16 Cheap or Free Things to do with your Kids this Summer

We all want to have fun with our kids in the summer, but entertaining kids day after day can get expensive. Wondering what you can do with your kids that is fun, but also free or cheap? Look no further. Keep this list handy for summer fun that won’t break the bank!

1. Splash Pads

Most communities, cities, or towns have a splash pad. If yours doesn’t, find one in a neighboring community. They are all the fun of the pool without the expense, or the fear of the kids drowning. Go to several, and let the kids decide which one they like best.

2. Science Experiments

There are lots of fun, easy science experiments online that you can do with things you probably already have in your kitchen. Do a couple experiments, and talk about why things happen. Your kids will have fun, and learn something at the same time. Bonus: you can do it outside, so your kitchen doesn’t get messy!

3. Local Libraries

Many local libraries have fun, free activities for kids to participate in during the summer. Ours has story time for both younger and older children, as well as clubs like chess, Legos, and more. Check your library’s website, or call and ask what they have going on. While you’re there, get the kids their own library cards and let them check out their own books.

4. Go to the Mountains

Many canyons and national forests are free to drive up. You can find hiking trails, walking paths, picnic areas, lakes, and much more. Pack a picnic lunch, and go explore. Make sure to take sunscreen, bug spray, closed-toe shoes, and a map if you’re not familiar with the area.

5. Go Camping

There are many places you can camp that are free. Find them online, or ask a friend. If living in the woods isn’t your thing, set up camp in the backyard. Bring glow sticks for after dark, make s’mores, and tell campfire stories.

6. City Celebrations

Most cities have an annual celebration in the summer. These include carnivals, which are not free, and many other things that are, such as; parades, concerts and performances, fireworks shows, hot air balloon shows, and much more. Check online for your city and surrounding cities celebration activities.

7. Backyard Water Party

Set up a kiddie pool or slip n’ slide, and go crazy! Have a water fight, run through sprinklers, put the sprinkler under the trampoline, and have fun. Water can keep kids busy for hours. Add to the fun by serving popsicles, sno-cones, ice cream, or other fun summer treats.

8. Craft Day

Most of us have a craft box sitting somewhere in our house that we never use. Pull it out, and let the kids get creative. They can decorate paper, cardboard, toilet paper tubes, wood scraps, and much more. See what they can come up with, and display their “art gallery” for everyone to see for a few days.

9. Playdough

Find a homemade playdough recipe online, and let your kids make it. Instead of putting food coloring in the mixture, leave it white, and put a little lump in several sandwich size zipper bags. Zip each bag tightly, and add a drop of food coloring. Let them squish it until it turns a color. After you’re done making it all, give them rolling pins, cookie cutters, plastic knives, etc., and see what creations they can make.

10. Plant a Garden

Seed packets are cheap. Go any local store, and pick up a few. You don’t need special soil, the dirt that is already outside should do just fine. Let kids plant the seeds, and teach them what it takes to grow a garden. Remind them to water and pull weeds every day. They’ll have fun, and learn responsibility at the same time. When their fruit or vegetables are ready to harvest, they’ll be proud they grew something that everyone can enjoy.

11. Museums

There are many museums everywhere. Some are free, and most are fairly cheap. Check out what is close to you online, and take your kids. Try a few different types; history, science, animal, dinosaur, etc. Museums are fun, and a great learning experience for kids. Bonus: you get to be inside in the air conditioning

12. Summer movie series

Many movie theaters have summer movies that you can get into for $1-$2, or buy tickets for all of them for even cheaper. My local theater has a series of ten movies for $7. These are not new release movies, rather, ones that have been out for a while. Most kids don’t care if they watch a movie twice, and there may even be some they haven’t seen. Most theaters also offer discounted popcorn, drinks and treats for these movies. Check your local theaters website to see if they offer these.

13. Go Fishing

With just a few dollar’s worth of gear, you can take your kids fishing. They’ll have fun learning how, and even more fun if they actually catch one. Check your states fishing regulations before you go. In most states, kids under 12 don’t need a license, and there is a free fishing day where everyone can fish without one. Consider borrowing a pole and getting advice from a seasoned fisherman in advance. They may even offer to go along and teach you!

14. Have a Fashion Show

Find the funkiest clothes you own, and have your kids try them on. They’ll have fun coming up with wacky combinations and being silly. Make a pretend runway, and have them walk it while you snap pics. Silly fun for the whole family!

15. Board Games

Most of us have a closet-full of board games that we never play. Take the time to play a few with your kids. Twister and Operation are great for the whole family. You can make it more fun by spray painting a giant twister board on your lawn, or setting up a bowling alley with plastic cups and a beach ball

16. Lemonade Stand or Bakery

Teach your kids about hard work by setting up a lemonade or baked-goods stand. Make signs to advertise and show prices, and something for them to collect money in. This is a good way for them to earn money for a special activity, like a theme park. They’ll have fun, and maybe make a little extra cash.


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