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50 (Mostly Free) Summer Activities for Kids of All Ages

Updated on May 15, 2012

In the movie The Interpreter, Nicole Kidman’s character, Silvia Brown, is having a drink with Tobin Keller, played by Sean Penn. She tells him that “farm kids will do anything” to keep from being bored.

“Mostly they fight. I read. My brother was into lists. How many times our mother said the ‘F’ word. Countries with the most advantageous ratio of males to females. Odd animal facts.”

I tend to be a list maker myself. Here is my list of fun activities for the summer, many of which are FREE!

(A word of advice: Don’t ruin your summer fun. Drink lots of water, apply frequently a sunscreen with a high SPF number and spend the hottest hours of the day inside.)

A La Vista shareholder plays tomato golf with an overripe tomato at the farm's annual Tomato Fest.
A La Vista shareholder plays tomato golf with an overripe tomato at the farm's annual Tomato Fest. | Source

Lawn and court games

There are lots of different types of outdoor games. You can arrange pick-up games and play for fun or set up a tournament and play for kitschy trophies.

1. croquet

2. bocce ball

3. badminton

4. tennis

5. volleyball

6. softball

7. whiffle ball

8. horseshoes

9. washers


Relaxing on a beach
Relaxing on a beach | Source
Source

Water activities

Sometimes you can find several of the following activities all in one place (can you say “Lucky me?”)

1. swimming – in a pond, pool, creek, ocean – whatever gets you wet and keeps you cool!

2. Sunbathing (don’t forget the sunscreen!)

3. waterskiing

4. rafting

5. kayaking

6. canoeing

7. wading in a creek or pond

8. looking for tadpoles

9. fishing

10. piloting bumper boats

11. running under a sprinkler

12. snorkeling


Rapelling down the side of a bluff can be a fun challenge
Rapelling down the side of a bluff can be a fun challenge | Source
Hiking in a national park is a fun and healthy outdoor activity
Hiking in a national park is a fun and healthy outdoor activity | Source

Outside fun

Summer is a time to be outside to enjoy the feel of warm breezes blowing and the sun on your face. Try one of these fun activities.

1. play tag

2. play mumbly peg

3. play hide-n-seek

4. go to a drive-in (yes, there are still some around)

5. build a tree house

6. build a fort

7. catch fireflies

8. play miniature golf

9. go for a walk

10. ride a bike

11. have a picnic with friends and family

12. plan a family reunion

13. go camping

14. go to the state or county fair

15. go to the zoo and make faces at the monkeys

16. go to a water park

17. rappel off the side of a cliff

18. bungee jump

19. take a hike


A visit to the Mall of America provides shopping, dining and entertainment all in one spot.
A visit to the Mall of America provides shopping, dining and entertainment all in one spot. | Source

Inside fun

When it’s just too darn hot to be outside for longer than it takes to walk from the air-conditioned house to the air-conditioned car, try the following activities.

1. play “Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?”

2. play I Spy

3. snuggle with your child and read a book

4. have a movie marathon night (or afternoon), replete with snacks, intermission and a cartoon to start it all off

5. play board and card games

6. visit Mall of America, the world's largest indoor shopping mall

7. visit a museum

8. bake cookies or cupcakes

9. play video or computer games

10. go to the library and participate in one of its summer programs


Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing!
Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing! | Source

BONUS!


But the very best thing to do in summer is.……..NOTHING!!

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    • Danette Watt profile image
      Author

      Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks tillsontitan! I agree, spending time outdoors, playing and just having fun seems to have gone out of fashion. Thanks for the votes.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      What a great reminder of all the outside (and inside) things we used to do before computers and text messaging! I hope some young parents can make use of some of them to get their kids 'moving'.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting!

    • Danette Watt profile image
      Author

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      J Yoder - it's good to act like a kid sometimes though - keeps us young and stress free! Glad you liked the list.

    • profile image

      J Yoder 6 years ago

      Great list, Danette! I especially like number 15 "go to the zoo and make faces at the monkeys". ;) By the way, that's not just for kids to do. lol.

    • Danette Watt profile image
      Author

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks Lyricallor, it was fun coming up with the list. I hope you'll try some of these activities if you haven't already!

    • Lyricallor profile image

      Lorna Lorraine 6 years ago from Croydon

      50 is a long list and you made it! Interesting and useful hub!

    • Danette Watt profile image
      Author

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Manthy, if you do manage to do 10 of the items listed here, you'll have to come and let me know what they were and how you liked them. Or better yet, write a hub on it!

      Cara -- That pic of Marco is cute, isn't it. It's so easy to do many of these when you have little ones around, that's for sure!

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 6 years ago from Michigan

      Great list! I think that we've already done a lot of those this summer but I'll have to see what else we can check off that list. It's a rare moment to see Marco doing "nothing!"

    • manthy profile image

      Mark 6 years ago from Alabama,USA

      Hey Dannette I'm gonna see if I can do 10 of the 50 this summer, I'm still a kid at heart.

      Voted up and awesome just like you

    • Danette Watt profile image
      Author

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Denise, if you were here right now or I there, I would definitely challenge you. And probably win! (so there, LOL)

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Danette, I LOVE this list and want to do more, more, more! LOL Hey, I'll take you on with a game of mumbly peg right now, heehee. Or, horseshoes, (love those) or bocci ball-I know YOU love that.

      Great hub-voted up and across. I love the photos btw. Nice display of the family.

    • Danette Watt profile image
      Author

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks HBN and AliciaC. That little boy is actually Denise's grandson. He's been featured in some of the pictures in her hubs. He is quite a doll!

      AliciaC - mumbly peg is actually a knife game and I loved playing it as a kid. Still remember the whole sequence. People think we're crazy to play it but it isn't dangerous, really and lots of fun.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a great list, Danette! Thanks for sharing your ideas. You've also introduced me to some new games - I've never heard of whiffle ball, washers or mumbly peg before! Voted useful.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      Great list and my favorite was the last photo of the little boy doing "nothing" in a hammock! Love the fact that a lot of these things are free. Also liked the opening paragraphs. Voted up, useful and awesome and interesting.

    • Danette Watt profile image
      Author

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Yeah, that's probably a grown-up thing, most kids don't nap until they're so tuckered out they crash. Thanks for stopping by to read.

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      This is an amazing list, the only thing missing is nap.

      Or maybe napping is more something an adult would want to do.

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