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17 frugal & fun summer activities

Here are some frugal & fun summer activities. Summer is a time when we all let loose and enjoy life a little bit more than usual. I don’t know what it is about summertime, but everyone is almost always in a good mood. I guess it’s all that vitamin D that the sun is giving us!

If you have school-aged children, I’m sure you are used to hearing your child say “I’m bored” every 5 minutes during the summer (am I right?). I used to say that to my mom all the time – I’m dreading the day my kids start saying it to me!

Last year was the first time that we actually had a solid plan for the summer. We took a look at our calendar and planned out fun things to do before Old Man Winter finally returned.

I really do believe that having this “summer plan” allowed us to have a fun summer, with very few “I’m bored” moments.

Since we are about to start making our plan for this summer, I thought it might be helpful to post a list of frugal summer activities that we are likely to include in our summer plan. I hope it is helpful to those of you that are currently planning your own summer.

1. Backyard camping – As long as you have a tent, this is a fun, FREE activity that you can enjoy with your kids (or with only your spouse I suppose!).

If you have the spot for it in your backyard, have a campfire complete with s’ mores.. maybe you can even roast some hot dogs over the fire for dinner.

2. Library – The library is a fun and frugal activity all year round, but it is especially fun in the summer. Many libraries have free summer reading programs, arts & crafts days, and other summer activities for children.

Of course, you can always just stop and pick up some new reading material or some movies to enjoy for FREE!

3. Picnic in the park – This is something that we plan to do a lot of this year. We have already had 3 or 4 picnics and it is always so much fun.

We pack some fruit, veggies, a sandwich, and a few snacks like rice cakes or granola bars and find a nice shady spot to lay down our blanket.

There’s something really exciting about eating food outdoors!

4. Water parks, sprinklers, or kiddie pools – Many cities have free water areas at local parks. These are free and provide great entertainment for children and adults alike!

If you don’t have any free water parks in your area, you could instead purchase a cheap sprinkler or kiddie pool and splash around in your own backyard to keep cool.

5. Sidewalk chalk – This inexpensive summer must-have is tons of fun for children, but adults can have a good time with it as well.

Write your name, draw your favorite animal, or do what most people do – draw a rainbow!

We purchased sidewalk chalk on clearance last summer and plan to bring it out soon for the kids to play with (okay, and us too!).

6. Bake something – Yes, you can bake all year round, but if you have children at home that are just itching for something to do, they will often really enjoy baking something in the kitchen.

Let them pick their favorite (FRUGAL) dessert and then whip it up!

7. Hike or walk – When the weather is nice, go for a nice long walk or a hike. Not only is this a frugal activity that the whole family can enjoy, but it’s a great way to get some exercise!

Perhaps you can go for walk to the farthest water park from your home and then once you get there, cool off in the water!

8. Fly a kite – Nothing screams summer like flying a kite! These fun toys are fairly inexpensive, but you could also make your own if you’re so inclined.

Pick a nice, open park and see who can keep their kite up in the air the longest!

9. Bike ride – Dust off that bike and go for a nice long bike ride this summer.

Bike rides are a great way to explore your city and get some exercise at the same time.

Don’t forget to wear your helmet!

10. Host or shop at a yard sale – One of my favorite things about summer is the abundance of yard sales. I just love picking through someone else’s trash and finding treasures for myself.

If you are in the process of de-cluttering your home, it may be a good idea to have a yard sale yourself. You will de-clutter your home and make some extra cash at the same time!

11. Berry picking or farmer’s markets – Picking berries is a fun experience for kids or adults and is often a more frugal way to purchase your fruits.

Buying produce straight from the source is a great way to save money and you will usually find that when you pick the fruit yourself, it tastes much better than the fruit you will find in stores.

If you don’t have a farm nearby that allows public berry picking, you could also have some frugal fun exploring a local farmer’s market. Most cities have these all summer long (and some cities have them all year!).

12. Arts & crafts – If you’re a crafty person, you may enjoy doing lots of crafts this summer.

Keep this activity frugal by trying to use up the craft supplies that you currently have, instead of purchasing new items for every craft you make.

Crafts are also a great idea for those with young children. Construction paper, glue, sparkles, and little colored pom-pom balls and you’re good to go!

13. Beach fun – If you’re fortunate enough to have a beach nearby, a frugal summer activity that you could enjoy would, of course, be to go and play at the beach!

Swim in the water, lie out on the sand, build sandcastles, bury someone’s entire body (except their head!), have a picnic – the possibilities are endless!

14. Barbecue – This is another frugal summer activity that we plan to do quite a bit of this year.

Barbecue items (such as burgers, hot dogs, salad ingredients, barbecue sauce, etc.) are on sale all through June-September, so stock up for the summer when items go on sale cheap enough for you, and you can enjoy frugal barbecues all summer long.

15. Do more reading – Summer is a great excuse to be lazy and lie around. Why not lie around with a book to keep your brain stimulated?

If you have children, take them to the library and have them pick out a bunch of books to read over the course of the library due to date timeline, and then go back and have them pick out some more.

It’s always a good idea to encourage children to read, and summer is a great time for them to read more than they normally would.

16. Train Your Dog – Don’t forget about your pets this summer!

If you have a pooch, teach him or her some new tricks to show off to your friends and family members.

This is a fun, FREE activity that will entertain yourself (or your kids) and your dog as well!

17. Free Local Events – Check out all of the free local events available in your city.

Do a search online for “______ (your city) free summer events” and you should be able to find a bunch of local events for you and your family to enjoy this summer – at no cost to you!

What are some frugal activities that you have planned for this summer?


  1. Jenn

    My husband and I take our two small children out geocaching! It’s fun and its FREE(as long as you have some sort of trail GPS or IPHONE)! It is super fun and it gives us and the kids some great exercise:)

  2. Erica

    I have nothing planned yet *hint hint* lol

  3. Precious

    Me and my boyfriend go hiking and walking a lot in the summer.. its free and good for you.. we play a game where we count the number of animals we come across..

  4. LPC

    Canning pickles and chow-chow (tomato chutney). I have fond memories of helping my mother making all kinds of pickles for the coming winter. She’d set up a makeshift kitchen in the back yard and both myself and my brother would be helping her by cutting the vegetables. I don’t think I’d be doing it today if it wasn’t for learning how do it as a kid.

  5. Carly

    Make your own popsicles!! My children and I make our own popsicles, just out of juice.
    But I use a great trick – fruit and VEGGIE juice! They get to enjoy a great treat while I’m happy they are actually having vegetables.

  6. Dirt and Deals

    Great article! Thanks for the tips!

  7. melizza

    stick wooden sticks in yoghurt cups to make frozen yoghurt pops,, my kids love making them and eating them too!

    • Cassie Howard

      Melizza, that is a super idea! Thanks for sharing. 😀

  8. Linda

    I have always wanted to try canning! My grandmother canned many things, but she never showed me how.

    • Cassie Howard

      There are tons of tutorials online! I still haven’t tried, but am hoping to give it a go this fall. 😀

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