18 Fun Summer Activities for Families on a Budget

Mother and two girls playing outside with a hose

What Can You Do on a Boring Summer Day?

The next time your kid says, “I’m bored,” on a summer day, skip the “back in my day” speech and try these fun summer activities instead. Summer can make staying on budget hard from costlier A/C bills to annual family vacations. Rather than breaking the bank, make this the best summer yet and save money with these affordable activities for the entire family.

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Fun, Cheap & Free Things to Do This Summer

Ditch the tablets, put down those video games, and press pause on streaming. These outdoor summer activities and games for kids, toddlers, and teens are sure to turn this summer break into the summer to remember. Here’s how to keep your kids busy in the summer without breaking the bank:

Group of kids playing ring toss outside

1. Have a Yard Sale

Hosting a yard sale is a great way to declutter your home and make a little cash on the side. It’s also a good lesson for children on how to let go of old toys or belongings. Encourage your kids to make their own money and have fun with it by setting up a homemade lemonade stand. The money you make in the sale can be put toward next year’s family travel plans.

2. Try Upcycling

Why buy another pair of summer shoes when you can fix or upcycle the ones you have? Upcycling is a good way to teach children about sustainability while nurturing their crafty side. Check out these ideas on upcycling shoes or look online for ways to upcycle clothing, old candles, furniture, and more.

3. Go to a Festival or County Fair

Festivals, parades, and county fairs offer low-cost entertainment and games for the whole family. You and your children can have a blast riding the rides, eating carnival food, and spending quality time together. Stay on budget by carrying cash instead of a debit card.

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4. Visit a Farmer’s Market

A fun and unique place to visit in the summer is an outdoor farmer’s market. See if your community has one and what the hours are before you go. Here you can peruse the different booths, try samples of food, and sometimes discover interesting finds like handmade arts and crafts.

Daughter and parents walking outside at a farmer’s market

5. Look for Local Events in Town

Many cities and towns host free summer activities for the public. Museums, community centers, parks departments, and more have plenty of summer activities for kids from learning programs to concerts. Tons of summer fun can be found with a quick online search for “things to do this summer near me.”

6. Go Stargazing

Right around sunset on a clear night, visit a nearby open field or public space where you can go stargazing. The less light pollution, the better, so get out of town if you have to. Your little astronaut will love the view into Outerspace. If you have a pickup truck, load up the back with comforters and pillows for a cozier seat or turn it into a romantic date night.

Kids placing Outerspace FLAT SOCKS kid’s sock inside shoe

7. Hunt for Rainbows

Those quick summer rainstorms can reveal some pretty majestic rainbows. But where do these rainbows lead and is there really a pot of gold at the end? Throw on those rainbow socks and get hunting. While you likely won’t reach the end, you can still spend quality time together searching for that hidden treasure.

Girl holding white shoes with Rainbow FLAT SOCKS Kids inside

8. Get Artsy with Sidewalk Chalk

When looking for summer activities for toddlers, chalk art can produce hours of fun. Include the older children, too, and have a friendly game of Pictionary, a drawing competition, or make a mural out of your driveway.

Take your child’s art to the next level when you fill water balloons with water from the hose, cornstarch, and some food coloring for splatter paint bombs. Unless you want colorful toes, keep your feet dry by wearing shoes with paint splatter FLAT SOCKS or paint splatter kid’s socks.

Girl on couch holding girl’s shoes with paint splatter FLAT SOCKS Kids

9. Have a Tie Dye Day

Another fun art project for summer, tie dying is both simple and affordable. Either shop online or go to your discount retail store for a tie dye kit, plain white T-shirts, tote bags, and anything else your kids want to color. They’ll want to rock their tie dye apparel all summer long!

10. Grow a Garden

Gardening is an inexpensive activity that’s exciting and fruitful. If you have a green thumb, start by planting seeds or, for better success, use starter plants. Give your child their own section of the garden to plant what they want, from herbs and vegetables they can eat to wildflowers. Your wannabe farmer can learn what it takes to tend to their crops, or plants, all summer long.

11. Go to the Library

Libraries offer lots of fun summer activities for kids and teens. Kids who love reading can attend a summer reading program or go to book fairs where you can find titles at a discounted price while supporting your local library. Reading keeps kids busy and on task for the upcoming school year.

Boy and girl reading outside on dock

12. Break Out the Hose for Water Games

Put your camo FLAT SOCKS on and ready your water hose. It’s time for battle! From water balloons to water guns, beat the heat by playing in the water in your backyard. Dollar stores are a one-stop shop for summertime fun where you can find all you need and turn any birthday bash into a blast. Go barefoot or wear shoes to avoid slipping.

For a classic summer activity for kids, put a couple of sprinklers in your yard for the kids to run through. Lay them alongside a tarp pinned to the ground and add some shampoo or bubble bath for a fun DIY slip and slide.

Kids playing with water guns outside

13. Try Lawn Games

Lawn games are more than cornhole or “bags.” There’s a lot you can do in your own backyard during summer barbecues or family reunions. For instance, set up a scavenger hunt for the kids while you play a game of giant beer pong with buckets instead of cups and tennis or wiffle balls.

When it gets dark outside, break out the glow sticks for glow-in-the-dark capture the flag, or stick them inside empty plastic bottles for a brilliant game of glow bowl.

14. Go Hiking

Whether you live in the mountains or the city, chances are there’s a hiking trail or nature space near you. National and state parks are free to visit and often have plenty of sites to see and things to do. Either go for a nature hike through luscious green forests or rent a kayak for some fun on the water. Around lunchtime, take a break and have a picnic.

15. Go Camping

While some parks offer inexpensive camping options, going camping in your backyard is a free summer activity kids of all ages can enjoy. Put up a tent or, if you don’t have one, borrow one from a neighbor. Spend the evening catching fireflies, building a fire, and making s’mores while telling ghost stories.

16. Build a Pillow Fort for Movie Night

Don’t have the yard to camp out or need a rainy-day alternative? Grab all the pillows and blankets in the house to build a pillow fort perfect for watching movies, getting cozy with books and coloring materials, or having pillow fights with siblings and friends.

17. Try New Things & Make a List

Always wanted to go to a drive-in theater or take horseback riding lessons? Put together a list of activities or skills you and your children might want to try that are new. Summer break is the best time to learn new things like sports, cooking, or playing an instrument. Save money using coupon sites for discounts on local activities, services, and events.

18. Make Your Own Ice Cream

Cook up a batch of summer’s favorite treat at home. Making your own ice cream is easy and it can save you trips to the local ice cream parlor or fast-food restaurant. Most ingredients are already in your pantry and recipes are easy to find online. With a few extra toppings or mix-ins, everyone can cool down with a sundae party.

Make Summer Fun with FLAT SOCKS

For many kids, summer is the best time of the year. For parents, it can be one of the most expensive. These summer activities for kids are affordable and fun, so you don’t have to worry about getting bored or going broke. Save a little more cash on the best sock for summer by shopping FLAT SOCKS clearance. Or, bundle and save so everyone can have a fun summer with cozy, sock-free feet.