70 Frugal Summer Ideas With Kids In 2024 (Fun Without the cost!)

frugal and free summer fun activities and ideas for kids

Beat summer boredom on a budget with these entertaining and wallet-friendly activities! Keep your kids engaged and create lasting memories without overspending.

Check out this big list of affordable summer fun ideas!

Affordable Outdoor Adventures

Visit a New Park

Explore a new park in your local area. Plan an engaging activity to enjoy once you arrive:

  • fly a kite
  • go fishing
  • play frisbee golf
  • throw a football
  • kick a soccer ball
  • go on a nature scavenger hunt (great for any age)

Pack a picnic to stay longer and avoid impulse purchases. Enjoy a fun-filled day without the extra expense!

Water Fun

When the weather heats up, water play is the perfect activity. Here are some exciting ideas to keep cool and have fun:

  • Visit a splash park
  • Go to the neighborhood pool (or ask a friend or family member to use theirs)
  • Buy a season pass to a community pool (this is more cost-effective if you plan to visit the pool regularly)
  • Run in the sprinkler
  • Put the sprinkler under a trampoline
  • Play with water squirters
  • Fill a spray bottle with water and let young kids have fun spraying everything!
  • Visit a nearby lake or beach
  • Have a water balloon fight
  • Play on the slip’n slide
  • Fill up the water table
  • Make a toy washing station (in the bathtub or water table)

Explore Different Hiking Trails

Take a bike ride or hike on the trails in your area. Many local nature parks maintain these trails, providing a safe and scenic way to explore the outdoors.

Backyard camping

Backyard camping is a budget-friendly and convenient alternative to traditional camping. Set up a tent, then enjoy roasting marshmallows, telling ghost stories, and sleeping under the stars. It’s all without the expense of traveling or camping fees.

Have an Outdoor Movie

Hosting an outdoor movie night can be a fun and cheap way to enjoy a summer evening. All you need is a projector, a blank wall or a white sheet, and some cozy seating options like blankets and lawn chairs.

Stream a favorite movie from your device, and consider inviting friends to bring their own snacks and drinks.

After-Dark Outdoor Activities & Games

For night owls, try these after-dark fun activities:

  • Flashlight tag
  • Glow stick hide and seek
  • Catch fireflies
  • Sit around the firepit
  • Take a night walk or bike ride
  • Look through the telescope
  • Watch a fireworks show

Indoor Free Summer Fun Activities

indoor frugal and cheap summer fun activities for kids

Take Advantage of Local Library Activities

Your local library may offer extra activities during summer break. Find a comfortable place to spend some time reading and exploring new books or check for:

  • Summer reading programs
  • Storytimes
  • Extra classes and book clubs
  • Summer movies
  • Available times to use the maker’s space

Pro Tip: We spent several hours creating fun designs using the library’s 3-D printer last summer—completely free!

Have a Board Games Marathon

A board games marathon is a perfect way to spend a lazy summer day indoors. Gather all of the board games in the house and set up a tournament-style competition. Kids can compete against each other and earn points for each game they win.

The winner at the end of the day can receive a prize, such as a homemade trophy or a special treat.

Play Question Games

Have a fun family night using these free question games:

Keep Your Kids Learning

Movie Nights

Set up a cozy area in the living room with blankets and pillows. Choose a movie that everyone will enjoy and make some popcorn. For a fun twist, have the kids act out their favorite scenes from the movie after it’s over.

Schedule Playdates

Schedule playdates with friends and neighbors. This will foster friendships and provide time to play with others at no extra cost.

Cheap Creative Activities

free and easy summer fun activities for kids; arts and crafts

Arts and Crafts Activities

  • Sidewalk chalk art
  • Collect things on a walk to turn into a craft project
  • Paint rocks
  • Do a craft project with random craft items: googly eyes, pipe cleaners, felt, etc.
  • Make something out of recycling (Example: Can you make something that holds pencils and is also a musical instrument?)
  • Make something to give to someone: cards, muffins, gifts, etc.
  • Play with playdoh (or make your own)
  • Origami
  • Paper airplanes
  • Build something: create with Legos, Lincoln logs, etc.
  • Complete a directed drawing
  • Make marshmallow and toothpick houses
  • Write a story

Cooking Ideas

  • Use what you already have in the freezer or pantry to try out a new recipe. Choose a favorite food—such as grilled cheese or cookies—and make it with your child.

  • Host a cooking competition with a recipe everyone can make, like homemade pizza or tacos. Each child creates their version, judged on taste, presentation, and creativity. The winner receives a prize like a special dessert or cooking-related gift.

Try Easy Science Experiments

Try super easy science experiments with household items. We love baking soda and vinegar!

Make An Indoor Fort

When the weather gets too hot, Bring out the blankets, pillows, and sleeping bags for this great activity.

Pro Tip: Give your kids a flashlight and a stack of books to encourage even more summer reading.

Frugal Summer Activities for the Family

family working on a puzzle

Put Together A Big Puzzle

Set up a 500 or 1000-piece puzzle on the dining room table. This captivating activity will draw in all family members, providing hours of entertainment and bonding time.

Plant A Garden

Get outside and enjoy the fresh air together by planting a garden. This is an awesome opportunity for kids to learn about plant growth and care.

Use pots you already have for small plants or herbs to save on space.

Bonus: Children will learn about the importance of healthy eating by growing their own fruits and vegetables.

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteering is a great way for kids to give back to their community and learn new skills.

Many organizations offer volunteer opportunities for kids, including animal shelters, food banks, and community gardens. Kids can also volunteer at local events, such as festivals or charity runs.

Explore Free Events in your Area

Check for free and low-cost events happening in your area:

  • Movies and concerts at the park
  • Local festivals
  • Free admission days at museums
  • Go geocaching
  • Local sports events

Earn Money With A Summer Job

Teach your kids the value of a dollar by helping them start a new summer job. Not only will they learn about hard work, but they’ll also gain essential money management skills that benefit them for a lifetime. Plus, they will have something productive to do to fill their extra time.

big list of frugal summer fun ideas with kids; free and cheap activities

What’s Next?

Next, teach your kids to budget with a free printable and manageable tips to make it easy.

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