Days are long in the summer and the desire to spend as much time as possible outdoors means dinners can be open for interpretation. Potlucks with friends in the park, a casual family night on the road or on the couch -- family dinners can be had in all sorts of unconventional locations. Here are a few options to make the most of the temperature and the company.

1. The Movies. Bring the clan to a summer blockbuster and make the outing a dinner and a movie in one. Bonus: the AC is usually excellent. Or have a movie showing at home and dine all together on the couch with popcorn as a side dish.

2. The Backyard. I would grill every meal if I could, including breakfast. A picnic table isn't required. Set a blanket on the grass. Or better yet, dine as you rock in a hammock.

3. The Beach. Go all out and build a bonfire with friends or bring a pizza and just enjoy the view. Portable canvas tables with cup holders help solve the problem of sand disturbing the peace.

4. In the Car. Taking a family drive in the evening can feel like a mini road trip. Explore a new neighborhood. See what's down that road you've always been meaning to take. Have an adventure and bring dinner along so no one gets cranky.

5. An Amusement Park. Maybe it's a water park (even better) or a traveling carnival that's in town for a few weeks. Indulge the kids by letting them actually get the corn dog, funnel cakes, etc., that they want, and indulge them further by eating it, too.

6. The Ball Park. The big leagues or the little leagues. Is there anything better than dinner while watching the great American pastime? Somehow the aura of a ballgame makes everything -- even a soggy pretzel -- taste good.

7. On a Boat. From a sailboat to a ferry ride to a canoe ... taking in the sunset and a meal on the water is truly one of life's summer pleasures.

8. In Bed. Kids stay up later, they eat more ice cream than normal ... it's the season to break the rules a bit. My kids love to have "picnics" in bed. We bring a blanket and spread it on top of the covers, and they feel the mischievous thrill of doing something they wouldn't normally be allowed to do.

Do you have a favorite place to eat dinner in the summer?


Image via itzafineday/Flickr