I have not started planning for our summer vacation yet. <gulp> I always start with a list of frugal summer fun for the family, though. With these 25 ideas I’m off to a good start for an epic summer.
Learning Never Ends
1. Join your library’s summer reading program: It’s free to join, and is a great excuse to go to the library every week. Reluctant readers will be enticed by prizes and raffles, while experienced readers will be happy to get their hands on the latest selection of books.
Learn more: 5 Frugal & Fun Activities for Rainy Days
2. Free ‘camps’ and ‘classes’ at local stores: Apple, Lego, William-Sonoma and other stores host classes and camps that are free or discounted. If you have local stores (think a yarn store, bookstore, etc.) check their website or call and find out if they offer activities over the summer.
Fun at Home
3. Skip the Pool: Pool memberships can run anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands in some areas of the country. Skip the pool and seek out water elsewhere. Water balloons or toys, a sprinkler, and a Slip n’ Slide (you can buy one for under $25!) can make your yard feel like an oasis. Don’t have a yard? Look for local parks with water features or head to a local creek to dip your toes in the water.
4. Have movie day/night: Choose something new, or introduce your kids to your favorite childhood classics. Don’t forget the popcorn!
Learn more: Family Summer Movies for Free or Cheap
5. Stay up late: There’s nothing more exciting to little people than staying up past their bedtime. Instead of making it a habit, stick to a close to normal bedtime during summer, but make some nights special by letting the kids stay up late to attend fireworks, a party, or catch fireflies. (just make sure they and you can sleep in the next day)
6. Pajama Day: Everyone loves a great do-nothing day. The trick is to make sure everyone stays in pajamas and no one changes into ‘real’ clothes!
Oh, the Places We’ll Go!
7. Make it a ‘yes’ day: Let each of your kids have a ‘yes’ day where all there requests (within reason) are met with ‘YES!’
8. Go for a photo walk: Most often kids are the ones in front of the camera. Give your kids the chance to get behind the lens with a photo walk in your neighborhood, Main St., or local gardens.
9. Garden tours: Look for local garden tours, or gardens that are open to the public for free or that have inexpensive admission. They offer great inspiration for avid nature lovers, and lots of room to roam. If you have a membership to one you may be able to visit others for free, too!
Learn more: What To Listen To This Summer
10. Seek out free museum days: Most museums and attractions offer free or discounted days. They are typically ‘off’ hours, but are well worth visiting since they are likely less busy–making it easier for kids to roam.
11. Check out reciprocal museum offerings: Already a member of a local museum or attraction? Check into what associations they belong to and learn about which museums you can visit for free. For details on how this works check out Wisebread.
12. Look for fairs and events: Local fairs and events often include free rides, food, samples, or activities for the kids. It can be a great way to learn more about your community and pass some time.
Learn more: Thrift Store Shirt Makeover
13. Go thrifting: Whether it’s a yard sale, antique store, auction, or even curbside it can be fun to seek out treasures to makeover with your little helpers. I once found a $200 train table on a walk, and my kids were more than happy to help me clean it off once we got it home.
14. Look for free/cheap movie days: Movie theaters from big chains to mom & pop places offer discounted or free movie days during the summer. Come for the free movie, and stay for the air conditioning and fresh popcorn.
15. Pass on a skill: Spend some time-sharing a skill or hobby you love with your kids this summer. Whether it’s cooking, sewing, woodworking, or collecting comic books there’s nothing more fun to a child than getting to spend time with family members doing what they are passionate about.
Check out some fun and frugal crafts instructions we’ve shared.
17. Exchange playdates: Since your kids are likely to beg for playtime anyway offer to exchange playtime with other families. This is a win-win for everyone since you get the benefit of a break, and playmates for the kids when it’s your turn.
Learn more: 7 Ways To Entertain Your Kids When You’re Sick
18. Visit friends who live far away: One thing we’ve found is that as the kids get older their friends that live further away get tougher to see! Make plans to get together over the summer for friends who live in driving distance.
19. Mix up day: Do everything backwards– ice cream for breakfast and cereal for dessert!
20. Clean out your junk: Get rid of all the clutter with your little helpers in tow. Depending on their age rewards can be as inexpensive as a popsicle to cold hard cash.
21. Host an exchange: Whether it’s a book exchange, toy exchange, clothing exchange, or even a Pokemon exchange you can make a fun day out of getting their friends together and exchanging their ‘boring’ stuff for ‘new-to-them’ things.
22. Go geocaching: Geocaching is a fun outdoor scavenger hunt for people of all ages. You can search for caches online including finding easy terrain ones for young feet.
23. Go park-hopping: Spend one day a week visiting and rating different local parks. You may discover a park you never knew existed, or find out the kids love their local park best.
24. Pack a picnic: It doesn’t have to be fancy, but packing your food up to eat outside can make a mundane lunch into a special meal. Best places to picnic? Local parks under a pavilion or trees.
Learn more: Picnic Menu for 4th of July
Children in Charge of Frugal Summer Fun
25. Let your kids make their own list! After all, the best part of summer is how relaxed it can be.
I’d love to hear from you! What will you do for frugal summer fun this year?
Want even more ideas?
- 40 Free (or nearly free) Summer Activities
- 14 Frugal and Fun things to do this Summer
- 50 Things to Do when Kids are Off School
- 25 Fall Family Activities