8 Summer Fun Activities That Won’t Break The Bank

Having fun doesn’t have to cost much. We’re enjoying the season by participating in these affordable summer fun activities!

summer fun, amusement parks
Photo by residae

The great news is that I’ve been able to enjoy this summer right where I live in Tulsa, OK without requiring a huge vacation budget. You may be interested in some of these ideas for making the rest of the summer memorable in a cost-effective way.

Your Local Attractions

Earlier in the season, I visited the Gilcrease Museum on a day when it offered free admission. Another museum I checked out offered a coupon on its website. The Tulsa Zoo sometimes offers free or reduced admission throughout the year; so do other local attractions. Before you head out to such a site, check out how to reduce your admission fee. If you visit a place more than a few times per year, then it might make sense for you to pick up a season pass.

Real Carnivals!

At the local festival this year, I enjoyed the carnival rides and seeing all the exhibits (though I did miss out on the gigantic funnel cakes). To save on the cost of rides, I got an all-day wristband from the ticket booth. Soon the county fair will open its doors–and the admission will be free. If your city hosts a festival or fair, drop by for an afternoon of local excitement.

Picnics and Brushes With Nature

A few weekends this month, I packed the family picnic basket and we ate at some parks. This gave me a needed rest from the kitchen stove and it kept us from drowning in cheeseburgers and extreme-sized sodas like we really wanted. 😉 Other places I could’ve taken my basket include the area’s college campuses, state parks, and a lake I haven’t seen in ages. Does your notion of dining out include al fresco locations like the beach or a shoreline? Take along fishing rods and some healthy treats for the birds you encounter if you visit a lake or river.

The Library

One thing that saved my sanity each summer is the library’s summer reading program for kids. For an hour each week for most of the summer, the library hosts various performers to entertain the county’s children — at no cost to the parents. Plus, I get the chance to scoop up the science fiction books and magazines I want, and borrow the DVDs and audiobooks that catch my eye. Ask your librarian what programs are offered in your city, or just go browse one evening.

summer fun, water games
Photo by Stuck in Customs

Culinary Activities

A member of my family came home with a cookbook one day, and we’ve been sampling sandwiches from it almost every Saturday. As a side effect of this, I’ve been attempting to learn how to bake new things like focaccia. You could have your own culinary adventures by finding a recipe, looking for the ingredients, and preparing the meal with your family. Or maybe you’d like to recreate a classic recipe from your childhood. Hey, I need a recipe for fried green tomatoes now! Anyone?

Indoor Entertainment

When the temperature’s hot enough to fry innocent bystanders, I like to stay indoors and play games. Yeah, I’m a Pokemon trainer — and it gives me a lot to talk about with my family. We also have a stash of board games, and I like to rent multiplayer video games or buy them used. If you have an Xbox 360, Wii, or PS3, you can check out online stores to find games for these to download as well. These activities will save us some gas money, while not costing too much in terms of the entertainment value provided.

Another option is to organize a family film festival, thanks to online DVD rental services. Rentals are definitely a better deal than taking your entire brood to the movies; although we enjoy going to the movie theater, it’s just not as economical at $10 a head. This is also great if you like reprising entire seasons of TV shows (which reminds me, I should catch up on my anime watching soon). Parked underneath a ceiling fan, I won’t feel like I’m melting along with the popcorn butter.


With birthdays and holidays a shout and a half away, I need to detangle my yarn stash and get crafting again. If you have a craft or hobby, you might enjoy sharing it with your family. However, if you take up gardening for two minutes like I did, be aware that the neighborhood pests will notice and take action. (Why did my cantaloupe have to die?) This experience taught me not to take on an activity that’s too labor-intensive, so if you pick up a family craft or hobby, don’t invest a lot of money in it if you suspect your family will lose interest fast.

Outdoor Fun

Of course, I’ve ventured outdoors a few times this season. The dollar store has a nice selection of cheap balls and toys to throw around and stargazing is still free. Later on this summer, I plan on scanning the newspaper to see if any art happenings or music events are in my price range. If I’m lucky, I’ll be enjoying summer to the last sizzle.

How about you? What summer fun activities do you enjoy doing?

10 thoughts on “8 Summer Fun Activities That Won’t Break The Bank”

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  8. Great advice. I love the cooking together idea. In the summer, you might want to make that an outdoor grilling adventure! I also love directing people with small children to the library. Most libraries host great children’s programs during the summer.

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