Summer is the season that many families look forward to all year long. These warm, sunny months give families the opportunity to spend time together in the great outdoors, creating memories that they’ll carry for the rest of their lives. There’s an endless number of recreational activities families can do together during the summer, but not all of them are in the right price range for all families.
Finding affordable activities to do with your family can be a little more difficult, especially if your kids have images of exotic and luxurious vacations in their minds. The good news for your wallet is that there are plenty of recreational activities that won’t break the bank and will still provide your family with the entertainment they crave. Let’s take a look at the most affordable activities you can do with your family this summer and you can start making plans for the best summer yet.
Pack a Picnic
Having a picnic may not be one of the grandest activities in the world, but it is one of the most affordable activities you can do. All you have to do is pack up the food and materials for a simple dinner and head to a nearby park or even spread out a blanket in your backyard. Some of the best picnic foods include simple sandwiches, macaroni or potato salad, fresh fruit, deviled eggs, and chips. Pretty much anything that you can pre-make at home and easily pack up and transport will go down great at a picnic. You can also go on an adults-only picnic with your partner, a bottle of wine, and some candles to have a romantic — and affordable — night away from the kids.
Go Hiking on a Trail
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the beauty of the natural world. The bare branches of winter have filled with luscious green leaves and colorful blooms dot practically every landscape. Hiking is a great way to enjoy nature in the summertime. It is also one of the most affordable activities that can occupy your family for an entire day, as parks that are open to the public for free often have hiking trails in them. You may have to pay for parking, but these fees are usually inexpensive.
You can find out about the hiking trails in your area by doing a bit of research online. Most county, state, and national parks have websites that provide details about the length and difficulty of the hiking trails in them. Be sure you choose a trail that’s suited to your family’s physical ability and stamina. As you prepare for your hike, remember to bring water, snacks, and sunscreen and to wear layers for optimal comfort.
Take a Road Trip
A road trip is one of the best ways to travel without breaking the bank. You can avoid paying for expensive airfare or bus tickets while having a fun experience with your family. The first thing you’ll have to decide is where you’re going on your road trip. A trip becomes more expensive the farther you go, so choose a destination just a few hours away if you want to keep your budget for the trip relatively low. The great thing about a road trip is that you get to choose when you make stops, so try to plan a route that has some interesting sights or experiences along the way to your final destination.
The next thing you’ll have to think about for your road trip is what vehicle you’re using for it. You’ll want to be sure that the vehicle you’re driving is in excellent condition so that you minimize the possibility of car issues along the way. If you’re taking the car you drive every day, it’s a good idea to have a professional mechanic do a check-up on it so that they can perform any necessary automotive repair or let you know that the car isn’t fit for long-distance trips before you hit the road.
Another option is to use a recreational vehicle, or RV, for your road trip. This vehicle might be a bit excessive for trips that are just a few hours long, but if you’re traveling across the country an RV will be much more comfortable to travel in and you can stay in it overnight rather than checking into hotels. If buying an RV is a bigger financial commitment than you want to make, ask friends or family members if they have one in recreational vehicle storage that you could borrow. Many families use RV storage units to house their vehicles rather than keeping them on their property, so you might know someone who owns an RV without even realizing it because you haven’t seen the vehicle. You may also be able to find one to rent for your trip if no one you know has an RV that you can borrow.
Go on a Wine Tour
You’ll definitely have to leave the kids at home for this activity, but it’s a great way for wine-loving adults to spend a beautiful summer day. Do a bit of research online and see if you can find a winery tour near you. Some tours will be exclusively for one winery and others will take you to multiple wineries in one area. The tours with multiple stops will likely be more expensive, but you’ll get to experience the wide breadth of wine just one region can offer. Even if you have to take a short road trip to reach the starting point of your tour, it’s one of the most relatively affordable activities for the entertainment you get throughout the day.
The summer is the perfect time to get the exercise you’ve been meaning to get all year long. Even if you have been a frequent visitor at the gym throughout the year, biking gives you the opportunity to use the whole world as your gym. It is also a relatively accessible workout that your entire family can do together. You can go for rides together around the neighborhood or find bike trails near you for longer rides. Be sure to check the tires, chains, and brakes on your bike, especially if you haven’t ridden it in a few years. Fixing up some bikes with your kids is also one of the most bonding and affordable activities you can do as a family. Not only will you complete a project together, but at the end of it you’ll have functional bikes to ride together.
Fix up a Car Together
If you’re working on bikes and find that your family is really enjoying the process, why not try to tackle an even larger project? As fixing up a car is a more complicated process than fixing up a bike, you’ll probably only want to undertake this activity if you are experienced in doing auto body work on your own vehicles. If you had an older car you were going to work on this summer anyways, including the rest of your family in the project can be a great bonding experience as well as one of the more affordable activities you can do together.
As you fix up the car together, be sure to teach your kids about how the different parts of the car work together and explain how the work you’re doing will make it run again. By telling them this information now, they’ll be able to carry it with them and use it when they learn to drive. Knowing how the car works will make them better and more responsible drivers. If you’re doing more aesthetic-oriented work on the car windshield or body, let your kids have some input on the final outcome. The more involved they are in the process and the outcome, the more fun they’ll have along the way.
Tour Your City’s Swimming Pools
Many cities have multiple community pools with low entry prices or no fees at all. If you don’t have a pool at home and your kids are itching to swim, make a game out of touring the swimming pools in your city or town. You can also expand your tour to the pools in nearby towns if yours only has a couple. Each week you can try a different one and have everybody rank the pool on factors like fun and friendliness. Try to think out of the box with the categories that you rank on. The weirder they are, the more fun your kids will have scoring the pools.
Before visiting a pool, be sure to do your research. You’ll need to know the price of entry to be sure you can count going to that pool on your list of affordable activities. You should also look for any information the website offers on swimming pool maintenance to ensure that the pool is safe for your kids to swim in. Good swimming pool maintenance includes tasks like regular pool cleanings, getting the right balance of pool chemicals, and performing repairs as necessary. If you see reviews online from other visitors that indicate the pool isn’t well-maintained, you’ll probably want to skip that one on your tour.
Visit a U-Pick Farm
One of the most affordable activities a family can do together is going to a nearby U-pick farm. These are farms that allow you to pick baskets of the produce they grow and take them home for a small price. The produce is typically cheaper than what you’d find at the store and it will be fresh and in-season, which is healthier for your family. The kids will love the experience of being able to pick their own fruit and visit a farm while you get the benefit of bringing a bunch of fresh produce home.
Host Olympics in Your Backyard
A great way to get the kids off of the couch during the summer is to turn physical activity into a competition. And what better competition is there than the Olympics?
The exact way you structure your Olympics is up to you. You could host it all in one day or spread it out throughout one week. You also have the choice of keeping it just in your family or allowing your kids to invite their friends and neighbors. The activities you include in the competition can also vary greatly. You could include the same ones that are in the official Olympics or choose sports that your kids play so you know that everyone will get a chance to shine. While you’ll have to do many things to prepare your child for their sport during the school year like taking them to sports physicals and getting the proper gear and equipment, this mini-Olympics could be the perfect way to get them in the right mindset for their school sport. Alternatively, you could choose to include sillier activities in the Olympics that focus on ensuring the kids have fun rather than on the competition aspect.
Watch the Sunrise
Many people have seen sunsets, but sunrises take a bit more planning to catch. When you can successfully plan for it, however, it is a beautiful sight. It’s also one of the affordable activities that you can easily include other family members in, like grandparents who have reached retirement or aunts and uncles who live in town. Pick a scenic spot for everyone to meet where you’ll have a good view of the sunrise and set a time to be there. Be sure to look up online when the sunrise will be and get there a little early so that you can see the sun fully rise.
Having fun during the summer doesn’t have to be expensive. Try out some of these affordable activities with your family and you can make memories together all summer long.