20 Family Summertime Activities For Less

The kids are out of school now for the summer and they’re starting to get bored hanging out and doing nothing. If you’re like me, we live in the desert, in a small town, and it’s super hot! But we don’t have a ton of money to take kids to do expensive things all the time. Here’s my list of a few family-fun things to do this summer on a budget.

Go swimming – we’re lucky in that we have a pool in our backyard, so it’s ready to go whenever we are. Just jumping in the pool for a while can cool you off, or you can invite Remember the sunblock!

Barbecuing – we’re going to eat anyways. Might as well fire up the grill and make an event of it. And it’s supper healthy to barbeque instead of eating out (an a whole lot cheaper!).

Bonfire & S’mores– we have a fire pit in our backyard and we’ve already used it a few times to make some delicious S’mores.

Yummy S'mores
Yummy S’mores

Ice cream – what a great way to cool down on a hot summer day! We’re lucky enough live just a couple blocks from a Rite Aid where they sell Thrifty’s ice cream. It’s a nice treat to walk down and get a yummy ice cream cone. Another option is to buy a box of ice cream cones and a tub of ice cream and make them at home.

Go to the park – parks are free! Take some activities with you to keep everyone entertained. We usually take a ball or two (football, basketball, or soccer ball), our baggo board, and even the portable grill and we have activities for hours.

Bake – my girls love to bake just about anything…cookies, cakes, brownies…whatever they can have ingredients to make. Early morning baking is usually best so you can air out the warm air from baking during the day. We like to not only eat the yummy goodies, but we also like to plate them up and give them to our neighbors just for fun.

Bike ride – sometimes it gets to be a little too hot to do this in the afternoon, but a morning or evening bike ride gets kids out of the house and everyone gets some great exercise. A nice swim is great after a warm bike ride.

Hiking – find a trail near you and go for a hike. Don’t forget to bring lots of water!

Museum – most areas have at least a small museum, and it usually doesn’t cost too much to get in.

Make homemade lemonade or tea – this is a fun and refreshing activity that everyone can enjoy.

Family friendly games – we have a Wii with sports games and Just Dance that are family friendly ways to spend time together.

Family friendly Wii games
Family friendly Wii games

Movies – you don’t have to go to the movies to have fun at the movies. Rent a couple of movies, grab a box or two of popcorn, and have some family time watching a good movie. You can even order some pizza and make an evening of it. Just don’t forget to return the movies by the time their due!

Visit a local farmers market – sometimes you can find some really great deals at farmers market, and you can pick up fresh produce to make a light and fresh lunch or dinner that is delicious!

Make pizza from scratch – I absolutely l-o-v-e homemade pizza! It’s way healthier than that box of grease that’s delivered! And I can put whatever topping everyone loves on it. My kids love it when I make the big pizza in the oven because I make it a super-duper-deep-dish with tons of toppings. But, we also love to make our own individual pizzas.

Have family over – it’s (almost) always fun to invite some family over and play Wii games, go swimming, barbecue, and have a bonfire! Just hanging out is a great way to bond and just relax.

Cousins – Family Time

Go golfing – we have a low-cost golf course in our area that we just checked out. Golf really isn’t my thing, but the boys like it.

Play basketball – if you have a basketball net in your driveway like we do, setting up a family-friendly and slightly-competitive game of basketball can be a lot of fun.

Spa day – you don’t have to go to a salon to get a mani/pedi, to get your hair done, or to get a facial. You can do it in your home with all the girls (and guys, if they’re comfortable enough with the thought of being pampered). Just take a few hours and pamper yourself and each other.


Go to the library – this may not sound super exciting, but finding a great book, or learning about free activities your local library is offering is a great way to spend some time out of the house.

Plant some new plants – I l-o-v-e planting new plants in my yard. I’m pretty particular about my plants, though. Since I live in CA I have to be sure they’re drought tolerant and they go with my landscaping. But, I love it when they start growing and blooming. It just makes everything better!

There are lots of other things we like to do, but they cost a bit with five kids and two adults:

  • Go to the beach
  • Go to the lake
  • Fishing
  • Water park
  • Go out of town for dinner
  • Camping
  • Amusement park (okay, this one costs a lot more, but it’s really fun)
  • Take a road trip to see family in another city
  • Go to a local sports game
  • Paint a room – this isn’t super expensive, but can get there if everyone wants to paint a room
  • Throw a party

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