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Fun budget friendly summer activities

You don’t have to go on a fancy and expensive summer vacation to pack your days full of fun.  There are so many budget friendly summer activities right in your own backyard.

Aside from going to the beach and running through the sprinkler, here are a few ideas you may not have thought of before.

Play some freestyle Frisbee golf

There are actual disc golf courses, and special disc golf disks for serious players.  You may have a course near your home that would be fun to check out.

But you don’t need all that special stuff.  Find some old Frisbees that are lying around the house (you know you have at least one), and then make up your own course.

  • “Hit the tree at the end of the street in two throws.”
  • “Get your disk around the house and into the garbage can in four throws.”

Each family member can take turns making up the next target.  Hours of fun in your own neighborhood.

Dog with Frisbee
Even the family pets will enjoy freestyle Frisbee golf!


Have a backyard picnic

You don’t have to spend all day making salads and cutting melons, and then packing everything in a basket to take out to some secluded spot for a picnic.  Instead, have a picnic right in your own backyard.

Take whatever you were going to make for dinner anyway, and dish it up onto your regular dinner plates.  Have everyone carry their meal outside, and spread a blanket to sit on.  Done.

No extra work or stress, for a fun outdoor meal with your family.

Budget friendly picnic
Picnics don’t have to be fancy, or take a lot of effort. Just take your meal into the backyard and sit on a blanket for a fun family meal.


Ride the (t)rails

Across the country, unused railroad tracks have been transformed into wonderful multi-use trails.  You can walk, run, bike, skate, or scoot for miles.  Look for a trail near you on the Rails-to-Trails website.

If there isn’t a rail trail near you, there may still be bike paths.

Family Bike Ride
Bike trails can be a fun outing for the whole family.


Check out the library.  It’s more than just books!

In addition to getting free summer reading at the library, check out what else your local library has to offer.  They may have other free resources, such as:

  • Music
  • Movies
  • eBooks
  • Audiobooks
  • Learn a Language programs
  • Groups & activities
  • Book clubs
  • Teen groups
  • Story time
  • Free classes
  • Business coaching
  • Genealogy databases
  • And more!

I never commute without an audiobook from the library, these days.  I’ve also enjoyed lots of the free business and writing classes.  I even started learning French with another free resource.

If you haven’t been to you local library in a while, you should go and see what they’re offering.

Improve office storage with vertical shelves
Your local library offers more than just books. It’s a great resource for free entertainment.


Find out what’s happening in your community

Summer is generally jam-packed full of community activities.  Look for county and city events calendars online to learn more about what’s happening in your local area.  I also find fun activities shown on signs around town, or on buses, and on fliers posted in the library.  (See, that’s even more the library has to offer!)

Some of my local favorites are:

  • Outdoor Concerts
  • Outdoor Movies
  • Farmer’s Markets
  • Local Festivals
  • Walking tours and Art Walks
  • Community Parks (Take a picnic, play on the playground, explore a nature trail)
  • Shakespeare in the Park

If you read “Shakespeare” and immediately had flashbacks to a terrible English class in school, I don’t blame you.  But many local theater groups really know how to make these events fun and modern.  You might be surprised how much you like it.  I know I was.


Rent outdoor equipment for a few hours

This one costs a little bit of money, but is still budget-friendly fun.

If you live near any sort of body of water, no matter how small, chances are really good someone is renting equipment for water activities.  The most budget-friendly are kayaks, canoes, or paddle boards.  A small family can fit in a canoe for a few hours of peaceful paddling.  Kids will enjoy seeing ducks, and other local wildlife.

If you don’t live near water, you may be able to rent bikes for a family ride.  Check out your options.

Family Canoe
Renting a canoe for a few hours costs less than taking the whole family to a movie.


Plant a garden

It is surprisingly satisfying to watch your own vegetables grow from seeds.  It also has some health benefits you may not expect, and gets kids interested in vegetables, and healthy eating habits.

If you don’t have a yard, or room for a garden, you could try container gardening.  Some plants such as strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers grow well in pots.

If you don’t even have room for pots, or you want a little more space, look for a community garden.  You may be able to cultivate a small plot in a shared local garden space.

Get exercise by gardening
Growing a garden is a great way to interest kids in eating healthy foods.


Tour a college campus

Not just for high school seniors, the college campus tour is a great way to spend a day.

Colleges and universities usually have beautiful grounds, interesting buildings, and art installations that are fun to explore.  During the summer, many students will be away, leaving the campus feeling much more relaxed.

While you’re exploring, you can look for signs or posters about upcoming activities.  There is always something going on at a college campus, and you may find an event that you want to attend that you may not have known about otherwise.

Free summer activity
Campus grounds can be beautiful places to explore, and they’re usually bike-friendly.


Anything else?

Well, that should keep you busy through the first few weeks of summer vacation, anyway.

What are your favorite budget-friendly summer activities?

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