20+ Fun Summer Activities for Kids on a Budget

Michael Lefler
by Michael Lefler
Published: March 6, 2020

Having fun summer activities for kids need not break the bank and mess up your savings. You have overflowing choices when it comes to teaching and entertaining your kids while making sure that your finances are still on track. Having not enough cash can still afford you to go to numerous places or do stuff that your kids will surely love or make extra money for the summer.

Fun activities for kids should not hurt your long-term and ongoing financial goals, such as retirement savings or mortgage payoff, so try to avoid bad financial decisions. The good news is that you might find inexpensive and free activities to do or places to explore with your children this summer.

You need not spend on ridiculously expensive hotels and resorts or buy toys and gadgets with the costliest price tags to spend their summer vacation. All you have to do is be extra creative, resourceful, start budgeting, and take your time in browsing some of the lists of the best cheap summer activities for kids. However, if you have no other options and exhausted all ideas, you might consider borrowing from friends or applying for a loan but do it responsibly.

Here are some places to discover and things to do in the summertime, which will not cost you too much money or they may even be free of charge.

Explore and Indulge in the Outdoors

Summer activities for kids

Summer is the greatest time to take advantage of the fun activities you want to do with your kids outside. Just make sure you pack all the things you’ll need when you’re out and plan out everything in advance. You could spend your time adventurously staying within the planned funding. You may initially think it may be financially draining, but here are some ways to make it cheap or even free:

1. Visit the Local Park/Farm

Families that live near their National Park can relate to one of the budget summer activities for kids outdoors. It may not cost you a dime. Search and try to find at least one nearby park that you may visit for free or those that offer discounts or affordable passes specifically for the summer. A visit to your local farm, especially ones that offer their visitors the experience and joy of picking mouth-watering and fresh summer fruits, could be all you and your kid need to bond. You also could go fishing. So, parks, parks, parks, and again national parks – for when you need an idea of how you can entertain your kids for free.

2. Experience Backyard Camping

Why spend money to travel to the woods when you can go backyard camping? It is simple to set up your tent in the backyard and enjoy the outdoors with your kids. A creative way to go camping like this is one of the free kids’ summer activities that your kids will love in the summertime. It is also a great way to bond your loved ones with no physical and financial strains of traveling.

3. Watch Free Outdoor Theater Performances

Summer is the time when most places and organizations offer outdoor theater performances free of charge. You can check your local area or any locations near you, specifically for parks and places where you can have a picnic while watching theater performances. This activity is not just a fun activity with your youngsters during the summer. They can also be educational while you are relaxing under the stars, while next to each other.

4. Consider Pool Play Dates

Families with neighborhood pools will most likely agree that taking advantage of this cool feature is a must during the hot summer days. It is one of the free activities to do in the summer with your kids. You could also set up a pool playdate with family and friends to make it more entertaining and socializing for everyone.

5. Discover Nature Cams

And how about a day at a virtual safari? Kids will love the outdoors in this unique setting. You can visit different nature cams by conservatories and universities. Your kids will have an educational yet fun time exploring nature using nature cams such as the Monterrey Bay Sea Otter Cam, Africam, Explore.org, and HD on Tap. Some venues set up their cams and screens outdoors for a more enticing treat.

6. Enjoy A Family Bike Ride

Summer is the best time to teach your kids how to ride a bike. Kids’ summer adventures will not be complete without this ritual once they reach a certain age. On top of having a great fun time and bonding with your kids for free, you can also get a short workout and practice an outdoor exercise.

7. Family Movies in the Outdoors

Watching a family movie is another inexpensive thing to do in the summer. Give it a tweak by doing it outdoors, which kids will love. You can choose between movies in your backyard or the park or do both at a time. Did you know that many towns and cities offer watching films in the park for free? You can also set up your projector in your backyard with all the necessary gadgets. Grab some popcorn, bug spray, blanket, and enjoy your favorite movie, while saving some money.

8. Cultivate a Summer Garden outside

Gardening may be the greatest free kids’ summer activities that offer numerous benefits. You can teach your youngsters how to grow and cultivate a garden, which is quite an enjoyable outdoor activity. This is a free summer-long activity that can yield the fruits (or veggies and herbs) of their labor. Who wouldn’t want fresh fruits and vegetables from their own garden? Just head out and have a lot of fun. It will provide entertainment all summer long and even may become your child’s’ favorite.

9. Play Board Games Outdoors

Be extra creative and simply take an ordinary free board game outdoors. This fun kids’ summer game becomes a refreshing way for them to enjoy their vacation without you shelling out hundreds of dollars and getting into a debt trap. You can set up a great place in your back garden, sidewalk, or deck with a card table so that they can play all day.

10. Create a Fairy/Tree House

You don’t have to go all-out with your expenses when creating a tree house or a magical fairy house. The latter will only require some pebbles, small sticks, moss, and large pieces of bark. Create a small house for the fairies in your garden that your kids will love to watch and upgrade all summer. Fortunately, it doesn’t require as much money as the upgrade or renovation of your home. But you can afford it too, using a short term cash loan. By the way, it also can bring positive emotions to your children.

11. Visit a Library Near You

Does your kid enjoy reading books? Another cheap summer activity is checking out your local library. Search for different options. You might find many summer reading programs for your kids and yourself. Look for captivating information for your kid and learn new interesting things. Your local library may offer free or cheap classes where you can learn a lot of useful things, from ceramic crafts to genealogy. You also may read e-books on a library’s website. Create your summer reading challenge and improve your kid’s reading skills.

Enhance their Arts and Crafts Skills

Chalk drawing as one of cheap things to do in summer

12. Paint in a Giant Canvas

Painting can be one of the greatest cheap kids summer activities, but it is even better if you add a giant canvas in the setting. You can skip the costly canvas and use some old sheets of paper if you have stacks of it. You also can buy affordable craft supplies at a local dollar store. Spread out the paper on the grass or ground and try to create a giant canvas where your kids can release their inner artist out. Who knows, maybe thus you’ll discover your little painter’s talent and help find an interesting and exciting hobby.

13. Create a Kite and Fly It

Windy day? Cheap family summer vacation ideas will never be complete without kite-flying. Thus, you can gather everyone for an artistic spree of creating your kite, adding some personal touch. Kites can be costly if you purchase it online or in stores. However, you can avoid the expensive venture and just have fun with their creation, at no additional cost.

14. Make a Mini Aquarium and Keep Little Hands Busy This Summer

Hot days? Kids will have a great time creating their own under-the-sea version. Bring the beach and ocean to your yard, thus, skipping the costly trip to the beaches or resorts. It can become your favorite free activity for kids if you already have the resources at home. You can try to use old plastic toys, rocks, plants, and blue food coloring for an extra realistic kick. If you live near a lake or ocean – you may consider yourself lucky.

15. Draw with Squirtable Chalks

Do you want more colors? Another great inexpensive summer fun activity for kids is to paint with colorful chalks but not in the same boring manner. You can have an engaging activity for your kid with this appealing fun project. Create the magic color changing sidewalk chalk using corn starch, baking soda, and some food coloring. Mix them in a bottle with water and vinegar. Let your child develop his imagination. Have fun with sidewalk chalk. Here’s a tip: wash the sidewalk chalk paint off as soon as possible.

16. Whip Up a Water Blob

One of the really cheap activities to do during the summertime is to help your kids come up with fun and artistic projects, such as creating a water blob. You can avoid expensive costs with other water toys with this project, which only needs plastic sheeting. Fill the plastic sheeting with water, and your kids can have that water blob, which they can run, roll, and jump on.

Family Time/Socialize

A family having summer fun at no costs

17. Take a Free Summer Class Together

The best free kids’ activities can also be the things that you can do together as a family. Thus, you can find and take many classes along with your little ones without spending a fortune. Usually, there may even be free classes such as yoga or fitness sessions, group music lessons, jewelry making, or painting.

18. Build a Bonfire

A bonfire bash spent with your loved ones is one of the free things to do in the summer. You can do it anywhere, such as the park, beach, or even your backyard. It’s the greatest way to enjoy the summer and bond with your loved ones without tripping the savings alarm. Upgrade the fun by servings’ mores, gooey chocolates, and ice cream sliders. What child doesn’t love ice cream and other sweets?

19. Attend Fireworks Shows

Summer is a time of many fireworks shows, and what better way to save money while having fun with your kids than attending one of these colorful and fun shows? Free firework shows are available all across the country, both in small towns and big urban settings. You can check out weekly and monthly shows in the summertime. Your kids will enjoy the spectacular displays without you spending a dollar and allowing you to use your no credit check loan for something more vital.

20. Play Lawn Games

Lawn games are fun and entertaining for children during the summer. You can enjoy this without the bank-breaking worries. Let your kids enjoy the outdoors and the joy of a little friendly competition, especially with your easy DIY outside games, like a life-size Kerplunk game version, which you can tweak by moving it to the pool with the help of some water balloons and foam noodles. Your youngsters will get to play with other kids.

21. Bonus Idea. Socialize with Friends and Neighbors

Host a neighborhood potluck. Have a tea cost-cutting party. It can become one of the best cheap things to do in the summer. Socialize with people on your street and bring everyone together with a potluck block party. You can coordinate with everyone for a well-rounded menu from nice finger food to barbecue dishes and savory desserts.

Need More Free or Cheap Kids Summer Fun Activities?

Soap bubbles as one of great summer ideas for kids

The sky is the limit when it comes to the best family summer vacation ideas on a budget. Try these ideas to get inexpensive summer fun for kids:

  • Collect wildflowers that grow in the summer, book press the flowers, and make an instant floral collection.
  • Check out the local carnival or fair.
  • Go to the art gallery. Some public art galleries offer free programs and activities.
  • Check the available frugal summer camp options.
  • When your little one feels bored, try going to fish. It keeps the kids busy and cool.
  • Visit an amusement park. Explore your city. The kids will love it.
  • Play different games like hide-and-seek, soccer, tennis, or frisbee. You will save some money.
  • Play musical instruments.
  • Visit a beach or a pool. Don’t forget to take sunscreen, a water bottle, some snacks, and water toys.
  • Go hiking. You can choose between parks, lakes or other natural areas.
  • Avoid boredom going to a free local museum.
  • Stay fit and healthy with your kids by going on a fun early morning family walk in nature trails near you.
  • Keep your kids busy by setting up an obstacle course.
  • Go kayaking or canoeing. If there’s a lake or river nearby? Then this is another inexpensive thing to do with your older kid.
  • Volunteer at a children’s home or maybe a local animal shelter.
  • Go stargazing and teach them about the constellation.
  • Go on a scavenger hunt. You can find a lot of indoor & outdoor scavenger hunt ideas and free printables surfing the Internet. You can easily save on costs.
  • Consider a Vacation Bible School. Usually, to get enrolled, you don’t have to spend much, you might just sign up.
  • Try to bake something tasty. How about some homemade cookies? All the kids like them. Teach your kid how to cook healthy meals or make his/her favorite dessert, using a simple recipe.

We hope you now have some new things to add to your summer bucket list of free activities for kids.

Final Thoughts

Inexpensive or free summer activities for kids are incredible ways to give them many fun memories as well as shape their lives through learning. You can make summer one of the most anticipated times of the year for your little ones by having the best summer ideas for kids and the entire family.

Most importantly, do these fun free or cheap activities for kids to deepen your family bond, add special memories, and spend too much money. Nevertheless, even if you’ll go for borrowing money, make sure to avoid predatory lending. What is your favorite inexpensive summer activity for kids at home or outside? How do you save during summertime? Let us know in the comments.

Mike Lefler shares his interest in a wide range of different subjects, including his love for finance-related writing. The passion for writing, related exceptional skills and his years of study, along with a Master’s Degree at Southwest Minnesota State University led him to become one of the brilliant authors in the massive finance arena and in the area of Financial Planning and Lending Industry.

At the same time, his ability to identify the main points of various aspects and intention to significantly contribute makes him a great team member and a valuable part of 1FirstCashAdvance.

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