20 Hot Ideas for a Cool, Low-Cost Summer

With longer days and warmer nights, there’s no shortage of opportunities to spend money over the summer. Don’t sweat it, though! Whether you prefer indoor or outdoor activities, cooking or crafts, there is always room for fun in the budget. Having the perfect summer is a breeze with this list of free and low-cost ideas.


Play Outdoor Games

Summertime means game time.

Playing football or soccer can get old quick. Try some DIY outdoor games to liven up your BBQ or birthday celebration. Trash bag Slip ’N Slide, giant Jenga or ladder bean bag toss are bound to bring laughter and smiles to your next event.

Have a Backyard Campout

Nothing says “summer” quite like s’mores.

You don’t have to go far to get away. Play your favorite summer games and fall asleep under the stars. When the ghost stories get too scary you can always head inside.

Visit a Public Park

Swing into summer at your local park.

It’s easy to have a ball on a budget. Get a team together to play volleyball, kickball, basketball or soccer at your local park.

Have a Lake Day

Make a splash with a fun day at the lake.

Whether it’s playing water games, fishing or just relaxing with friends and family, there’s an option for every budget at the lake. Just make sure you don’t forget your sunscreen!

Get Dirty in the Garden

A little green goes a long way.

Gardening is a great way to get outside, try something new and save cash at the grocery store. Spend a little on seeds and reap the rewards of fresh produce and healthy dinners all summer long.


Check Out the Farmers Market

Green beans, small business and low prices, oh my!

Keep things fresh this summer by shopping at your local farmers market. Walking around the farmers market is a free way to get to know your community and maybe try something new.

Give Back & Get Involved

Beat the heat and make a difference.

Impact your community and impact your life by volunteering this summer.  Whether you’re passionate about helping animals, working with kids or cleaning up the environment, there’s always a way to help. Use a website like https://www.volunteermatch.org/ to find opportunities near you.

Go to a Minor League Baseball Game

Make this summer a home run.

Enjoy America’s pastime without the Major League prices. Spend the day cheering on your local Minor League team for half the price of an MLB game.

Have a Garage Sale

Out with the old, in with the new.

If you’re in the market to buy or sell, a garage sale is a great way to make or save money. Cleaning out the garage or attic not only makes room for what is really important, but may put a few extra dollars in your pocket. Also, attending local garage sales could lead you to treasures you didn’t know you needed.

Experience Local Fairs and Carnivals

You can’t go wrong with funnel cake!

From carnival games to ferris wheel rides, there’s something for everyone at the state or county fair.  Tons of free and low cost activities like competitions, petting zoos and shows will keep the fun rolling all day long.


Get Your Game On

It’s all fun and games, all summer long.

Break out your old favorite board games and play the night away.  All you really need is a deck of cards and some friends to get the fun rolling. Check out this article for free or low cost game ideas that’ll help you host the best game night ever.

Get Lost in a Book

A good book can take you anywhere you want to go.

The library is a great resource for books, audiobooks, movies and music.  Reread your old favorites and discover new ones — all for free. And don’t forget to check the library calendar for free events like readings and book clubs for all ages.

Have a Movie Marathon

There’s always front row seating in your living room.

A rainy day doesn’t have to hit pause on your summer fun.  Skip the pricey popcorn and enjoy summer classics like “The Sandlot,” “Caddyshack” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” from your very own couch.


Make Your Own Ice Cream

Make it Sundae every day this summer.

It’s easier than you think, and inexpensive, too. To make this simple recipe, all you need is heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract. Add in sprinkles, cookies or strawberries  — whatever you have on hand — for the perfect summer treat.

Get out of the Kitchen

Keep it fresh with simple recipes for the whole family.

Don’t get stuck behind the stove this summer. It only takes three ingredients and a few minutes to make a meal or snack that everyone will love. Check out these three-ingredient recipes for inspiration.

Have a Picnic

Try this low-cost way to go “out” to lunch!

Pack a tasty lunch with food you already have at home and head to your local park.  Whether you’re looking for a fun date idea or a great afternoon with the family, having a picnic is the perfect way to enjoy the sunshine.


DIY Your Own Butterfly Feeder

Invite some new friends into your garden.

Add some life and color to your backyard by making a DIY butterfly feeder. It’s an easy craft that’ll make everyone smile. You can even simplify the steps listed here and use things you have at home like a paper plate, string, and a sponge.

Plan a Scavenger Hunt

Create an adventure they’ll always treasure

Teach the kids to explore nature with this fun outdoor activity. Make a list of riddles to guide them around your backyard or local park in search of flowers, candy or coins. Here’s a list of clever outdoor themed riddles and answers.

Try Nature Crafts

Crafts aren’t just for the classroom. Make priceless art with things you can find in your own backyard.

Painting rocks is a fun, creative activity for any age. Also, pressing flowers brings the beauty of the outdoors inside. Just place the flower between parchment paper and leave it under something heavy for about a week. That’s all it takes to make your very own masterpiece!

Take a Photo a Day

Make this summer last forever.

While you’re busy having a blast this summer, make sure you capture the memories on your phone or go old school and use a disposable camera.  When the summer’s over, put together an album to remember all the fun you had.


Keep the fun going 24/7 this summer without breaking the bank. Try out these tips to make your dream summer a reality and use the hashtag #SummerAF247 to share your memories with us.