20 Creative Ways to Entertain Your Kids on a Budget This Summer

Keep your kids entertained with these creative tips.

With summer in full swing, kids and parents alike are looking for things to do to stay entertained. While summer is a great time for outdoor adventures, theme parks, and family vacations, these large outings tend to cost a lot of money. But you can still keep your kids entertained without breaking the bank.

Take advantage of your own backyard and hometown and make the most of the resources and activities close to you. These 20 summer activities are a great way to keep your kids thinking creatively, releasing energy, and having fun all summer long.

Check Out Your Local Library

Libraries have a plethora of fun summer activities focused on children. From reading groups that incentivize kids to read to story-telling time, the local library is a great place to visit during the summer. Encourage your children to read throughout the summer. And when they finish their books, have a movie marathon to watch the movie version of the books they read.

Take a Hike

Find a nearby, easy-to-manage trail and take your kids for a hike in a nearby park or nature preserve. Get an early start to avoid the high temperatures, and you’ll enjoy beautiful scenery, quality time, and family fun. You can even make a game out of it by seeing who can spot the most woodland creatures, insects, or birds.

Go on a Picnic

With so many picnic tables and camping areas in each city, make a goal to explore a new picnic area each week of summer. Make lunches with your kids, grab a big lawn blanket and have a picnic at a new location each time.

Visit the Park

Parks are everywhere and can provide hours of free entertainment. Take your picnic to the park, play tag, make new friends, and take advantage of all the parks in your city. Check your local city website for a complete list of parks and go exploring. Make a “park passport” and check each park you visit of your summer bucket list.

Download Free Coloring Sheets

Minted, an online art marketplace, just launched a set of free of coloring sheets for kids. On an extra hot day, print off some coloring sheets, help your kids draw a masterpiece, and present the finished works of art in a neighborhood art show.

Make a Water Park in Your Own Backyard

With a few tools and supplies from your local hardware store, you can create your own backyard water park. The pros at Mr. Rooter Plumbing created a how-to piece on how to make homemade sprinklers, slip and slides, water slides, and water blobs at home.

Buy Some Board Games

Spend a little money upfront purchasing some classic board games. Games are a great way to stay cool on a hot day while invoking friendly competition and challenging yourself to improve each time you play.

Read a Book and Perform a Play

Read a chapter from a novel daily, and when you’ve finished the book, have the kids act it out and perform a play for the entire family.

Go to a Free Outdoor Concert

In the summer, communities often host free outdoor concerts in the park. Check your city website for a list of upcoming activities and let your kids enjoy a musical treat.

Visit a Local Farmer's Market

Support local farmers and artisans by visiting your city’s farmer’s market. Buy some fruits, veggies, and pastries and enjoy them afterward.

Play School

Let your kids be the teacher for once. Encourage your kids to set up a schoolroom, complete with dolls and stuffed animals for students. Have them create a lesson plan and play school to keep them thinking and engaged.

Organize a Neighborhood Playgroup

Chances are, other parents in the neighborhood are looking for things to do, too. Organize a weekly playgroup where each parent takes a turn hosting the kids to an activity.

Host a Block Party

Think old-fashioned night games. Organize a neighborhood block party and have a potluck dinner, followed by water-balloon fights, three-legged and relay races.

Make a Fairy Garden

Buy children a flowerpot and have them make their own fairy garden. Let them search the yard for twigs, grass, and flowers to make a magical paradise they can hold in their hands.

Go on a Scavenger Hunt

Set up a backyard or neighborhood-wide scavenger hunt. Write a checklist of things kids need to find and make it a race between teams to see who finds all items first.

Be Tourists in Your Own City

We often think we need to travel far for adventure. Take advantage of your own hometown and remember tourists come there, too. Check out sites like TripAdvisor to see what visitors do when they visit your hometown.

Pick Berries and Bake Your Own Pie

Round up the kids and go to a local farm to pick berries and make homemade pies, suggests Anza Goodbar of Bubble Bum. Summertime is the only time that you can have this kind of fun activity. Spend an afternoon at your favorite berry farm followed by trying to make the perfect homemade pie, she says.

Purchase a Water Table

Invest in a water table or pint-sized inflatable pool. “Kids love playing in and with water, and this stuff will keep them occupied for ages. Add in some measuring cups and plastic boats to add in a little educational lesson (measuring, displacing water, etc.) and for a little extra fun. If you live in an apartment, this can also be done in the bathtub while wearing a swimsuit or the sink”, says Dawn Yanek of Momsanity.com.

Look for Local Deals

Download deal apps like Groupon or other great apps for parents to purchase discounted activity passes. Sometimes you’ll find a screaming deal on fun activities like theme parks or escape rooms.

Be a Chef

Take your kids to the grocery story, give them some money to buy food, and let them be in charge of dinner for the night. Give them the freedom to choose the menu, buy the products, and help them cook for the family dinner.

These activities prove you can have fun this summer – and save money. And remember to stay safe, drink water, and use sunscreen frequently during any summer activity.