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Summer Fun Ideas for Families That Won’t Break the Bank

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May 23, 2012

Make some amazing memories this summer by exploring new places and spending quality learning and sharing time with your family. And guess what? You don’t have to break the bank to do it. Here are great summer fun ideas for your family, that won’t cost a fortune:


There are many great, free programs at your local library. Sing-a-longs, arts and crafts, and more. And many of them have reading incentive programs that offer prizes for books read. This is such a wonderful place for fun and educational programs. Don’t miss out!


Isn’t that the best part of summer? Some beaches are free, some charge for parking or admission. Bring a picnic basket, books, snorkels, toys, and sunscreen and the whole day should be less than $30. Family fun at it’s best.

Parks and Nature Centers

Checking a local tourism website can give you some great ideas of places I’d never been before. Act like a tourist and request a local travel planner or google our state tourism website. You may be surprised at the places you’ve never been before. Hiking trails, great views, biking trails, and wide open spaces.


Been a while since you went to the Zoo? Whether in your state or the next one over, zoos are complete days of fun, walking, and learning. What kid doesn’t like seeing the monkeys make faces back at them? My zoo even lets you bring in food so it doesn’t get too costly.


Most schools have tennis courts and on a cooler night, we head out and hit some balls around. Even as young as 2, the little ones love being “ball boy” or “ball girl”

Get Local

Pretend you are having out of state visitors for a month. Where would you take them? Local towns and tourist spots can be so much fun to explore. Sometimes we cruise right past places nearby that can be amazing to explore. Whether you’re shopping, walking around, or people watching – it can be fun for all ages.


Local bowling alleys often let kids bowl one game a day for free, each and every day in the summer. Of course, they get you on the shoes if you don’t own them. But it’s still a great sultry or rainy day activity. If you plan on going often, pick up a pair of your own shoes so you can save on that.


We can spend half a day at Barnes & Noble. Seriously. Fantastic for rainy days or super hot ones since the air condition is usually cranked up inside and there are chairs to sit and browse. There are even little cafes where moms can get caffeine and a little quiet time.


Local churches have VBS (vacation bible schools) and many are free. Most of them are more like a camp than a school, lasting about 3 hours a day.

Road Trips

Stick with 5 hours or less and you can find amazing places to discover. Try tubing, museums, parks, quirky attractions, or theme parks. No, they are not cheap but many theme parks are offering a second day free or twilight admission free with next day purchase so you can extend the fun.


Aquariums can be costly but buying a family membership gets you in all year. I buy ours in midsummer and feel like I get 5 seasons – summer, fall, winter, spring and part of next summer. Often they have programs where you can get into other aquariums 90 miles or more from your house for free (many museums do this too) so keep that in mind on trips.

Farm Stands

Many have playgrounds for kids, even small animals to see or pet. Some will have games like ring toss, sand boxes, pony rides, etc. Grab some fresh fruit and bread to go home with and call it a country day.


Children’s museums are such interesting, colorful, lively, fun places. Rainy day learning and fun all around.


I can’t think of a more summery family friendly thing to do, than meander along a boardwalk. It’s a classic day trip if you are close enough- no hotel to pay, hot dogs for lunch, ocean breezes and $10 tee-shirts


The train-the train! Taking a train ride keeps my kids happy and it’s not costly at all. Whatever your nearby city, take the train and enjoy the ride in itself.

The Backyard

Splash in the pool or hang with friends. Bubbles, fireflies, lemonade, macaroni salad, barbecues and good ole barefoot-on-the-patio days. Classic summer fun.

Make it a busy, safe, entertaining and fun summer that doesn’t drain your wallet! What do you like to do?

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