BlogAugust 2021

30 Cheap Outdoor Summer Activities

30 Cheap Outdoor Summer Activities

By Jeff Bogle

Aug 09, 2021

From ideas for toddlers to tweens that won’t cost you a penny, here are 30 Cheap Outdoor Summer Activities to keep your kids happy and busy!

Summer is almost over and chances are, you’re already running low on ideas for cheap summer activities to keep your kids busy. Here’s a big list of 30 clever and cheap outdoor summer activities sure to make even tweens happy, and keep your monthly budget in tact!

Make a Book Reading Chart to Encourage Outdoor Summer Reading

This is one of the best free summer activities because all kids need is a poster, marker, library card, and a shady spot under a tree.

Summer Fishing

Head to your local watering hole for some summer fishing!

Bird Watching

Borrow a birdwatching book from the library and see how many your kids can spot.

Golden Hour Photography

The moments before sunset is called golden hour because the light is warm and fantastic. This is one of the most crea-tive outdoor summer activities for kids!

Take Loop Walks

Finding new ways to take the same walk gives you one of the best cheap outdoor activities.


From birds to trees, drawing the outdoor world doesn’t cost a penny so it’s always one of the best cheap outdoor sum-mer activities.

Water Play

With a hose or a sprinkler, outdoor water play literally makes summertime cooler!

Obstacle Course

Rummage around for old hula hoops, buckets or anything to jump over or through, and design a backyard obstacle course.

Start a YA Book Club

One of the outdoor summer activities for tweens who are craving IRL socialization! Have them start with Libba Bray’s The Diviners series and watch their club flourish.

Outdoor Tea Party

With dolls or family members, a tea party is one of the sweetest outdoor summer activities for kids.

Wiffle Ball All-Star Game

Pick teams and play your own mid-summer classic, complete with a home run contest!

Sidewalk Chalk Art

Houses, cats, airplanes? What will your kids draw with sidewalk chalk?


Now use that dollar store chalk to make a hopscotch court!

Outdoor Dance Party

A phone + bluetooth speaker you already + Taylor Swift = an epic dance party!

Paint Kindness Rocks

Gather up smooth rocks and paint pretty scenes and positive messages like, “you rock,” then scatter them around the neighborhood.

Yard Sale

Have your kids clean out the playroom for not only one of summer’s cheap outdoor activities, but one that might make you money!

Lemonade Stand

Speaking of making a few bucks, are there outdoor summer activities for tweens better than the classic lemonade stand?


Maybe an elderly neighbor needs their plants watered or yard cleaned. This is one of the cheap summer activities that gives back!


Find constellations or simply gaze up in wonder at the night sky.

Backyard Camping

There are no camping fees in the backyard!

Backyard Olympics

After watching the floor routines, soccer matches and relay races, turn your yard into olympic venues. Flying to Tokyo is costly but these cheap outdoor summer activities aren’t!

Go For A Swim

If you, family member or a friend has a pool, local creek or lake, spend a day swimming safely.

Al Fresco Make Believe

We’ve all fallen in love with dining al fresco! Encourage your kids to open a pretend outdoor restaurant and make a menu using make-believe food or even real snacks.

Read Mary Oliver Poems

Inspired by nature and very accessible, this Pulitzer Prize winning poet will help connect kids to the natural world.

Car, Bike and Dog Wash

A bucket of soapy water, sponges and towels adds up to clean cars, bicycles and dogs this summer!

Science Experiment

One of the most explosive outdoor summer activities for kids involves nothing more than a two liter bottle of Diet Coke and Mentos mints!

Hide & Seek

Playing hide and seek outside doesn’t cost a penny.

Plant a Garden

From veggie gardens to pots with colorful annuals, planting and tending a garden is one of the great cheap summer ac-tivities.

Bubble Parade

Have your children and their friends form a line and march while blowing bubbles.

The Whole World’s A Stage

Inspired by the legendary Shakespeare in the Park theater series in New York City, give your kiddos the inspiration to write short plays and act them out on ‘stage’ in the yard this summer.

Check out even more summertime outdoor activities for you and your kids!

Jeff Bogle
Jeff Bogle
Jeff is a dad of teen daughters, avid traveler, photographer, and freelance writer. He’s penned stories on family travel, outdoor recreation, the environment, parenting, and more for Fodor’s, Reader’s Digest, Parents Magazine, Good Housekeeping, PBS, and Esquire, among other publications. Find him on his blog, and on Instagram @OWTK. Jeff is also the publisher of the quarterly literary zine, Stanchion