Low cost family activities to get you through the summer


Across the country, the final bell is ringing. With the arrival of summer comes the end to yet another school year. And just like that, hordes of children across the country are released into the wild, temporarily free from the structured bonds of school life.

As teachers and administrators bask in their brief respite, parents must once again find adequate distractions for their energetic, inquisitive children – hopefully without breaking the bank.

No worries. Turns out there are tons of fun, low cost ways to have fun as a family this summer. Here are just a few to get you started.


Whether your kids are high-energy or couch potatoes, everyone benefits from increased exercise. So why not turn that exercise into a family bonding activity? Go for a daily walk around the neighborhood together, a hike through the local woods, or ride bikes as far as they’ll take you (if you’ve got the bikes). Fresh air, exercise, and togetherness is a hard combination to beat.

Inexpensive movies

Many communities hold free (or very cheap) movie nights throughout the summer, projecting movies in public places like the local park. There’s also a good chance your local cinema holds special low-cost, weekday screenings for kids and their families. Keep an eye out for those opportunities.

Start a mutual hobby

Find a hobby that’s interesting for both you and your children and pursue it together. You can try painting, sewing, quilting, bird watching, and all variety of collecting. Once you find something everyone can invest in, you’ll find the time just melts away.

Museums and zoos

Many museums and zoos have special low-cost days for families. It’s probably going to be crowded, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun. Also, don’t overlook the smaller, quirkier attractions in your town. They're usually significantly cheaper, but just as memorable.

Go bowling

If you visit KidsBowlFree.com and register your kids, they can receive 2 free games every day all summer long from a participating bowling alley. That’s a lot of bowling.

Read to each other

Parents and children read to each other regularly when children are very young. Unfortunately, as kids get older, we tend to stop reading to one another, which is a shame because it never actually stops being fun. Seriously. Try it. There’s something wonderful about listening to someone read a story you love – it gives the story a whole new life.

Go camping

Camping can be expensive if you want to invest in all the best gear. For family fun, however, all you really need is a tent and a campfire and a sky full of stars. Heck, you don’t even have to leave your own backyard.

Start a garden

Depending on how much space you have available, it may only be a tiny herb garden, but planting something and nurturing it to fruition is a fun way to bond and learn something in the process. Plus, as a bonus, you get some fresh produce!

Volunteer together

Find a cause you all agree is important and go to work. You can use VolunteerMatch.org to help connect you with the appropriate events and organizations in your area.

Jesse Campbell photo.

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI, with over ten years of experience creating valuable educational materials that help families through everyday and extraordinary financial challenges.

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