43 Fun Things to Do During the Summer When You're Broke

Have a ball on a budget this summer.

You don't need us to tell you that summer activities aren't quite the same when you're short on cash. Some more costly summer traditions—summer camps, outdoor concerts, full-out summer vacations—may be curtailed if you can't afford them.

But that doesn't mean your summer has to be a bummer. Don't focus on all the summer activities that are out of your reach—instead, think about all the wonderful things you can still do within your means (like taking a vacation on a budget).

If you're looking for fun and inexpensive things to do in the summer—or want to focus on the simple pleasures of the season—try some of these stellar summer activities and staycation ideas that are just as wonderful as your costly summer vacation plans.

Food and Drink

  • Make your own ice cream.
  • Have a barbecue.
  • Make massive ice cream sundaes.
  • Bake a fresh blueberry or cherry pie.
  • Make s'mores.
  • Eat popsicles and ice cream cones.
  • Picnic in your backyard—or your living room.
  • Visit an outdoor farmer's market.
  • Make homemade lemonade.
  • Make your own pesto.
  • Drink a fruity cocktail with an umbrella in it.
  • Eat vegetables and fruit right out of the garden.
  • Sip a rosé (or frosé).

Fun and Games

  • Run through a sprinkler.
  • Have a watermelon seed-spitting contest.
  • Camp out in the backyard.
  • Try your hand at face painting.
  • Have a backyard scavenger hunt.
  • Create a sidewalk chalk art gallery.
  • Have fun at a virtual summer camp.
  • Do fun science experiments (the baking soda and vinegar volcano is a classic).
  • Make a pillow fort.
  • Have a campfire in your backyard.
  • Splash in rain puddles.
  • Have a water balloon fight.

Pure Relaxation

  • Go stargazing.
  • Nap in a hammock.
  • Seek out a drive-in movie (or screen a movie in your backyard)
  • Look for fireflies.
  • Finish the perfect summer read.
  • Start a book club.
  • Watch the sunset.
  • Go for a scenic drive.
  • Look for a rainbow during a downpour.
  • Give yourself a fun pedicure (rainbow toes, anyone?).

Movement and Exercise

  • Grow a little garden.
  • Go for a scenic hike.
  • Try something new—a new dance step, a new hobby, or a new cooking technique.
  • Kayak, canoe, or paddleboard.
  • Go to the beach.
  • Go fishing.
  • Run and train for a 5K.
  • Climb a tree.
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