10 Fun and Frugal Summer Family Activities

The following guest post is from Kyle James. Kyle owns and operate a website called Rather-Be-Shopping.com which specializes in online coupon codes for over 700 stores, organized in 25 shopping categories. He also has a blog, where he writes about frugal living tips, creative ways to save money, and other musings about the adventures and mis-adventures of raising 3 active kids.

With 3 young kids, and living on a tight budget, my wife and I have come up with many fun and frugal activities for this summer. Stuff that will stimulate both their brain and muscles, which is the needed combo for healthy kids. Hopefully one of these ideas can inspire you this summer. The best part is most are free and the others cost very little.

The bottom-line is that kids just want your time, and activities don’t have to be expensive in order to create great memories. Here are our 10 favorite, in no particular order.

1. Family Bike Rides – Almost every Sunday, without fail, I load up our bikes in my truck and we head off to one of our local bike trails. We typically pack a lunch and make a day out of it. The kids absolutely love the freedom of it, and minus the gas costs, it is completely free. If you are not sure where your local trails are located, I found a great resource called Trails.com that will find them for you.

2. Free Summer Movies – Our local movie theater offers free kids movies all summer long on Tuesday mornings. Check your local theaters for similar offers. Don’t forget to bring in your own snacks so that don’t nail you with their ridiculous popcorn and candy prices.

3. State & Local Parks – Plan a day trip to a local park. It is amazing how many parks are in our area that we take for granted and never visit. Well, not anymore. We have several small trips planned to state parks. The cost is only $5 for a day pass. They have rivers, streams, and lakes that we plan to cool off in. Get out and find the natural beauty in your area. Your kids will love it.

4. Water Balloons – Last summer I spend 20 minutes filling up a five gallon bucket with water balloons and then let the kids go crazy on the front lawn. It was such a hit that I had at least one kid ask me daily if we could do it again. I obliged several times and we had a blast bombing each.

5. Do Your Kids Love Animals? – My 2 girls are huge animal lovers. So last summer, my wife had the idea of having them volunteer at our local animal shelter walking dogs, cleaning up after kittens, and other similar duties. They loved it and talked about it for days.

6. Library Time – Our local library has a story-time twice a week all summer long. We take our kids a few times every summer. They get to listen to stories, do an arts & crafts project, and then we let them check out a few books to take home. It is completely free and you get the added benefit of building a love for reading.

7. Family Game Night – Several times this summer I plan on dusting off an old board game, popping some popcorn, and having a family game night. This goes back to the concept of a family that plays together, stays together. The word “play” does not have to be expensive. You don’t need 3 jet skis or a garage full of quad-runners to have fun together.

8. Camping Trip – Just last week, we got back from our first camping trip of the summer. We biked, kayaked, did the S’mores thing, and the kids were in hog heaven. We went to a local state park and it only cost me $30 a night. The kids look forward to it every year. If you are interested in camping, try to get your camping gear used or on sale. I have found a lot of our gear at garage sales and from eBay.com.

9. Barnes & Noble Story-time – This one is similar to the library idea. Our local B&N offers free story-time once a week during the summer. This is a nice choice if your kids are musically inclined as stories are often accompanied by a guitar or keyboard.

10. Sprinkler Time – If all else fails, just turn on your sprinklers and let the kids do their thing.

Do you have any frugal summer activities to add to my list? I look forward to any new ideas I can implement with my family this summer. Here are some of the better coupons on my website right now that can save you money on summer purchases like swimsuits and camping gear. If your favorite store is not listed, please Contact Me and I will personally find you a coupon.

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  1. Love your list of fun, family activities. I will definitely use some of your ideas. A few ideas from our house: invite another family over for a pot luck dinner (kids play and adults socialize!). We also do family wiffle-ball games and four square tournaments. On a hot summer day, we often will pack a picnic lunch and head to the lake for swimming and fishing.

  2. Here is another one: Check out your local meet-ups. There are a few free websites you can visit and find people meeting up for thousands of different things, whether it is for a play-date with the kids, a hike in the woods, or a pub crawl for dad! Most meet ups are free and its a great way to let the online community come together in person!

  3. @ Max, great tip. I will check our area for meet-ups. Could be a fun way to meet new people and families in a safe public place.

  4. If you start your bike rides at home, you don’t even have the gasoline cost.

    You might be able to combine the free movies with library time–some of our local libraries show free movies regularly. Another way to get free movie viewing is to borrow them from the library.

  5. This is absolutely fabulous! It’s a program designed by bowling centers to give back to the community and provide a safe, secure, and fun way for kids to spend time this summer.
    Kids 15 and under are eligible to register for 2 free games a day, all summer long! They also have an option to buy a family pass for the summer for $25. Check out the website to see if there’s a location near you.

  6. Aww, I love these tips, but it’s kinda funny – fifty years ago, people didn’t give any thought to summer activities, since the kids would just head outdoors. But it’s great to know that there are so many free or cheap things to do!

  7. My daughter just turned 12 in May so I am looking for some activities for that “preteen I’m so cool” faze. Our local libary story time is geared towards much younger kids. Our museums do offer free admission on Tuesdays which I can still do with her.

  8. I love the water balloon idea, but from what I remember its a bit dangerous. We already visit the animal shelter and its one of my daughter’s favorite things.