25 Budget Friendly Summer Activities

I’m going to be completely honest with you! Summertime is our hardest time when it comes to budgeting. In the past, we always seem to go over budget. I’ve vowed that this is the summer things will change! 

I was thinking about what our family could do to have fun but still save money. I’ve compiled a list of free or inexpensive activities for the summer months. These are perfect for families or individuals.  Try one or try them all!

1. Go to a Farmer’s Market.

You should be able to find a Farmer’s Market or Community Market within an easy driving distance from your home. These are fun places to walk around, try samples, and maybe make one small purchase. 

If you want to make sure you don’t buy anything, leave your debit card at home!  Otherwise set yourself a limit and stick to it.

2. Go hiking.

You don’t have to live near the mountains to enjoy a good hike.  You’d be surprised how many trails you can find in your city! Just head to your city’s parks and recreation page or simply google for trails in your area. This is 100% free and gets you out of the house and in nature!

father and son hiking

3. Run through the sprinklers.

Put the sprinklers on and let your kids run through the sprinklers! To avoid using too much water, just turn them on for 10 minutes then take a 10-minute break. This activity is inexpensive and gets the kids where they belong: outdoors!

4. Have a water fight.

What is more fun than a water fight? Break out the water balloons, water gun, and even the hose! Walmart and dollar stores usually sell inexpensive water balloons and water guns. This is also a great birthday party idea! 

Buy a small water gun for each guest and fill up a ton of water balloons. It will be an experience they remember (p.s. totally did this for my 13th birthday party!).

5. Have a picnic in a park.

Our family enjoys finding new parks in town to discover. Pack a snack or a simple lunch and spend the day exploring a new park or one that you love!  This activity is fun whether you go alone, with a friend, or with family.

6. Check out your town for free movies.

Many towns will offer free movies at twilight during the summer. If your town doesn’t offer this, then head to a nearby town to enjoy a free movie outdoors! Just pack a big blanket, some chairs, and a bag of popcorn and you’ll be ready to go! You can’t do this every day, so enjoy it while they offer it!

7. Head to free festivals in your town and surrounding towns.

Summer is the perfect time to attend a fun festival or parade in your town. Although you might have to pay for some of the activities, there is usually no entrance fee and most festivals offer free entertainment. Sometimes it’s just fun to go so that you can walk around and see what your town has to offer!

8. Go for a sunset walk.

Come July (or even June!) our town usually has a heat index of over 100 degrees. So unless you are submerged in water or under the shade, it can be difficult to be outdoors for a long time. 

That’s why our family loves to take walks in the evening after it’s cooled off a little. This is a free activity that will keep you active and allow you some quality time with your family.

9. Play with sidewalk chalk.

Pull out the sidewalk chalk and make a mural on your driveway! This is not just for children! To make it fun for adults, turn it into a competition. Each person can draw a scene or self-portrait. Then have someone else vote to declare a winner!

10.  Visit a state or national park.

I love both state and national parks because it’s an affordable way to get out in nature! Head to a park near you and enjoy what this world has to offer. Bring your swimsuits if there is a lake available or your tennis shoes to go hiking. Pack a lunch and make it an entire day trip. Our family loves hitting up state parks for super inexpensive camping trips!

boy jumping in river

11. Go camping.

If you already have a tent, then what’s stopping you from camping? Even if you camp in your backyard, it’s fun to set up a tent and spend the night outdoors. 

If you don’t have a tent, ask a friend if you can borrow theirs! Search for a spot nearby (preferably near the water!) to spend the weekend. 

12. Visit a fruit farm.

You might not know it, but there could be a fruit farm near you! Typically these places will allow you to come and pick as much fruit as you want and they will sell it to you afterward. It’s fun for kids to see exactly where fruit comes from and experience the farm life. 

Depending on where you live, you’ll find different farms. We have a strawberry farm nearby and it is very popular!

13. Plant an herb garden.

Whether you pick up some plants from the garden section of your local Home Depot or plant herbs from seeds, this can be a fun activity! If you have children, let them each work on growing their own seeds as well. You get bonus points if they actually grow and you can use the herbs in your cooking!

14. Grow flowers from seeds.

You don’t just have to grow herbs from seeds. Get an inexpensive seed packet and either sow the seeds in your backyard or buy an inexpensive pot to plant them in. Hopefully, you’ll end up with beautiful flowers to have as a nice centerpiece later on in the summer.

15. Head to the library.

Don’t forget to check out your local library this summer! Most libraries have great summer reading programs for both kids and adults. They also have all types of classes you can take.

Don’t forget that you can borrow ebooks as well as audiobooks from most libraries. If you have kids, try to go once a week to keep them busy and reading this summer.

16. Go swimming.

If you live near a lake or ocean, then pack up your car for a day trip to go swimming! If you’re not one of the lucky ones with access to a lake or an ocean, then head to a community or neighborhood pool. Don’t have any of those options available to you? Then get an inexpensive blowup pool for the backyard!

17. Attend a parade.

Who doesn’t love a good parade in the summer? They usually last for a decent amount of time and gives you another opportunity to fall in love with your town! So grab some chairs, bring water, and enjoy a simple town parade.

18. Go to a dollar theater.

Google around to see if you have an inexpensive movie theater in town.  Some theaters will show movies after they leave the major theaters but before they come out on DVD. The tickets are usually only a couple of bucks! Just make sure to pack your own snacks because they still have standard priced popcorn for sale!

19.  Go fishing.

If you have fishing poles, then head to a river, lake, or pond. Take time to catch fish and release them back if you have to. Don’t have fishing poles?  Find a friend that will let you borrow theirs!

20. Train for a 5k race.

Although you might need to wake up early if you want to go running (it’s crazy hot where I live!), you won’t regret the feeling of accomplishment afterward (or so I hear). Download the Couch to 5k app to help get you started today. End your training by signing up for a fun race in your area (or just run a 5k with a friend)!

21. Declutter your home.

This activity could actually make you money! Take a room in your house and go through everything in it. If you don’t use it anymore, then donate or sell it! Any money you make from selling items can be used to go to dinner, get ice cream, or just do something fun!

22. Find a Netflix series to enjoy.

If you have Netflix, then dedicate yourself to a new series to enjoy as a summer activity! It’s okay to stay in and watch a show. Let’s be honest, if it’s a good one then you will get sucked in and not want to stop watching!

23. Have a game night.

Instead of taking a trip to the movie this Friday, declare Friday game night! Make a homemade pizza, turn off the tv, and play your favorite games. We could all use a little less technology in our life (of course I’m typing this on a computer, but whatever!), so take the initiative to make this a Friday night tradition in your house!

24. Invite friends over for a potluck.

Instead of heading out a restaurant with your friends, host a potluck instead! Each person or family can bring over an appetizer to share. Play some music, games, and spend time with the people who bring you joy!

25. Try out a new recipe.

Jump on Pinterest and find a new recipe to whip up this summer! Better yet, try a new recipe each week. It can be a full dinner or a delicious dessert. Get your loved ones involved as well. To keep the cost down, choose items that are on sale and in season.

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