Summer is finally here! Whether you are trying to keep your kids entertained, or are just looking for ways to have a memorable summer, here’s the ultimate list of cheap summer activities.
Having fun doesn’t have to be expensive! Your warm weather bucket list can be full of low-cost or free things to do in the summer.
If you’re looking for some cheap summer fun, check out this comprehensive list of 120 free and cheap summer activities! It’s perfect for ‘kids’ of all ages.
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120 Free and Cheap Summer Activities:
This frugal summer bucket list is divided up into outdoor and indoor activities. No matter the weather, you’ll find something fun to do!
Outdoor Summer Fun:
1. Water balloon or water gun fight – Or try water ballon baseball. A great way to cool off on a super hot day.
2. Zoo or petting zoo – Petting zoos tend to be less expensive than big zoos. Check to see if your zoo has a season or yearly pass. It will pay for itself after only a couple of visits.
3. Stargaze – Head out to your backyard or other open outdoor space and see what constellations you can see.
4. Bonfire – Don’t forget the s’mores or other tasty snacks!
5. Fly a kite – When’s the last time you flew a kite? It’s a fun challenge. Just watch out for those trees!
6. Chalk art – You’re never too old to create a design with sidewalk chalk.
7. Visit a farmers’ market – Growers’ markets are the ideal place to get very fresh and affordable produce and other goodies.
8. Attend fireworks – Many local communities host fireworks during the summer. Bring a blanket or some chairs. The dollar store sells glow bracelets that can add to the experience.
9. Have a picnic – There’s something about the timeless act of having a picnic. You can make it as casual or fancy as you like. This picnic set has everything you need for a great time!
10. Neighborhood potluck or block party – You can plan this in advance or just be spontaneous and have everyone bring whatever food they have on hand.
11. ‘Camp’ in your backyard – If you have a tent, camping in the backyard is an easy way to have a memorable experience. Kids in particular get a big kick out of it.
12. Play frisbee or disc golf – Grab your family or some friends and enjoy a pick-up game of Frisbee.
13. Go swimming – This is a summer must-do. If you don’t have a pool, find a friend or neighbor who does. Or check out open-swim hours at your local park or school.
14. Go for a bike ride – Don’t forget your helmet!
15. Outdoor concert – Many communities offer free outdoor concert series in the summer.
16. Movie in the park – Many parks show projection movies for free during the warm weather months.
17. Play tennis – Almost every high school has tennis courts that anyone can use.
18. Yoga in the park – Check out your local parks to see if they offer free or cheap drop-in workout classes. I’ve seen yoga, tai chi, and cardio drumming offered.
19. Go for a hike – It doesn’t have to be a 20 mile strenuous workout. Look for a way to walk through the woods somewhere in your area. It’s just so peaceful.
20. Get ice cream – Visit your local Dairy Queen, ice cream parlor, or buy something from the ice cream truck.
21. Flashlight tag – Playing tag is kinda fun, but flashlight tag at night is an especially fun treat.
22. Scavenger hunt – This could be done inside or out, and can be made appropriate for all ages. Here’s some tips on creating a scavenger hunt.
23. Geocaching – Geocaching is the ultimate treasure hunt. And it’s free!
24. Host a bbq – Invite some family or friends over for some tasty grilled food.
25. Visit a state or county park – Many parks are completely free or have an affordable yearly pass.
26. Try (inter)tubing – Tubing down a river is a relaxing and fun way to stay cool.
27. Canoe or kayak – If you don’t have your own, it doesn’t cost very much to rent one for the day. Or see if any local kayak shops offer trial days where you can try one out for free.
28. Local festivals – There’s probably a variety of street fairs, art fairs, or food festivals in your area. It can be a completely free outing f you don’t get suckered into buying anything. : )
29. Lemonade stand – Your kids especially would love to host a lemonade stand. You can raise money for charity if you’re so inclined.
30. Work on your tan – Not a popular option with the dermatologists, but I think most people enjoy sporting a summer tan.
31. Take your dog to a dog park – Your dog would probably love to meet some new dog friends!
32. Have a yard sale – Whether you’re drowning in clutter, or just want to make some extra cash, having a yard sale can be a good way to streamline your belongings. Try getting a few families together and host a big one to draw bigger crowds. Don’t forget to advertise it on Craigslist.
33. Go fishing – It’s so relaxing to be near water. If you catch something, you can have a free meal, or just throw them back like we do.
34. Run through the sprinkler – Another timeless way to have some summer fun on a hot day.
35. Go to a lake – Visit a lake or river in your area. Swim, have a picnic, or just relax.
36. Garage sale shop – You can really find some hidden treasures at garage sales. For very affordable prices!
37. Play baseball, football, capture the flag, etc. – Playing a game is a fabulous way to get some exercise whilst having fun.
38. U-pick fruit farm – I loved going strawberry picking as a child. Depending on what fruit grows in your area, there are probably some fruit farms that let you pick your own.
39. Walk or play in the rain – You’re never too old to splash in a puddle!
40. Photo shoot – Hone your photography skills by taking photos of people or the beauty of nature.
41. Wash the car – This is both productive and fun!
42. Watch the sunrise – There’s something magical about being awake before everyone else and watching the sun come up.
43. Watch the sunset – If you’re not an early riser, enjoy a lovely sunset instead.
44. Breakfast on the grill – Shake up your grilling routing by cooking a weekend breakfast. I have these awesome grill mats , and nothing sticks. You can even do pancakes or eggs on the grill!
45. Watermelon spitting contest – Or if that sounds gross, try carving a watermelon into fun shapes.
46. Make sun tea – There’s just something extra special about sun tea.
47. Look for shapes in clouds – Lay on a blanket and see what shapes you see in the clouds.
48. Noodle war – Kids would love having a noodle fight with pool noodles. : )
49. Play with sparklers – The dollar store sells sparklers that are a festive way to spend a summer evening.
50. Plant an herb garden – Herbs are an easy and rewarding way to start gardening.
51. Visit botanical farm or arboretum – Many flower farms and arboretum are free to visit.
52. Drive-in movie – If you can find a drive-in movie theater, give it a try!
53. Act tourist-y in your own town – Visit the local landmarks that you thought were just for tourists. You may find something you really enjoy.
54. Watch a parade – There are probably quite a few parades going on in your area throughout the summer.
55. One day road trip – Pick somewhere fun that’s a couple hours away (or less) to go visit. You’ll have the road trip feel without the cost of a hotel stay.
56. Feed the ducks – Any park with a pond most likely has some ducks swimming around. Bring them some bread or food. They love it!
57. Tie-dye – Tie-dyeing your white shirts or socks (or whatever else you can think of) is a fun project. This tie-dye kit has everything you need.
58. Skip stones – If you’re near a pond, river, or lake, find a smooth stone and work on your stone-skipping skills.
59. Go camping – Camping is one of the most affordable ways to have a getaway!
60. Night swim – Swimming at night is especially fun for all ages.
61. Make a tire swing – Nothing says summer quite like a tire swing.
62. Build a sandcastle – If you go to the bunch, you simply must build a sandcastle. You can make one in the sandbox as well.
63. Pick wildflowers – Make a lovely bouquet for your home from wildflowers.
64. Catch fireflies – Just be sure to let them go before too long.
65. Go rollerblading – Got some old roller blades lying around? Consider taking them out for a spin.
66. Visit a car show – There are tons of free car shows throughout the summer.
67. Flea market – Visit a flea market and see what treasures you come across.
68. Train for a 5k – A 5k race is a great way to challenge yourself.
69. Visit a splash pad – Many parks have a free splash pad area. Perfect on a hot day!
70. Play lawn games – From darts to bean bag toss to croquet, lawn games have a wonderful nostalgic feel.
71. State or county fair – As long as you don’t eat too many funnel cakes, a state fair should be a relatively affordable outing.
72. Blow bubbles – Blowing bubbles is so relaxing!
73. Clean out your garage – This might not be the most fun thing on the list, but boy will it be nice when it’s done.
74. Cook over an open fire – Have that campout feel in your own backyard by cooking your dinner over a fire.
75. Jump rope or play hopscotch – Get some exercise and feel like a kid again.
If it’s raining, or you’re sick of being outside in the heat, try some of these cheap summer fun activities you can do inside.
Indoor summer fun activities:
1. Visit library – Libraries usually have a variety of activities for kids, plus books, magazines, newspapers, and movies for everyone. If you want a particular one, ask at the desk. They will probably order it for you.
2. Window shop – Enjoy the cool air conditioning at the mall!
3. Cheap matinee movie – Most theaters have special summer matinee pricing on certain days during the summer. Bring your own snacks to keep it affordable.
4. Volunteer at an animal shelter – Places like animal shelters and ‘soup-kitchens’ are in need of help year-round.
5. Visit local nature center – Check to see if there’s a nature center in your community.
6. Make homemade popsicles – Make popsicles out of your favorite drink. These silicone molds make it so easy!
7. Start a side hustle business – Summer is a great time to think of a way to earn extra money. Options range from babysitting, gardening, house-sitting, dog-walking, tutoring, and many more.
8. Visit local free museum – Many communities have local history museums that are free to visit. Some major museums have free days as well.
9. Have a dance party – Crank up your favorite playlist and dance around your living room.
10. Spa night – Alone or with friends, a spa night at home is a relaxing way to spend a summer evening.
11. Game night – Bust out those boardgames or a deck of cards and enjoy some friendly competition.
12. Thrift shop – Look for some summer or fall clothing at your local thrift store. Check to see if they have sale days with extra discounts.
13. Take a free workshop – Lowe’s and Home Depot offer free workshops where you can learn a new skill.
14. Build an indoor fort – Kids love making a fort with blankets in their bedroom or the living room.
15. Make homemade ice cream – Try making your own ice cream for an extra special treat. This ice cream maker does all the work for you.
16. Christmas in July – Have a Christmas in July evening or party. Put on some festive music or movies, and make some Christmas-y food.
17. Movie night – A movie night at home is a very fun and relaxing way to spend a rainy evening. Don’t forget the snacks!
18. ‘Chopped’ competition – Make some room in your pantry or freezer by hosting a Chopped competition. (Like the Food Network TV show)
19. Try out a new hobby – Want to start a fun new hobby? Check out Craftsy! Right now they’re offering a 7 day free trial of Craftsy Unlimited.
20. Clothing swap – Consider hosting a clothing swap. You can trade clothes or accessories with friends or family members, and all get ‘new’ stuff for free!
21. Bake cookies – Or brownies, or cupcakes, or anything that sounds delicious.
22. Try a new recipe – You don’t need an excuse to try a new recipe. But if you add it to your summer bucket list, you’ll be sure to do it.
23. Go bowling – Many of us tend to forget how fun it is to go bowling. And some bowling alleys offer deep discounts to kids on summer afternoons.
24. Make root beer floats – Grab a 2-liter of root beer and some vanilla ice cream, and enjoy a delicious root beer float.
25. Paint your nails or toes – Preferably a bright summer color. : )
26. Turn a pair of jeans into jean shorts – It’s easier than it sounds!
27. Read a summer-y book – Beach reads are an excellent way to get that summer-y feeling. You could create a summer reading challenge for yourself, and try to read as many books as possible.
28. Color or sketch – The dollar store sells a huge variety of coloring books and sketching notepads. You’ll feel like a kid again!
29. Take a nap – Preferably in a hammock, like this one.
30. Listen to a podcast – It’s the perfect way to learn more about something that you’re interested in.
31. Organize your closet – This is more fun than it sounds. You’ll discover clothes you forgot you had, and enjoy knowing where everything is for a change.
32. Lighthouse caretaker – Did you know that many lighthouses will let you stay there for free for a few days if you volunteer to take care of it? You can learn more about lighthouse accommodations here.
33. Host a brunch – Brunch is an especially affordable way to entertain.
34. Screen-free day – Don’t throw rocks at me for suggesting this, but I think we could all use a day without our technology screens. It might be the most memorable day we’ve had in a while.
35. Play dress up or have a fashion show – If you’re organizing your closet, you’ll want to try on a bunch of outfits. Or let your kids play dress up and put on a fashion show.
36. Puppet show – Your children would love to watch a puppet show, or put one on for you.
37. Paint a room – You can completely change the look of a room with just a can or two of paint. And it’s totally a one-day project.
38. Make potpourri – It’s a fun, easy project. Here are some simple instructions.
39. Tea party – Ladies of all ages would enjoy a tea party. Whether or not to wear the fancy hat is up to you.
40. Make jam – Here’s a super easy way to make homemade jam.
41. Put together a puzzle – Kick it old school with a jigsaw puzzle.
42. Make snow cones – Snow cones or Hawaiin ice is the perfect summer treat. Here’s a way to make them easily at home.
43. Visit a friend or relative – If you’ve only seen each other on Facebook lately, go and visit your loved one in person.
44. Look through photo albums – Looking through old photo albums is a great way to relive your fun memories.
45. Binge watch a new show – Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime make it so simple to watch an entire season of your new favorite show.
There you have it! 120 cheap summer fun activities you can try, no matter the weather.
I hope you enjoyed this ultimate summer bucket list. There’s no end to the ways to have fun this summer!
What are your favorite summer activities?