Cheap and Free Summer Activities for Kids

It’s officially summer time so that means every parent is going to hear these old faithful words:

“I’m bored.”

I can honestly say as a child, I said those words. As a teen, I said those words. Hell, even as an adult, I said those words.

But never fear! Here is a small list of cheap and free summer activities for everyone to enjoy. Yes, cheap and free. This is part one of a two-part series. The second part will focus on cheap and free activities to do in Los Angeles and surrounding areas.

But first, the free part:

  1. Summer Reading Club. Every library has one and they offer prizes for the most hours or books read during a timeframe. Check your local library.
  2. Going to the watering hole. Some parks have watering holes where the kids can play in them.
  3. Going on a neighborhood walk. I often have Bear take out his scooter and we just go around the neighborhood. We both get exercise and it’s a great source of entertainment that’s not a tablet.
  4. Going to the park. Always free and great exercise for the kids. When Bear was younger, I tried to take him to a different park most days of the week so he never got used to just one park. This method has worked because Bear has a variety of favorite parks he goes to.
  5. Backyard camping. So, if you don’t have a backyard, why not set up camp in your living room or your child’s room? Be creative!
  6. Going to a free museum. In Los Angeles, there are a few museums that have free admissions. Some museums might offer special summer hours where you can go for free. Check your local museum.
  7. Home Depot building workshops. Every 1st or 2nd Saturday, Home Depot offers free building workshops for the family. Yes, FREE. Check your local Home Depot.
  8. Playdates. Why not? Have the parents get some adult interaction and leave the children to their devices. My only rule is when there’s a playdate, no tablets are played.
  9. Lego building. Sometimes when Bear doesn’t want to play with his hundreds of Legos at home, I take him to the Lego store so he can build there.
  10. Walking the dog. Now we don’t have a dog (yet), but here’s another free activity that will get exercise for everyone.

Now, the cheap part:

Making stovetop S’mores. You haven’t lived until you’ve made S’mores over a stove. Buying all of the ingredients will be less than $10.

Fingerpainting. Every kid and even some adults love to do this. Paints are relatively inexpensive and won’t cost you more than $10, if that.

Flying a kite. I haven’t flown a kite in years but why not start now?

Water balloon fight. Easy peasy. Less than $10.

Gardening. Most plants will cost only a few bucks and it’s something even children really enjoy to see what they’ve planted grow. Prices vary.

Putting together a puzzle. Bear loves puzzles and he’s become quite good at them.


Playing board games. Most are less than $10.

Sidewalk chalk art. You can a nice set of chalk anywhere for less than $10.


Visiting the Zoo. The L.A. Zoo has admission for under $40, but that does not include price of food and goodies.

Silly string fight! Yeah, it’s messy but oh-so fun. Two cans will cost you around $10.


Water ballon fight! Again, messy but a lot of fun. Under $10.

Washing the car. If you have the luxury of washing your car, try it with the kids. I used to love washing the car with my siblings. I still enjoy washing the car now.

Homemade science experiments. Bear and I love to do these because how creative we can get. Sometimes all you need is a bottle of Diet Coke and a few Mentos.

Indoor Playgrounds. I know a lot of people have so-so feelings about playing to play inside a playground, but indoor playgrounds are nice for this very reason. You can often sit down and relax, while your kid goes HAM. Prices vary.

Visiting a farm. Some farms have very cheap admission, but you do have to pay for whatever you pick. Check your local farms.

Confetti fight. Messy but fun. Under $10 for two cannons.


Museum family sleepovers. Some museums offer sleepovers for the entire family to enjoy! Check your local museum.

Going to the beach. I put this under cheap, though it can get pricey depending on what beach you go to. However, if you bring your own food and drink, it’s very cheap and all you have to pay for is parking, if that.

Chuck E. Cheese’s. I say this is cheap, though it can get pricey. However, on Wednesdays, kids can have an unlimited amount of plays for an hour and trust me, this is so worth it. Prices vary.

Window painting with shaving cream, paint, and food coloring. Super fun and super easy. And very cheap! Prices vary but expect everything to cost under $15 total.


Have a picnic. You don’t even need to go to the park. Heck, you don’t even need to leave home. Set up shop at home and have a nice picnic.

Visiting an aquarium. This is cheap but can get pricey. Admission is usually under $40 for two. Bring snacks!

How do you like to kill time during the summer?




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