55 Things to Do at Home in the Summer (That Don’t Require Any Outdoor Space)

updated Apr 29, 2024
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Even if you’re someone who prefers the cool, crisp air of fall to the heat and humidity of summer, it’s hard to deny that there’s something magical about summer. Lounging in a pool with your elbows propped up on the edge, holding a book in one hand and a drink in the other. Summer is full of endless, magical possibilities, but contrary to what you might see on social media, there are plenty of things to do in summer at home, too, no Insta-worthy vacation required. 

So whether you’re a true homebody or you’re just looking for some ways to save a little cash this season, here is a list of 55 things you can do from the comfort of inside your own home. The best part? Not a single one of them requires a special outdoor space, patio, or backyard. Some of them might call for a little imagination or getting outside your comfort zone, but all of them are a fun, interesting, and different way to pass the time this summer. 

Credit: Kristin Prough

1. Start an Indoor Herb Garden 

Sick of seeing your friends with outdoor space growing all kinds of plants and herbs? Well, if you have a window, you can do that inside. And even if you don’t have good light, there are at-home garden solutions for that, too.

2. Makeover Your Entire Wardrobe 

You know that romantic comedy scene where a person takes an afternoon and cleans out their entire closet, making way for a new style/life? This is actually a great (and productive) way to kill time. Take everything out of your closet and be honest about what you actually need to keep. Donate the rest. 

3. Find a New Workout Routine 

If you’re used to a gym, the idea of working out at home can seem miserable. But instead of putting yourself on an at-home workout schedule you hate, make it a goal to try a new, different DIY workout each week. YouTube is great for this. 

4. Make a TBR Pile and Commit to It 

If you have an untouched bookshelf, go through it and select a stack of books. This will be your TBR (“to be read”) pile for the rest of the summer. Go through the books one by one and donate the ones you know you won’t read again. 

5. Start a Book Club

… and if you want to make it even more fun, then start or join an in-person or virtual book club (sites like Book Clubz can help!). Gather friends at your home or on a video call every few weeks and talk about books, life, or anything in between. It’ll inspire you to read and get you to socialize creatively. 

6. Have A DIY Cooking Competition 

If you live with a partner, challenge them to an at-home cooking competition. Choose an ingredient or a specific type of ingredient and compare recipes at the end of the evening. The prize can be anything you want!

Credit: humanmade/Getty Images

7. Perfect Your Favorite Recipe 

You know that thing you love to eat, but have never attempted to make yourself? Maybe it’s fluffy, perfect pancakes or a specific type of dumplings. Maybe it’s a cocktail. Whatever it is, challenge yourself to perfect making it yourself — no matter how many tries it takes. 

8. … Or Work Through An Entire Cookbook

This is one that’s admittedly inspired by the movie Julie & Julia. Choose a favorite cookbook and commit to making every single recipe in it by the end of the summer. You can even watch the movie first if you want some inspiration for this project.

9. Start a Journal 

Creating a journaling routine can be a great way to add structure to the long, hot days of summer. Start your day with an iced coffee and a fresh page, and you’ll probably be feeling inspired in no time.

10. Develop One New Daily Routine 

Think about your daily routine. What does it look like? Is there one part of it that frustrates you or makes you feel anxious/nervous? Well, now’s the time to change it. Identify the most unpleasant part of your daily routine and make it better. Try changing your annoying alarm clock out for something more pleasant, or investing in a new workout tool that will improve your exercise routine. Whatever it is, change it up! 

11. Makeover An Entire Room For $0 

You know that room you really hate? Maybe it’s an office or a guest room or your basement. Challenge yourself to make it into something better with no money at all. Move around furniture or find some “for free” items on Facebook Marketplace to decorate the space. Spending just a few hours of concentrated effort on a room (instead of avoiding it) can make all the difference.

12. Sit Down And Take a “Life Inventory”

Have you ever sat down and thought about all aspects of your life and what’s working? Have you ever taken note of what isn’t working and committed to changing it? If not, it’s time to take a life inventory. Write down a handful of life categories that are important to you (family, friends, travel, finance, health) and list some ways you can improve upon the most frustrating parts. 

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Prop Stylist: Stephanie Yeh

13. Create an At-Home Movie Theater

Most people watch some form of television every day, but there’s something to be said for creating a more special movie night experience. String up some twinkle lights, pop some popcorn, order all those weird snacks you only eat at movie theaters (Sno-Caps, anyone?) and treat yourself to renting a newly released movie you didn’t get to see in theaters. 

14. Recreate Your Favorite Date Nights at Home 

Do you and your partner have a favorite date night? Whatever it is, there are ways to do it at home. For example, you can take a virtual tour of a new museum exhibit or take a virtual cooking class together. 

15. Create a Documentary Club 

Everyone knows about book clubs, but what about documentary clubs? Create a list of intriguing and thought-provoking documentaries and host a virtual club where you and a few others get together and discuss the films.

16. Learn a New Language

… or at least try to. Is there a country you’ve always wanted to visit? Even if you don’t have immediate travel plans, you can learn a few key phrases now (or more than that, if you’re feeling ambitious) to use when you do go there.

Credit: Kitchn

17. Organize Your Fridge Or Pantry Once and For All 

This might not sound like much fun, but trust me, it is oddly satisfying. Invest in a few affordable storage solutions and create the dream fridge or pantry you’ve always wanted. And if you don’t want to spend any money, then get creative. My favorite meal prep tip is to use deli cups to store cut-up veggies or pre-made salads. 

17. Organize Your Fridge or Pantry Once and For All 

This might not sound like much fun, but trust me, it is oddly satisfying. Invest in a few affordable storage solutions and create the dream fridge or pantry you’ve always wanted. And if you don’t want to spend any money, then get creative. My favorite tip is to use deli cups to store cut-up veggies or pre-made salads. 

18. Switch Up One Space in Your House Entirely 

If you’re lucky enough to have multiple living spaces or bedrooms in your home, try switching them up. Make your guest bedroom the office or your main bedroom the guest bedroom. Move your dining room to your living area. It might not be perfect, but it may just end up being the refreshing change of scenery you need. 

18. Switch Up One Space in Your House Entirely 

If you’re lucky enough to have multiple living spaces or bedrooms in your home, try switching them up. Make your guest bedroom the office or your main bedroom the guest bedroom. Move your dining room to your living area. It might not be perfect, but it may just end up being the refreshing change of scenery you need. 

19. Find a Summer Pen Pal

Writing letters is kind of romantic, but it’s something that’s very easy not to do. Whether it’s someone you’re dating, an old friend, or a distant relative, find yourself a summer pen pal. Just think of how interesting the contents of the letters will be to look back on in 10 years! 

20. Start Something From Scratch

When’s the last time you started something from scratch? This can be a recipe, a brand new arts and crafts project, or anything at all. Whatever it is — start it from nothing at all. You’ll feel extra accomplished at the end! Longer days mean more reasons to stay up late working on a fun project, so new hobbies or projects are the perfect things to do in summer at home. 

21. Finally Clean Out Your Phone 

If you’re someone who has 50,000 photos on your phone that may or may not ever see the light of day, take an afternoon to clean out your folders. It’ll free up some space on your phone and make your life much less stressful. 

22. Upload Photos To A Hard Drive

And to make sure the photos you do like actually see the light of day, make a point to upload them all to a flash drive or harddrive. That way, your photos and favorite memories are protected forever. This might not be a glamorous task, but it’s one that will make a huge difference. If you find yourself on a day when it is absolutely too hot to go outside, do your future self a favor and protect those memories. Tech tasks like this are great things to do at home in the summer because, you know, air conditioning. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

23. And Finally Print/Frame Them

While you’re at it, print out and frame your favorite photos. It’s all too easy today to never get around to having our favorite images exist anywhere other than our phones or online. So take some time and actually frame your favorite ones sometime soon. It’ll make your home that much happier, and you can maybe even make a gallery wall.

24. Create a Time Capsule

Make a point to save a catalog memorable bits and pieces from your year, or just your summer, and save them in a box to look back on next year or the year after. It’s a great way to feel like all the little bits of “junk” you acquire throughout the day actually have meaning. 

25. Make Five Sustainable Household Swaps

This will bring you a lot of satisfaction in the long-run (plus, it’s good for the environment). Take a day to identify five household items that you can find more sustainable solutions for. Maybe swap out regular paper towels for reusable paper towels. Maybe try reusable plastic bags instead of the traditional kind. Consider replacing plastic cleaning bottles with glass ones that are refillable. The options are endless, and it’ll feel great to never buy them again.

26. Have a Board Game Tournament

Choose the games. Choose the rules. And then have an all-day board game tournament, complete with whatever fun stakes you want.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

27. Optimize a Frequently Used Household Area

If your junk drawer, entryway, or bathroom always makes you feel less than relaxed, then it’s time to change that. Make some simple changes that make the area less stressful, crowded, or cluttered, and your life will instantly get less stressful. 

28. Challenge Yourself to Write a Short Story 

How many people have said “I think I’d like to write a book,” but have never even tried to write a short story? Spend an afternoon writing a short story and challenge some other friends or family to do the same. You can compare and contrast them all later. Crank up that air conditioning, pour yourself a glass of ice water, and start writing. It’s one of the perfect things in summer at home.

29. Plan, in Specific Detail, Your Dream Vacation

Even if you don’t have the means to go on your dream vacation right this second, it is still possible to dream of your dream vacation. Now’s the time to take an afternoon or two to do all the research. You can even figure out specific ways you’ll save for the trip, too. 

30. … And Make A Vision Board For It 

While you’re at it, make a vision board for the vacation. Manifesting happy things is always a good idea. 

31. Clean Out Your Underwear Drawer

Save yourself the stress, anxiety, and frustration of an overstuffed underwear drawer full of uncomfortable and ill-fitting undergarments and take the time to clean out the thing. Only keep the things you reach for again and again. And those items you only wear if there are no other options available? Throw them out. 

32. … And Your Email Inbox

Remember when you promised to get yourself to inbox zero one day? Now’s your chance. You and your partner could even turn it into a fun challenge. For every 100 emails organized, one glass of wine? One episode of a show? Make it fun. 

33. Create a Comedy Club in Your Living Room

If you love comedy, make a comedy club in your living room. Queue up stand-up specials, dim the lights, and hand out drink tickets that you and your friends or family can use throughout the evening. 

34. Have an Early-2000s Themed Day

Whatever age you were in the early 2000s, odds are you remember it fondly. Watch your favorite early ‘00s movies. Listen to the music you listened to then. Wear “vintage” clothing. Have fun with it just because.

35. … Or A 1990s Themed Day

And hey, if the ‘90s are more your thing, you can do that, too. 

36. Host an At-Home Sleepover 

Picture this: Pizza. Popcorn. Ice cream sundaes. Face masks. Nail polish. Scary movies. Gossiping. Whatever sleepovers used to be for you, recreate them in your own living room as an adult. The best part is you get to sleep in your own bed at the end of the night. 

37. Upcycle Clothing You Don’t Wear Anymore

Take that old pair of jeans you never wear and turn them into cut-offs. Tie-dye old unused T-shirts. Be creative about turning old clothing into something trendy and wearable today.

Credit: Hippo Wong

38. Have a “Find A Hobby” Weekend

If you’ve never really had a hobby, take a weekend to find one. Order supplies ahead of time and try out knitting or painting or indoor gardening. At the end of the weekend, pick the hobby you like the most (or a couple you loved!) and stick with it.

39. Host a Dinner Party

Having people over for dinner can be a lovely way to celebrate a perfect summer night. Make some fun food (or just order in!), queue up a favorite playlist, and laugh with your favorite people all night long. No reservations required! Just don’t forget to come up with a dinner party question.

40. Shop Your Own Closet

If there’s a whole section of your closet you never touch, take some time to go through it. Try on things you haven’t worn in a while. Throw out things you have no interest in ever wearing again. Re-discover your favorite items.

41. Pretend You’re On a Cruise — Formal Night And All 

If you’ve ever been on a cruise, then you know it can feel a little ridiculous — but it’s still fun. So plan some daytime activities, make some piña coladas, and end the day in full formal wear just because. No bingo required — unless you’re into it. 

Credit: Milles Studio/Stocksy

42. Have a Karaoke Night (Late-Night Pizza And All) 

Have a few drinks. Turn on that karaoke machine. Have the time of your lives. And at the end of the evening, order a late-night pizza to enjoy. 

43. Create an At-Home “Beach Day” 

… but without a beach. The easiest way to do this is to put on a breezy summer outfit, turn on a movie that makes you think of vacation and sunshine, and eat some fresh seafood. Frozen strawberry daiquiris are cool, too.

44. Go Tanning (But Not Really) 

There are so many at-home, DIY self-tanning solutions. If you don’t want to spend all day in the sun, but want to still feel glowy and summery, why not give yourself a tan? The best part is it’s much, much safer than actual tanning. 

45. Have a Hackathon

I first heard the term “hackathon” when I worked in an office. Essentially, it’s a day that’s just dedicated to brainstorming big ideas, solutions to problems, etc. So why not have a hackathon for your home, your life, or your finances? Take a day to do nothing but brainstorm, just because you have the time. 

46. Wash the Things You Never Wash 

That down comforter? Throw blankets? Pillows? Dish towels? Take all the things you don’t wash regularly and make sure they’re all squeaky clean.

47. Have A Wine-and-Paint Night 

Choose a YouTube painting tutorial video, buy a canvas or two, pour a glass of wine, and get to work. You may not end up with a perfect work of art, but it’ll be fun.

48. Call Someone You Haven’t Talked to in a While 

Literally anyone. If you haven’t talked to them in a bit, make a point to call them. You probably have the time, and even if talking on the phone isn’t really your thing, odds are the person will be happy to hear that you’re thinking of them and that alone should make you feel great. 

49. Watch Your Favorite Childhood Show 

Whatever your favorite show was as a child, take an afternoon to watch it back as an adult. A little nostalgia is never a bad idea.

50. Have a Family Photoshoot 

If you have a tripod and a smartphone, taking good photos is easy. If you’ve never shot photos in your home of you and your family (or you and your pet, or just you!), then why not try? Watch some easy DIY photo tutorials and set up that self-timer! 

51. Give Your Plants a Spa Day

Take an afternoon to give your plants some much-needed TLC. Take them outside on a sunny afternoon, give them a good dusting, or prune them accordingly. They (and you) will be much happier for it. 

52. Teach Your Pet Something New 

Having a day of training or activity with your pet can be an excellent way to pass the time on a lazy summer afternoon. Not only is it great mental stimulation for them, but it’s an excellent way to bond with your pet as well, especially if it’s too hot to go outside for a long walk or play session. 

53. Have an “Anything But Screens” Day

When it comes to finding things to do in summer at home, the first impulse for most people is to reach for their phone or the remote. So why not make things interesting and have an “anything but screens day,” where absolutely anything goes — as long as it doesn’t involve your phone, a television, or a computer. It will force you to get creative, and to spend more one-on-one time with your family or pets. 

54. Organize All Your Jewelry

Organize all your most fun accessories once and for all and spend an afternoon going through your jewelry. Untangle those necklaces, find the pair for each earring, and donate any old costume jewelry that you haven’t worn in years. Not only will you feel accomplished, but you’ll probably feel inspired to wear some things you haven’t thought about in forever, too! 

55. Summer Cleaning 

On that same note … if you happened to miss the window for spring cleaning, may I interest you in summer cleaning? Blast some of your favorite music and tackle each room, weeding out items that are unnecessary or unused. You can even plan a yard sale for the week after and use it as an excuse to make a little extra cash, meet neighbors, and get outside.