10 Inexpensive Summer Activities

Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.  Henry James

I could not agree more with Henry James. Summer has always been a favorite season; as a child, obviously, but as a parent — I love summer! It is no secret among my children’s teachers that I am just as happy when school ends as the kids. I know school is necessary but how I long for the days of no school bus, projects, reports, homework, lice (eeewwwww), flu (double ick), sack lunches left uneaten and moldy, and so forth.  Yes, I am just as ready as my kids for a break from school.

What to do with the long days of summer? Here are 10 inexpensive summer activities that may fit the bill.

5 Inexpensive Summer Activities for the Family:

1. Outdoor theater.  They are all the rage.    CrackerJackTheater.com has the BEST ideas for setting up a theater to enjoy all summer.  Don’t forget the popcorn, drinks, and other snacks.  Visit YouTube for DIY screen ideas and Amazon for fairly inexpensive projectors.

outdoor theater

Backyard Theater

2. Camp out in the yard.  No kidding.  Set up your tent, sleeping bags, etc.  Put your Christmas lights in the trees for a twinkle effect.  If you have an outdoor fire pit  (this is a great, inexpensive idea) light it up and make smores (yummy desserts here).  Play games, listen to music, or watch the night sky.  Totally fun and you have a fully equipped bathroom only steps away!

Camp in the Backyard

3.  Water.  Beach, lake, river, or pond.  Find a great swimming spot, take a lunch and snacks, and swim all day or fish at a favorite hole.  What’s better than that?

4. Water fight!  Get out there with the kids throw water balloons, water pistols, hoses, or whatever water toys you have.  Love this water balloon slide idea.

Water Balloon Slide

Water Balloon Slide – Take it up a few notches.

5. Crafts and creative activities.  Paints, beads, coloring, make crayons, puppets, etc.  Love this video Stay at Home Summer Camp Ideas.  Make sure to download the activity calendar and customize it to keep your plans for the kids on track.

For the teens — go to the movies, bike rides, hikes, watch a show your teen likes, bake, make something crafty and creative.  Remember they will be gone before you know it so enjoy every minute.

6.  Library. Take the kids to the library.  Many public libraries host kids’ activities during the summer months.  Don’t forget to select a book to read aloud to the kids.  My tweens loved listing to me read Harry Potter or Chronicles of Narnia.  Don’t dismiss audio books.  They were a wonderful to listen to just before bed.

Start a home book club with the teens.  Select a book, read, meet, and discuss over a lunch or snacks the group prepares together.

Book Club

Start a Book Club

7. Bike rides, hikes,  nature walks around the area. Take advantage of public parks and trails with your kids.  If your kids are ambitious, borrow a bird or nature book and ask them to identify animals and plants along the way or keep a sketch pad handy to draw what they see.

8. Bake or get crafty with your teen.  Perhaps they want to learn to cook or learn a craft such as sewing, knitting, or painting.  Hold a cooking class to teach them how to make their favorite dishes.

Teen Cooking Parties

Teen Cooking Parties

9. Start a garden.  Younger kids love to grow their own food.  A side benefit is they will eagerly eat their vegetables!  A small garden can be grown in containers or pots.

10. Visit a local fun park or activity center with the kids.  Think bowling, miniature golf, or a science center.  Whatever your kids are interested in.  I have taken my youngest ice skating and to the Charles Schulz Museum because it is about 20 minutes from my house.

Don’t forget to check out your local community center and Boys and Girls Club.  These organizations host wonderful activities with budget-friendly costs.  My children have taken golf lessons, swimming lessons, overnight camps, and day camps for much less than most organizations.


As for my family, we are packed with fairly inexpensive activities this summer.   We are camping locally, going fishing at a favorite spot, hammocks are hung, swimming, watching favorite movies, and basically hanging out with one another.  But I will certainly try some of the ideas above — they look too fun to pass up!

Have a fantastic week.  Remember to hydrate and use sunscreen!