By contributing writer Laura
Ah, summer! It’s time to enjoy the sunny weather, spend some quality family time together, and create those fun, carefree summer memories that will stay with your kids for years to come. Whether or not you have a big trip or vacation planned this summer, realistically you aren’t spending the majority of your summer away; you’re spending it at home. So what can you do to create fun, summer memories in your hometown without breaking the bank? Here are six of my favorite, frugal summer activities.
Summer is a great time to catch free concerts. Many cities or towns hold special outdoor concert series or events during the summer that are free and open to the public. Pack up your blankets or folding chairs to lounge out and enjoy the music under the stars. If you have trouble finding free concert listings, ask friends, call your local municipality, or search online by your city name or geographic region plus “free summer concert.”
Who doesn’t like a frozen, sweet treat to keep them cool during hot summer days? One of my favorite summer pastimes as a kid was making (and eating!) my own popsicles. I picked up a popsicle mold kit from a yard sale, and now my children enjoy making their own cold treats to beat the heat, by using ingredients like fruit juice, yogurt, smoothies, ice cream, or pudding.
My children love being “chefs” and helping create fun desserts with me in the kitchen. A benefit of having delicious frozen treats on hand and ready to eat is that we can avoid the pricey ice cream truck, which frequently makes its way through our neighborhood!
Sprinklers & Water Activities
If you don’t have a pool in your neighborhood, you can feel like you’re missing out on a common summer ritual for kids. But simply hooking up a sprinkler to the hose in your front yard can create lots of fun for young and old children alike.
Adding a slip ‘n’ slide, sponge water bombs, or water balloons while extending an invitation to neighborhood friends can create loads of splish-splash fun. Romping in the sprinklers and slip ‘n’ slide is a fun way to cool off and socialize with other neighborhood friends, and is great to do whether or not you have a pool membership.
Explore Your City
If you haven’t taken the time to be a tourist in your own city, the summer time may be the perfect season to venture around and see those sights and landmarks that you’ve been meaning to take your family to but always end up too busy to actually go see. If there are any new museum exhibits or local attractions you have yet to check out in-person, plan to go and finally cross that off your local bucket list. If you’re looking for suggestions, check out this great list of Staycation ideas by city.
Dining al fresco can be fun for the entire family, and it’s something that I wish we did more while the weather is nice. It’s more cost-effective than dining out at a restaurant, so packing a picnic is a fun opportunity to have a change of scenery and technically eat out while staying on budget.
You can pack a picnic and enjoy the great outdoors at a park or other outdoor venue. Pack your cooler or picnic basket with some easy to transport food options like sandwiches, finger foods, or leftovers, as well as reusable, plastic plates and utensils. We also love packing a picnic for outdoor events like summer concert series and movie festivals, so we can enjoy dinner and a movie/concert.
Vacation Bible School, aka VBS, is an inexpensive and fun, week-long activity for kids. Depending on where you live, you likely have more than one church holding a VBS for elementary school aged children. In my area, some Vacation Bible Schools are free, while others cost $5-$15 for an entire week, which include the costs of a CD, T-Shirt, snacks, and crafts. Kids typically get to sing songs, play games, make crafts, and make new friends while learning fun facts about the Bible.
What other frugal summer activities are among your favorites? Anything I missed that would have made your top six list?