The Ultimate Guide to Free (or Cheap) Activities to Do in the Summer

It’s finally summer! For most people, that means longer days, warmer nights, and the kids officially home from school… However, this also means finding ways to keep everyone (including yourself) entertained all season long. And unless you recently stumbled across a winning lottery ticket (we can dream), the cost of all those fun activities you saved on Pinterest during the winter may seem a bit daunting now.

Fortunately, finding fun things to do in the summer doesn’t have to break the bank. There are plenty of free or low-cost summer activities that can keep the entire family having fun all season long! So whether you’re looking to entertain the little ones or need something affordable to do while they’re away at summer camp, check out these ideas of free or cheap activities to do in the summer.

Free Summer Activities for Kids

Visit a Playground or Splash Pad

It’s a classic idea but always a good one. Find a nearby playground in your neighborhood and let the kids run wild. Splash pads are another great option and come with the added bonus of keeping everyone cool!

Turn on the Sprinkler

Waterpark? Who needs it when you have a backyard and a sprinkler! The kids will love running around in the water, and you just might get some peace and quiet inside while they play.

Have a Sidewalk Chalk Contest

If you’ve run out of refrigerator space from the artistry in your family, this one’s for you. Break out the chalk and give the kids an hour to create their perfect masterpiece. Winner gets to pick out tonight’s movie!

Cheap Summer Activities for Kids

Spend a Day at the Local Pool

Sure, public pools can get busy in the summertime, but there’s always room for a few more! Pack some snacks, load up the car, and don’t forget your sunscreen! If the day is a hit, it could be worth looking into a family pass.

Go to a Drive-In Movie

If you’re lucky enough to still have drive-in movies around, take full advantage of it. And we’re not suggesting you secretly bring your own snacks, but we wouldn’t blame you if you did…

Visit the Science Museum

Nothing beats an interactive science museum. Your kids will have so much fun, they’ll forget they’re learning! Check to see if your local museum has cheap or free admission days to make this even more budget friendly.

Free Summer Activities for Families

Go to the Library

Get ‘em reading early, and incentivize them with your local library’s summer reading program! The more they read, the more they win. No summer reading program near you? Check out Barnes and Noble’s program!

Host a Movie Night at Home

With so many movies on streaming or free at the library, there’s no reason to spend extra money at the theater. Instead, pop your own popcorn, get in your pajamas, and pick out a family favorite to enjoy together from the comfort of home.

Go Camping In Your Backyard

Camping takes a lot of planning and preparation – instead, take the easy route by setting up a tent in the backyard. Sleeping outside is optional, but scary stories and s’mores are mandatory.

Have a Board Game Night

Prepare to get competitive because a family game night is sure to be a hit. Did you already sell all your games during your last garage sale? No problem – head to your closest thrift store and pick out a new one. It’ll be extra fun figuring out the rules together!

Cheap Summer Activities for Families

Take a Trip to the Zoo

The zoo could get expensive with enough people on a bright summer Saturday, but many places have half-priced days – or totally free, depending on the location – where the only money you’ll be spending is on cold drinks and lettuce to feed the giraffes. Want to enjoy the zoo from home? Check out San Diego’s live wildlife cams!

Go to the Movies

Movie theaters often offer cheaper options for matinee showings, and like the zoo, some even have half-price ticket days! Tuesdays are common but check your local theater for all the details.

Check Out Local Fairs and Festivals

Every town, small and large, wants to host some kind of summer festival. And don’t forget about the county fair! What kind of cool stuff is going on around you? Check out your local newspapers or radio stations for tips!

Have a Garage Sale

Decluttering is already on your to-do list, so why not make it fun and profitable? Your only upfront costs are stickers and poster board signs, but the reward is a cleaner house and enough money for ice cream. It’s also a great learning opportunity for your little ones!

Free Summer Activities for Adults

Go on a Hike

Yes, it’s hot outside, but the skies are clear and nature is beautiful. If you don’t take advantage of the nice weather now, you’ll regret it come winter!

Lay in the Sun

Soak up some of that precious Vitamin D while reading (or listening to!) a book, listening to music, or just enjoying a few precious moments of silence. You don’t need a pool or to live by a lake to take advantage – just throw a towel down in the backyard!

Host a Bonfire

There’s nothing quite like a warm summer night, fireflies shining in the distance, and the sound of a crackling fire. Invite friends and family over to catch up on how the summer has been so far and possibly eat your weight in s’mores.

Cheap Summer Activities for Adults

Host a Beer or Wine Tasting Night

Breweries and wineries get more expensive every year, but you don’t need their fancy establishments to try something new. Have your friends bring their favorite six pack or bottle of wine, and everyone can enjoy a unique flight and rate their favorites!

Visit a Farmer’s Market

Even though walking around is arguably the best part of a farmer’s market, don’t forget to bring a few dollars in case you find some picture-perfect fruit or a handcrafted piece of art you just have to have.

Become a Tourist in a Nearby City

Your own town may feel stale by now, but what about the next town over? Or the one 20 minutes away? Hop in the car and explore somewhere local as if you’ve never been there before. You’ll never believe the kinds of places you could find!

Bonus: Earn Cashback Year-Round

Although you have so many free or low-cost summer activities up your sleeve this summer, you’re still bound to spend some money. So why not earn cashback on every purchase you make?

With Receipt Hog, users simply snap a picture of their receipt from anywhere they shop to turn it into cash. The app can also keep track of your spending (you spent how much on sidewalk chalk for that contest?!) and store receipts for easy returns.

Download Receipt Hog from the App Store or Google Play Store today to start earning, and next year you can definitely splurge on a Saturday night movie at the theater – full price with popcorn.

Keep Shopping. Start Earning

Keep Shopping. Start Earning!