Frugal Fun Things To Do This Summer With Kids

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It was back in the 60’s when the song “Dancing in the Streets” hit the airwaves; you know the one that says “summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the streets?”! Well summer is finally here and guesses what? Even if dancing isn’t your thing, the time is right to get out and enjoy it all and yet still do it in a frugal way, too. Why spend all your cash on summer fun when so many of the ways to enjoy are not always money draining when you know what’s available?

When school lets out, it's important to entertain the kids with fun things to do this summer. Check out this list of free and inexpensive activities.

Have you and yours started planning for your summer fun yet? We always start by making our frugal fun list of things to do this summer with the family and now is the time to start. The best part is that there are hundreds of opportunities to try and the choices are all great, but just to get you started, here are twenty ideas to get you off to an epic summer 2019.

Frugal Fun Things to Do This Summer with the Family

1. Get wet and get into the swim

What feels more summerish than swimming? You don’t have to pay and join up in an expensive family swim club to swim. Skip the pool memberships. They often can run anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands in some areas of the country.

Even at home you can enjoy it all for cheap! Water balloons or super soakers, a sprinkler, or a Slip ’N Slide (you can buy one for under $30!) can make your backyard feel like an oasis. Don’t have a yard?

How about your local public swimming pool? Most places do have them. If you’re nearby a lake or other natural waterway, they often are free or very low cost to enjoy. Here on the coast, of course we have the beaches and oceans and lucky us, we are only minutes away.

But even if you just head for your local park with water features, you can enjoy the water. Heck, even the big commercial parks like Six Flags (and others) offer huge discounts for the kids to use all day when you spend a few minutes finding them like right here at Groupon or RetailMeNot.

If nothing else, you can always head to the local creek and everyone can dip their toes in the water and get some fresh air!

2. Have a movie day/night

If the sun isn’t shining today, why not try this fun indoor activity! Movies for the entire family or just for the kids with either something new, or introduce your kids or grandkids to your favorite childhood classics. The best part just may be the homemade popcorn: just buy a bag of kernels and then microwave your own (using a paper lunch bag) and make it all for about 10% of the cost of store-bought microwave brands. Just add your own butter and salt and voilá!

Still wanna try the big screen? Many of the movie chains are offering great kid-friendly/family-friendly movie deals like the ones at Regal Cinemas! Want to go “Regal”? Check out their website where you can read about summer movies for kids at the local Regal theater. Bring the family to the 2019 Summer Movie Express series! Movie ticket deals are just $1 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays through September 4th!These include summer movies the whole family will enjoy like Shrek, Despicable Me, Kung Fu Panda, and many more.

Cinemark theaters will be having their 10-week Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse promotion and offering up to 10 tickets to select G- or PG-rated movies for ONLY $5 when purchased in advance at the box office, making the cost of each movie only 50¢. But even if you’d rather only purchase a few tickets to select shows, you’ll pay just $1 per movie/person at the box office! Visit their website for more details to find a participating theater near you.

3. Stay up late

There’s nothing more exciting to little people than staying up past their bedtime. Instead of making it a habit, stick to a close-to-normal bedtime during summer, but make some nights special by letting the kids stay up late to attend fireworks, party with friends, or just catch fireflies outside. (Just make sure they and you can sleep in the next day!)

4. Photo walks

Most often kids are the ones in front of the camera, so why not flip the script? Give your kids the chance to get behind the lens with a photo walk in your neighborhood and you can use the mobile phone so no one has to lug a camera around anymore. Try just cruising around the Main St. shops or check out the local gardens. Then you can put them on your social media pages to share with friends and other family members!

5. Garden tours

Look for local garden tours, or gardens that are open to the public for free or that have very inexpensive admission. They offer great inspiration for avid nature lovers, and lots of room to roam. If you have a membership to one, you may be able to visit other places too for free! We always make a trip to our local gardens just in time for the blooming roses and sit out in the beautiful gazebo there.

6. Seek out free museum days

Most museums and attractions offer free or discounted days. They are typically “off hours” or Sundays, but are well worth visiting since they are likely less busy, making it easier for everyone to see and roam. Wherever you live you can find them, so check their websites or just call and ask about them. Love museums? Check out reciprocal museum offers if you are already a member of a local museum or attraction. Find out about other museums you can visit for free when a member of yours. Or check out offers based on your credit cards. Bank of America cardholders get a free general admission on the first full weekend of each month at participating museums.

7. Local fairs, music concerts, and events

Local fairs and events often include free rides, food, samples, or activities for you and the kids. It can be a great way to learn more about your community and pass some time.

Music—well you never have to ask me twice—many summer evenings in our area there’s a free concert around and we just bring the collapsible chairs and our water bottles, and spend a couple hours enjoying the fresh air. We have seen local bands, cover bands, and some great stars too, including Herman’s Hermits (Peter Noone) and Tommy James of 60’s fame—all for free!

8. Pass on a skill—it’s crafts or hobby time

Spend some quality time sharing a skill or hobby you love with your kids this summer. Whether it’s cooking, sewing, woodworking, or collecting comic books, there’s nothing more fun to a child than getting to spend time with family members doing what they are passionate about and can share. You can even all try something brand new and craft something together. There are loads of ideas on Pinterest for young (and older) crafters. Try a new project like creating a sock puppet with all your outgrown socks or making your own play dough.

9. Mix it up day?

Try eating all your meals out of order today? Do everything backwards—ice cream for breakfast and cereal for dessert!

10. Exchange with friends

Whether it’s a book exchange, toy exchange, clothing exchange, or even stuffed animals, exchanges can make a fun day out of getting their friends together and exchanging their “boring” stuff for new-to-them things. Or consider donating older no-longer-used possessions to charity for families in need.

11. Scavenger hunts

A fun outdoor scavenger hunt is for people of all ages. You can search for caches online including finding easy terrain ones for youngsters too or just make your own list and pick your own trail for a guaranteed good time.

12. Pack a picnic

It doesn’t have to be fancy, but packing your food up to eat outside can make a mundane lunch into a special meal. Best places to picnic? We love going to a local park and picnic under a pavilion or trees! Bring a blanket and take a refreshing snooze afterwards too.

13. Organize your very own “summer camp” exchange

Have another parent take a day to take on the kids in their homes. You get a day off, and your kids get to experience other people’s homes and what they like to do. Then switch it up and give them a day off, too!

14. The public library

You already know there are free books to be had, but what about movies, music, audiobooks, or graphic novels (we used to call them comic books) plus activities like group readings, summer reading clubs, free shows and events, crafts, and games. These are ideal for rainy days. Be sure to check your library’s event calendar and plan ahead. Yes, you may have to explain what a library is to your internet-savvy kids (I’m kidding, I’m kidding), but after a try they’ll get the idea.

15. Stargazing

Looking at the stars is always free, so find a cloudless night and download a free astronomy app to help you identify what you’re seeing. Use a telescope and get an even better look and the kids will love developing a scientific interest even if they never did it before.

16. Camping

Some campsites charge money, but others let campers stay for free. Look for free campsites in your area and then pack up the car, the tents and the marshmallows!

Backyard camping? Where better to pitch your tent than in your own backyard? I went backyard camping as a kid, and it was a fun way to experience the thrill of sleeping outdoors. Plus, it’s one campsite you don’t ever have to pay for!

17. Community events

As simple as it sounds, your community is always having some kind of local event, especially on weekends and summer is a bonanza of them! Just check your local newspaper or community calendars online for free community events like ice cream socials or 5K runs, farmers markets or bike hikes, and fireworks!

18. Make a time capsule

Look to the future by making a time capsule. Let kids choose what they want to include, from school photos to a list of favorite toys. Then bury the time capsule in the backyard or put it away somewhere safe so it can be found by future generations—or so you can dig it up when your kids become adults in a decade or so!

19. Family “yes” day

Yes Day is a day when Mom and Dad create magic for their children by simply agreeing to say yes to every request (within reason) for one full day. And, kids have to say yes to all the stuff that they never say yes to, like brushing their teeth or picking up their clothes and putting them away. Yes, you can even be eating ice cream for breakfast. Yes, you can have another hour of computer time. Have a Yes Day for anything that doesn’t cost money, and see if it isn’t the most memorable day of the year!

20. Game day (or night)

Got about 20 friends and family members nearby? How about a family softball game at your local playground? What better way to enjoy baseball (my favorite), friends and family together, and maybe there’s a “Mickey Mantle” right under your nose, too! Winners get ice cream treats and losers get the same!

Not into the sports thing? How about a board game night with one of your favorites? Perfect for just 2, 3, or 4 and it won’t cost you a dime to spend a fun evening or afternoon minus the tube!

Final Thoughts

There are no limits to your imagination here, so these are just the tip of the summer iceberg if you will! I prefer the outdoor versions so try things like board games out on the patio or on a blanket at the beach or park. The weather is here, now all you need is the plan.

What are you favorite frugal summer activities? Vacation time doesn’t have to be flying to some expensive resort, so what are you doing this summer for fun without charging up your credit cards when you do?

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