This ultimate summer bucket list is full of cheap and fun summer activities for kids!
With a list of miles long of things to do for those days on summer vacation, I’ve compiled a summer bucket list that is sure to please anyone who has a little more time on their hands this season.
Sit down with your family and choose which bucket list activities from this guide should go on your summer bucket list- not everything will work for everyone. Then cross them off one by one!
Grab your free printable summer bucket filled with fun summer ideas now!
Summer Bucket List: Cheap and Fun Summer Activities for Kids
Play in water
You may not have a beach or lake near you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play in the water! Go and find a water park, a fountain, or a sprinkler near you and have fun! You can also set up some water games in your own backyard. Use buckets, a hose, water bottles, or whatever else you have lying around.
Make a summer recipe
Pick a delicious summer vegetable, like tomatoes, or summer fruit, like peaches, and make something yummy and delicious. Invite some friends over or share some with neighbors who may need a little pick-me-up.
Have a Water Balloon Fight
What is summer if not a perfect time to have a water balloon fight? Grab some cheap balloons, fill them with water and have fun! If you have younger kids who prefer not to be lobbed in the face with water, then poke a few holes in the balloon with a needle for a much tamer water balloon fight experience. Whichever option you choose, playing with water absolutely must be on your summer bucket list.
Eat Ice Cream
It’s summertime and time for ice cream! You can order a scoop of your favorite flavor or buy some from the grocery store. Whether you buy it, or even if you make it yourself- enjoy the cold summer treat! If you are particularly ambitious, you can make your own Homemade Ice Cream!
Explore a Farmer’s Market
Nothing says summer is here like the smell of fresh fruit and vegetables at a farmer’s market. There are thousands of them across the country, so check out when your local farmers are holding their farmer’s market and find some delicious summer fruit to eat or cook with!
Make a BBQ
Grilling in the sun with an ice-cold beer is pure summer fun! Grab some hotdogs and hamburgers and throw them on the grill. Top it off with some grilled peaches or pineapple and you have a perfect summer BBQ.
Drink an Ice Cold Drink
A Slurpee, a slushie, whatever you call it, and whatever you love- cool down in the summer by drinking an ice-cold drink. If you don’t want to go buy a drink, then stick a bottle of Coke in the freezer, wait until it is almost frozen, then serve.
Be careful opening it though- when you open the cap it will freeze and expand some more and it may spray everywhere!
Nothing says summer like a dip in a pool! Don’t have a real pool or don’t have access to one? Use a kiddie pool or some big buckets to simulate a swimming experience.
Will it be as enjoyable as really swimming? Maybe not, but you will definitely have some memories, after all, swimming is a perfect summer activity.
You can buy bubbles from the dollar store or any supermarket and have fun! If you are a little more creative, you can make your own bubbles and experiment with different tools to make your own wands!
Use wire hangers or anything else you can think of, and twist them into different shapes to have a totally different bubble-blowing experience!
Play with Sand
Beach day means playing with sand! Since not everyone has access to a beach, bring the fun home and see if any of your local playgrounds have sandboxes.
If that doesn’t pan out, then you can buy sand at any store and play with it at home! Just be warned that there will be a lot of mess.
Eat Supper Outdoors
If you’re looking for a new way to enjoy the outdoors, try eating dinner outside. It can be as simple as setting up a picnic table or chairs on your patio and enjoying your meal outside.
Go to an Outdoor Concert or Show
There are so many outdoor concerts and shows in the summertime. You can find a concert that is appropriate for your age group and interests. This can be a fun family activity or a great date night! Don’t forget to bring some snacks and drinks to enjoy!
Watch a Sunset
A beautiful sunset is a perfect way to end a day. Pick a nice spot in a park, or just head outside your home and watch the sunset. If you are interested in photography you can get some gorgeous shots to put in your summer scrapbook.
Join a Summer Reading Program
Join a summer reading program to receive prizes and rewards for your reading accomplishments. Most libraries have a summer reading program, and some bookstores do as well! Get some books and start to read and then cash in those sweet prizes.
Visit a National Park
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been thinking about getting your family out of the house and into the great outdoors. Luckily, there are national parks all over the US. If you are near one, then go and explore!
Want to have a little more fun while exploring nature? 8 Ways To Entertain Your Kids On A Nature Walk
Visit a Museum
It’s impossible to get bored at a museum, even though kids may beg to differ. Pick a museum that appeals to everyone or goes by yourself and find something that interests you.
If you have young kids, do a self-guided tour so you can spend only as much time as you want in each exhibit. Extra points if you find a museum that is not well-known!
Explore a Tourist Destination in Your Town
We often miss what is in our own backyard. We don’t really go to the “touristy” locations in our hometown because we are not tourists, which means we never really explored every part of our city.
Take a day to be “tourists” in your own city and do all the “touristy” things you usually avoid.
Looking to get back to nature? You’re not the only one! Join thousands of others and go camping this year!
You can go camping with your family, friends, or a group of your choice if you don’t want to go far or cannot afford to, camp in your own or a friend’s backyard. It will still be a blast, and you can cross it off your summer bucket list.
Have a Water Fight
A water fight is the epitome of summertime fun. You can find a group of friends, grab some water guns and buckets of water, and head to your yard for a relaxing afternoon of fun. Set some ground rules and a “time-out” spot to make sure everyone is having fun.
On a hot day, all there is to do is buy or make a popsicle and enjoy! These frozen treats are perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day.
On the Fourth of July, families all over the country gather to commemorate America’s independence with a fireworks show. There may be other fireworks displays in your city as well, so do some research, grab some blankets, and head on out to catch the beautiful show.
If you live near a beach, run and go collect seashells! Collect as many as you want (you can always put them back later) and bring some home with you as a nice memento. You can even make a summer craft with your finds!
If you collected some seashells, why don’t you take some of your collection and make a beautiful craft? My personal favorite is to buy a cheap wooden frame from the dollar store and hot glue gun your shells around the border.
Print out a picture of your family or each child at the beach, and you have an amazing summer vacation memory ready to hang up and admire!
Play with Sidewalk Chalk
It’s time to get crafty with sidewalk chalk! Everyone knows that chalk is used to draw on concrete, but what you may not have done yet is create chalk paint or do a chalk mosaic or any of the other amazing ideas that you can do with this cheap and fun art supply.
It’s always so nice and refreshing to visit family! Summer is the perfect time to make those family visits. Visit a grandparent, cousins, aunts, uncles- whoever is around.
You can even connect with a more distant family member and invite some distant cousins for a playdate. No family? No problem! Pick some close friends to be surrogate family and hang out with them!
Have a Family Fun Day
Do your kids have any cousins or relatives (no matter how distant) that are similar ages? Invite them over for a family fun day!
Make some cute carnival games or set up any ideas on this summer bucket list and have fun! A surrogate family works great for this idea also!
Go Jump In a Pool
Does anything say summer more than taking a huge leap into a swimming pool? I can’t think of one! If you don’t have a pool, check out Swimply– where you can rent a pool by the hour!
Drink Ice-Cold Lemonade
The tradition of drinking iced lemonade in the summer is a long-standing one. Lemons are usually plentiful, inexpensive, and have a refreshing taste, perfect for the warm weather.
The thought of drinking iced lemonade conjures images of lazing around on a hammock with your favorite book or lounging by the pool with friends enjoying the afternoon sun. If you can recreate then, that would be great, but a nice ice-cold glass of lemonade will be enough to cross this off your summer bucket list!
Spread a blanket down outside and head out to look at the stars. For the more curious among you, you can google your area beforehand to find out which constellations should be more invisible in your area.
Watch the stars at night and then head out by day to get some rays! Spread a blanket out in your yard or porch, grab a nice and fun novel and enjoy! Don’t forget to slather on that sunscreen and drink a lot of water (or ice-cold lemonade!).
Go to a Waterpark or Make Your Own
Have a waterpark near you? grab your towels and bathing suits and enjoy zipping down the slides. Don’t have one close to you, or looking to save some money?
Some waterparks can be quite pricey, after all. Make your own waterpark with toy slides, pool noodles, sprinklers, and hoses.
You can follow some of these ideas to help you get started: 5 Easy Ways to Create Your Own Backyard Water Park
Buy a huge watermelon, slice it open, and enjoy the delicious summer fruit. Take some huge slices for extra deliciousness, if you don’t mind the mess, or cut it into small pieces for little hands. If you have a seeded watermelon, have a seed spitting contest outside for some extra fun!
Go to the Beach or Lake
Do you have a beach or a lake near you? Lucky you! Load up the car, grab towels and some sand toys and enjoy a day at the beach. No more instructions are necessary- don’t forget your sunscreen and water bottles!
Build a Backyard Obstacle Course
Putting together a backyard obstacle course for kids does not need to be difficult. If you have the space, then this can be an awesomely fun thing to do with your kids outside.
You can use items that you already own and basically do this for free. If you want to go all out, you can spend a bit of money and build a cool course. Make sure to have different levels of difficulty so all ages can participate.
Do a Science Experiment
Science is fun, and it can be messy, making it a perfect outdoor activity for everyone! Make a volcano, help something grow, or just plain experiment. Remember always to follow safety procedures and don’t mix any chemicals without checking their safety first.
Have a Dance Party
Turn on loud music and dance away! Keep yourself moving as much as possible. This is great if you have kids because they can join in the fun!
Nothing makes little kids happier than to see mom or dad dancing away in the living room. (Teenagers may be embarrassed, but that is their problem- not yours!)
Go for a Bike or Scooter Ride
Riding bikes and scooters for fun is a great way to spend time with friends and family. Scooters are great because they are easy to carry around and can be used on sidewalks and bike paths.
You can ride around the neighborhood or find a biking trail for a bit more challenging ride. If your kids are learning how to ride, try to find an empty parking lot where they can practice.
Feed Ducks in a Pond
Take some bread that is getting stale and head over to the neighborhood pond to feed the ducks. You may also see some fish or frogs! This is a great way to see a little bit of nature in your own backyard.
Go to the Library
We absolutely love the library! The library has everything! Not only is the library is the best place to get books, but many libraries have free or discounted programming for kids as well.
Call them up or check their website for the best time to bring your kids (and if they have any COVID restrictions in place) and head on over.
As a bonus, spending time in the library will encourage your kids to read books in a non-pressurizing way- and we all know how important reading is for kids (and adults).
Doing your own toe-dye is the quintessential camp activity, but you don’t need camp to teach your kids how to do this fun project.
So instead, watch some YouTube videos, buy some plain white shirts (or repurpose some old ones), and make t-shirts that you can wear forever.
Water the Garden and Pull Weeds
Gardening is a handy skill, and it can be a lot of fun to get into the dirt. Grab some watering cans or just some large cups and get to watering. You can use any shovel to dig up some weeds and get your yard looking great. Don’t forget to wash your hands afterward!
Fly a Kite
“Let’s go fly a kite!”. Kite-flying can be tons of fun if the weather is right. Choose a clear day with a breeze to take out your kites and go running! Don’t have a kite? Make one yourself and see whose flies the highest.
Go to a New Playground
Playgrounds are fun but predictable if you go to the same one every time. So go to a different neighborhood and scout out a playground that is different from home.
Just the novelty of having a different layout and equipment will be sure to make some good memories. This is one of my favorite things to do with my kids because it is super cheap, aka free, and they love it too!
Make a Lemonade Stand
Freshly squeezed lemonade just screams summer! Grab some lemons, water, sugar, and ice and make a lemonade stand.
You can make some money by selling the lemonade (and fund your other fun summer bucket list ideas) or you can just give it away for free. Everyone appreciates a cold glass of lemonade, especially on a sweltering summer day!
Make a Summer Scrapbook
Did you have fun crossing off items on your summer bucket list? Why don’t you take a picture and put it all together in a summer scrapbook? Have fun putting it all together and even more, fun reliving all the memories for many more years to come!
Go on a Hike
If it’s not too hot, then head out on a hike! There are so many gorgeous, family-friendly hikes in all parts of the world- there is sure to be one near you. If you are in a place that gets very hot, consider waking up early in the morning and taking a sunrise hike. Don’t forget to wear hats, sunscreen and drink plenty of water.
Watch a Baseball Game
Baseball games are a great way to spend a summer afternoon or evening! Many Major League teams have cheap nights or sections where you can get great tickets on a budget.
You can also see if there are any Minor League baseball games in your area. These games usually have much cheaper tickets and are really fun if you enjoy the game of baseball. You can sometimes even see some big superstar players who are sent to play in the Minors after an injury or rehab.
Eat or Make Snow-Cones
Snow Cones are a great way to cool down on a hot summer day! They are very easy to make (even without buying a special snow-cone maker). Choose a flavor and enjoy!
Make a Root Beer Float
I always equate root beer floats with nostalgia. An old-timey drink that conjures up images of long, schedule-less summers. You can easily make your own with a few cheap ingredients and have a taste of the soda bar in your house.
Strawberries are the epitome of a summer berry. Buy some berries (or go strawberry picking if your budget allows) and enjoy! You can eat them plain or make a delicious strawberry dessert like a strawberry shortcake.
Make a Bird Feeder
Bird feeders are a really easy craft to make and will give you entertainment the whole summer long! Place your bird feeder in a central area in the yard and see which birds come to check out your yard. If you have any aspiring bird watchers you can have them write down the birds they say or even take pictures to help them research the birds later on.
Fireflies come out in summer and offer a spectacular light show after dark. Settle down on the stoop one evening and enjoy the fireflies that come out to play.
Printable Summer Bucket List
Come on and grab this FREE Printable Summer Bucket List. Just grab it below, print it and hang it up on your fridge, or door or give it to your children to help you plan your summer!
How many of these can you cross off your list?!? All of them? One of them?
Did you love the free printable summer bucket list? Let me know in the comments!