Summertime on a Dime – Fun for the Whole Family

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You don’t have to be rich to enjoy classic summer fun. Think outside the box and get creative. The whole family will have a great time when you enjoy summertime on a dime!

Summertime on a Dime | Life as Mom

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The weather’s heating up; school’s out; the summer season just invites you to be out having fun in the sun. As appealing as amusement parks, resort vacations, and dinner out every night may sound, it just doesn’t fit the average household’s budget.

How can you make summer memories without breaking the bank?

Summertime on a Dime – Fun for the Whole Family

Here are just some suggestions for inexpensive, if not FREE, entertainment to help you enjoy summertime on a dime:

Play the tourist.

Take advantage of what your city has to offer in the way of petting zoos, botanical gardens, nature centers, observatories, and museums. Often these sites offer free or reduced rates. A quick internet search will produce a wealth of options.

Get out of Dodge.

Check out online hotel discounts if you are just itchin’ to get out of Dodge. Often times deals pop up at the last minute.

Go camping.

While a hotel vacation may not fit the budget this year, sleeping under the stars may be just the ticket to rest and relaxation. Many campgrounds maintain very low rates. Borrow a tent if you don’t have one. Pack picnic meals in the cooler. Be sure to pack graham crackers, chocolate bars, marshmallows, and a few skewers to toast up a few s’mores. Now’s the time these things go on sale!

Camp out in the backyard.

If packing up the car and heading for the great outdoors still doesn’t fit the bill, pitch a tent in your own backyard. Not only will you and the kids get the outdoor experience, but indoor plumbing and shelter in case of inclement weather are just a few steps away.

Summertime on a Dime | Life as Mom

Triple Chocolate Sundaes

Ice Cream. You scream. We all scream for Ice Cream.

An evening run to Sonic, Dairy Queen, or ColdStone creamery can seem all too tempting after a long, hot, sticky day. But, ouch for the wallet! Instead, stock up on ice cream, sodas, syrups, whipped cream, and straws – now’s the time for sales!

Make your own ice cream, slushies, root beer floats, sundaes, smoothies, or milk shakes. Sit out on the front stoop, and slurp together.

Hit the water.

Head to the beach, lake, or river. Make a day of it, taking suits, towels, and sunscreen, and all other day trip essentials. Keep in mind your parking fees that can quickly add up. In our town, residents can get a year’s parking pass at the beach which frees up our options and reduces the need to remember quarters for the parking meter.

Be sure to read: How to Make Your Beach or Pool Days a Breeze

Dive in.

Consider a pool pass. For a little over $100 my family has unlimited access to our local pools. While that may seem like a big chunk of change at one time, it averages to about $1 a day. Since there are seven of us, this investment really pays off. Plus, the kids sleep so much better after a few hours of splashing in the sun.

Turn on the hose.

Make your own water park at home. It doesn’t take much to entertain the kids in your own yard. Load up on water shooters and balloons. (Again, these are summer sale items!) If you’ve got a slip ‘n’ slide or baby pool, that will be so much the better. The best part will be when you get out there with the kids yourself and start bombing them with water balloons. What a memory-maker!

How do YOU celebrate summertime on a dime?

Got another trick up your sleeve for summer fun? Please share it with us in the comments section.

Originally published June 16, 2008. Updated May 15, 2017.

Summertime on a Dime | Life as Mom

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  1. We take advantage of our library programs and cheap kids movies that play at our local theater. The library is free and the movies are $2 a ticket. So fun!

  2. I’m doing the “at home” icecream sundaes” thing more this summer even though I LOVE going out for icecream w/ the kids. It’s just too expensive to do with any regularity.

    I’m trying to take my guys to a Farmer’s Market once a week to let them pick out a veggie and help me cook it at home. Today was our first day, and they chose turnips!! I’ve never had turnips. They’re boiling now..should be interesting. 🙂

    We also have a free movies in the park thing in our area..have never done it, but might try one this year now that our boys are a little older and may handle it.

    We also have dear friends who have a pool who basically extend an open invitation to come and swim, so I’m going to try to get out there more w/ the kids this summer…as much as my back will allow.

    Lately, I’ve been giving my kiddos (nearly 4,4 and 16 months) sidewalk chalk and letting them “paint” all over the deck with it. Then, I give them buckets of water and paint brushes and they “paint” again w/ the water. It has kept them occupied for quite a long time.

  3. We also have 3 spraygrounds within about a 15 minute drive.The kids love it and we almost always take a picnic lunch.

    We also use the library a lot more in the summer for just hanging out and doing the summer reading program.

    We also have a pass to the local kids science museum, that the kids won in the reading program last year.

    There are also summer movie camps here too that we occasionally attend. It often has movies that we were going to see but never got around to. If you buy the package ahead of time then it is 50 cents a movie. $1 a piece for each movie the day of at the box office.