beach day during the summer

10 Cheap or Free Family Activities for Summer

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packing essentials, first aid

Having a list of affordable summer family activities is key to having fun, making memories, and staying on a budget.

As parents, it can be a challenge to keep costs low while still giving our kids a memorable, fun summer they’re excited to talk about.

And since I’m always trying to find ways of cutting costs while still having plenty of fun, I started researching early for summer activities that won’t break the bank. 

To my pleasant surprise, I found that so many activities during summer can be absolutely free or really cheap.

There are tons of activities to do with your kids without having to worry that you can’t afford it, it’s all about digging deaper and being creative. 

Here are 10 Cheap or Free Activities for Your Kids during Summer

1- Outdoor concerts

outdoor concerts

In L.A., we have tons of outdoor events that are free or only a few dollars per person. I encourage you to google “outdoor events” and your location to find some great events in your area. 

The kids will enjoy these outings because they’ll all be a little different and they’ll be outdoors and distracts from their devices…..one can hope!

2- Beach day

This is still one of my absolute favorite summer family activities of all time.

The beach is my favorite spot because you have an incredible view for free. Along with the view, you have hours of endless sandcastle making fun.

I look forward to our beach visits. It just feels like you’re on vacation when you’re at the beach, even if it’s only 30 minutes away. 

beach day during the summer

The kids can swim, play in the sand, and pick shells and rocks to take home. The beach provides hours of fun in the sun without a ton of money out of your pocket. 

The best part (in my opinion) is that kids will generally be tired after a beach trip, which means going home, showering, and hopefully taking a nap!

Perhap it’s the parents who want the nap, haha. 

3- Local Museums

Living in L.A., we have a ton of museums that are free or very low cost. Museums are a great way to have family time, have some fun, and learn something new. 

Research museums in your area for good days to visit. 

During the summer, som museums have interactive events and shows that make it even more thrilling for the kiddos. 

4-Moonlight movies (beach or park)

A few years ago, I took my kids to see the Labyrinth (my all-time favorite movie) at the Santa Monica Pier. 

We all had a blast, even the teenager!

We brought our own movie-style snacks, our comfy chairs and blankets. It was so much fun and the tickets were free, all we had to pay for was parking. 

Watching a movie while right by the ocean was so cool and my kids loved it. 

5- Picnics at the Pier or Park

A big part of a summer outing is budgeting for food and drinks while your out and about. Save some money by packing your own picnic lunch to take with you. 

It’s easy to pack sandwiches, snacks, and drinks when you plan ahead. And you know what your family likes, so you can bring the types of food that appeal to your kiddos. 

Click here for some great picnic ideas.

We used to do this when we had annual passes to Six Flags Magic Mountain. I’d prep food the night before and we’d pack drinks and snacks that we enjoyed.

Once we started getting hungry after a few rides, we’d shuttle back to our car, relax for about an hour eating and talking about our day so far. 

It was a good chance to unwind, eat well and save money. 

You’ll still enjoy the same sights and won’t be tempted to buy the $8 funnel cake. 

Although, I do suggest that perhaps you plan for one treat during the day, that you and your family can share. That way, you feel like you’re also enjoying the full experience while able to stay on your budget. 

6- Aquarium or Zoo

Most metropolitan areas have a zoo or aquarium, or both. 

Our zoo is about $7 per person and we pack our own lunch that we’re allowed to bring with us. The exhibits always change so the kids don’t get bored seeing the same things every time we visit. 

It’s a great summer activity option for families to have some fun, learn about new creatures, and spend time as a family. 

7- Library Events

summer reading for kids

The library is a great place for families to spend time during the summer.

It’s free, fun, and they have plenty of family and kid-friendly activities to make summer exciting and memorable.

Check your local library, they usually have summer reading clubs, fun exhibits and various performances for the kids and the whole family. 

They also have a summer reading challenge, where kids could enter to win prizes based on their reading progress during the summer. 

8- Crafts at a Home Improvement Center

summer crafts for kids

A great summer isn’t complete without some type of kid craft and the local hardware stores make it easy and cheap for parents.

Lowe’s near our house has the free kids’ workshop where they get to build a craft and decorate it. The entire activity usually takes from 15-30 minutes.

It’s usually one Saturday a month and they offer it throughout the year. All you have to do is register your kids. 

This is one of the best ways to have a summer activity that also gives you a keepsake.

9- Free historial sites near you

This is one of the best family activities for the family and a great learning experience as well.

Depending on where you live, you probably have some historical sites. A couple of hours north or south, we have missions that are open to the public. You get to tour the place and learn about it’s history often by a mini-guided tour. 

No matter where you live, you’ll likely find some historical places to visit with your family that offers entertainment and a learning experience. 

10- Water day at home

One of my favorite summer family activities is having a water day at home.

If you don’t feel like leaving the house and just want to relax at home, there are still fun activities you can do with your kiddos. Even something as simple as buying a slip n slide for the kids will keep them entertained and cool for hours. 

Summer is a great time to spend more of your hours with your friends and family. Summer doesn’t have to be expensive when you plan ahead and budget for your activities. 

What’s your favorite summertime activity to do with your family each year? 

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