? Invite friends and family to join you and be sure to make roasting marshmallows and/or hot dogs part of the festivities.

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9. BRING THE OUTSIDE IN

We’re not suggesting any major redecorating, but there are some simple ways to bring that cottage feel to your existing living space – at least throughout the summer months. For example, add a few colourful pillows to your living room couch (mismatched patterns will give off a classic cottage look) or buy a bouquet of flowers and distribute them in a few different vases throughout your home. Think rustic, fresh and bright.

10. OPEN THE WINDOWS

We get it, air conditioning rocks. But every now and then, it’s nice to have that breezy flow of air throughout the whole house. If daytime heat is a concern, open the windows overnight instead. You’d be surprised at how some fresh air can positively impact your mood (and your sleep)!

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11. SPEAKING OF NIGHTTIME..

Embrace it. Cottage life means enjoying the whole day to its fullest – and there’s no reason that can’t be done from your own home. Lay a blanket down in the backyard or pull up a seat on the balcony. Bring out a favourite snack or drink, watch the sunset and take in the evening’s natural beauty. (And do your best to mentally block out the sounds of cars driving by.)

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