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It’s that top down, shades on, tan-toned time of the year! Oh, how I love thee, sweet summer. Nothin’ like those UV rays shinin’ down on my poor, sun-deprived skin after a long, cold winter season.
Summer can be great for many reasons: cookouts, barbecues, camping trips, vacations. But if you’re not careful, all those vacations and extra activities can take a serious toll on your wallet.
I’m here to tell you there are ways to have all the fun without betraying your budget! Here are 15 fun and frugal summer activities that won’t break the bank.
There are many benefits of spending time in nature. The wild and wonderful outdoors can help us relieve stress, cope with pain, and improve our overall psychological wellbeing. Hiking is one of the most accessible and enjoyable ways to get some much-needed peace and quiet from the go-go-go of daily life. You can opt for a trail that’s short and sweet or try something a bit more challenging. For a list of trails in your area, visit here.
What a cute day date idea, right? Whether it’s with kids, a significant other, bestie(s), or by yourself (it’s not as sad as it sounds, I promise), a picnic is a great way to spend a beautiful summer afternoon. You can even take a good book and make a day of it! (Just don’t forget to bring a little UV protection.) And the best thing about picnics is that you can have one just about anywhere – in a park, by a pond, even in the neighbor’s yard. At least until they turn on the sprinklers.
Water Gun Fights
This one is not just for kids, folks. Water gun fights are a totally adult-friendly summer activity! You can make a party out of it by inviting over friends splitting up into choosing teams. Like paintball, but less painful and more refreshing.
Note: I would have included water balloon fights, but it can time consuming cleaning up the tidbits that get left behind. And if you don’t clean them up, that’s littering. Littering’s not nice. Water guns are also easier to shoot, and therefore more fun!
When’s the last time you took a second to look up at the stars and think about how tiny we all are? It’s so easy to get caught up in the rush of everyday life and forget about the things that really matter. The universe can be a great reminder to slow down and take life a little less seriously. Plus, it’s mothatl*ckin’ beautiful!
Technology has also made it super easy to find any constellation or planet your heart desires. Stargazing? There’s an app for that.
NOT frisbee golf. I hear they’re pretty sensitive about that (my beau is an avid disc golfer). Seriously though, this is a pretty fun hobby. Not to mention, individual discs are pretty dang cheap. You can choose to play leisurely, or you can crank it up and sprint through the course for a more cardio-intense workout.
Free Yoga Jams
Errbody be jammin’ in the summatime. A lot of yoga instructors, new and old, offer community classes once or twice a week at local parks and farmers markets. In my area, jammers get together at the farmers market every Wednesday and Saturday of the summer for some acro love. Try MeetUp.com (or a quick Google) to see if there are any free yoga classes near you.
This one brings out the giggly little kid in me (I used to love flashlight tag!). After you and your friends are soaked head to toe from your water gun fight, why not get flashlights and chase each other around? It only really works if you have a big, open, outdoor space to run around and hide in (yard, farm, campsite, etc.). If you’ve never played, you should definitely give it a try. Here are the rules!
Create a Scavenger Hunt
You’re never too old for a good riddle! Scavenger hunts are excellent for birthday parties, cookouts, or just…scavenger hunts. They’re a great way to get your creative juices flowing while simultaneously stumping your friends with your sharp wit. Here are some tips for creating scavenger hunts for adults.
Have a Cookout
Give your budget a break; skip the fancy restaurants and go for a juicy, home-grilled steak or burger. Invite some friends and family over, put on a little Jimmy Buffet (Hawaiin T-shirts are a must), and top it off with a campfire and s’mores once the sun sets. Good company, good food, and chocolate. Isn’t that what life’s all about?
Visit a National Park (fo’ FREE!)
The National Park Service sets aside land for all of us to enjoy in its natural state. Approximately 84 million acres of it, to be exact! Many national parks charge an entry fee. However, there are certain fee free dates where you can enjoy the beautiful scenery at no charge!
See a Drive-In Movie
There’s something romantic about listening to the audio of a movie through a staticky radio station in your car parked beneath a moonlit sky. But seriously, drive-in movies are a unique and fun experience. It’s like getting the indoor the movie theater experience from the comfort of your own car. Better than those sticky movie theater seats and the intolerable half-wits who seem completely unphased by the 20 minutes of “silence your phone” ads that play before the show. Also, drive-in theaters are usually much more cost-effective than indoor theaters!
Tubing is a super fun, inexpensive way to spend a relaxed summer day. This is an activity commonly enjoyed with large groups of people and large amounts of beer (if you’re into that).
It’s okay if you don’t have a tube; most places will rent one out to you for a low fee. But if you plan to go several times, then it could be worth it to purchase your own. It’ll likely save you a few bucks in the long run. Don’t forget to buy one for your beer!
Visit here to find a tubing area near you!
Biking can be a great way to get in some exercise while enjoying the warm weather. Ride casually, or save additional money using your bike to run errands. Going on vacation? Bring your bikes! Biking is an excellent way to explore new areas and enjoy a fun family workout.
Free Local Festivals
Every place I’ve lived in has had some sort of local cultural or craft festival during the summer. There’s usually live music, gorgeous art, and cheap goods. It can also be a great way to find out about other clubs, groups, and activities in your area.
Volunteer at an Animal Shelter
Why not spend some of your extra time tending to the far furrier and less fortunate? I love volunteering as a dog walker at my local animal shelter. I’ve met so many furry faces and taken countless sloppy kisses to the face. There are few things more heartwarming than seeing a deserving dog find its forever home. Check out an animal shelter near you.
Find Free Fun Near You!
There are a ton of great resources for free summer fun. Some of my favorites include:
So there you have it! Now you pretty much know how I’m spending my entire summer…
Going on vacation?
How do you have fun in the summer on the cheap?
I’m a financial coach and author + owner of Goodbye to Broke. I love all things personal finance, money management, and healthy living. And I talk to my dog way too much, if we’re being honest.