Fun Things to Do When It's Too Hot Outside (and You Don't Have a Pool)

Stay cool in a heat wave with these indoor activities, fun things to do at home, crafts, and more.

Consider summer—and spring or fall, in certain climates—also known as heat wave season. Typically, steamy temps are synonymous with summer fun: People lounging poolside with a frosty beverage, catching a local baseball game, or grilling hot dogs in the evening sun.

But when a big heat wave hits, though, the last thing you want to do is spend any time outside, not only because it's uncomfortable, but also because it can be dangerous.

Unfortunately, there's only so much binge-worthy Netflix you can watch and so many popsicles you can eat before you'll need to figure out new fun things to do at home. If you have kids, they may not understand why they can't just run through the sprinklers for hours on end—even though you know it's scorching out. So, just as you may have a grab bag of things to do on a rainy day, you'll want an arsenal of indoor hot day activities for when the mercury rises to an intolerable level.

Whether you're looking for things to do when bored with friends, finding new ways to entertain the kids, or just want to make the most of your indoor me-time, these ideas will help you beat the heat at home. (Of course, you can also utilize some of the cool (in certain cases, literally cool) indoor activities your area has to offer—the local movie theater may over-charge for popcorn, but at least it's air-conditioned.)

You can put away the swimsuit, store the sunblock, and forget about a day at the local pool. Instead, crank the AC way up (or put several fans on high), keep some ice-cold water handy, and make the most of inside time with these inspired ideas for what to do when it's hot outside without a pool.

Fun Hot Summer Day Activities for Kids (and Kids at Heart)

heatwave-indoor-obstacle-course
Yeji Kim

1. Create an Indoor Obstacle Course

Are the kids desperate to let out some energy? Give them an indoor agility challenge to complete. You can set up couch cushions as barriers to jump over, hang swinging keys from the ceiling to dodge, and tape yarn back and forth across hallways to create a laser maze. You can even ask them to invent their very own courses to keep both their bodies and their minds busy.

heatwave-explore-water-beads
Yeji Kim

2. Explore Water Beads

If you haven't seen them, water beads are these squishy plastic orbs that are great for sensory play with kids (and a pretty zen activity for adults as well). They come as tiny, hard beads, but leave them in a bowl of water, and they slowly grow (over several hours) into soft, round balls. The longer they're in the water, the bigger and bouncier they get.

You can leave them in a clear storage container and have your kids explore them with their hands, or they can get into imaginative play with their toys by diving in. If you're a highly ambitious parent and the container is large enough, your kids can put on their swimsuits and get right into a cool water bead bath. (You might want to put a few towels around first to catch the overflow.)

heatwave-ice-skating
Yeji Kim

3. Go Ice Skating

The idea of playing a winter sport when it's scorching outside seems a little odd, but a frigid indoor activity is a perfect way to beat the summer heat. Search your area for an indoor ice skating rink, pack some cold weather clothes, and head out for a little icy fun.

Maybe follow that up with a little Christmas in July celebration, if you're feeling extra-festive.

heatwave-make-movies
Yeji Kim

4. Make Movies

If your kids secretly want to be TikTok stars, this is a great way to get them started on their road to internet stardom. They can write scripts or improvise, play pranks, make up recipes, or create a cool choreo—whatever interests them. Then you can use an app like VivaVideo or iMovie to cut and paste their video into a viral-worthy clip.

heatwave-airfort
Yeji Kim

5. Set Up an Airfort

There's nothing little kids love more than to hole up in a cozy fort. Of course, in the raging heat, they'll want something less stifling. Try an AirFort! Made out of breathable polyester fabric, you just attach the material to a box fan, and it inflates into a spacious tent that hovers above the floor. It's super-cool for an indoor camp-out or just some imaginative fort play.

heatwave-snowball-fight
Yeji Kim

6. Have a Snowball Fight

You don't need actual snow to create an epic snowball showdown. Instead, purchase some plush faux snowballs that are soft enough to throw around the house. It's a great way to stay active indoors, without breaking a sweat...or your ceramic vases. When it's this crazy-hot outside, you may find yourself actually missing winter.

Fun Things to Do When It's Hot Outside for Adults

heatwave-facial
Yeji Kim

1. Give Yourself a Facial

Steamy heat-wave weather opens up pores and makes for more sweat, which can often create more skin problems like acne. Since you're staying in, take the opportunity to give yourself the pampering treatment with a purifying clay mask. While it sets, you can stay refreshed by draping a cool towel over your face, or chill your feet out in a nice, cool foot bath for a little extra pampering.

heatwave-play-casino-games
Yeji Kim

2. Play Casino Games

Instead of whipping out the same-old, same-old board games, take a virtual trip to Vegas, baby. With a deck of cards and some chips, you can play blackjack or poker, or get out the dice for a little craps. You can gamble with real money if you're playing with friends, use candy with kids, or just play for fun and pretend there are real stakes.

Indoor Activities During a Heatwave
Yeji Kim

3. Make Boozy Watermelon Slushies

Even though your living room couch may not be anywhere near as luxe as a chaise lounge, you can feign like you're on a summer vacay by whipping up your own hot-weather cocktail. Simply blend fresh juicy watermelon, ice, lime juice, orange juice, and some simple syrup to create a watermelon slushie. Serve it sans alcohol to the kids and add a little vodka or rum to your glass.

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