Budget-friendly Summer Activities for Your Family

Budget-Friendly Summer Activities for Your Family

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Do you need 10 budget-friendly summer activities? If so, you’re in the right place. 

I’ve put together a list of 10 budget-friendly summer activities so you may have the best time possible without blowing all of your money. These are the ideal family-friendly pursuits to take part in to fortify your bonds while having fun. 

I am aware that it could appear like spending a lot of money is necessary in order to create memories that will last a lifetime. Right? It is false. 

Keep reading to discover the 10 budget-friendly summer activities for your entire family. 

Explore Parks and Nature

Most of the time, in the summer, we have quite a few days with amazing weather. 

“Amazing weather” is a relative term, if you ask me. 

I prefer cooler days. I am not a summertime-type person. My perfect day would not be April 25th, if you have ever watched Miss Congeniality. I like fall and winter days where the temperatures are lower and I can cuddle up with a blanket and hot chocolate. 

However, I understand that I am in the minority. I live in a family of “summer” people who want to do things outside, especially at the beach when possible, during the summer. (I’m more of a “take me to the mountains in the winter” person!)

I can give hints and tips for how to have fun in the summer, though. There are times I like being outside, even when it’s warm and all the “nature” makes me sneeze.

One thing that you can do during the summer is visit local parks and places in nature. 

Discover Local Hidden Gems

Nearly all of my life has been spent in or near my town. In the region, there are still items I haven’t done.

For instance, the natural spring that is located behind one of the nearby churches has reportedly been there for about 100 years, although I haven’t been there. 

For recommendations on activities to do in your area, consult your friends and relatives.

They may know about new things in town or nearby. 

Visit a park you’ve never gone to or that you haven’t been to in a while. You never know what may be new at any park in your area. 

Picnic in Nature

You can picnic in your own backyard, at a local park, or just about anywhere you want. That’s what makes picnicking one of the best budget-friendly activities! 

You can make whatever foods your family enjoys, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. 

Grab an old blanket, a cooler, and your food and drink. Head out to your favorite outdoor spot, and enjoy eating in nature. Be sure you have your sunscreen so that you don’t get burnt.

If you are going to sit on a blanket in the grass, don’t forget the bug spray as well. You might need it. 

Go Hiking and Find Scenic Views

Hiking will take you to some scenic places. You may find a breath-taking view at the top of the trail. 

Find a map online of different trails, greenways, or parks near you. Figure out which trails have the best scenic views. 

Once you have a plan for where to go, grab some snacks, the camera, and the bug spray. Head out on your adventures. 

Hiking is not the only way to get to scenic views though. Here in NC, there are several day trips that can take me to mountains, lakes, waterfalls, or so many other scenic views. Think about how far you’d like to drive in a day. Grab all the supplies and head out. 

The destination isn’t always the most important thing. Most of the time, the path to get there is the best part. That’s why hiking and finding scenic views are two amazing budget-friendly summer activities for your entire family. 

Watch Birds and Nature

Before going bird-watching, grab some library books about birds. It’s summer vacation, but a little learning is not a bad thing. Right? Plus, I love taking pictures of the birds and trying to match them to the book. 

If your kids are young, make it a game. Who can find the most different birds? Which bird will it match up to in the book? There are phone apps that can do this for birds and trees. 

This is one of my favorite budget-friendly summer activities because it doesn’t cost anything, except gas to drive, to do. I love those kinds of activities. 

Camp Under the Stars

When I was younger, my family and I had a pull-out camper. It was a box on wheels as we pulled it behind our car. At the campground, we opened it and there was actually a good bit of room in it for our family.

A little later, we camped in tents near Carowinds because we had season passes. We would go there for a long weekend and go into the park every day. 

As a sophomore in college, I took backpacking as my PE credit. I had to be in class for 3 hours every Saturday morning. Our final exam was camping on campus for a night. I passed, in case you were wondering. (I had trouble with knot tying, and I still do.) 

Embrace Budget-Friendly Camping

Camping used to be one of my favorite budget-friendly summer activities. I say “used to be” because as I have gotten older, it’s harder for me to sleep in a tent. My allergies are worse, and my back and knees are not happy about tent camping any more. 

Several things make camping budget friendly. 

  • You can rent or borrow the equipment. 
  • It is cheaper than a hotel.
  • You can cook at your campsite and avoid eating out. 
  • Backyard camping really is fun, if you want to try it.

Select a Camping Spot

Family camping is a great activity, but make sure to find a family-friendly campground. 

It should have some activities for you to do, like a pool or playground, when you aren’t in your camp. 

Backyard camping is an option, if you aren’t sure how your children react to sleeping under the stars. 

Set up the tents in the backyard, if you have room. Backyard camping keeps you close to bathrooms and an escape in case someone gets too scared to sleep in the tent. 

Tell Campfire Stories and Sing Songs

Campfire stories and songs are a tradition you can start when you are camping. 

If this is your first time camping, here are a few campfire songs and stories to try out.

Don’t forget the S’mores. While you are singing songs and telling stories, you can teach the kids how to make the perfect S’mores.

Make a Backyard Water Park

A backyard water park is possibly the most fun and messiest of my budget-friendly summer activities. 

No matter the mess, you will be able to beat the heat in your own backyard with this activity. 

Create Activities for Everyone

A backyard water park requires planning. You can get most of the things you will need at a $1 store. 

Here is what you need to make a water park:

  • Trashbags (cut open) or a tarp
  • Water hose
  • Dish soap
  • Balloons
  • Plastic cups 
  • Water guns
  • Towels (obviously)
  • Anything to create obstacle courses 

The balloons are for water balloon fights. You can get several different sizes of balloons and fill them to various levels. Put the balloons in containers around the yard so for easier access.

The tarp and dish soap are for a homemade slip and slide. Lay the tarp out, wet it down, and splash some soap on it. Keep spraying water on it so that no one gets hurt. 

Make an obstacle course from things you have around the house. Keep it simple and safe. 

Watch Movies with the Family

Movie nights are amazing budget-friendly summer activities. 

Get ready for your movie night by deciding on a movie, gathering the snacks, and calling the family together.

Make a Cozy Setup

During the summer, it gets dark later. That means that outdoor movie nights start later as well. 

Outdoor movie nights can be as simple as a white sheet hung between two trees and a projector attached to the computer. Nothing about it has to be fancy.

Towels, blankets, sleeping bags, and outdoor chairs are the best seating. 

Amazon Prime has great movies, and you can get a 30-day free trial here. 

Visit Museums 

Museums and art galleries often have special exhibits during the summer. They know that families and tourists are looking for things to do, so they open their doors for you.

Check prices online before you go because you may be able to get student discounts. Some museums may have free “museum days” during the summer. 

Museums are educational, but they can be a lot of fun as well. Go learn about a new culture or time in history. 

Go Geocaching

is a type of treasure hunt where you look for hidden stashes of objects. When you geocache, you leave something when you take something. 

The best place to start is at the Geocaching website. It gives the rules, ideas, and coordinates. 

Once you have your coordinates, you and your family will be able to go out searching together. Have fun but be safe. 

Do DIY Science Experiments

Science can be entertaining and educational. If you ask my daughter, the messier the better. DIY science experiments are a great way to teach your kids some things and have fun in the process. 

Create a volcano in your kitchen. Discover how mixing water, baby oil, and food coloring in a bottle make an ocean. 

Baking and cooking are science. Get the whole family involved making treats, meals, and snacks that you can eat all summer. 

Take Pictures

Everybody carries a cell phone in their pocket or backpack. 

Take photographs in a nearby park or botanical garden. Give each member of the family a chance to take 10 to 20 pictures. The photos should be printed and placed in a scrapbook. Online sharing will allow your loved ones to see the images as well. 

Volunteer Together

Many families like to volunteer together. There’s no better time to do it than during the summer. The kids are out of school. 

Volunteering makes a positive impact on family relationships. Do some research to find places that will allow children to volunteer. 

Here are some options:

  • Clean local parks
  • Clean waterways (streams, beach, rivers)
  • Plant flowers at a church
  • Help an elderly neighbor wash his/her windows outside
  • Wash a neighbor’s car (just because)
  • Stock a food bank
  • Read stories at the library
  • Lead BINGO at a nursing home
  • Do crafts with a daycare 

Create Arts and Crafts

This has to be one of my favorite budget-friendly summer activities. I’ve probably said that about everything on the list; I know. 

I love being creative. 

Just about anything around the house can be used for arts and crafts. If you have old shoes, books, shirts, and papers, you are all set! 

Find your markers and paints! Get started.

Put all the supplies together, in a bag or on the table, and pick your materials from the stash. Most of the time, I don’t have a project in mind before I start. I pick the materials I want to use and decide on the project from there. 

I surprise myself sometimes! 

The kids can do this alone, if you need to get some work done. This can be a family activity. Arts and crafts will get messy. You can take it outside if you want so you can save your carpets from the paint blobs. 


Though I prefer the cooler temperatures of fall and winter days, summer activities are so much fun. These budget-friendly summer activities will help you and your family to relax, have fun, and make some memories. 

Leave a comment if you try the ideas or have others that you do. I’d love to know them.

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