60+ Ways to Have a Fun and Frugal Summer

May 26, 2017

60+ Ways to Have a Fun and Frugal Summer

The summer months bring not only warmer temps and a break from regular routines, but also fun activities and entertainment that only come around this time of year. Thankfully, many of them are budget-friendly and even FREE—perfect if your goal is to have a frugal summer.

From things you can do at home, to hitting the road, to family-friendly activities, there are tons of options to keep you busy during the summer without blowing your budget.

Here are 60+ free and budget-friendly ways to have a frugal summer.

Around the Neighborhood

You can find lots of things to do without going too far. Most towns and cities amp up their roster of activities during the summer months.

  1. Activities at your local library (workshops, movies, games, special events, etc.)
  2. Volunteer in your community
  3. Visit a local historical site
  4. Go yard sale hopping
  5. Browse sidewalk sales
  6. Plan a scavenger hunt around your town
  7. Check out your city or state’s “Open House” events
  8. Explore an art exhibit at a local gallery
  9. Plan potluck dinners with your neighbors
  10. Take food or cooking classes at your local supermarket
  11. Events at your local bookstore (author readings, book club, workshops, etc.)
  12. Invest in a pool pass for the summer
  13. Organize a pick-up soccer (or baseball, basketball, etc.) game at a local park
  14. Visit (or participate in!) your town’s Memorial Day and Fourth of July Parades

At Home + In Your Backyard

Being on a budget doesn’t have to mean staying at home…unless, of course, you want to! There’s a ton of fun activities to do right in your backyard or indoors, especially on those days when it feels too hot to do much of anything.

  1. Make a life-sized backyard game like Jenga, Dominoes, Yahtzee, or Connect-Four
  2. Plan a Water Day (water balloon fight, sprinklers, slip-n-slide, etc.)
  3. Have an outdoor game night
  4. Plan a scavenger hunt in your home and yard
  5. Host an outdoor movie night
  6. Create a treasure hunt with a map and clues. (The treasure can be a new outdoor game or toys.)
  7. Camp out in your backyard
  8. Make your favorite warm weather treats (popsicles, lemonade, smoothies, snow cones, etc.)
  9. Have a campfire (Don’t forget the S’mores!)
  10. Host a “First Day of Summer” party or sleepover
  11. Have a yard sale (You’ll earn some money for your summer fun!)
  12. Host a themed movie festival (e.g., “Family-Friendly Foreign Films”)
  13. Plan a craft or project to work on throughout the summer
  14. Plant an herb or vegetable garden
  15. Pajama Day (Stay in your pj’s all day and read, play games, or watch movies. Perfect for when it’s too hot.)
  16. Sidewalk games (Make the biggest hopscotch and tic-tac-toe boards you’ve ever seen!)
  17. Kitchen science experiments (Check out a book at your library or do a quick search online for ideas.)

Get Active

Take advantage of the weather and do your exercising outdoors.

  1. Enter a fun run, 5K, or bike race
  2. Take an outdoor Yoga class
  3. Plan a hiking tour (Identify a new hike to take each weekend.)
  4. Find a new bike trail
  5. Go on a guided bird-watch
  6. Explore a new neighborhood or city on bike
  7. Explore a new neighborhood or city on foot
  8. Bowl for free
  9. Skate for free
  10. Find “demo days” hosted by a sports shops (e.g., free stand-up paddling and kayaking)

Out + About

There’s so much you can do and explore; you’ll have some ideas leftover for next summer!

  1. Free (or almost free) movies at your local theater
  2. Visit a Nature Center
  3. Visit a firehouse
  4. Take a trip to your town or city’s government offices
  5. Free camps at the Apple Store
  6. Visit a zoo or aquarium on its free day or during free admission hours
  7. Visit a state park
  8. Go berry picking at a pick-your-own farm
  9. Go to a drive-in movie theater (Yes, they still exist!)
  10. Plan a Fireworks Tour (Identify when your town and neighboring towns have their scheduled fireworks and plan to visit as many as you can.)
  11. Free workshops at Home Depot 
  12. Outdoor movies at a local park
  13. Outdoor concerts
  14. Visit a museum on its free day or during free admission hours (Many libraries issue free museum passes.)
  15. Plan a trip to the beach or lake
  16. Go on a picnic
  17. Find a festival (film, kite, music, food, craft, etc.)
  18. Visit a Farmers’ Market
  19. Visit a Flea Market
  20. Go to a summer fair or carnival
  21. Tour a winery (Most will allow you to pack your own food and picnic on their grounds.)
  22. Tour a local brewery
  23. Free days or free admission hours at a planetarium/observatory
  24. Go to a Minor League Baseball game
  25. Attend an outdoor play
  26. Visit a local factory
  27. Go to a Classic Car show
  28. Free days or free admission hours at a botanical garden

Related Reading: 21 Tips to Save on Eating Out

It is possible to have a frugal summer that’s still exciting, fun, and full of memories. Use these ideas and your creativity to come up with a plan for the summer months that will entertain you and your family, yet keep your budget intact.

For experiences specific to where you live, check your local newspapers and public calendars often, or do a search online for “free” along with your town or city. You’ll come across several ideas including some surprising ones. (For example, free kayaking in the Hudson River or a family-friendly seven-mile bike ride through Manhattan streets! Give them a try if you’re in the area!)

Have a fun and frugal summer!

What do you like to do during the summer that’s budget-friendly?


Editors Note: This post was originally published in July 2016, and has been updated.