25 Ways to Rock Summer Without Camps and a Big Budget

by ParentCo. May 25, 2017

kid showing a bowl full of blueberries and raspberries

While the leisurely months of summer sound appealing, most parents realize the warm days and unstructured time only lasts so long before you start hearing, “Mom, I’m bored!” There are always camp options and fun places to visit, but what about ways to enjoy summer without breaking the bank? While there are tons of Pinterest-worthy ideas for things to do around the house, some of us parents just aren’t the crafty type (or we want to escape the confines of the living room). Luckily there are tons of ways to have an awesome summer with your family. Whether you’re in a big city or small town, here are 25 fun things to do this summer that don’t involve camp or a financial loan to get through the summer months. 

1 | Visit your local library

Community libraries across the country have summer reading programs where kids can earn free prizes for reading books at any level. Most libraries offer story times and other free classes and activities throughout the summer as well.

2 | Check out your local nature center

Contact the county Parks and Recreation Department if you’re not sure where your local center is located.

3 | Get reading at Barnes & Noble’s summer readings program

Earn free books. Ask your local store what their summer kids’ activities include.

4 | Attend your local museums’ community days

Most museums have a discounted admission day that’s designated for communities and families.

5 | Visit a local university

Surprise, they aren’t just for college students. Walk around the campus and have kids take photos of cool sights. Bring a sack lunch and picnic, or grab a snack at the cafeteria. While you’re there, see if the universities offer kids’ activities too.

6 | Go out to dinner on “kids eat free” days

Taking the entire family out to eat is expensive. Google “kids eat free” in your city and to find out what restaurants offer free meals for kids and then plan a date.

7 | Enjoy a free small Slurpee at 7-Eleven on July 11

8 | Go swimming at a community pool

It’s typically only a few dollars to swim in a city-owned community recreation center pool. While you’re at it, find a fountain or sprinkler park for kids to splash around. No need to break the bank with expensive water park tickets when they’ll have a blast splashing anywhere with water.

9 | Sign the kids up for the Kids Bowl Free summer program

Little bowlers will enjoy up to two free games a day, all summer long.

10 | Attend an outdoor movie or concert at your local park

Check your city’s Parks and Recreation website for details.

11 | See a movie for $1

At Regal Cinema’s Summer Movie Express select family movies are only $1 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the summer.

12 | Pack a picnic and play at your local park playground

Community recreation centers often offer free (or really cheap) summer activities too.

13 | Host a neighborhood lemonade stand to earn some cash

Then use that money to pay for a summer activity.

14 | Play some games at a nickel or penny arcade

Have the kids use the money they earned from their lemonade sales to pay for the games!

15 | Volunteer or participate in a community service project

Check out VolunteerMatch.org for family-friendly opportunities in your city.

16 | Go for a bike ride or hike in your neighborhood.

17 | Get artsy at Michaels’ Camp Creativity

For seven weeks over the summer, Michaels stores offers fun craft activities for kids ages 3 and up for only $5 per session.

18 | Scour Groupon and deal websites

Look for discounts on miniature golfing, sports, and other activities.

19 | Go berry picking at a local orchard or pickery

Depending on where you live, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries are typically available during the summer.

20 | Attend the county fair at a discount price

Many fairs offer free admission for kids on specific days or as summer reading rewards. You can attend the fair without breaking the bank by limiting rides and spending time at the 4-H and animal displays instead.

21 | Take the kids out to the ballgame

Visit your local team’s website for family day admission deals.

22 | Get a day-pass for the YMCA

Participate in activities or swim in the pool.

23 | Get crafty

At Lakeshore Learning store’s Free Craft for Kids Saturday programs.

24 | Visit your local farmer’s market

Teach the kids about fresh produce and what’s in season.

25 | Attend a Girl Scout/Boy Scout activity

Scout offerings are fairly inexpensive and offered throughout the country. Hopefully these 25 ideas will keep your family entertained throughout the summer, and leave you with a few dollars for back-to-school shopping come fall.



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