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FREE Family Summer Activities to Try this Year

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Discover a variety of free family summer activities that make for unforgettable memories without breaking the bank. From outdoor adventures to printable games, find fun for the whole family this summer break!

Summer break is finally here, and it’s the perfect time to make memories with the whole family! But having fun doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag. There are plenty of free things to do that will keep everyone entertained and happy. From exploring the great outdoors to enjoying some creative at-home fun, free summer activities are abundant and can be just as exciting as any costly adventure. 

Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun or beat the heat indoors, we’ve got a list of awesome ideas that will make this summer break one for the books—all without spending a dime. So, gather up the kids, pack some snacks, and get ready to dive into a season of free family fun!

Free Family Summer Activities

free family summer activities

Here are some great ideas to make sure this summer season is fantastic!

1. Outdoor Adventures

Nature Walks and Hikes

Exploring the great outdoors is one of the best free activities you can enjoy with your family. Visit a local park or nature center to find scenic trails perfect for hiking and nature walks. Not only will you get some exercise, but you’ll also have the chance to teach your kids about different plants and animals.

family on a hike

Bring along a field guide or use a smartphone app to identify various species you encounter. Take the opportunity to explain the importance of preserving natural habitats and respecting wildlife.

Don’t forget to pack some water and snacks for a fun and educational adventure! Encourage kids to take photos or make sketches of interesting finds, creating a memorable nature journal.

Beach or Lake Day

Spending a day by the water is a quintessential summer activity. Head to the nearest beach or lake for a day of swimming, sunbathing, and sandcastle building—all completely free! Bring along some beach toys, a frisbee, and a picnic lunch to keep everyone entertained.

You can also plan activities like beach volleyball or a scavenger hunt for seashells. For added fun, consider bringing along a boogie board or inflatable floats for extra water play. If you’re near a lake, see if there are free canoe or kayak rentals available.

Always remember to keep an eye on safety by checking for lifeguards, bringing sunscreen, and staying hydrated.

family at a lake fishing and kayaking

No beach or lake nearby? Look for local splash pads or get creative with an inflatable pool. Set up a sprinkler in the yard or have a water balloon fight to beat the heat at home. These alternatives can provide just as much fun and refreshment without the need for travel.

Picnics in the Park

Nothing says summer quite like a picnic in the park. Choose a local park with plenty of open space and shade to set up your blanket and basket. Prepare easy, affordable picnic foods like sandwiches, fruits, and snacks.

After eating, engage in some fun free activities like tossing a frisbee, playing tag, or flying a kite. Many parks also have playgrounds where kids can burn off extra energy while parents relax and enjoy the scenery.

Parks are a wonderful way to spend quality time together without spending any money. Look for parks with nature trails or ponds to explore after your meal, turning your picnic into a full-day outing. Bring along a ball or jump rope for additional games and exercises.

By taking advantage of the free resources your community offers, such as nature centers and local parks, you can create a summer filled with outdoor adventures that are both enjoyable and budget-friendly. These simple and fun activities foster family bonding and create lasting memories without the need for expensive trips or activities.

2. At-Home Fun

Backyard Camping

Transform your backyard into a camping haven for a night of adventure right at home. Set up a tent, roll out the sleeping bags, and prepare for a night under the stars. Backyard camping is a great way to introduce kids to the joys of camping without the need for a long trip.

Gather around a small fire pit (if it’s safe and allowed) to roast marshmallows and share stories. Use a stargazing app or a simple star map to explore the night sky, identifying constellations and planets. Consider adding some fairy lights for extra ambiance and bringing along a portable speaker for campfire songs. This mix of outdoor play and educational fun will make for an unforgettable evening.

family camping in their backyard

Don’t feel like sleeping on the ground? One of the best parts of backyard camping is being close enough to go inside and sleep in your bed! No shame in that! Roast your s’mores, tell your ghost stores, and then snooze in the comfort of your own bed!

DIY Water Games

Beat the summer heat with some refreshing DIY water games in your backyard. Set up a sprinkler for the kids (and adults!) to run through, organize a water balloon fight, or create a homemade slip-and-slide using a tarp and some soapy water.

Try organizing water-themed relay races or obstacle courses for an added element of competition and excitement. Involving friends and neighbors can turn your backyard into a lively summer playground.

These water activities are a great way to cool off and have fun without needing to visit a pool. Plus, they encourage outdoor play and keep everyone active. Make sure to have towels and sunscreen on hand to ensure everyone stays safe and comfortable.

Gardening Together

Gardening is a fantastic way to spend quality time together while teaching kids about nature and responsibility. Start a small garden in your backyard or use pots if space is limited. Plant easy-to-grow vegetables, herbs, or flowers and involve the kids in every step, from planting seeds to watering and weeding.

Watching their plants grow will give them a sense of accomplishment and a deeper appreciation for the environment. Gardening together is not only a great way to bond but also an educational activity that can yield delicious results or beautiful blooms. Create a garden journal to track growth and changes, and consider adding garden decorations or DIY plant markers for extra fun.

mother with two young children gardening

There are plenty of things you can grow without purchasing additional seeds. Fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, blueberries, green peppers (and many others!) can be grown using the seeds they produce. 

By creating fun and engaging at-home activities, you can enjoy the summer without leaving your backyard. These ideas emphasize outdoor play, learning, and family bonding, making them perfect for a memorable and budget-friendly summer. Encourage your kids to invite friends over for these activities, fostering a sense of community and shared experiences right at home.

3. Community Activities

Free Local Events: Free Concerts and Movies in the Park

Summer is the season for an abundance of free events that bring the community together. Check your city’s event calendar for free concerts and free movies in the park. These events are a fantastic way to enjoy warm evenings with live music or family-friendly films under the stars.

Pack a picnic blanket, some snacks, and enjoy the entertainment with your neighbors. Arrive early to find a good spot and bring along some lawn chairs or cushions for added comfort.

Local festivals and fairs often have free admission days, offering a chance to experience local culture, food, and crafts without spending a dime. Look out for themed nights or special performances that can make the experience even more memorable.

Library Programs

Your local library is a treasure trove of free summer activities for the whole family. Many libraries offer free summer reading programs that encourage kids to read by offering rewards and organizing fun activities around books. Sign up for these programs to keep your children engaged and learning all summer long.

Additionally, libraries frequently host story time sessions, craft days, and educational workshops that cater to various age groups. These events are a great way to keep kids entertained and mentally active during their break.

Attend author talks, book clubs, or family movie nights that libraries often schedule. Libraries may also provide access to free educational resources, such as online courses or e-books, enhancing the summer learning experience

Volunteer as a Family

Volunteering as a family is a meaningful way to spend time together while giving back to the community. Look for local organizations that offer volunteer opportunities suitable for all ages. Activities might include helping at a food bank, participating in a community clean-up, or assisting at an animal shelter.

family volunteering together

Volunteering teaches children valuable lessons about empathy, responsibility, and community service. Plus, it’s a free activity that fosters a sense of accomplishment and purpose. Participate in local charity events or environmental conservation projects to make a positive impact. Family volunteering can also strengthen bonds and create lasting memories of shared efforts and achievements.

Community Centers and Parks

Many community centers and local parks offer free activities and programs throughout the summer. These might include fitness classes, nature walks, and arts and crafts sessions. Community centers often have open gym times where families can play basketball, volleyball, or other sports for free.

Checking the schedule at your local park or community center can uncover a variety of free activities to fill your summer days with fun and fitness. Join group exercise classes like yoga or tai chi in the park for a refreshing start to your day. Engage in community gardening projects or attend free musical performances and theater productions held in the park.

By tapping into the free resources and events offered in your community, you can create a summer full of exciting and enriching experiences without spending money. From enjoying free concerts and movies to participating in free summer reading programs at your local library, there are countless ways to make the most of the season with your family. These activities not only provide entertainment but also foster a sense of community and personal growth.

4. Printable Free Games and Activities

Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts are a classic way to add excitement to your summer months without spending a penny. Create your own custom scavenger hunt tailored to your neighborhood or local park. Include items like specific flowers, types of birds, or landmarks to explore. Make the hunt educational by incorporating interesting facts about the items on your list.

summer scavenger hunt

Alternatively, find printable scavenger hunt lists online (and print ours below!) that fit your area’s environment and interests. Many websites offer themed hunts, such as nature, history, or even holiday-themed lists. This activity encourages teamwork, problem-solving, and outdoor exploration, making it ideal for a fun summer day. Consider adding small prizes or certificates for completing the hunt to add a competitive edge and motivate participation.

Themed scavenger hunts can add an extra layer of fun and creativity. Organize a photo scavenger hunt where participants need to take pictures of the items or locations on the list. For older kids and teens, create a riddle-based scavenger hunt that requires solving clues to find the next item. Host a neighborhood scavenger hunt where families compete against each other, adding a social and community-building element to the game.

Family Board Game

Family board games are a perfect way to enjoy quality time together on a budget. Look for free printable board game templates online that you can customize to fit your family’s interests and preferences. Many websites offer a variety of games, from classic board games to unique, creative ones. You can create a new game centered around trivia, challenges, or themed adventures.

free printable board games - free family summer activities

Set aside a designated family game night each week to play and bond over laughter and friendly competition. This simple yet entertaining activity ensures everyone has a blast without leaving home. Rotate who gets to choose the game each week to keep everyone excited and engaged. Consider making a family leaderboard to track wins and friendly competition throughout the summer.


Charades is a timeless game that sparks creativity and laughter among all ages. Create your own set of printable charades cards featuring different categories like movies, animals, or actions. Each family member takes turns acting out the clues while the rest guess. This game not only promotes communication and teamwork but also provides endless entertainment during lazy summer afternoons or evenings. It’s a free and versatile activity that guarantees hours of fun and excitement. 

printable charades cards - free family summer activities

Take charades to the next level with themed rounds. Have a “Disney” night where all the prompts are related to Disney movies and characters, or a “decades” night with prompts from different time periods. Incorporate silly costumes or props to make the game even more entertaining.

By incorporating these free printable games into your summer plans, you can enjoy fun summer activities that foster family bonding and creativity. Whether you’re embarking on a neighborhood scavenger hunt, diving into a customized board game adventure, or acting out hilarious charades, these activities ensure memorable moments without breaking the bank. The best part is that these games are adaptable to any setting, ensuring that no matter where you are, you can create unforgettable summer memories with your family.

​Grab the free printables below to help you with a summer of fun:

As you embark on your summer adventures, remember that the best memories often come from simple, free activities that bring the whole family together. Take advantage of free days at local museums or explore the vibrant atmosphere of farmers markets in your area, where you can sample fresh produce and artisanal goods while enjoying live music and community spirit. Don’t forget to mark your calendar for free outdoor movies in the park—a perfect way to unwind under the stars with loved ones.

Creating a summer bucket list filled with these budget-friendly activities ensures you make the most of the season without straining your wallet. Whether you’re cooling off at splash pads, discovering hidden treasures during scavenger hunts, or hosting lively family game nights with printable games, there’s no shortage of free fun to be had.

So, gather your loved ones, pack a picnic, and explore all the free family summer activities your community has to offer. Cherish these moments together and savor the joy of making memories that will last a lifetime. Here’s to a summer filled with laughter, adventure, and LOTS of fun!

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