If you’re a student still in school, you automatically look forward to summer break. But even if you work a full-time job without the summer vacation, there is still an expectation when it comes to plans for the summer. “What are you doing this summer?” is on the tip of everyone’s tongue, and whether you have any ideas in the works or not, you probably have already asked yourself, “Hmmm….What exactly AM I doing this summer?”

If you’ve got more time on your hands than money in your pocket, this yearly conundrum can be more frustrating than fun, but it doesn’t need to be. Although many traditional summertime activities can be pricey, there are far more things to do that don’t cost a dime. You truly can have a rich lifestyle, even if you are on a budget.  If you’re ready to have a frugal yet festive summer, read on for 13 satisfying ideas.

Take Advantage of the Sun

At no time does our bright friend in the sky shine so much as in the hot summer months, so take advantage of it while you can. The sun is free and can be enjoyed all on its own. Get together with friends at a no-cost beach or (if there isn’t a body of water where you live) turn on the sprinkler and pretend you’re a kid again. Make a pitcher of kool-aid, drag out the chaise lounges, and work on your tan. Just don’t forget the sunscreen. 

Go on a Walking AdventureMan in Black Shirt and Black Shorts Carrying Hiking Backpack Walking on Pathway Near Body of Near Near Near Near

Chances are, there are some parks or public places nearby that you’ve never even set foot in. Summer is the time to explore what is available in your city or town. Whether it’s a small park in the middle of your town square or some conservation land with hiking trails, you can usually find some unspoiled patch of green to trek through. Better yet, pack some snacks and sandwiches and turn it into a picnic.

Learn a New Skill

Thanks to the availability of thousands of free online courses, you can explore a variety of subjects at no cost. Do you want to learn how to code, take great photos, or speak a different language? The Internet is full of resources to take your education to the next level. You can even work on courses that teach you how to build an online business and turn this into the summer you start an enterprise of your own. 

Start a Side Hustle

If you have a little spare time on your hands, consider a side hustle to earn some extra cash. It doesn’t have to be anything too time consuming or elaborate. Start a dog-walking business, set up a lemonade stand, or mow lawns a few days a week. You can even earn money online and do surveys for money. It’s easy to get started and free online surveys are a quick way to put some additional spending money in your pocket. 

Have an Ice Cream Social

Don’t have the money to spend at your local ice cream shop? For a fraction of the cost, you can invite a bunch of friends over for an ice cream social. Have everyone bring a half-gallon of ice cream while you supply the toppings—hot fudge, nuts, whipped cream, sprinkles, etc. Sharing the expense means that nobody is stuck spending a lot of money, and everyone can make their own unique frozen treat.

Start a Book Club

If you love to read and have a few like-minded friends, organizing a book club could be a great summer activity. Just pick a book and give everyone a chance to read it, then plan a get-together at one of your homes to discuss what you read. To avoid having to purchase the book, borrow from the library or each other. You could even turn it into a barbecue/cookout and have everyone bring a dish to share. 

Organize an Outdoor Movie Night

A DIY outdoor movie night is the perfect free activity for hot summer nights. You can even build your own backyard movie screen. Prepare some popcorn and snacks, grab some refreshing drinks, and decide on a good flick. Send out invitations and ask your friends to plan skits for intermission to make things even more exciting. 

Practice Your Cooking Skills

If you like to spend time in the kitchen, summer can be a great time to practice your cooking skills. While everyone else in the house is out doing other things, you will have the perfect opportunity to whip up a summer salad, some baked goods, or a new kind of smoothie. You could also learn to grill, which is an art form in itself. 

Have a Garage or Yard Sale

Summer is the ideal time of the year to declutter your house and have a yard sale. This is also a great activity to do with friends or neighbors. Plan a time for your sale and get all of your unwanted items together. Place an ad on some free marketplaces online, and hang out together while selling your old stuff. If you make enough money, you might even take the proceeds to do a paid summer activity like an amusement park or festival.

Camp in Your BackyardAdorable little kid sitting on rug in wigwam located on terrace with wooden border and scenic view

If you don’t have the money this year for a traditional camping trip, pitch your tents and gear in the backyard. Put some logs on the fire pit, roast marshmallows, and tell ghost stories before bed. No cheating, though. You’ve got to rely on your flashlights and sleep in your tents all night! Drag out the Coleman grill to make breakfast, and play a game of volleyball. If you enjoy it, you might even want to stay out there a few days for a change of pace. 

Look For Free Community Events

If you feel the need to get out and about, check out your town’s website to see what is happening in your community. You might be surprised to find a whole list of free events happening right under your nose. From concerts in the park to free admission to museums or local attractions, nearly every town has things going on during the summer months. It’s a great way to expand your circle, meet new people, and do something completely different.

Be a Tourist in Your Own State

If you can afford a tank of gas, now is a great time to explore the sights and sounds of your own state—no need to go for the expensive attractions. Travel down the back roads and forgotten places to see what you find. There are surprises hidden everywhere if you know how to look. Take a road you have never traveled before. Turn right when you usually go left. You might come across a picturesque stream or roadside attraction you never knew existed. 

Volunteer With a Local Organization

There is never a wrong time to give back to your community, but it may just be that you finally have a few hours to volunteer during the summer. Whether it’s a local animal shelter, beach cleanup project, or soup kitchen, nonprofits need help all year long. It’s a great way to spend a day, especially if you can’t find anything else to do. Boredom will be virtually eliminated, and you will come away from the experience feeling better than ever.