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52 Cheap or Free Summer Activities

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I wanted this summer to be different. Specifically to make memories with the kids without breaking the bank. When I found this list of 52 family-friendly free or cheap summer activities, I knew I'd found the answer! These may not cost you much, but they're guaranteed to leave LOTS of room for imagination and memory-making! #familytime #summertime #cheapactivities #kidfriendly

I like to call Joseph and I the “cheap and freebie experts” when it comes to finding things to do.

We didn’t have a ton of money to throw around while we were dating, and when we mentored a couple of siblings at a local children’s home a few summers ago, we had to find equally as frugal options because we now had four people to pay for instead of just two. Even now, we hate paying more than we absolutely have to for anything entertainment-related!

With Summer quickly approaching, I thought it would be fun to compile a list of my favorite cheap or free Summer activities for couples, families, and kids. It’s the perfect way to spend the long days of Summer to it’s fullest, without getting bored or spending a whole lot of cash!

The Great Outdoors

1. Hike a Trail — Joseph and both love to hike, and one of the only disappointments about Florida is that there are absolutely no mountains! Visit a local bookstore for trail maps or check Trails.com for walking paths and hiking trails near you.

2. Take an Evening Stroll — When you’re stuck inside all day, it’s always nice to get out and take a short walk when it get’s cooler. Summer evenings are some of my favorites, although you do have to watch out for the mosquitos!

3. Go for a Bike Ride — Check local parks to see if you have a paved trail nearby and take the whole family on a cycle-related outing. Make a day of it with packed lunches and lots of water.

4. Try GeocachingGeocaching is an outdoor treasure hunt where you use GPS coordinates to find hidden containers. I haven’t personally done this yet, but I know families who are absolutely addicted to it!

National Park Service | Cheap or Free Summer Activities

5. Visit a National Park — Mark August 25th on your calendar, because it’s the National Park Service’s birthday, and they’re celebrated by giving everyone a FREE pass! Head over here to find a park near you.

6. Take a Trip to the Beach — Depending on where you live, you might have a beach nearby to relax with a good book while the kids build a sand castle. Read How to Plan the Perfect Beach Day before you head out, and don’t forget the sunscreen!

7. Go Strawberry or Blueberry Picking — Some of my favorite fruits are in season during the Summer, and U-Pick farms are fun to stop by and pick a few buckets so you can make taste treats at home. Some will even have petting zoos or other activities.

8. Plan a Picnic — Make sandwiches {or take hot dogs and hamburgers to grill}, and have a family picnic at a local park. Download this Free Summer BBQ Checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything important.

9. Fly a Kite — Head to an open field or beach and have fun with a high-flying kite. Don’t own one? This one has great reviews on Amazon.

In the Backyard

10. Pitch a Tent — Give your kiddos a fun camping experience in the safety of their own backyard. Build a campfire {if allowed!}, or use a small grill, and roast s’mores while singing songs and telling stories.

11. Play in a Creek — I loved the creek behind my grandma’s house, and my cousins and I would spend hours playing together, hopping from rock to rock. Find a creek nearby if you don’t have one {make sure it’s not private property!}, and let the kids have fun while you relax with a good book.

12. Make Art with Sidewalk Chalk — Encourage your budding artist to create their own masterpieces on the sidewalk, stoop, or driveway outside your house. Maybe even join in a game of hopscotch with them!

13. Plant an Herb Garden — Have you always wanted to try growing your own herbs? Summer is a great time to start, and will add extra flavor to your meals. Pinterest is full of tools, tips, and tutorials to guide you every step of the way.

14. Plant Flowers — Pick up some annuals or perennials, and find a spot outdoors that needs a burst of color. You can also add flowers to a container to keep inside, or display on a front porch or patio. These DIY Colander Planters are super cute!

Scavenger Hunt | Free Summer Activities

15. Create a Scavenger Hunt — Keep the kids busy outdoors with a sheet of specific items to find. Moritz Fine Designs offers 2 FREE printable options — one for kids that can’t read just yet, and ones that can.

16. Get Soaked — Cool off in the backyard with water balloons and sprinklers, or even a garden hose. You can pick up water balloons at the dollar store — just be careful it doesn’t get too rough!

17. Make Your Own Bubbles — It super easy to whip up your own bubble solution for kids to play and blow bubbles in the backyard. This blogger also has a tutorial to make your own wands.

18. Have a Yard Sale — Gather unwanted items and host a weekend yard sale to make extra cash. Let kids join in on the fun by setting up their own lemonade or cookie stand for customers. Oh, and don’t forget these 12 Tips and Tricks to make your sale successful.

Community Fun

19. Attend Vacation Bible School – Check around with any church, and you can probably guarantee they offer a week of free VBS. Not only is a structured event full of activities for your child, you’ll get a few hours to yourself!

20. Visit a “Fest” – State and County Fairs can sometimes come with a hefty ticket price. Look for a local field days event or “fest”, and enjoy the fun without spending a whole lot in entrance fees. Just be careful about overpriced food and store venders inside.

21. Take a Trip to the Library — Encourage reading by making the Library one of your go-to spots this Summer. Pair it with a reading challenge {Here’s one by Barnes and Noble} to keep little one’s brains just as active as their bodies.

22. Drive to a Farmer’s Market – Support your local farmers, and check out a couple of the markets in your hometown throughout the Summer. You really can’t beat some of the produce prices, especially if they have an abundant crop that year. We love buying local honey, pineapple and strawberries.

23. Watch a Parade — We always had fun at our local Diary Parade during the Summer {can you tell I lived in cow country?} Keep an ear out on your local news website and event calendar to see what activities are happening in your town.

24. Take a Dip in the Pool — If you don’t have a pool at home, head out to one in your community to cool off. Some require a small entrance fee, but can be loads of fun for the kiddos. Use Swimmer’s Guide to find one nearby.

25. Stop By a Splash Park — Another option to get wet is a local splash park. Some offer splash pads with sprinklers and fun contraptions that spray water when you least expect it!

26. Play in a Tournament — Love to play sports? Get a group of friends together for a day of volleyball, frisbee, flag football, or even basketball, and compete in a local tournament. If you can’t find one to join, there’s no rules against creating your own. You can set one up for the kiddos too.

27. Go to a Dollar Theater — Dollar theaters are the best way to see a movie on the cheap. These cinemas usually carry the latest films just a few weeks after they premiere at a regular box office, but cost much less so you can save more. You can also check out Regal’s Summer Movie Express for $1 movies all Summer long.

28. Nab a Daily Deal — Keep an eye out on Groupon and Living Social sites for deals and activities up to 80% off. You might be surprised at everything that’s offered in your own hometown!

29. Bowl for Free — Kids can bowl 2 games for FREE every day throughout the Summer. Visit KidsBowlFree.com to see what alleys are participating.

30. Attend a Build & Grow Clinic — Home Depot offers FREE Building Clinics where kids can practice building different projects. Check the schedule here.

31. Watch Fireworks — Fireworks aren’t just for the 4th of July anymore. If you have a minor league baseball team in town, they usually have a fireworks show after certain games. Save yourself some money and watch the beauty from a distance!

32. Take a Crafting ClassMichael’s Arts and Crafts offers classes for adults and kids featuring all sorts of different projects. Some are absolutely FREE, while others cost a minimal fee.

33. Volunteer — Take some time to give of yourself this Summer, and volunteer at a local food pantry, children’s home, or church ministry. Every little bit can make a difference!

34. Find the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie — Visit 4-5 bakeries or stores that have chocolate chip cookies available, then have your own taste-testing contest. Just buy ONE at each location and divide among all participants so no one gets sick.

All About Food

35. Get a FREE Slushie — July 11th is FREE Slurpee Day at all 7-11’s. Take your crew out for a tasty treat to help cool off during the heat of Summer!

36. Make Your Own Popsicles — There are hundreds of popsicle recipes on Pinterest — find a few you like and try making your own! Don’t forget to pick up a fun popsicle mold on Amazon first.

37. Make Homemade Lemonade — Stock up on lemons and have the kids help squeeze them into lemonade. This refreshing drink always taste so much better when made from scratch!

38. Make Homemade Ice Cream — If you have an ice cream maker, just a few ingredients can make deliciously sweet homemade ice cream. Experiment with different flavors until you land on a perfect recipe!

Busy at Home

39. Put Together a Puzzle — One of my favorite things to do when I’m visiting my parents is to put a puzzle together with my mom while watching a movie or HGTV. It keeps both the brain and hands busy, and you can get the kids involved depending on age.

40. Learn a New Skill — Summer is a great time to learn something new, whether it’s gardening, knitting, or discovering the budding artist inside. Read 8 Creative Skills You Can Learn in a Weekend for even more ideas (and FREE eBooks to get you started!).

redbox

41. Rent a Redbox Movie — Make it a movie night or weekend flick with Redbox. It’s much cheaper than going out to the movies, especially when you find a promo code to use. Just search Redbox Promo Code using Google (or use Honey!).

42. Start a New TV Series — Likewise, use Hulu or Netflix to start a new series during the Summer, and catch up on all seasons just in time for the Fall premiere. Joseph and I have done this the last few Summers, and have found some of our favorite shows that way!

43. Do a Science Experiment — Help your kids learn about the great world of science by trying their own experiment. This page has links to a ton of fun projects!

44. Schedule a Family Game Night — Dust off some of the board games in your closet and play a few rounds as a family. My favorites for the younger crowd are Uno and Sorry. For those a little bit older, Ticket to Ride or games like it are fun!

45. Make Homemade Playdough — You probably have all the ingredients for Homemade Playdough right in your pantry. Whip some up for hours of squishy fun!

46. Work Through LWSL’s Summer Series — LivingWellSpendingLess.com did a Summer Fun with Kids series last year where 12 bloggers each shared 12 different craft projects to keep you busy this season.

47. Sort Through Clothes — Summer is a great time to clean out your closet and donate or toss what you don’t wear anymore. Don’t hang onto anything that flatters “just because”, and keep an eye out for sales to replace or add to your wardrobe.

48. Paint Your Nails — Create your own spa day at home by giving pedicures. Soak in a fuzzy foot bath, then trim cuticles, file nails, and paint with a pretty color.

49. Try Origami — Grab a how-to book and some pretty scrapbook paper, and master this ancient art of paper-crafting. Take it one step further and write notes to each other before folding into shapes!

50. Learn Family History — Summer is a great time to explore your family’s genealogy. Start with yourself, your parents, grandparents, and whatever else you know and work backward. Don’t forget to keep track of maiden names too! Rootsweb and FamilySearch are FREE resources to help, but if you want to go further, consider a subscription to Ancestry.com and American Ancestors.

51. Color a Picture — Coloring isn’t just for kids anymore! Print off pages for adults (here’s a big list), and pull out the kid’s coloring books for fun family time. Play some background music for hours of good relaxing fun!

52. Find a Penpal — In a world where technology reigns and no one has time to write letters anymore, a penpal can be a great way to connect via snail mail, and learn about a different state or country. Talk to friends who have relatives in a different location with kids around the same age to get started.

summer-kit

BONUS OPTION: Create Your Own Summer Vacation Survival Kit — For 20 activities that are already tested and ready to go, grab a copy of the Summer Vacation Survival Kit by Kitchen Stewardship to create a bin of fun in less than 30 minutes. It will keep your kiddos busy all Summer long!

Use this list brainstorm even more Summer activities, then leave your fun and frugal ideas in the comments below. Plus, you can print out this checklist that contains all the activities mentioned here so you can hang it on your fridge, and always have an idea when the kids claim there’s absolutely nothing to do!

Although……”nothing to do” actually sounds pretty good to me right now….

What are your favorite Summer activities?

I wanted this summer to be different. Specifically to make memories with the kids without breaking the bank. When I found this list of 52 family-friendly free or **cheap summer activities,** I knew I'd found the answer! These may not cost you much, but they're guaranteed to leave LOTS of room for imagination and memory-making! #familytime #summertime #cheapactivities #kidfriendly

Download Summer Activities Checklist

Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.

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5 Comments

  1. Great list and many wonderful ideas! Since I have a toddler, we focus on being outside as much as possible. He loves to ride a bike, so that is our current favorite thing to do outside 🙂 If only it gets warmer here already!!! 🙂

  2. Great list, Kalyn! I’d add with the library – participate in all the summer reading programs you can! In addition to B&N, Half Price Books and the library also offer programs for children. I loved these as a kid and can’t wait until my son is old enough to do them. This summer, we’re planning on visiting a new splash pad quite a bit and going for lots of walks. I’ll read, of course, and we’ll finish catching up on all our shows on Netflix so we can start a new one!

    1. Thanks, Kristen! That’s a great tip to participate in summer reading programs through the library too — I love encouraging kiddos to read!

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