Cheap Fun

Concerts, vacations, activities can add up quickly, leaving you with an empty bank account. Even if you’re on a budget or saving up for a big expense, you can still have fun this summer for less.

Here are 41 fun, cheap, and free (minus the fuel costs) things you can do while it’s warm outside. There are plenty of ways to have fun without spending a lot.

Free Things to Do in the Summer

Most of these ideas are free, but some may require paying a small fee. Try a few or do them all and have a fun-filled summer for less.

1. Go to the Park

Explore what your city has to offer. Research the best playgrounds in your area. Make a goal to see all the parks in your area and swing on every swing set. You’re never too old to play on a playground just move out of the way of children don’t hog the playground.

2. Swim at Your Community Pool or Spray Park

Slather on the sunscreen and head out to the pool for a few hours. Many parks also have a water playground or splash pad for hours of fun in the sun. This is my favorite kind of summer fun.

3. Visit the Library

This place is awesome. The library can save you money. It is the perfect place to enjoy free air conditioning in the summer months. Many offer free lecture series or cheap classes where you can learn anything from pottery to genealogy.

Some libraries also have kids’ areas with free games and activities. Check out your library’s calendar to see what events are coming up.

4. Play in the Sprinklers

Throw on your bathing suit and run through the sprinklers. You know you want to.

5. Go for a Hike

Scout out a nearby state park for good hiking trails. Ask your friends and family for recommendations on their favorite outdoor hiking spots. Grab a backpack with water, snacks, a compass, and your map, and have fun.

6. Play a Board Game

Enjoy the cool air conditioner and gather around the kitchen table for a fun family board game. Play an old favorite or borrow a new one from friends or family.

7. Learn a New Skill

Learn to play an instrument, knit, etc. Look for free or cheap classes from your local library. You can also check out the free classes they have at Home Depot. They teach everything from building a bird house to laying tile. At the end of the summer, you’ll have “mad skillz.”

8. Take Pictures

Even if you’re not good with a camera, this can be a chance to get better. Get a book from the library on photography and use what you learn to get better with your camera.

Better yet, organize the pictures you already have to make it easier to enjoy them.

9. Make Popsicles

Pour some of that Kool-Aid in the ice trays, or in some small cups (juice works well too!). Add a spoon for a holder and pop them in the freezer. In a few short hours, you can enjoy delicious popsicles.

10. Watch a Movie

You can rent one from the library, watch it on an over-the-air channel, or go to a movie in the park event.

11. Read a Book

They have these things for free at your local library. Curl up next to the air conditioning vent and read to your heart’s content.

Many libraries also offer audiobooks and ebooks in addition to the paper kind. They can be great for reading on the go or listening in the car.

12. Play Online Games

Look up some free games on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. There are plenty of fun, free games. Angry Birds.

13. Visit a Free Zoo or Museum

Find out if there are any free zoos or museums (or at least free days) in your area. Show up and have a blast. Don’t forget to pack food and drinks so you don’t get tempted to buy snacks.

14. Learn to Cook Something New

Try out a new recipe. Summer is a great time to make something new such as gazpacho or Thai curry. Prefer spending time outdoors? Fire up the grill to cook a rare meat (i.e. ostrich burgers).

15. Start a Blog is free. So is Starting a blog is a blast. Use your creativity and build a following.

16. Write a Book

Don’t stop with a blog. Write your own book. Have you been putting off writing a novel or a book? Is writing a book something that has been on your bucket list? Self-publishing is easy these days. You could have your book on Amazon in a few days.

17. Play a Sport

Find a free basketball court and organize a game with a few friends. If it’s too hot outside, plan an evening game or look for a basketball court at a church or recreation center.

Basketball not your thing? How about frisbee, volleyball, or tennis? Look for free facilities at local parks or recreation centers. Don’t have a tennis racket or a volleyball? Ask to borrow it from family and friends. Better yet–invite them to join you in the fun!

18. Attend a Free Workout Class

Many gyms, boot camps, etc.; will let you try their facility or program at least once for free to see if you like it. This may be the perfect time to take a pilates class or try out CrossFit.

19. Blow Bubbles

Make some bubbles using dishwashing soap, water, and sugar (for consistency.) NO ONE IS TOO OLD FOR BUBBLES!

20. Have a Garage Sale

Have fun (and make money) getting rid of all of your unwanted stuff. Your house will feel so much cleaner and better organized after all the excess items are out of it. A successful garage sale helps you meet your neighbors too.

21. Start a Garden

Find some scrap lumber to make a square foot garden in your back yard. Seeds are cheap.

Check the library for books and other information about gardening. Some libraries also offer classes on gardening and may even have a seed library where you can get seeds for free.

22. Watch the Sunrise

Get up early. Find a good spot. Look east. There is nothing quite like watching the sun rise and basking in the cool morning air.

23. Go to the Beach

Grab your swimsuit, sunscreen, and snacks and have a fun, frugal outing. Bring a towel and take a dip.

24. Ride Your Bike

You can find some great trails through your state and local park services and even in your own neighborhood. Have fun and always wear a helmet.

25. Build a Fort

Pillow and blanket forts are awesome. Or go big with a fort made of scraps of lumber.

26. Write with Sidewalk Chalk

Unleash your inner artists and show the neighbors what you got. You can even use the chalk to draw a game such as hopscotch for hours of entertainment.

After it rains, do it again.

27. Start a Collection

Summer is the perfect time to start a collection of stamps, coins, rocks, or other freebies.

28. Have a Picnic

Instead of eating lunch at your kitchen table for the umpteenth time, break out the pic-a-nic basket and blanket. Get some sun while you eat.

29. Go to a Festival or County Fair

Check out your community calendar and find free events in your area. 

30. Volunteer

Find a local person or organization in need (it could be your older neighbor). Offer to help for an afternoon.

If you’re good in a sport, offer to coach a kids’ team. Many kids’ sports organizations rely on free coaching help from volunteers.

31. Go Fishing

Find an ocean, lake, river, pond, or puddle, and start fishing. Make sure fishing is allowed at that location. Borrow equipment or spend a little money to rent it from the bait shop.

32. Have a Parade (or at Least See One)

Find a Memorial Day, Independence Day, or any other day parade to attend. Many homeowners’ associations (HOA) also put together free parades for the neighborhood.

Or, start one yourself and lead the way.

33. See the Sights

There could be many things your town or state are well known for go see them.

34. Watch a Baseball Game

There are many minor league baseball teams all across the country.

Even if your town doesn’t have one affiliated with a major league baseball (MLB) franchise, there is often an independent league team in many small towns with guys who are still dreaming of earning a shot at an MLB team.

A day at the ballpark can be a great and cheap family event.

35. Spend Time with Your family

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it is worth mentioning again. Summer is the perfect time to reconnect with your family and make memories together.

36. Have a Cookout

Nothing screams summer like a cookout. It’s a fun way to hang out with friends and family, and enjoy the warm weather.

37. Go to an Outdoor Concert

During the summer, many parks offer free outdoor concert series. Grab a picnic blanket and some snacks and relax on the grass while enjoying live music.

38. Go See a Play

Many small communities still have a theater, playhouse, or an opera house where you can see local productions of plays and musicals. Seeing a locally produced play can be a thrilling experience, and many have discount nights.

39. Go Camping

If you already have camping gear, head for the great outdoors for a cheap and fun-filled way to enjoy summer.

Don’t want to drive anywhere or pay the campsite fees? Camp in your back yard. Pitch a tent, light a fire, and roast some marshmallows under the stars. If you have kids, they will love this idea!

40. Look at the Stars

There is nothing quite like enjoying the starry sky on a clear summer night. If you live in the city, it may be difficult to see the stars because of light pollution.

Hop in the car and drive away from the city. Find a spot near an open field and look up at the night sky. Try to identify different constellations or individual stars. Big Dipper anyone?

41. People Watch

Grab a cup of coffee or tea and head to a park or the downtown area of your city. Find a good spot and watch the world go by. It’s a great way to disconnect and enjoy the sights and sounds around you. Create a hypothetical life behind a stranger see where your creativity brings you.

Blog by Julez for Styles Rebel Radio

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