50 Low Cost or Free Activities for the Upcoming Summer

by Stephanie Lynch

Summer is near, and if you’re anything like me, you love to entertain the kids while they are out of school.

While it would be nice to take your kids to the movies, bowling alley and theme parks every day, this all could add up fast, unless you have an endless budget, which, if I had to guess, you probably don’t.

To keep your kids entertained for a low, low price, here are 50 ideas you may want to take advantage of.

  1. Touring the fire house: let the children enjoy handling some of the equipment used by the firemen.
  2. Visiting a botanical garden: let the children enjoy the sights, or if they are allowed to, pick some plants.
  3. See free or cheap movies: take advantage of weekdays, especially in the morning when many theaters offer low-cost movie package – sometimes free!
  4. Go bowling: some bowling alleys allow your kids to bowl for free on certain days of the weeks.
  5. Visit a fish hatchery: see if the kids can be allowed to feed the fish.
  6. Visit a museum: holders of Bank of America debit and credit cards can receive free tickets to participating museums. This happens every month on the first Saturday.
  7. Visit a wildlife preserve: let the children identify animals they already know and learn about ones they don’t.
  8. Seeing the fireworks: it doesn’t have to be the 4th of July to enjoy fireworks. Check out local parks in the area to see if any free events are coming up.
  9. Plant sunflowers or a garden: connect with the nature and do something worthwhile.
  10. Stage a play: It is real fun when kids use their own ideas to come up with a play and act it out. No equipment or technical know-how is required.
  11. Taking a bubble bath outside: This is exciting as you break the norm of the usual bathtub. Instead, use an inflatable pool, put some toys inside for the kids to play with and fill it with bubbles.
  12. Learn a campfire song: how about sitting together and teaching your kids a song or two in front of a nice fire?
  13. Pitching a tent in the backyard: This is just perfect. Let the kids play around or take part in roasting marshmallows and hot dogs on the grill or fire pit -- if you have one.
  14. Play sand bakery: let the kids bake their favorite items using sand.
  15. Watermelon seed spitting contest: this is real fun. See who can spit the most or even furthest.
  16. Run in the sprinklers: get drenched in the water just for fun.
  17. Go swimming: regardless of where you live, there’s a good chance there’s a free beach or splash pad nearby.
  18. Hiking: take a stroll in a forest nearby or visit other trails. You can make it exciting for kids by playing some games.
  19. Making paper airplanes: this requires just pieces of paper that are not in use.
  20. Going on a photo walk: carry along a camera, print the photos and create a fun scrapbook later on.
  21. Visit grandparents or other relatives: now is the time to visit people you have not seen for a long time.
  22. Baking: allow the kids to assist you in baking activities by doing the simple tasks.
  23. Decorating windows: use some window markers that can be washed later.
  24. Reading: select a few chapters and read with the kids. The local library is a great place to find hundreds of great children’s books.
  25. Teach children how to play chess: away from school, this is the best time to learn these skills
  26. Chase butterflies: compete and see who catches one.
  27. A spa experience: let your kids enjoy treating you to a spa experience or you treat them to one.
  28. Picnic: going to the woods or park simply breaks the monotony of staying at home. A meal can even be shared out there.
  29. Watching the sunrise or sunset: find your favorite park and enjoy a simple sunset or sunrise.
  30. An obstacle course: let the kids race or compete. A reward for the winner will be perfect.
  31. Playing in the rain: well, can’t we at least do something that is normally not allowed.
  32. Playing hide and seek: it is definitely a game most kids love. It can be played anywhere, in or outside the house.
  33. Play charades: come up with a set of actions that are hard to pull and see how everyone does it.
  34. The dollar visit: take your children to the local dollar store and let them purchase an item or two.
  35. Watching birds: with a book about birds in one hand and binoculars in the other, see how many birds you can identify.
  36. Listening to a free concert in the city: this is a free series available in most cities during summer.
  37. Collecting lighting bugs: this is real fun for kids -- let them go out at night with jars and see who collects the most.
  38. Creating comic books: this can have jokes or funny clips that will be used to entertain other members of the family.
  39. Inventing something: you can involve the kids to collect things from around the house and create things.
  40. Conducting science experiments: pick a science experiment that is kid friendly and create your own in-home lab.
  41. Flying kites: it is a perfect activity when there is a cool breeze.
  42. A dance party: have your kids and their friends dance to their favorite tunes.
  43. Visiting a construction site: let the kids enjoy a busy construction site, from a safe distance, and see the equipment in action.
  44. Building ice castles: by using water frozen in different sized containers, kids can use the blocks to create castles.
  45. Visit a farm: let the kids spend some time taking part in simple activities on the farm.
  46. Visiting the library: borrow an interesting movie to watch at home. Some libraries also have a toy room where kids can play for an hour or so.
  47. Free story time: this can be at the library or bookstore.
  48. Mini golf: attend a golfing session and enjoy the shots.
  49. Tie die t-shirts: come up with patterns and put them on the t-shirts.
  50. Go on a park tour: try to visit as many parks as you can within a 10 mile radius.


Stephanie Lynch is the co-founder of Howmuchisit.org, a cost-helping website helping consumers find out what unfamiliar things cost in life.  She resides in Gilbert, Arizona, with her two sons and husband, and in her spare time, she enjoys scrapbooking and enjoying the outdoors.

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