The summer is winding down, and that means only one thing. Pretty soon, a new school year will begin. So if you are ready to stretch out the last bits of carefree fun-in-the-sun but you’re on a limited budget, we’ve got a list of activities to close out your summer with a bang. Even better, many of these entertaining pursuits transition well into the fall. So keep this list handy for when the kids are complaining that there is nothing to do.  

Let’s face it—keeping your kids busy can be an expensive proposition, but it does not have to be. Even in the age of theme parks and costly vacations, there are still plenty of free and almost free ways to please kids all year round. Here are 14 great ideas to get you started.

1. Attend Story Time at the Local Public Library

Summer is a great time to read, and the summer season is the perfect time to visit the local library. Many libraries bring in celebrated children’s authors and other local celebrities, and the kids are sure to love the live storytelling sessions.

2. Start a Garden

Gardening is a great summertime activity for the whole family, including those previously bored kids. Whether you plant colorful flowers or tasty veggies, you and the kids can have endless fun watching those plants grow. Plus, growing food with your kids is a great way to teach them about saving money. 

3. Set up a Bug Zoo on Your Patio

If you are bothered by summertime bugs, why not turn things around and put those creepy crawlies to good use? Just grab some jars and other containers and let the kids start their own bug zoo on your porch or patio.

4. Head to the Local Swimming Hole 

You do not need a swimming pool to enjoy some wet and wild fun. From lakes to streams, there are plenty of natural bodies of water out there, and you and the kids can have fun exploring them all.

If you are not fortunate enough to live near the water, set up a sprinkler, grab some water balloons, or break out the squirt guns!

5. Take a Nature WalkSmiling Girl Running Towards Left on Green Field

If your kids are stuck inside on their smartphones, it is time for some fun in the great outdoors. A nature hike is a great way to get the kids outside, so load up the car and get ready for some adventure.

6. Plan a Family Bike Trip

Biking with the kids is a wonderful way to bond and a great chance to get some exercise. Dust off the bike helmets, pump up the tires, and hit the open road or local bike trail.

7. Make up Stories Together

 Creating stories engages your child’s imagination, and that is good for their long-term learning. But, just as important, making up stories is a lot of fun and something your kids will remember forever.  

8. Enjoy a Picnic in the Park 

There is nothing like a picnic in the park on a hot summer day. Often, there is even a playground to occupy the little ones. Find a suitable cooler or basket, make some sandwiches and get ready for an afternoon in the great outdoors.

9. Camp Out in the Backyard 

You do not have to travel far to enjoy a fun camping experience. Whether you set up a tent or just lay out some sleeping bags, you can have a camping adventure in your own backyard. So get out the marshmallows, light a campfire, and tell ghost stories until late into the night – your kids will love it.

10. Go to a Free Concert

You do not have to spend a fortune on concert tickets to enjoy some excellent summertime music. Many towns host free concerts in various venues, so grab your lawn chairs and get ready for some great live music.

11. Celebrate Your Town’s History and Culture

Nearly every town has its own historical society, museum, or something of interest. Stop at your local chamber of commerce or town office and pick up some free brochures on the history of your city or town. Then, take a walk or a guided tour to some of those spots.

Homeschoolers can use this activity as part of their history curriculum, and depending on the age of your kids, they can do a project related to what they experienced. You can even play dress-up and don some vintage costumes for the occasion.

12. Volunteer in Your Local Community

All communities, no matter how small, have volunteer opportunities. Sometimes the best way to stave off boredom is to do something for someone else. Plus, it’s never too early to teach your kids about the joys of giving back.

Your area may have beach cleanup week, or you may be able to volunteer to serve dessert in your local soup kitchen. You could even take part in activities at a nearby retirement or assisted living home. Just make sure that the activity you choose is safe and age-appropriate.

13. Plan a Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts are tremendous fun. You can do this activity anywhere—indoors or outdoors—so it’s highly versatile. All you need to do is pick a theme and a purpose for your hunt, and you are on your way!

You’ll want to plan your route, come up with some clues, and create a prize at the end of the scavenger hunt. You can even get older children involved in planning the search for the little ones. If coming up with ideas for this activity seems too tricky, you can get free printable scavenger hunts online to help you prepare.  

14. Have a Movie NightHappy Family Sitting on a Couch and Watching TV

In this day and age where everyone seems to be mesmerized behind their screens, it’s rare for families to get together and watch a movie anymore. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea. On the contrary, movie night is a chance to laugh and cuddle together and even open up conversations you would not have otherwise.

Choose an age-appropriate move that will appeal to everyone in the family, pop some popcorn, and grab some blankets. This can even become a weekly or monthly tradition that brings everyone together for something a little different. 

Closing Thoughts

Family time should bring joy and bonding, not stress and tight finances. If you are worried that keeping the kids active and entertained will leave you broke, just use the 14 ideas listed above to save money all season long.

Bonus Idea:

If you’re looking for a little extra cash to make your adventures with the family a little sweeter, consider taking paid online surveys. They are a fun, easy, and fast way to pocket a bit of spending money!