How to Entertain Your Kids Without Spending a Fortune This Summer

by Kailey Hagen | Updated July 23, 2021 - First published on July 8, 2021

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that pay us a commission. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.
Children wearing bathing suits run through a sprinkler joyfully.

Image source: Getty Images

Summer fun doesn't have to carry a huge price tag.

Summer means warm weather, weekend barbecues, and for parents, kids home from school who are in need of entertainment.

Fortunately, you have plenty of options besides sitting them in front of a screen or buying them expensive toys. In fact, there are a lot of affordable ways to entertain your kids that won't hurt your personal finances. You just have to know where to look for them. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Go to the park or the beach

Your community park is a great place for your kids to run around, burn off some energy, and interact with others their age. Just pack some snacks and something for you to do while you're there and hit the road. If you live close by, you can walk there, and then you won't have to pay for transportation.

The same goes for the beach, especially if you live near the ocean or a lake. You'll have to pay for some gear, like sunscreen and maybe some water toys, but it's still an inexpensive way to spend an afternoon.

Check out your local event calendar

Just about every town has a local event calendar where you can find out about things happening near you. Summer's a time for a lot of outdoor events, including fairs, parades, and craft shows. Also, you may be able to find some child-specific events, like story time at your local library.

If you're willing and able to drive, you don't have to limit yourself to your town's events. Check the calendars of other nearby towns as well. When you see something you're interested in, make a day trip out of it.

Go hiking or biking

Get the whole family moving by going for a hike or a bike ride. When you're short on time, you can just take a quick trip around the neighborhood. But when time isn't an issue, you could find a more scenic area to check out.

Look up the nearest state or national parks and consider exploring them in more depth this summer. If you plan to visit often, look into purchasing a season-long pass to save on the cost of admission.

Look for summer sports or camps

Check with sports teams in the area to see if there are any that accept players in your child's age range. Talk with your child about what activities interest them most and then see what's out there.

You could also look for summer educational programs, like a science camp. You will have to pay for these sorts of activities, but if you can fit them into your budget, you'll be able to enjoy some time alone with your kids out of the house.

Head to your local library

On rainy days, consider checking out your local library. Even if your child's not that into reading, you can find other ways to entertain them. Many libraries these days let you rent movies or video games for free once you have a library card.

If you haven't been there before, check with the library to see what kinds of identification you need to bring in order to get a library card. You could also check to see whether your children are old enough to get library cards on their own.

The best summer vacations don't have to cost a lot. This is definitely not an exhaustive list of budget-friendly summer activities, but it should help get your creative juices flowing. Sit down with your kids and brainstorm some other fun activities they might do this summer, both with you and independently. If any of the items cost money, start making plans for how to finance them. Keep a list handy so if your kids get bored, you can remind them of their ideas.

Alert: highest cash back card we've seen now has 0% intro APR until nearly 2024

If you're using the wrong credit or debit card, it could be costing you serious money. Our expert loves this top pick, which features a 0% intro APR until nearly 2024, an insane cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee. 

In fact, this card is so good that our expert even uses it personally. Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes. 

Read our free review

About the Author