11 Summer Fun Ideas on a Budget

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Summer time can be a lot of fun for the whole family, but it doesn’t have to be expensive if you are on a tight budget. There are many things to do that are either cheap or free! Most of the activities we do in the summer are free or cheap 🙂

 11 Ideas For Summer Fun on a Budget:

Go to a park and have some fun! Parks are usually free and kids have a blast running around and playing.  We are fortunate to have 2 that we can walk to, but if you have to drive a short drive it is still a cheap activity.  Kids don’t need expensive toys to have fun.

Fun at the park

If you have a creek nearby, even if it is a short drive, kids can have a lot of fun here.  I grew up by a creek and can tell you that kids can have a lot of fun hanging out and walking in the water.  Creeks are quite often cleaner then lakes, ponds and rivers.

Down at the creek

Another fun idea is this one- Painting with homemade paints

Go for walks and find neat things such as pretty flowers.  Kids like to find cool rocks and stones too, so you may be bringing some things home with you!

Tiger Lilly we found on the walk

Take a walk by the river.  This is another fun adventure for the kids and if you have a river within a reasonable driving distance, you should take them there to have some fun.  You can even have a picnic while you are there.  We are able to walk to the river, but if we had to drive we would still go in the summer.  You may find some ducks and geese while you are there 🙂

Geese on The Delaware River
source: http://www.dawnconklin.com

Go to the fair or carnival if your state has any fairs.  A circus is also a lot of fun, but they are not as common in all states as a fair is.  This is a little more expensive, not as expensive as a vacation tho.  It cost us over $100 for us and the kids last year for the day.  But it was hot, we ate and were quite thirsty.  The rides were not the cheapest, but it did cost less then an amusement park for the day.

Go on a train ride.  Look up and see if Thomas the Train is going to be somewhere you can drive to.  Or if there are any other fun passenger trains, not really a commuter train but a special event train.  Thomas the Train comes here every year and so does the Polar Express.  See if you can find him closer to you! It cost us $18 a person if I remember correctly.  It was 2 years ago.
The Girls with Thomas the Train
source: http://www.dawnconklin.com
Thomas train ride was operated by:
Delaware River Railroad Excursions

Go hiking somewhere new.  Try to find an area of state or national park that you have not yet explored.  Pack a lunch and plan to have a little picnic somewhere while you are there.  Do be safe from wildlife tho! You may find something cool.

The Delaware Water Gap
source: http://www.dawnconklin.com
Picking berries is a fun summer time activity here.  I remember doing it as a kid with my mom, these memories are still with me xx amount of years later.  Now my girls have fun going to pick berries.  If you do not have access to berries by your house, you can probably find a local farm that offers pick your own.  Quite often you only have to pay for the berries and fruit that you pick.
Fresh blueberries we picked at a local farm
source: http://www.dawnconklin.com
Explore a cave or cavern! I am not sure how many there are all over the world, but I know there are a lot throughout the tri-state area.  They may be a little bit of a drive and they are not free, but they are reasonably priced and fun.  Kids can panic down in the cave, but chances are they will have fun.  
Our Day Out at the cave
source: http://www.dawnconklin.com
location: Lost River Caverns
Have your kids help you in the garden.  This may sound more like a chore then an activity, but surprisingly many kids like to help in the garden.  It is free, easy and you don’t even have to drive 🙂 This is also a great learning experience for kids.
Our cucumber plants from last year

There are many different ideas and you really can have family fun without having a lot of money.  What do you like to do in the summer that is not expensive?
I am not affiliated with any of these places, these are all places that we went and things we do.

I am the mom who is behind the scenes here on this blog. Hoping to help people with delicious recipes and tips to help with life adventures. I am a mom to 2 legged people and a 4 legged furry child. My interests are blogging, hiking, cooking, crocheting and some family time.


  • OneMommy

    Love your great inexpensive and outdoors activities!
    How could I not have thought of creeks when we have on running through the back of our property! Great idea!

  • Dawn Conklin

    Hi OneMommy, thank you! I don't think kids need expensive activities to have a great summer. That creek in the picture is the creek I grew up by. The kids I grew up with and I always walked down to this creek and explored daily. We have found a lot of wildlife in the water, we used to hike along the smaller streams that lead into the creek to try to find the end – we never found the end lol! But then again we didn't want to wonder too far from home 🙂

  • Alicia Washington

    Hi Dawn. Those are great ideas! This is something that the whole entire family would love. We have even done the Thomas Train ride and it was a lot of fun! You have given me some new ideas to try for the summer. Thank you for this post!

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