Summer Fun for Families on a Budget

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Spring break has ended and the countdown to summer fun has begun. It’s time to make some unforgettable memories with your family. Some of these activities are similar to the ones on my spring break on a budget list

But wait! You won’t have to break the bank for the activities I have in mind! You can have a blast on a budget. That’s my kind of summer fun.

Through these activities, you will be celebrating a few lesser-known, but really amazing, summer holidays, like “Say Something Nice Day” and “Junk Food Day,” all while enjoying activities like eating outside, having a family Olympics, and baking sugar cookies.

There are so many affordable and exciting options for summer fun. Get ready to dive in and create memorable moments with your family–without making your wallet sweat. 

Hold tight for a list of family and budget-friendly activities that will liven up your summer fun this year! 

Ideas for Outdoor Summer Fun

Before you begin any of your outdoor summer fun activities, be sure that everyone is dressed correctly and protected from the sun. Grab a sun hat and sunscreen to keep everyone safe. 

Now that we are protected from the elements, let’s head outside for some fun. 

Park Picnic

Pack a picnic of all the family’s favorite items. Grab a big blanket that can get dirty and head to the park. Find a nice flat spot and relax as you enjoy the outdoors while you eat. 

This is a great way to celebrate International Picnic Day.

Explore Nature

While you are picnicking at the park, or on a different day, go for a hike, bike ride, or nature walk. If you have a nature reserve nearby, this would be great to do there as well. Take a camera or use your phone to take pictures of interesting plants, animals, and insects as you are exploring. 

Create Your Own Water Park

This may sound like a lot of work, but it shouldn’t be. It could sound like it would be very expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Remember, we aren’t trying to empty our wallets this summer just to have some fun. 

Use a kiddie pool, water balloons, large storage tubs, and a sprinkler to create a fun, original water park in your backyard. 

If you are feeling adventurous, you can make your own slip-and-slide as well. You can use a tarp or trash bags. Place them on the ground. Keep the hose pointed on it so that it doesn’t dry up when people are trying to slide.

For a little extra fun, put some dish soap on it. You will have a bubbly mess, but the kids will love it. Just be really careful when you are making and using this. 

Camp in Your Backyard

If you and your family like camping, this is a great way to experience it without the cost of travel or a campground. Here’s a bonus: the indoor bathroom facilities are clean and, basically, guaranteed to work. 

Pitch the tent in your backyard and camp under the stars. If you have a fire pit, you can make s’mores, stargaze, and tell “scary” ghost stories. 

Visit a Farmer’s Market

Here in my little town, we have a farmer’s market every Thursday in a parking lot downtown. On Saturdays, there are other ones that are open as well. 

Go peruse a farmer’s market. You may be able to get some fresh produce and other local products there. Plus, it’s possible that you will see some produce that you don’t often find in stores. Your kids will love trying to figure out what the new fruits and vegetables are. Another bonus is that you can support local farmers and artisans while making family memories. 

Have a Beach Day

This one is going to be easier to do if you live near a beach. If so, use some budget-bending tricks to plan a wallet-friendly day trip to the beach. Pack your snacks, lunch, and water. Bring your frisbee, beach ball, and sandcastle-constructing tools. Enjoy a relaxing day of summer fun at the beach.

If, however, you are like me and live 3+ hours from the beach, you can put your feet in the kids’ sandbox in the backyard while they play in the inflatable pool (that you used for the water park day.) 

Summer Fun to Celebrate Lesser-Known Holidays

Depending on what calendar you use, you can see that there is a slew of lesser-known holidays throughout the year. Some of them are national days and some are international. 

Here are some lesser-known holidays and suggestions for how to celebrate them during the summer months. 

Say Something Nice Day (June 1st)

Just before summer actually begins, we can celebrate Say Something Nice Day. Leave a note for someone to find, express gratitude, and/or give someone a compliment. This is a powerful way to strengthen the relationships in your family. 

International Picnic Day (June 18th)

I already hinted at this one earlier. Grab the goodies and head out for a picnic. If you can’t get to the park, or if the weather isn’t cooperating, have an indoor picnic. 

Either way, play some games and create lasting memories. 

Sugar Cookie Day (July 9th)

Find your favorite sugar cookie recipe (or dough if you aren’t great at making them from scratch) and back cookies as a family. Be sure to get pictures of the cookies and the mess. You know you will have a huge mess if you have fun making the cookies.

Practice different styles of decorating the cookies. Be sure to use some cookie cutters as well. 

National Ice Cream Day (July 15th)

To celebrate this day, you can make your own ice cream at home or get your favorite from the store. 

If you are making it at home, you don’t need a fancy ice cream maker. You can make ice cream using a couple of baggies and some duct tape, along with the correct food ingredients. 

Find a recipe online that fits the dietary needs of your family. Then see what kind of flavors you can concoct. Mix in different things, like peanuts and gummy bears to see how it tastes. 

Junk Food Day (July 21st)

This will probably be the day your kids look forward to the most. However, you have to really watch the budget for this. In preparation, you can begin getting some things at the store a couple of weeks before so that it’s not all at one time. 

Of course, you can make your own junk food at home, as well. 

Make pizza, hot dogs, cake, cookies, and more. Let the kids have an extra sugary snack in celebration of today. 

Just remember not to eat so much junk food that you get sick and brush your teeth extra well before going to bed. You can also eat some healthy options throughout the day. Have some fun with this though. It’s only once a year. 

International Day of Friendship (July 30th)

Any of the activities I have discussed above would be great to do with friends. Could you imagine having your kids’ best friends over while they were slipping and sliding on a homemade contraption? Those would be memories they would never forget. 

For this day, you can also plan a way to celebrate and appreciate your friends. Invite them over for a BBQ or a game night, just so you can spend some time together. 

Ice Cream Sandwich Day (August 2nd)

We celebrated Ice Cream Day, but ice cream sandwiches have their own day. You can make cookies at home or buy some at the store so that you can make homemade ice cream sandwiches. Just like ice cream day, have fun with the flavors and toppings. 

Book Lovers Day (August 9th)

As a former English teacher and an avid reader (ok, trying to be again), I love this day. I think we should celebrate it every day. 

However, to make today special, take a trip to a bookstore to browse. Visit a local public library. Organize a family book swap with your friends and neighbors. 

You can never go wrong spending quality time with your family reading books that you already own or that you borrowed from the library. 

If you have an aspiring author in your house, have him/her write a book for the family to read. Depending on his/her age, it could be 2-3 pages long or it might be book-length, so be careful whom you ask. 

National Relaxation Day (August 15th)

This day is perfect for lounging around the house. Most schools haven’t returned to session yet, so you and the family can spend the day hanging out in your pajamas

Plan a day for the entire family to relax together. It might be a home spa day, stretching exercises, or simply lazing around in the hammock or porch swing. 

Don’t plan anything for the day that will take too much energy. If possible, prepare the meals and snacks the day before so that you can just reheat them without a lot of effort. 

Summer Fun You Can Do (Almost) Anywhere

Some of the national and international days can be done indoors or outdoors. Following are a few more summer fun activities you and the family can do in many different places. 

These activities are good to have on hand when you aren’t sure of the forecast. You will be able to do them inside if needed because of bad weather. 

Volunteer for a Local Charity

Most of the time when we think of volunteer work, we probably think of things that are inside, like serving meals at a soup kitchen or working at a food bank.

However, you could spend the day walking dogs at the local animal shelter, cleaning a beach, or helping to restore the play area at the park. 

When you want to volunteer with your family, find organizations that will allow you to work together. Just know that some will have minimum age requirements for safety reasons. 

Organize a Family Olympics

Have you ever dreamed of being an Olympic athlete? As kids, I think we all wish we had the super speed of the runners or the grace of the skaters. 

Why not create your own Olympics for your family? Invite a few families to join in and let the families “compete” in the events. 

What events could you have? Tug-of-war, egg-and-spoon races, and sack races are great places to start. You can use an old sheet or jump rope for tug-of-war. For the sack races, trash bags or pillowcases work, depending on the size of the person. 

You could print off medals (on paper and color them) to give for the events. 

Just imagine how much fun this would be if you did it at a local park. Other families could watch and cheer you on as you compete for the “prize.” 

Have a Movie Night

Most movie nights are inside, right? This one could be outside if done correctly. Set up a projector (you can borrow or rent one), a white sheet, and some comfy seats. Grab some snacks and enjoy. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, this can be moved inside.

Note: If you borrow a projector from a friend, you may want to invite his/her family over to join in the fun. 

Get Crafty

Who says that arts and crafts have to be inside? Find things in the yard and use supplies you already have on hand to make something from the found items. 

Paint rocks to put in the garden. Design tie-dyed shirts. Set up a balloon pop painting session. 

If the craft is really messy, do it outside if the weather is good. If it’s not nice out, have fun creating inside. 

Explore Your City

This summer fun activity is great to do in every season. Take your family out to be tourists in your city. See what things are available to do in each season.

Visit landmarks, museums, and other local sites. Read about the history; you can probably find it online. 

Try to learn something new about your town. 


Summer fun doesn’t have to break the bank. If you use your creativity and plan ahead, you can celebrate these lesser-known holidays (like Junk Food Day), enjoy family-friendly budget-conscious outdoor activities, and have some versatile adventures that can move smoothly from indoors to outdoors. 

You will create so many lasting memories and cherished moments with your family without making your wallet sweat in the summer heat. 

Why wait? 

Begin planning now, before the summer gets here, for a season full of summer fun. Get out there and enjoy the endless possibilities of summer with your family and friends. 

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