Classic Summer Fun on a Budget: 20 Activities to Add to Your Summer Bucket List

From the Archives: Greatest Hits

Once upon a time, I remember a summer that didn't involve planning out your kids' every waking moment to a T. We'd wake up, run out the door, and the world awaited us. I remember climbing trees, swinging for hours at the park, and splashing around in puddles - not the over-the-top, insanely supervised, Pinterest and Instagram-worthy activities that seem to be designed to make parents feel completely exhausted and overwhelmed just looking at them. That being said, there are a few things I want to do with my girls this summer - you know, the classics:

1. Splash in some water - we don't have money for a pool pass this summer, but we do have a plastic kiddie pool, free splash park like this one over on Camille Styles, and of course, muddy rain puddles.
2. Go fishing - even if you don't have all of the equipment, tie a piece of string to a stick or grab a net and head down to the creek - guaranteed your kids will still have the time of their lives.
3. Fly a kite - find the biggest hill around on a nice breezy day and let them run to their heart's content.
4. Sleep under the stars - cozy up together in a big pile of blankets and pillows and watch the starts come out at night one by one.
5. Catch fireflies - they've just started to appear in our yard and my daughter is already asking for a jar with holes in the lid.

6. Go on a picnic - a big blanket and some paper bags full of goodies like this setup on Oh Happy Day are all you really need.
7. Visit the zoo - or if that's too pricey in your area, visit a local farm or feed the ducks at the pond.
8. Pick berries - and make sure you leave with your mouth stained with juice.
9. Go on a hike - tell stories, sing songs, and enjoy nature.
10. Go cloud gazing - choose one of those days with a clear blue sky and puffy white clouds, spread out a big blanket, and dream away.

11. Go to a local ball game - or better yet, organize one yourselves with family, friends, or the local neighbor kids!
12. Eat a snow cone - I've always loved when I hear the lilting tune of the snow cone truck coming around the corner.
13. Go on a scavenger hunt - not one of those complicated ones that you have to set up ahead of time, but the simple kind where you collect acorns, blow on a wishy, or spy a robin's nest.
14. Play in the rain - rain gear or not, choose a warm day and have fun splashing around in the rain. Who knows, maybe you'll even see a rainbow.
15. Make a lemonade stand - charge ten cents a glass and be generous with the sugar. All you need is an old crate, a paper sign, and an tin empty can to collect the riches.

16.Roast marshmallows - a backyard fire pit like this one over on Lesley W. Graham or even a small charcoal grill will do.
17. Play in the creek - put on your water shoes and go for a stream hike or tie a rope to a tree and swing around. Even just put your feet in and study the guppies or collect rocks. There's nothing like splashing around in a stream for a few hours on a hot summer day.
18. Climb a tree - my four-year-old loves to climb the tiny Japanese maple we have out front. It's just her size and she feels a bit brave and daring.
19. Go camping - even if it's in your backyard and you borrow a tent from a friend, it's an experience your kids will never forget.
20. Go to the drive-ins - fill up the back of your car with blankets and pillows and pack a bunch of yummy snacks like Danni and Nick of Oh, Hello Friend. (first image)

What classic fun do you remember from your childhood? We'd love to hear your ideas!


Re-edited from a post originally published on 6.24.2014 - cm

(Image credits: Danni and Nick of Oh Hello Friend; Wynn Myers; Heather Zweig for Oh Happy Day; Lauren Hufnagl; Lesley W. Graham)