young boy and girl with goggles on playing in a swimming pool

10 Free & Cheap Things to Do with Kids This Summer

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Inexpensive Summer Activities for Kids of All Ages

The sun is out – just like school! – which means it’s up to you to find things to do with your kids this summer after work or on the weekend. Going to the movies or enjoying a family trip to a theme park are fun activities, but they’re not exactly cheap. The more kids you have, the more expensive every summer adventure becomes, too.

If you don’t know where to start, read on – we’ll break down 10 free things to do with kids all summer long.

Take a Trip to a Local Water Park

Summertime brings lots of heat and sunshine. Why not cool off and let the kids expend some energy at a local water park?

Most water parks are only open for part of the year, making them excellent outdoor excursions for sweltering summer weekends. The best water parks have slides, lazy rivers, and plenty of ice cream for the kiddos (and you, of course). Plus, many water parks are relatively cheap, making them a great activity to do with your kids this summer – your local park may even have a discount if your kids are students at schools in the area.

Visit Furry Friends at the Zoo

It seems like a universal truth that kids love animals. To that end, why not take your children (and maybe a few friends) down to the local zoo for a day out and about? Zoos are great places to take kids because they’re educational, have convenient places for snacks or lunch, and let you spend some time in the warm summer weather.

On top of that, many zoos have discounts or offer free admission for kids. If you’re quick enough, you can get discount tickets online and potentially snag some cheap deals before summer gets into full swing.

Organize a Scavenger Hunt

Some of the best things to do with kids in the summer don’t cost a dime. With a little creativity, you can set up a challenging yet fun scavenger hunt for your kids. For example:

A good scavenger hunt will keep your kids occupied for hours. Even better, scavenger hunts can be enjoyable for kids of all ages. If your kids are on the older side, be sure to make the clues tricky enough to keep them stumped for a bit.

Set Up a Backyard Obstacle Course

Alternatively, another free thing to do with kids this summer is to let them bask in the summer sunshine with an outdoor obstacle course. Your backyard could be the perfect place to host this summer’s “Olympic Games.” If your family has a treehouse or fort, incorporate it into the obstacle course for extra fun.

You can use a lot of common toys or cheap items to put together a stellar obstacle course that’s both challenging and safe. Think of these tools when cobbling together a fun course for your children:

An obstacle course could be just what your kids need to enjoy their backyard in a new way and keep them away from the TV.

Backyard Camping

a family camping in the backyard during summertime

Your backyard can also be fun with fewer modifications if you set it up for a camping adventure. Pitch a tent in the backyard and bring out the sleeping bags for a night under the stars. Odds are your kids will be excited to try this unique summer activity and want to sleep outdoors reading each other scary stories. Backyard camping can be fun and safe, and summer can be the best time of year to enjoy it since temperatures will be comfortable long after the sun goes down.

Fly High with a Kite at the Park

If you’re searching for an easy activity to do with kids, check Google maps to see if there’s a local park nearby. If so, take a stroll with your kids and bring a kite. Cheap kites can be purchased online or at retailers for $10-$20 on average.

Once at the park, unleash the kite and let it fly! For even more enjoyment, teach your kids how to fly the kite on their own. Bring a blanket and a picnic lunch for a fun and cheap afternoon that’ll prepare little ones for naptime in no time.

Play Board Games

If the weather’s a bit too hot for comfort, or if you live in an area with lots of rainy days, you can enjoy plenty of great indoor summer activities for kids at home. Board games are perfect ways to spend time indoors.

Board games are cooperative or competitive depending on the game, and they teach kids lots of valuable skills, like how to think ahead, strategize, and play fairly. The best board games for kids aren’t too complex, but they can still be fun for adults if you want to join in. Some great options include:

Hang Out at the Playground

For another free thing to do with kids this summer you can check for a nearby playground. Playgrounds are perfect for younger kids who need to get rid of some excess energy before they hit the sack for a nap. If there isn’t a separate playground near your home, see if the local elementary school opens its playground to kids on the weekends or during the summer.

Have an Arts and Crafts Party

Younger children or kids with an artistic side might like playing in the paint with you instead of running around outside this summer. Fortunately, an arts and crafts party can be cheap and entertaining for hours on end.

Pick up some basic art supplies at your local store or online. Try to get supplies like:

Then, once you’ve put all the supplies together, invite your kids to the kitchen table and challenge them to draw you the best picture possible. An arts and crafts party goes great with ice cream (just saying!).

Have a Younger Kid? Try a Sensory Bin!

Parents of very young kids often need stimulating ways to entertain them during summer months while getting chores done. If your child isn’t old enough for kindergarten, consider putting together a cheap sensory bin.

Sensory bins are plastic tubs or any other large containers filled with colorful and interesting objects and materials. You get to choose the materials and make sure they’re all safe, then present the bin to your child for exploration. This simple trick is great for both entertaining your young child and letting them experience new things in a controlled environment.

Get Ready for a Great Summer!

At the end of the day, the best inexpensive summer children’s activities are just as fun as pricier vacations in the eyes of kids. Don’t let a tight budget stop your little ones from having a great time while school’s out.

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Sources accessed March 29, 2022 –

PJ Library – Why Do Kids Love Animals?

Salus University – Six Developmental Benefits of Sensory Bins


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