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Cheap Summer Activities for Adults and Families

Personal Finance

Summer is the season of doing. Household projects, vacations, exercise and all varieties of entertainment tend to take center stage from June to August. But, how do you pay for it all?

a small girl sitting with her dog in the car's trunk

Short of taking out a loan, you may need to cut some expenses in order to give you and your family a summer to remember. Thankfully, that doesn’t have to mean doing less.

There are plenty of free or cheap activities you can take part in, and you may be surprised how much fun they can be. Cost isn’t necessarily an indicator of fun, and these budget-friendly ideas will allow you to blow out your summer without blowing out your bank account.

For Adults

Have a game night.

When was the last time you busted out your Monopoly set or deck of cards? Invite your friends over for a good old fashioned game night. Ask people to bring whatever games they have, plus a yummy dish to share.

Board games have come back with a vengeance, and you may be surprised at the depth and variety of options. Making this a regular event can be cheaper than even the best happy hour deal.

Enjoy the farmer’s market.

Instead of getting your groceries from the supermarket this summer, find your nearest farmer’s market. You’ll find locally-grown meat, produce and plants, as well as a relaxing and friendly atmosphere. Some also offer entertainment and food trucks, so you can eat while you shop.

Find free exercise classes.

Nothing says summer like getting in shape! And, what’s more fun than working out outside? Many cities offer free exercise classes during the summer, including massive yoga in the park sessions.

Visit a drive-in.

Going to the movies is expensive, but summer is the best time to see the hottest blockbusters. Skip the lines and head to your local drive-in, where you can often pay movie theater prices for two features instead of just one – all while celebrating some classic American nostalgia.

Tour your local breweries.

Many local breweries offer free tours with the opportunity to also sample the goods. While extra drinks may carry a cost, you’ll have the chance to try before you buy, and you’ll learn a lot about how your favorite beer is made along the way. Keep in mind, some breweries may require reservations, so call ahead.

For Families

Camping in the backyard.

If you’ve got little ones who aren’t ready for a trek through the woods, camping in the backyard is a great way to experience summer without the pain of packing up your equipment. Use s’mores and hot dogs to recreate the real camping experience and tell scary stories by the campfire.

Enjoy free neighborhood art.

Many cities host events at local art galleries where the public is invited to celebrate their latest installations. Exposing your kids to culture is fun, and many have family-focused activities you can participate in.

Set up outdoor movie nights.

Find a projector and create your own outdoor movie nights! Make a bowl of popcorn, whip out the lawn chairs and put on your favorite family classic. This can quickly become a weekly family tradition, and you can teach your kids to share by alternating who gets to pick the feature!

Make frozen treats at home.

What better way to cool off this summer than making your own ice cream? You don’t even need an ice cream maker to create custom versions of your favorite goodies. Simply cut up a couple bananas, grab a food processor and get to mixin’!

Attend a minor league sports game.

Large sporting events can get expensive once you factor in parking, concessions and souvenirs. Instead, take your kids to see the local minor league team. Everything will be cheaper and your family can still enjoy a day at the ballpark together.

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