Summer Activities for Kids – Free, Cheap, and Totally Awesome!

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Kids are SO excited for summer, for about a week. And then all you hear is “I’m bored” for the next two months. We’ve created this mega list of family-friendly summer activities that can be perfect for kids of all ages.

In this article you will find:

  • Free Summer Activities

  • Cheap Summer Activities

  • Slightly Pricey but TOTALLY Awesome Summer Activities

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Free Summer Activities

1. Go to a duck pond- Kids LOVE the duck pond. I don’t think it gets any less fun for them each time!

2. Visit a cool new park- There are so many undiscovered parks out there. Maybe make it a goal to try out a new park every week.

3. Go on a nature walk– Challenge your kids to find five different kind of leaves, a long stick, three rocks, etc. Make it a game.

4. Build something out of cardboard- Cardboard is like, the holy grail of free entertainment. Give them a box and let them color it. Now it’s a rocket ship, a train, a car, a fortress, anything!

5. Visit a nearby lake- If you have lakes nearby, they are great! It’s like a pretend beach vacation!

6. Have a picnic- Have the kids help you pack everything for a picnic, and head to a lake, park, or pond to go have a picnic. This insulated cooler bag comes in handy SO much during the summer, for picnics and any other outing!

7. Have a bonfire- This isn’t always possible, but if you have somewhere to have a bonfire it can be fun to cook hot dogs and make smores! We go up the canyon to the camping area.

8. Water balloon fight- I don’t think there’s anything your kids would love more than to pelt you with water balloons. Also, you will get just as much joy pelting your husband. And because filling water balloons is ridiculously time-consuming, check out this water balloon filling system!

9. Start a weekly tradition- Kids get so excited for routine. Pick something you do as a family every week. Maybe you go bowling, family board game night, work on a jigsaw puzzle, go to the movies, do a craft, do a science project, cook dinner or bake together, go out to dinner and try a new restaurant, or do volunteer work like walking dogs and the animal shelter.

10. Play awesome outdoor games- Make sure your kids get a chance to play all the fun games you did as a kid, like night games in a cul-de-sac, freeze tag, and my personal favorite, capture the flag.

11. Play awesome indoor games- Don’t forget about the indoor games either! Charades, just dance, and the best one… guess what’s in your mouth. Yes, it sounds awful, but it’s fun! Blindfold someone and make them taste some sort of food from the kitchen and see if they can guess what it is.

12. Start a hiking challenge- Challenge the family to do one a hike a week. You can try to get up faster each time, or you can try a new hike each time.

13. Cook together- While this isn’t always fun for mom, the kids have a blast. Pick a simple meal.

14. Build the ultimate blanket fort- That’s right. The ULTIMATE blanket fort. See how crazy your kids get.

15. Go to the library- The library always has fun things to do. There’s lots of storytelling, crafts, toys, and of course TONS of books to read.

16. Look for “free admission days”- At least once a summer, there are quite a few places who usually offer a free admission day such as zoos, aquariums, museums, and pools. The trick to not losing your mind on this day is to get there the second they open and be the first ones in!

17. Have a yard sale- Not only will this help you get rid of stuff you don’t need, but your kids will love helping. They will feel so grown up doing business. Often times, parents have their kids run a stand at the yard sale that has sodas, waters, popsicles, or cookies!

18. Set up a scavenger hunt- Scavenger hunts are the best! If you know your neighbors well… you need to do a team sandwich scavenger hunt. You go to a house and ask for one ingredient that goes on the sandwich (one piece of bread, a squirt of mayonnaise, etc.) and go to the next house, and on and on. Whichever team makes the full sandwich first wins!

19. Attend a kids workshop- A lot of places offer a free kids workshop, one of the most popular is Home Depot’s workshop, they get to build something and everything is provided!

20. Volunteer- Volunteering is a great thing to get kids started on young. They can volunteer at the animal shelter to walk dogs, or at a soup kitchen, clothing drive, etc.

21. Do a family 5k– Do a 5k run together to show your support for a meaningful cause.

22. Go to a farmers market- Farmers markets are fun, and you get FREE food!

23. Make a time capsule- Create a time capsule by having everyone in the family pick a sentimental item to put in the time capsule, and lock it away for the desired period of time, five years, ten years, etc.

24. Living room slumber party– Camp out in the living room. Rent a movie, make popcorn, and snuggle up.

25. Make a family bucket list- Have everyone come up with a few things they want to do as a family, somewhere they want to go, something they want to make, etc.

26. Go to a LEGO mini build- If you live near a LEGO store, they offer a LEGO mini build session where they give the kids a free set of legos that they get to build within the store and then take home.

27. Splashpad- Splash pads are the perfect way to let kids play in the water without making moms play in the water! Fun and simple.

28. Join a mom group on Facebook and set up play dates- There are thousands of mommy groups out there to join, and they’re often setting up play dates together. Just make sure you’re taking safety precautions first!

29. Let them decorate the driveway- Sidewalk chalk is the best because it washes away and you don’t have to any cleaning up after, other than dust off of the clothes! Here’s a cheap pack of sidewalk chalk that will last through the summer! 

30. Go for a bike ride- Bike rides are always fun. You can try out this bike seat, or this bike wagon if you have more than one little rider.

Cheap Summer Activities

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1. Camping- Camping is a traditional summertime activity, and you can make it as cheap or as expensive as possible. For super cheap camping, just set up your tents in the backyard! For the real camping experience, find an awesome spot in the mountains and get away from civilization for the week!

2. Visit a state park- There are lots to explore in state parks, and all you have to pay for is the entry fee, which is usually under ten bucks.

3. Try a new ice cream place- You can’t go wrong with ice cream in the summer, or snow cones! Yum.

4. Do a family project- Start building something together as a family, and work on it regularly throughout the summer.

5. Visit an animal farm- There’s nothing better than a petting zoo. Nothing.

6. Go to a drive-in movie- Drive-in movies are perfect for families who don’t want to chase their screaming kids through the movie theater.

7. Go to an aquarium or a zoo- There are usually quite a few family-friendly places to go in a decent sized city, such as the zoo, aquarium, museum, swimming pool or rec center.

8. Make homemade pizza- Have everyone in the family add the topics to their own pizza, less work for you and they can’t complain!

9. Go get snow cones- Snow cones are amazing. It’s a tradition of ours in the summer to go for a walk to the park, and stop at the snow cone shack on the way there.

10. Host a BBQ get together- Have a BBQ with close friends and family. Have everyone bring something so it’s not all on you.

Totally Awesome Summer Activities

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1. Disneyland- I don’t think there’s anything that tops Disneyland. It’s the ultimate kid’s vacation.

2. Beach vacation- If you live right by a beach, this probably isn’t a big deal for you. But for us mountaineers, the beach is super cool!

3. Get a slip and slide- Slip and slides are awesome. You kids will be busy all day every day playing outside in the water. And they’re a lot cheaper than you would expect!

4. Take a road trip- Family road trips are fun, IF it’s not a super long trip, and your kids are old enough to entertain themselves. Pick a state and try to hit all the coolest cities!

5. Go to a family fun park/carnival- Go to a theme park if you have one, or try to hit the carnival when it comes to town.

6. Go to a waterpark- Waterparks are perfect for when it’s crazy hot outside. Just make sure you load up on the sunscreen and sun hats!

7. Buy something fun for the house- This can be pricey, but if it helps keep your sanity, isn’t it worth it? Some ideas are a slip and slide, a trampoline, a playhouse, a swing set, a pool, etc.

8. Get a subscription to somewhere fun- The rec center is a perfect place to get a family pass for the summer! There are tons of places that offer family passes such as pools, theme parks, etc.

9. Enroll in summer sports programs or camps– Summer camps are the highlight of the summer for some kids. There’s something for everyone. Space camp, science camp, dance camp, soccer camp, cheer camp, the list is endless!

Which of these summer family activities are you adding to your summer bucket list?

Don’t forget to check out our article on cheap date night ideas, date night will help keep you sane during the summertime! (;

Oh! And this article on effective ways to discipline children of all ages might come in handy this summer too!

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