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Summer means sunset at 8 p.m. and bonfires on the beach. How can you make this summer the best one ever? Check out these 20 tips.

1) Watch the London Olympics. See if the Londoners can beat the wow-factor of the Beijing drummers. Watch Michael Phelps swim in seven events. Cheer on Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, the women’s beach volleyball champions. Hope that 45-year-old Dara Torres gets to make Olympic history. Nastia Liukin and Kohei Uchimura will dazzle on the gymnastics floor. Usain Bolt will run so fast you won’t even notice. If you don’t get to visit the sustainably redeveloped city, watch on TV. The Who, Duran Duran, and Paul McCartney are set to perform. 

2) Olympics not enough? Pick up a sport. The Euro Cup and the NBA finals should inspire you to take up sports yourself. Grab a basketball or a soccer ball, or even try your hand at rowing in your park’s pond.

3) (B)eat your summer food eating records. Dig into your classic snow cones, gazpacho chilled Spanish soup, grilled meats, corn on the cob, pickles, green salads, watermelons, strawberries, blackberries, cherries, funnel cake, and cheese fries; drink your lemonade and beers. Summer 2012 also has novel food trends you should try: taking advantage of the open trade agreement signed by the U.S. and South Korea last year, chefs went wild over South Korean food at this year’s Fancy Food Show. Or just try Burger King’s bacon ice cream.

4) Try out the three hottest workout trends, which are perfect for summer. Many of the newest workouts don’t require complex, expensive equipment or staying indoors. Pylometrics, or using explosive, fast-act movements to improve strength and speed, is on the rise. “Naked” fitness such as barefoot running and bodyweight training is easy to do on the beach. Zumba, the Colombian dance fitness program, combines hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, and even Bollywood and belly dance moves; all you need is a boombox and your swinging hips. Beach volleyball, frisbee, and swimming are other summer favorites.


5) Stop and smell the summer flowers. Climb a tree. Stop and smell the bird of paradise, chrysanthemums, carnations, dahlias, hydrangeas, jasmine, lavender, marigolds, orchids, peonies, sunflowers, and more. Visit your local botanical garden for the seasonal flower show, and climb all the trees.

6) Wear summer 2012 fashion trends - they’re actually good. Red, yellow, gold, neons, macaroon pastels. Dramatic maxi and mini dresses, huge hats, lace, sporty couture, and flapper dresses. Paisley, floral, tribal prints. Goodbye mid-weather jackets, hello sheer blouses!

7) Take advantage of the season change and change your hair. Elegant ponytails, braided updos, and short cuts are all in. It’s now or never.

8) Go globetrotting. It’s cheaper than ever and full of adventure. With the global economy in shambles, many places are much cheaper for travel. Plus, this summer offers unique adventures.

Greece. Greece’s economy is in deep trouble, but this makes travel much cheaper. Hotel prices have fallen while the capital city has invested in a huge subway project that makes transportation easier. Japan. With the devastating earthquake and nuclear meltdown in 2011, Japan saw little tourism that drove rates down. Go while it’s cheap for the food and mostly free attractions. Tunisia. Post-Arab Spring, this country seems to have settled down and is begging for tourists. Belize. Less crowded than its neighbors Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica, this English-speaking nation is so underrated. Mayan ruins and the world's second-largest barrier reef are only two attractions. It’s also affordable -- in 2011, the dollar appreciated 1.3% against Belize’s currency. Snag the deal before December 2012, when the Mayan Calendar 2012 apocalypse will probably lead to a spike in festivals and sporting events that will increase hotel prices and crowds. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The Van Gogh Museum just made its newest addition in five years. It is also the last chance for foreigners to visit the famous Dutch “coffeehouses” that openly sell cannabis, as the Dutch government recently banned visitors without special passes from these marijuana attractions. They’ve only just begun enforcing the law, which won’t be fully enforced until 2013 -- so those interested may still be able to squeeze in. Warsaw and other cities in Poland. With a growing GDP, tourist economy, and post-Euro Cup drop in premiums, Poland is the place to be this summer. It’s full of history and culture often unexplored by Westerners.  Taipei, Taiwan. Last summer, Taiwan allowed the first mainland Chinese tourists into the country, relaxing tension between the two countries and opening up Taiwanese tourism. Even though it’s humid and wet during the summer, you can still enjoy the beaches, hot springs, and mountain island attractions as well as the capital’s cosmopolitan scene.

9) Watch TV. Vampire show True Blood’s (HBO) fifth and final season began on June 10. Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, The West Wing) dramatizes the media world in his new show, The Newsroom (June 24, HBO), about a cable producer and his new executive producer who navigate through the corporate, commercial, and interpersonal challenges of the newsroom. To whet your appetite for the London Olympics 2012, look out for Twenty Twelve (BBC America) - a mockumentary about the London Olympics organizing team. Breaking Bad’s final season begins on AMC on July 15. 

10) Crash reality-TV baby showers. Kourtney Kardashian and Snooki are expecting to bring a girl and a boy, respectively, to our earth. 

11) See Mike Tyson on Broadway. Mike Tyson will star in a one-man show about his own life, directed by Spike Lee on Broadway from July 31-Aug. 5. The former Heavyweight champ said about the show:

“It’s about me being on stage and being pretty raw.  Not necessarily raw in a vulgar sense … I’m just naked and vulnerable, and I’m just telling you who I am and where I’m from and how this happened and how I lose all this damn money and how I had all these children and how I go to prison and, you know, you know what happened guys, right?”

Bonus: remember cheerleading movie Bring it On? It’s been set to music and lyrics and will start its run July 12.

12) Make the movie box office explode. The final Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises; the darker, more emotional take on Spiderman The Amazing Spider-Man; the epic Avengers and mythological Prometheus all knock last summer’s action-adventure movies out of the park. The star-studded Rock of Ages, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and Family Guy producer’s first cinematic foray in Ted are also bound to entertain. Channing Tatum is a male stripper in Magic Mike. Savages features Blake Lively in a Mexican drug war. To provide a high-brow cultural escape in a mainstream way, Woody Allen has made To Rome With Love with Jesse Eisenberg and Ellen Page. So smart, so wanderlustful. 

13) Jam to this summer’s hot tunes. Fiona Apple is back with a killer album, The Idler Wheel. Justin Bieber grows up with Believe, and Maroon 5’s Overexposed brings more Moves-Like-Jagger sound to the radio. In rap/hip-hop/r&b world, 50 Cent, Flo Rida, Chris Brown, and Brother Ali will all release albums. 

14) Go to a summer music festival. The indie-fest Pitchfork (July 13-15 in Chicago, Ill.) will host Vampire Weekend and Feist indie-fest. Lollapalooza (Aug. 3-5 in Chicago, Ill.) has a stacked lineup, including Red Hot Chili Peppers, Florence + the Machine, Passion Pit, and Kaskade.  New York’s Electric Zoo festival (Sept. 2-4) will have Tiesto, David Guetta, Skrillex, Afrojack, and more. 

15) Eat out - literally. Summer weather means picnics, barbecues, vineyard visits, rooftop parties, and berry picking. 

16) Keep up with this summer’s heated political season. With the ongoing Egypt presidential election, the July Mexican presidential election, and the U.S. presidential election heating up this summer, summer 2012 will see some of the most exciting politics.

17) Find one of this summer’s quality Hollywood singles. Johnny Depp, Charlize Theron, Leighton Meester, Shia LeBoeuf, Jake Gyllenhaal, Cameron Diaz, Sandra Bullock, and Taylor Lautner are all single. Too bad Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth are off the market. 

18) Beach it up. 

19) Live it up.

20) Savor it up. It’s the last one. After the 2012 apocalypse expected this December, summers will no longer be. They say the last chocolate, kiss, and interviewee are the best, so this summer will also be the best we’ve ever had.