summer activitiessummer activities

Summer is for some fun and adventure. Check out these inexpensive summer activities to enjoy summer without hurting your wallet.

Summer is here. While it’s normally a time of fun and memories for kids everywhere, COVID-19 has changed things. Kids have already been home for months, so how can you avoid the dreaded “Mom, I’m bored” question? Now, they don’t even have school to distract them! Here are 30 fun and inexpensive summer activities to keep your kids entertained all summer long!

Backyard Adventures


  1. Start a garden – Summer is the perfect time to try your hand at growing a garden. Try growing your own herbs for a fun way to add flavor to your meals. It also gives the kids a chance to enjoy a meal that they got to make themselves! Perennials from your local nursery could give a pop of color to your yard. Pinterest is full of tools, tips, and tutorials to guide you every step of the way.
  2. Get chalky – Do you have an artist in the making? Encourage your children’s creative side by letting them create their own chalk masterpieces. These can be on the sidewalk, stoop, or driveway outside your house. Maybe even join in a game of hopscotch with them!
  3. Decorate rocks – Get away from plain paper and beautify your backyard with painted rocks! Collect the best rocks that you can find around your yard or neighborhood, then decorate the stones with paint, stickers, markers, glitter, and other art supplies. Display the finished products around the house, use them as paperweights, or put them in your garden to add a pop of color.
  4. Try your hand at tie-dye – Tie-dye has been making a comeback, so hop on this fashion trend with your own DIY tie-dye clothes. Get a simple kit from a craft store or online and experiment with different styles and color schemes!
  5. Make a bird feeder – This activity is twofold because you get to make a fun and easy craft, and then your children will get to witness different types of birds come and use your new birdfeeder! There are many different ways to make a bird feeder, so pick your favorite one and make an afternoon of it. It’s the perfect opportunity to teach kids about nature and animals.


  1. Scavenger hunt – Get your kids to look at your backyard in a new way with a fun scavenger hunt that has specific items for them to find. Here are two printable options — one for kids that can’t read just yet, and ones that can.
  2. Build a campfire – If you have space in your backyard, build a small bonfire that you all can sit around and enjoy for an evening. If you don’t feel comfortable building an actual fire, turn up the grill and call it a campfire – the most important thing is that you can roast marshmallows and make s’mores!
  3. Host a picnic – Your backyard can turn into a beautiful outdoor eating destination with little effort. Choose a mealtime destination, whether it’s a patio table or blanket in the backyard. Prepare easy picnic foods like sandwiches, load them into a basket, and enjoy dining in the great outdoors.
  4. Go camping – Pitching a tent in the great outdoors doesn’t mean you have to go to a far-away campground. Spend a night under the stars in your own backyard! Grill burgers for dinner, sing campfire songs and stargaze once the sun goes down. You’ll get all the benefits of real camping; plus, indoor plumbing is just a few steps away!
  5. Splash around – You don’t need to go anywhere fancy to have some water fun! Make your own backyard waterpark with fun water hose attachments. You can create a DIY slip-n-slide with a plastic tarp covered in dish soap and water.

Fun in the Community

Physical Activity

  1. Enjoy some pool  time – If you have access to a community pool, then take advantage and have some fun in the water! You can reserve your spot at the Y’s pool to swim laps or just enjoy some open swim time. Learn more about our safety precautions and how to reserve your open swim slot here.
  2. Day camp – You can’t entertain your kids all the time, especially when you need to work and they don’t want to just sit at home all day. So send them to a day camp! The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati offers a fun day camp experience where your child will make lasting memories and friends!
  3. Try Geocaching – Geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunt where you use GPS coordinates to find hidden containers. Download the free Geocaching app and get started on finding the best secret geocaches in your area!
  4. Go fruit picking – Peaches, strawberries, and blueberries are all in season right now, so find your local farm and spend the afternoon picking fruit, then go home and bake some treats with your fresh fruit!
  5. Visit a National Park — Mark August 25th on your calendar, because it’s the National Park Service’s birthday, and they’re celebrated by giving everyone a free pass! Find a park near you and spend a day in nature.

Relaxing Activities

  1. Go to a farmer’s market – Check out where the closest farmer’s market is in your area and spend the morning walking around! You’ll be supporting local businesses while getting the freshest home-grown ingredients for your family. Plus, farmer’s markets often have other vendors selling sweet drinks, food and more, so make a whole morning of it!
  2. Go to a Drive-in – Take a blast from the past and go to a drive-in movie theater! COVID-19 has caused a new spike in interest for drive-in theaters. Drive-in theatres allow people to see movies while staying socially-distant.  This means you can pack up the car with blankets, pillows and snacks and head to the nearest drive-in!
  3. Get a daily deal – Keep an eye out on Groupon and Living Social sites for deals and activities up to 80% off. There is a wide assortment of activities, from an escape room to discounted zoo passes. You might be surprised at everything that’s offered in your own hometown
  4. Get a free ice cream – July 19th National Ice Cream day and many ice cream shops offer great deals to celebrate! Check out some of the best deals here.
  5. Make your own food tour – Spend the afternoon on a quest to find the best food in a certain category! Pick a food item (we like the idea of a French fry food tour or a hunt for the best chocolate chip cookie) and pick up that item from 4-5 different places. Then taste test each one and vote on the best!

Indoor Entertainment

Family Time

  1. Family game night – Friendly competition is the perfect way to bust summer boredom. Learn some new card games and make sure you keep score!
  2. Start a TV show together – Sometimes you need to take a break from the hustle and bustle of summer activities and just veg out on the couch. Start watching a TV series that the whole family can enjoy. It can even be a reason to spend time together and discuss the show.
  3. Produce an at-home screenplay – Let your kids embrace their inner director and have them write their own screenplay, design the set and the costumes, and then act out their own movies. Make sure you record the performance for the cutest home video ever!
  4. Learn magic tricks – Let your kids learn a few simple magic tricks and be amazed when they put on a magic show to display their new skills.
  5. Make a sweet treat – If you have an ice cream maker, just a few ingredients can make deliciously sweet homemade ice cream. But there are also fun recipes that you can try to make ice cream in a plastic bag, like this one that only needs five ingredients! Experiment with different flavors and don’t forget the toppings!


  1. Do a craft day – Get creative and messy with a craft day! Try a few fun and easy crafts or just gather up all the glue, stickers, scraps of fabric, paper towel rolls, egg cartons, etc. that you have in your home and let your kid’s imaginations go wild!
  2. Get a summer survival kit – You don’t have to come up with fun summer activities all on your own! Get the YMCA Camp Adventure Kit, which is full of activities and adventures for your child to do at home. This weekly kit will keep your kids connected, learning, thriving, and having fun! Each box contains hands-on STEAM activities, crafts, physical activities, and more based around a weekly theme.
  3. Participate in a summer reading contest – Inspire a love of reading with your kids through incentives. Your local library may have a summer reading programs. Some of these programs encourage kids to read a certain number of books to get different levels of prizes. Barnes & Noble also has a summer reading contest that ends in a free book for your child!
  4. Experiment with science – The learning doesn’t stop just because school is out. Help your kids learn about the great world of science by trying their own experiments. This page has links to a ton of fun projects!
  5. Make homemade playdough or slime – There’s nothing more fun for kids than squishing around slime or playdough, so have them make their own! These recipes for homemade slime and playdough are super simple and only need a few ingredients!
  6. Make your own scrapbook or photo album!  It’s time to finally print some of the great photos you have on your phone!  Let your kids choose their favorite images, organize them into pages, and build layouts to relive the memories you created as a family. This link was shared by one of our Y families, the Wilsons!
YMCA of Greater Cincinnati