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15 Free (or Almost Free) Ways to Spend Summer with Your Family

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Jacqueline PaumierGuest Blogger
May 25, 2016 · 4.1k Views

Summer is right around the corner, the kids will be home and the vacation budget is looking tight. The idea of paying for summer passes to them parks, traveling across state, or even out of country can be overwhelming.  It’s no secret that keeping the whole family entertained for months straight can become a pricey task. Fortunately, there are free (or practically free) ways to get the whole family out of the house and on their way to a memorable summer. So we invite you to keep it local, get creative, and make this a summer jammed pack with the kind of memories you never forget.  The tops below are designed for family activity but can easily be scaled down to two person activities for romantic date ideas.


1. Outdoor concerts and festivals

Source: Tulsa Kids

Summertime is the perfect time to get out and enjoy some live music. Many local radio stations will use the summertime to host free concerts, so try going to your favorite station's websites to check out a list of events. You can also check out the website for your closest park for any concerts or movie nights. If you have some performers in the family, have your own performance at home with a family talent show, just be sure to pick up some Advil beforehand.

2. Speaking of movies...

Source: Four Seasons Resort

There’s really no summer without mega-blockbusters, but tally up the price of popcorn, hot dogs, candy, drinks and tickets and you may find yourself with a mega headache. Host a family movie night at home instead and get really creative with it. Put out popcorn with caramel, chocolate syrup, or sea salt for a “make your own” popcorn bar, project movies on an old blanket outside, or simply reconnect over some forgotten family videos.

3. Go camping

Source: Money Crashers

No car required! Upgrade the traditional BBQ and turn it into a full-on camping event. Put up tents, catch lightning bugs, and don’t forget the s’mores. And for an extra fun treat for mom and dad, try soaking your marshmallows in Bailey’s before roasting them for your own “adult” s'mores.

4. Chili cook-off

Source: Food Network

Nothing makes memories like some friendly competition. Split up the family into teams and have a chili cook off. Invite family and friends over to be the judge and crown the winner “Lord of the Chili Dogs”.

5. Volunteer

Source: emaze

While it might not be your kid’s ideal way to spend their vacation, it will give them lessons and memories that will last a lifetime. Volunteering doesn’t have to happen on a large scale either, it could be something as simple as walking an elderly neighbor's dog when it get’s too hot for them to do it themselves.

6. Hit the beach

Source: Wedeside

Hello! This is an obvious one, load up the floaties and the sandwiches and head straight to your closest lake or beach. For an even more memorable day, combine this idea with idea #1 and see if there are any “Concerts on the Water” near you. Trust us, nothing beats floating down a lazy river while listening to some live music.

7. Have a paint party

Source: Hello Creative Family

If you don’t mind the mess, you may go down as the coolest parent of the year for this one. Fill up some balloons with paint, put the kids in swimsuits you don’t mind ruining, and let them have at it. Make the day, even more, fun by laying out large sheets of paper or canvases to make “body art”.

8. Learn something new together

Source: Kristin Potenti

What you teach your children now, they will remember you for forever. Stop and ask yourself, what is that one special skill you could teach to your child? Maybe it’s your secret chocolate cake recipe, crocheting, or building the ultimate fort. Take some quiet time, make sure to bring your patience, and pass the lesson on.

9. Have a yard sale

Source: Our Thrifty Nickel

This one actually makes you money! Get the whole family to rummage up old toys and clothes they no longer need and host a yard sale. Let everyone keep the money from their own items and decide how they would like to spend (or save) it.

10. Make an origami tree

Source: YouTube

Oh, the power of youtube! Check out how to make some fancy (or basic) origami shapes and get the whole family involved in making as many colorful origami shapes as possible, then go outside and hang them from trees in the yard.

11. Upcycle time

Source: Emerald Isle Realty

Show your kids just how important it is to work with what you have. Invite creativity in the home (combined with some good ol’ Pinterest posts) and see what you can make from household items. Use glass bottles and silverware to make wind chimes, make jewelry out of old corks, or see what can be made with old storage crates.

12. Take up dancing

Source: CBS Local, Los Angeles

Let the giggles begin! Search the web for some free dance videos and invite the whole family to join in on learning the choreography, don’t worry…no one actually has to see you doing it! However, if you’re feeling extra bold, you can always make a family music video. Hello, internet star!

13. Dollar days at the museums

Source: Yale

No school means being able to explore new places on the weekdays. Go online and find out which day is dollar day for museums near you. Some museums even have days where kids are free.

14. Hit the farmers' market

Source: Zoo Unicorns Blogspot

Most farmers markets will have an arts and crafts section for kids where they can stay busy while you peruse the local stalls.

15. Write letters

Source: Today

Remember when mail was for more than bills? Get the whole family in on restoring the lost art of letter writing. Help the kids find a pen pal on Penpal World or send letter to family members who could use a good pick-me-up.


jacquelinebuch profile picture
Jacqueline is a modern day gypsy, who has lived in several countries and has traveled to over 20. A sucker for all things pleasing to the senses; her world revolves around food (any and all food), foreign indie films, and salsa music. The first to jump off a waterfall and the last to say no to sushi, she has been described as a bit of an “extremist”. In her perfect world, no one ever spells “cool” as “kool” and Ryan Gosling has more tattoos. She enjoys spending her free time in her New Orleans home with her Cubano guitarist husband and 1-year-old son.

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