36 Cheap or Free Summer Activities for Kids

I can’t believe it is July already. I’m not even sure what happened to June. It was over so fast! Depending on which part of the country you live in, summer vacation may have just started or is halfway over. Here in Washington, our summer break started a bit late this year due to all of the snow days we had this winter. I have been sitting out on the back porch a lot this week enjoying the sun and listening to all of the children playing outside and I thought it would be a great idea to do a  post on cheap or free summer activities for kids. I have put together a pretty decent sized list of all kinds of summer activities for kids that are free or very inexpensive.

1. Scavenger Hunt: Create a scavenger hunt for your kids or even do a photo scavenger hunt around town and then create a scrapbook afterward.

2. Go Camping: Set up a tent in the backyard and camp overnight or check out a local campground in your area.

3. Visit the Library: Not only can you check out free books and movies from the library, typically libraries have a lot of free activities during the summer for kids. Looking at my local library, not only do they have several story times each day, they also have fun activities such as build your own fairy garden, magic shows and music and movement classes for babies and toddlers.

4. Movies or Concerts in the Park: Visit your local city website. We have free outdoor movie nights and concerts in our main downtown park very often.

5. Have a board game night or even make your own board game.

6. Visit a local salmon hatchery, wildlife reserve or rehabilitation center.

7. Learn how to make Origami.

8. Plant a Garden: Section off an area in your yard for your children to have their very own garden.

9. Join a local YMCA. Memberships are very cheap and there are always tons of activities to keep both children and adults busy.

10. Consider signing your kids up for swimming lessons or even karate or dance lessons.

11. DIY Science Projects: Pinterest is full of fun DIY science experiments for kids. Learn how to make homemade flubber or even your own bottle rocket!

12. Go on a family bike ride, hike or walk.

13. Visit a local pond to feed the ducks. I have fond memories of doing this with my grandpa when I was little.

14. Go fly a kite! Better yet, learn how to make your own!

15. Help your kids start their own business. Set up a lemonade or slushy stand, walk neighbors dogs or mow lawns.

16. Volunteer: Volunteering in the community is a great way to spend time together as a family and do something good at the same time. Visit your local humane society, clean up a park and more. Visit www.volunteermatch.org for opportunities in your area.

17. AMF Bowling: Register your kids for AMF Lanes Summer Games program. Kids can bowl 3 free games every weekday from open till 8 p.m. and weekends from open till 4 p.m. The Summer Games program runs May 22nd through September 4th. Also, visit KidsBowlFree.com for other bowling lanes that have similar programs.

18. Go to a local roller rink. If your child is 12 and under, visit KidsSkateFree.com to see if any locations in your town offer free skating.

19. Visit local museums or zoos in your area. A lot of smaller museums and zoos have free admission or very low admission prices.

20. Create a summer scrapbook. Buy or make a scrapbook for your child to put all of their summer memories in.

21. Pick your own berries. A lot of local farms will let you pick your own produce at a significant savings. Not only is this a great way to save money and spend some time in the sun, but it’s also a nice way to teach your children where their food comes from. Visit PickYourOwn.org for locations near you.

22. Cook meals together as a family. Let your children be involved in making dinner. Allow them to pick a meal they want and spend time together learning to cook it.

23. Visit state parks. My husband and I do this a lot to save money and get us out of the house to enjoy the beautiful weather. A lot of parks are free or have very cheap fees. I’m not sure if this is available everywhere, but in our area, we pay $30 for a yearly pass and it is valid for most of the state parks in our general area. Visit StateParks.com for more information.

24. Free Workshops: A lot of retailers have free workshops for kids during the summer. Lowe’s, Home Depot, Bass Pro Shops, Michael’s and Pottery Barn Kids are some that come to mind.

25. Looking for somewhere to eat while you’re out and about? Visit KidsEatFree.com to find restaurants in your area where kids can eat for free.

26. Geocaching: Geocaching is a “real-world treasure hunting outdoor game. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS enabled devices “such as your smart phone “and then share their experiences online.” This is both a fun activity for adults and kids!

27. Go on a picnic. Have the kids help you put together a nice lunch and head to your local park or lake for a picnic and some outdoor fun!

28. Stargazing is always free and really relaxing too. Some of my favorite memories from when I was a kid include my parents bringing a bunch of sleeping bags out into the lawn and us watching meteor showers. StarDate.org is a good resource for finding out when the next meteor shower will be happening.

29. Visit your local farmers market or Saturday market. It’s always fun to attend Saturday markets. There is always so much to look at and usually there are fun things for kids to do such as face painting.

30.  Go Mini Golfing

31. Visit sites like Groupon or Living Social often. I always see great deals on these sites for kids for trampoline parks, mini golfing, bowling and much more.

32. Paint Rocks. In the Vancouver/Portland area, painting rocks and hiding them around town has become a very big thing. We actually have a facebook group where you can join and post pictures of rocks you have painted or found, or let people know the general location of where you will be hiding a rock. This is such a fun activity for kids. I still have the first rock I found on accident in a movie theater parking lot when my husband and I went to see a movie.

33. Paint your own Pottery. A lot of towns have places where you can take your kids and paint your own coffee mug, plate, and tons of other things. This is a fun way to spend the afternoon and it’s usually not overly expensive.

34. Have a water balloon or water gun fight.

35. Break out the chalk and decorate your driveway. Did you know you can even make your own chalk?

36. Declutter and sell. Now I know this might not be the most fun activity for kids, but it can be. If your kids toys are getting out of hand, encourage your children to choose items they no longer use to sell at a yard sale or online. Let your children use the money to buy a new toy. If you live in a larger neighborhood, consider creating a mom’s Facebook group for your neighborhood. This is something our neighborhood has done and I see mom’s constantly posting gently used toys and clothes for cash and they usually go super fast. Plus there is no need to travel far 🙂

Have any fun cheap or free summer activities for kids I may have missed? Post them in the comments below!


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