Low Cost Summer Activities for Kids

Summer is a great opportunity to spend more time together as a family, especially since the kids are out of school.

But, it can be hard to plan the right activities to keep your kids busy through the summer months, and without proactive planning the kids might spend most of their time in front of the television. Here are some ideas to help you plan summer activities for your family, without spending a lot of money:

  • Find a local splash pad where the kids can run through the water with their friends.
  • Plan meals together by looking for recipes, going shopping for the ingredients, and cooking the food together at home.
  • Make paper boats and have races down the river.
  • Plant a garden in the spring, and work on it throughout the summer. Make sure to document the growth of the garden with pictures, and cook the harvest together to prepare dinner for the family.
  • Ask local museums about kid’s programs or activities, because they often have discount entrance prices for school-aged children.  Sometime in the summer they may offer free days or a summer only membership.
  • Have a collection of board games for indoor activities when it is raining outside.  This is our family go to favorite.
  • Visit a new public park every week, to find local areas where the kids can play outside.  Then at the end of summer vote on the best park and make one last return visit!
  • Go on a picnic, even if you just take sandwiches into the back yard to eat.
  • Find local hiking trails or nature walks, and take a list of scavenger hunt items for the kids to find along the trail.
  • Go garage sale shopping to find cheap craft items, such as wood to decorate or paint.
  • Look for free summer reading programs through the public library, which often offer summer time story hours and reading challenges for the children to meet.
  • Buy a big roll of butcher paper for coloring and craft activities. For example, roll out the paper on the kitchen floor and draw the interior view of your dream house.
  • Go swimming at a pond or a lake, or find out if you can get free one-day guest passes as the local recreation center or YMCA. Sometimes, it might make sense to pay for a family summer pass at the recreation center, because the membership includes a variety of children’s activities throughout the summer months.
  • Go camping. If you don’t have a nearby camp ground, then you can setup the tents in the back yard.
  • Check with your local theater chains to see if they offer summertime kid’s movies at a discount rate. Often, theaters will have re-runs of older movies during the day, and charge $1 per child.
  • Look for free concerts or movies in the park. Often, towns and cities will sponsor these activities for the community. These activities are a great way to introduce your child to live music, without worrying about them having a hard time sitting still in their seat at an auditorium.
  • Try new sports, such as yoga or karate. Look for online tutorials that give instructions for beginners.
  • Ask your local bowling alley if they have free bowling times during the summer months. Many alleys offer free bowling games, the only charge is for the shoe rental. If your family has their own bowling shoes, then the cost is free.
  • Explore state parks near your home. Usually the entrance fee is a flat-rate per car, which means that you can get the whole family in for a discount price.

The most important thing is to find a variety of activities both around the house and away from home. The kids will get bored if you do the same thing each week, so look for fun ideas to switch up the routine and have a good time together as a family.

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