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How to Entertain Kids on a Budget

The dog days of summer are upon us, and that can only mean one thing: it’s time to find ways to keep the kids entertained!

Summer can be a great time to bond with your children and create fun memories, but it can also be expensive.

Here are 30 Summer Activities for Kids on a Budget

How to Entertain Kids on a Budget

1. Get outdoors!

One of the best ways to beat a hot summer day is by getting outside and enjoying some fresh air. Take advantage of free or low-cost activities like hiking, biking, swimming, or visiting your local park.

Spending time at the park is a summertime staple for many families. It’s usually free to visit, and there are often playgrounds, picnic areas, and walking trails.

How to Entertain Kids on a Budget

2. Be creative with meals.

With the kids home all day, it can be tempting to eat out more often. However, this can quickly add up. So instead, try to be creative with your at-home meals.

Utilize summer fruits and vegetables in your recipes, or have a picnic dinner in your backyard. Then, depending on the age of your children, have them prepare dinner.

For us, our oldest loves to make breakfast for dinner. Another easy recipe for kids is using the air fryer and making hot dogs.

Check out these cheap snacks to make for kids here.

3. Take advantage of free entertainment.

Many summer events are free (or meager cost ). Check out your local library for summer reading programs, or look for community concerts or festivals in your area.

In our area, the summer reading program offers scavenger hunts and goodies each time you bring in a completed book chart.

How to Entertain Kids on a Budget

4. Keep it simple.

Sometimes the best summer memories are made when you keep things low-key. Have a movie night at home, play some classic summer games like water balloon toss or frisbee, or take a leisurely walk around your neighborhood.

Trust your gut instinct on what your family enjoys doing together, and do NOT even think about comparing or feeling the need to live up to what you see on social media.

If your family’s favorite thing to do is play games together- by all means, do that even if you did it last night.

5. Get organized.

One thing that can help summertime run smoothly (and save you some money!) is to get organized.

Make a list of activities you want to do with your kids, and plan as much as possible. This will help you avoid last-minute expenses and stressful situations.

How to Entertain Kids on a Budget

6. Take a break from devices.

With summer fun comes more opportunities for screen time. However, too much time spent on phones, tablets, and computers can be unhealthy for kids and adults.

Instead of relying on screens for entertainment, try to find other ways to occupy your time. For example, play a game, work on a puzzle, or read a book together.

7. Visit local attractions.

If you live near any tourist destinations, take advantage of them! Many summertime activities are geared towards families, and there are often deals and discounts available.

How to Entertain Kids on a Budget

8. Have a staycation.

This is one of my favorite budget-friendly summer activities. If travel is not an option this summer, don’t worry! You can still have a blast without leaving town.

Instead, plan some fun activities around your city, and pretend like you’re a tourist for the day.

Visit a museum, go on a walking tour, or check out a new restaurant. Plan an epic vacation right in your backyard with these tips.

9. Make it educational.

Just because school is out for summer doesn’t mean learning has to stop! There are many ways to incorporate education into fun ideas.

For example, visit a nearby farm, go on a nature hike, or participate in a science experiment.

How to Entertain Kids on a Budget

10. Check your local town/city for a summer recreation program.

This program encourages children to stay active and social with friends. This free program was a lifesaver when I started taking my blogging to a business level.

My girls are now nine and eleven and still want to go to the summer rec program.

11. Vacation Bible Schools

When my kids were toddlers, and for the first few years of school, I would take advantage of all the free summer activities. That included lots of vacation bible camps in our area.

It was perfect because they were about 2 hours long each day. This gave me some time to grocery shop, catch up on laundry, etc.

To find local ones in your area, start searching for churches in your town. Then visit each church’s website or Facebook page for information. You may find that most churches have a place to sign up online.

12. Have an outdoor movie night.

If you want to change things up and stay in your backyard, check out this fantastic post on 50 ideas to have an epic movie night outdoors.

13. Take a trip to a Dollar Store.

Let your little ones pick out an item of their choice- you can also take a trip to thrift stores and have them do the same.

If you have a Goodwill near you, kids under twelve get a free book each trip. You can also grab items at your local dollar store for a scavenger hunt in your backyard.

This is a fun way to teach kids about donations and the excitement of something different being at a thrift store each shopping trip.

14. Find a local farm in your area and take a trip.

I find Facebook easy to see which smaller farms allow visitors. Kids love different petting animals and giving them a treat. Even our kids who have farm animals always enjoy OTHER people’s animals.

15. Bake Cookies

Bake cookies the old-fashioned way with the whole family. No grabbing a mix from the store. Check out this recipe for a yummy treat.

16. Dog Walking.

If you have older kids, consider having them walk neighbors’ or family members’ dogs. Dog sitting is a fun activity to earn extra money.

17. Star Gaze.

On a crystal clear night, gather up the whole family for a country drive or check out your backyard for stargazing.

When you look up at the night sky, download an app that will tell you the names of all the constellations you are currently viewing. This is one of my favorite summer activities.

How to Entertain Kids on a Budget

18. Homemade Ice Cream.

Way back in the day, I scored such a great clearance deal on the Kitchenaid Ice Cream Maker. We now use it to make ice cream with our goat’s milk.

Making homemade ice cream is a little lengthy- it has to sit in the fridge for several hours first. Yet, when it starts to churn, the kids get excited.

19. Live Music all summer long.

Check your local city newspaper or online resource to list all the free concerts and free activities coming up for families. The kids can hang out outside.

How to Entertain Kids on a Budget

20. Make a bird feeder.

One summer activity you can do with your kids that will occupy some time and are also educational is making a bird feeder!

You can do this with items around the house, such as an empty soda bottle, some string, and some birdseed.

First, clean out the soda bottle and remove the label. Then, make two holes near the top of the bottle, threading the string through one and tying it off.

Next, fill the bottle with birdseed, and tie the other end of the string to the top. Finally, hang your bird feeder from a tree or pole, and enjoy watching the birds come to visit!

21. Bike Ride.

Summer is the perfect time to get outside and explore your neighborhood on two wheels! If you don’t have your own bikes, many cities have bike-share programs that allow you to rent a bike for a day or even an hour.

How to Entertain Kids on a Budget

22. Have a Water Balloon Fight.

One summer classic that is sure to get the whole family laughing is a water balloon fight!

SimplFillome water balloons, and let the games begin! Just be careful not to break any windows.

23. Community Pool.

If you live in a neighborhood with a community pool, summer is the time to take advantage of it! Spending a day at the pool is the perfect way to beat the heat, and it’s usually very affordable.

Just be sure to pack some sunscreen and plenty of water. Also, check local towns that will allow nonresidents to swim as well.

24. County Fairs.

Another summertime activity perfect for families is visiting your local county fair! There you can find rides, games, and delicious food.

Plus, you can usually find discount tickets if you plan. Check online or at your local grocery store.

25. Farmer’s Markets.

Farmer’s markets are a great summertime activity, and they’re usually free to visit! You can find fresh fruits and vegetables, handmade goods, and more.

This is a great way to support local businesses and get some exercise by walking around.

How to Entertain Kids on a Budget

26. Paint Rocks

Gather some rocks from your yard or neighborhood, and let your kids paint them! This is an excellent activity for hot summer days, as You can do it indoors or outdoors. You can use acrylic paints, markers, or even spray paint.

Once the rocks are dry, you can use them to decorate your garden or walkway. You can even visit your local park and place the stones around with a message of hope.

27. Paint Trees

Give younger kids a bowl with water and a giant paintbrush, and fill the water with a few drops of food coloring. Then, let them paint the trees, sidewalks, and anything else.

This used to keep my toddlers entertained for a solid 30 minutes. I would skip out on the food coloring and just let them paint with water most of the time. They were mesmerized, but it disappeared on hot days.

How to Entertain Kids on a Budget

28. Have a Scavenger Hunt

This is a great activity to do with kids of all ages. Make Please makest of items that can be found around your house or neighborhood, and see who can find them the quickest.

You can do themed scavenger hunts. For example, let’s ONLY look for certain types of trees, birds, etc.

You can grab some free printable scavenger hunt ideas here.

29. Visit a Local Museum

Many museums offer free or discounted admission during the summer months. This is a great way to beat the heat and learn something new.

Just air be sure to check the museum’s website for days and times when they offer free or discounted admission.

30. Bored Games

Summer is the perfect time to break out some classic board games that everyone can enjoy. Games like Monopoly, Scrabble, and Clue are great for spending time together as a family.

And, if you don’t have any board games at home, many libraries offer them for free.

How to Entertain Kids on a Budget


Check out this quick list of some cheap toys that will entertain your kiddos for a few minutes.

  • Blow Bubbles
  • Hula Hoops
  • Skip Its
  • Sidewalk Chalk
  • Poppets
  • Jump Ropes

Have fun! Summertime is all about enjoying yourself and making memories with your loved ones. So don’t stress too much about doing everything perfectly.

Just relax and have fun! Let us know your favorite fun summer activities in the comments below?

These summer months will be over before you know it.

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