29 Inexpensive Summer Activities for Kids and Families + Free Printable

Looking for some cheap AND fun summer activities for kids that you can enjoy close to home?

Even if you live in a warmer climate, I’m sure you look forward to the slower pace that kicks off Mid-May for most families.

It’s also the time that a lot of moms start thinking about outdoor summer activities to keep the kids busy once school is out.

Summer fun on a budget

However it seems to me (is it just me??) that summer fun has gotten kind of complicated as well as expensive!

When our kids have their sights set on fancy summer camps and elaborate family vacations — it can make some of us in the gotta-budget-life camp feel a little at a loss for how to entertain them with some cheap summer fun for the next three months!

In our family, we tend to play it by ear most summers.

Summer activities for Kids: Image: girl eating Popsicle in summer

This summer, though, I’m determined to plan ahead and build some summer fun into our days so that we can make the most of this season that we enjoy so much.

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Benefits of having a (simple) summer plan

Let’s be real though:  having some pre-meditated summer activities to choose from makes my life a little easier!

While working at home, it’s easy to let FUN slide to the back burner so that I can get more done.

But when I do that, it usually backfires on me:  the kids revolt and seem to need my attention more than usual.

Who can blame them?

Related Posts:

• 13 Fun Outdoor Activities Ideas

• Creative Ideas for Saving Money on your Family’s Expenses

While I’m still a big proponent of independent play and teaching kids how to entertain themselves, they do need a little help coming up with ideas to keep them busy.

So, here are 29 summer activities to help your family make the most of summer!

29 Summer Activities for Kids

Try this list of 29 ideas for easy, low-key activities that kids can use all summer.

1| Water balloon or squirt gun fight!

2| Sidewalk Chalk.

My older kids STILL love sidewalk chalk.

sidewalk chalk flower art.

Sidewalk chalk: Cheap, creative fun

3| Play in the Sprinkler.

4| Make yogurt popsicles.

(Simply fill popsicle molds with yogurt.)

5| Build an outside fort

Use lawn chairs or clotheslines and sheets.

Or if you have woods nearby, make one out of fallen limbs and branches.

Fort made in the woods with branches and limbs stacked together in a triangular shape.

Adventure awaits

6| Have an outdoor movie night.

Borrow a projector and hang up a sheet across the garage door.

Or, visit a drive-in movie if you have one nearby.

Summer activities for kids: outdoor movie night set up in the backyard with rug, chairs and baskets of goodies.

7| Go on a nature scavenger hunt.

8| Visit the pool.

Ours has half-price days so we plan ahead for that!

Or, fill up a blow-up pool in the backyard and live like it’s the 90s.  Always a hit with our kids.

9| Visit the Library.

Check out books, enjoy storytime and enroll in summer reading programs if your library has one. Read outside!

Boy reading a book in a hammock on a summer day.

10| Take a trip to the ice cream shop.

We prioritize this in the summer!  We have a local soda fountain that features super-cheap ice cream cones.

Or, visit a chain restaurant such as Steak and Shake at “happy hour” when shakes are half-price.

11| Visit a local park or conservation area.

Take a hike as a family.  Older kids can videotape and narrate the experience.

12| Go fishing!

If you have streams and rivers in your area, you’re in luck!  (In our state, only the adults have to obtain a fishing license so it’s a fairly cheap hobby.)

13| Visit local beaches / lakes.

Family resting at the end of the dock at the lake.

Family fun at the lake

14| Visit the zoo.

Check their website for discount days – ours has a few days each month in the summer.

15| Make a summer scrapbook.

Younger kids can color pictures and you can add photos to their books, or items from scavenger hunts.

Older kids can get more creative or create a digital version or even a Shutterfly photo album.

16| Outdoor family games at sundown.

(When it’s cooler out):  Badminton, volleyball, Wiffle ball, kickball, basketball, tag, flag football.

You can wear glow stick bracelets when it starts to get dark out!

Family playing tug of war with sunset in background.

Games at dusk are magical.

17| Plant a garden and harvest crops.

Container gardens are a great option for just about everyone and are much less maintenance than the old-fashioned route.

Bonus:  Kids who grow veggies are more likely to eat them too!

Summer activities for kids: image of dad and kids harvesting tomatoes

18| Have a picnic lunch

Or eat dinner al fresco!

19| Write and perform a play.

Let the kids write the script themselves and perform it for after-dinner entertainment on the lawn.

20| Camp out in the backyard.

21| Have a bonfire.

Make hot dogs and smores. Fire pits are fun, too.

Mom and four kids building a fire and roasting food outside.

22| Visit a local farm.

You could pick berries or learn about farm animals.  We’re pretty blessed with a variety of these in our area!

fun summer activity ideas for kids

23| Ride bikes or go for a walk.

24| Make your own DIY bubbles.

Have a bubble blowing contests and invite neighborhood kids to join!

25| Paint rocks

Let kids paint them outside with $0.50 craft paint.  We did a fun missions activity with Jesus Rocks last summer that the kids LOVED.

Jesus Rocks Painting Activity

Also try this alternative idea for the hotter days of summer:  Melted crayon rocks!

26| Fly kites.

Older kids can make their own with this tutorial.

28| Visit local festivals or parades.

Plan ahead for these events in your area; many include free activities, bounce houses, live music, fireworks.

Your local Chamber of Commerce may have a calendar of events you can check out.

28| Make a backyard obstacle course.

Kids playing in a backyard obstacle course- summer activity idea.

29| Catch fireflies.

You’re never too old!  Place them in a jar to watch them glow, then release them.

Free printable list of summer activities

If you’d like the printable version of this list of summer activities for kids, just click on the image below to open and print!

list of summer activities for kids

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low key easy ideas for summer fun for kids: vertical image with kid swimming in small pool

5 thoughts on “29 Inexpensive Summer Activities for Kids and Families + Free Printable”

  1. So many great ideas! I made a summer bucket list and I thought I had thought of everything. Mines on my fridge so I don’t forget. I’ll have to print out this one too😊

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