9 Best Summer Activities for Families on a Budget

By Holly Giles | Florida

summer vacation ideas for kids and families looking to stay at home

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Nine Best Summer Activities for Families on a Budget

The summer vacation in America is usually about 12 weeks long, which can really be a challenge for busy parents. Finding the best summer activities for families can take time. In particular, working parents can really struggle if they have only limited vacation time. Weekends are also often taken up with chores rather than family fun. But when the weather is nice, it’s only natural to want to make the most of the great outdoors. Here are some ideas for inexpensive family fun.

What activities can we do in summer?

1. A Trip to the Local Park Bring a picnic and some sports equipment. Play ball, tag, or host your own “Olympics” with egg and spoon races, three-legged races, and so on.

2. Take up a sport or pastime as a family. There are lots of options you can start learning online, like yoga or tai chi. Your local community might have summer games available.

playing soccer

3. Make the Most of the sports gear you already have. It’s time to dust off the bats, balls, bicycles, and all the other sports equipment. Dig in closets, basements, and attics. Sort everything and try to use them all over the course of the summer.

4. Take a Hike. Nature walks are a great way to get kids outside to appreciate nature. Bring rubber gloves and a range of trash bags as you go and you can also pick up any rubbish and recycling that other people have left behind. Have the kids redeem the recycled items and let them have the money.

5. Go Bowling Many bowling lanes offer free bowling for kids in summer. You have to pay for the shoe rental. Families usually have to register and are allowed two free games per day at certain times. Check the rules at your local lane.

family games

6. Learn a New Craft. Small studios offer a range of crafts, such as pottery, ceramics, making robots, and more. There is usually a small fee for materials, and the lessons are either free or inexpensive.

What are the most popular summertime activities?

7. Be a Tourist in Your Own Town. Most of us get stuck in a rut and do the same things repeatedly. Dig yourselves out of that rut by listing all the local stuff you’ve never done before. Decide on a 5- to 15-mile radius from your home and go around clockwise. Write reviews after each trip to remind yourselves of where you’ve gone and which places you would love to visit again. Use Trip Advisor to find places and leave family reviews.

8. Head Out for a Day Trip. Once you’ve exhausted all of the possibilities in your local area, or want a change of scenery, choose a nearby town for a day trip. Check online to see if there are any special events you would like to attend, a museum you want to visit, and so on.

summer popsicles

What can I do in summer at home?

9. Cook Together as a Family When you’re all home together, you all need three meals a day plus snacks. It can be a real hassle for the main cook in the family (usually Mom) to keep everyone fed. But even young children can help with the cooking. Breakfasts are pretty easy, with scrambled eggs, French toast, or pancakes. Most kids can stir and whisk. Lunch can be sandwiches — and if you are going out of the house, the cheapest way to eat well is to bring a picnic. Most children can put mayo or peanut butter on bread or build a sandwich with cold cuts, cheese and salad once you show them how. Barbecue can also be fun for children. You will keep them away from the hot grill, but they can still thread brightly-colored vegetables onto skewers or help you whip up some homemade barbecue sauce.

Try these ideas to create family memories that could last a lifetime.


About the Author

Holly Giles is a wife, mother, and storyteller. As an author and Florida Master Naturalist, she writes about heritage homemaking skills, motherhood, and why Florida offers the best hidden natural gems to explore as a family.