Summer Activities to Do with Kids
Looking for summer activity ideas for kids? I’ve compiled a list of 50+ summer activities for kids that are simple, inexpensive and fun for kids AND parents.
To tweak an often heard saying about parenting, when it comes to summer, the days are long but the months are short.
Summer can feel like it passes so quickly. One minute it’s the last day of school and you have three months ahead and the next you’re shopping for back to school supplies and wondering what happened to July.
At the same time, those long summer days can be filled with too many days (or hours) in a row of kids hanging out at home at loose ends leading to whining, fighting, and general family-wide irritation. This is where having a list of summer activities for kids can come to the rescue.
Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, home part-time, or a working mom who wants to make the most of your summer weekends with your kids, there are activity ideas here you can use to have some fun as a family. Many are cheap or free and easily accessible. Even without a ton of advance planning.
And hey! You can get a printable version of the list by filling out this quick form below. Stick the printed list on your refrigerator for those days you need some inspiration this summer! Then refer back to this post for tips on making the most of each activity idea (plus a few extra ideas that didn’t make it on to the printable).
Related Post: 11 Unique Sidewalk Chalk Activities for Kids
Ideas for Having More Fun with Your Kids this Summer
As a work-at-home mom, I love being at home with my kids during the summer (even if it means I have to get up really early to get some work done). I’ve found all of us enjoy our summer days more when we stick to a loose schedule that usually involves either a local outing or some kind of mom-directed activity to add a little structure to the day.
I am not at all saying it is your job to entertain your kids all day. Or that you need to take on the role of family camp director planning and organizing full days of outings, crafts, and games.
But getting out of the house, even for a walk around the neighborhood or a trip to the park can do wonders for your kids and you when it comes to enjoying the summer. And there is plenty of fun to be had at home too.
Whether you’re planning to stick around the house for the day or are looking for a fun outing, use this list of activities as inspiration when you have a day to fill and need a few ideas.
*This post contains affiliate links or referral links which means, at no cost to you, I may earn a small commission from purchases made through these links. For more information, please see my disclosure page.
Summer Activities for Kids Near Me (or You)
Finding Local Outdoor Summer Activities for Kids
Take advantage of summer's nice weather with these ideas for outdoor activities and outings you can do with your kids.
1. Visit the Zoo
The zoo is one of my favorite ways to spend a summer day with kids. Many kids LOVE seeing the animals. And so do most adults. Whether your kids are into reptiles and amphibians or lions, and tigers, and bears, most zoos have a fun variety of each.
And a zoo visit usually involves some walking and enjoying the outdoors.
If you don’t have a large animal zoo in your area, try searching for local petting zoos, animal rescues or other places that allow kids to view and interact with animals. Or consider whether you can add a zoo visit to a family vacation in another area.
2. Amusement Park
Amusement parks are a great summer destination with kids. And I am not talking about just Disneyland (although if you live near a Disney park, by all means, get yourself and your kids there this summer if it's in the budget!).
There are hundreds (thousands?) of amusements parks out there that although smaller than the big name parks are still tons of fun for families on a summer day.
If you don't know of any near you, try a quick Google search or ask a question in a Facebook group for parents in your area.
Keep in mind your budget and how far you are willing to drive for a day trip and plan accordingly. And watch for special deals. Many small amusement parks have discount days for kids, especially during the summer.
3. Visit a Local Farm
Summer is one of the best times to visit your local farms that are open to the public. In my area, there are a few different farms that welcome visitors. Flower farms can be a fun place to take a walk with your kids and maybe buy some cut flowers.
If you have a favorite pumpkin patch you visit in the fall, find out if they have summer hours. I've found a couple of pumpkin patch farms near me that open up their petting zoo and some of their slides and other kid activities for summer.
4. Feed the Ducks at a Pond
If farm animals aren't available or of interest, take your kids to see some local wildlife this summer. If there is a pond or a lake, or other body water where your kids can feed some ducks, take them for a visit.
Late spring and early summer is often a fun time to see ducklings on the water.
Keep in mind some conservation groups discourage feeding wild animals. And if you decide to proceed, bread is not good for ducks. If you decide to feed the ducks, duck pellets, lettuce or corn are better options. For more information, check out this article on feeding wild ducks.
5. Visit the Beach, a Lake, or a River
One of my favorite summer activities as a kid was heading to the water! Whether you have access to the ocean, a lake, a river or even a small creek, you can definitely add that to the list of places to take your kids during the summer.
There are so many ways to enjoy the water as a kid on a summer day. Swimming, when the water is safe, is a fun way to cool off. But if it's not safe to swim, kids can wade, splash, play in the sand, mess with toy boats, look for fish, picnic, skip rocks, and just about a million other fun summer activities to be done on, in or near the water.
6. Playdates with Friends
If your kids are getting tired of their own company during the summer, whether their siblings are driving them nuts or their only missing other kids, set up some play dates for summer days.
Your kids can get out of the house by going to a friend's house once in a while and you can offer that same favor to the other mom at a later date.
Or, make plans to meet friends at the park, join a playgroup or mom's club with regular play dates, or set up a schedule with your friends and their kids.
Sometimes get-togethers just don't happen if you don't make it a point to plan something. So get out your calendar and start calling up your mom friends to make plans. (Ok, texting, who I am kidding).
7. Outdoor Pool or Water Park
Wave pools, water slides, or even just a community pool that is outdoors! If you have a water park or outdoor pool in your area, it's a great place to have fun with your kids this summer.
Indoor pools are fun too of course. But summer is often a unique opportunity for making the most of water parks and pools that are outside.
8. Picnic Lunch at the Park
I'm not always that crazy about eating outdoors. Bugs in the food, napkins blowing away, too cold, too hot, all the THINGS that can make it miserable instead of fun.
BUT, sometimes on sunny days when the weather is warm, it can feel just amazing to enjoy a picnic lunch outside. Plus my kids love it (even on the days when I don't).
And a picnic lunch has the advantage of allowing you to stay at the park longer than if you had to hustle home for lunch when everyone started to get hungry.
9. Take a Nature Walk
Take advantage of warm summer weather to take your kids on local nature trails, walking paths, or parks with kid-friendly trails.
And paved paths and walking trails are also sometimes fun for kids to ride bikes on if you don't have a good area for that near your home.
10. Join a Moms Club
If coming up with a bunch of summer outings with kids is overwhelming for you, consider joining a Moms Club. You can find a local chapter on the National Moms Club website here. Or look for ones in your area on Facebook.
The advantage of a Moms Club is most have activities planned weekly all summer long. And instead of you scouring websites and Facebook groups for activity ideas, you can just show up with your kids on playdates at parks, craft get-togethers, trips to the zoo. All kinds of summer activities for kids and moms.
And, if some summer activities are intimidating for you to do alone with your kids, this gives you the ability to go with a group. Which can be so helpful.
11. Visit Local Parks
Parks are my go-to summer outing with my kids. There are a handful of local parks we visit on a rotating basis almost every week of the summer.
Playing at the park rarely gets old. There's play equipment for kids, benches to sit on, picnic tables, walking trails. Multiple activities for kids even if you return to the same parks over and over.
Plus parks are often a great place for your kids to find playmates when they are missing the social time they get at school.
Beyond walk paths, sometimes it's fun to tackle an actual hike with your kids during the summer. This is for kids who are beyond the stroller stage and ready to walk. Keeping in mind that most hikes involve some rough trails and elevation changes.
Make sure to choose a hike that fits you and your child's physical abilities. There are books and websites dedicated to finding kid-friendly hikes (most are area-specific so do a quick internet search to find the best ones near you).
13. Mini Golf
Got a mini-golf course near you? Mini-golf can be a lot of laughs with kids if no one is taking it too seriously.
Give it a try with your kids this summer when you need something a little different to do. But watch out for those swinging clubs!
You can also put some bacon on a string and see if you can get some crawdads to land on it and reel them in.
Or you can buy a few of those kid's fishing poles with little rubber fish attached to the end and let your kids reel that toy fish in over and over again. If your kids are younger than about age five, this is the way to go!
It's easy and the kids will have a blast.
15. Splash Pad
Splash pads or splash parks have become more popular and more common over the last few years. Water activities are always a great summer idea for kids on hot days.
Many splash pads are located in city parks but some are pay to play. Ask around or do a few internet searches to find out about the splash parks near you!
Your kids can run around getting splashed, running under water, and using mounted water shooters to cool off, hopefully, while you watch from a safe (and dry) distance unless you're ready to get wet.
16. Summer Holiday Events, Fairs, Festivals & Parades
No time of year is better than summer for taking your kids to fairs, festivals, parades, and all of that fun stuff. State and county fairs can be fun for the whole family. And kids of any age will find something to enjoy. The cost of a fair can add up though, so have a budget in mind and try to stick to it.
Also, check out any local festivals, farmers markets, or other family-friendly events with your kids.
Fourth of July events like rodeos, firework shows, and parades are also fun. Find the best stuff going on near you and put it on your calendar.
Summer is a great time to find a volunteer project you can do with your kids. Everything from beach cleanups to helping out at your town's Fourth of July celebration can be volunteer opportunities.
This is a summer activity ideally suited for tweens and teens. So, find out what local projects welcome young volunteers and sign up!
Geocaching is a real-life outdoor treasure hunt your kids (and you) can take on with just your smartphone and some enthusiasm.
I knew nothing about it until I happened to live near a place someone hid a geocache and I saw kids checking it out. And it didn't take me long to see why they thought it was so much fun.
If you're interested in getting started geocaching with your family, this is a great article on geocaching with kids to find out the details you need to get started with this fun outdoor family activity.
Places to Find Summer Activities for Kids on Rainy Day
The reality of summer is that the season doesn't guarantee good weather for being outdoors. So it's a good idea to have some activities in mind for your kids on summer days when it rains or even when the weather is too hot to be outside.
Check out these indoor outing ideas for kids this summer.
19. Check Out a Local Museum
Museums, especially those designed for kids or that are at least kid-friendly, can be a fun activity for a summer day indoors.
Check your area for science museums, art museums, children's museums, and any variety of museum attraction your kids would like to check out.
20. Find an Indoor Playground or Activity Center
Many big cities, but also some small ones have indoor playgrounds for kids. Check prices before you go because some are expensive. But it can be worth it for your kids to get the chance to be active on not-so-nice weather days.
If there isn't an indoor playground near you, look for playgroups that meet in church gyms, or sometimes the parks and recreation department in your area will host an indoor playgroup. Near me, there is a gymnastics school that has open gym a few times a month.
Or, see my suggestion below about heading to McDonald's Playland.
21. Indoor Pool or Water Park
There is every chance your kids can still go swimming this summer even if the weather is bad. Many city pools are indoors so they can be used year-round. And there are even water parks that are completely or partially indoors.
So, go swim! You won't even need sunscreen!
22. Library Activities & Summer Reading Program
This is one of my favorite summer activities for kids! Sign up for the summer reading program at your local public library. Often they give welcome packets with coupons or calendars with kid-friendly events.
Every summer our local library has puppet-shows, musicians, magicians, and reptile experts for kids to come and see. So, check in with your library and see what they have going on for local kids this summer.
23. Craft Store Classes
My kids love to make crafts. But I am not always the best at coming up with ideas. And sometimes, I'll be honest, the mess kind of gets to me.
I was super excited when I discovered that Michaels craft stores in my area offer kids craft classes during the summer for only a few dollars.
If your kids love to craft, but you would rather they craft on someone else's turf, see what your local craft stores offer for kids this summer.
24. McDonald’s Playland
When all else fails to entertain my kids on a rainy day, I take them to McDonald's Playland. There are usually other kids to play with. They can be active, we're out of the house. It checks a lot of boxes for me.
25. Visit an Aquarium
Aquariums are typically indoors and most kids LOVE them. See if there is one near you and take your kids to check out the fish and other water creatures.
If there are no aquariums in your area, consider visiting a pet store with an impressive fish display.
26. Laser Tag or Arcade
Tweens and teens will probably love visiting an arcade this summer and playing a few rounds of laser tag. I'll admit it's not always my first choice. But it can be fun and a good way to pass the afternoon on a rainy summer day.
27. The Movies
No matter what the weather, definitely take your kids to movies this summer! Check local theaters for kids movies on the cheap during the daytime this summer.
And try some unique movie experiences. Check for movies in the park or take your family to the drive-in. Summer movie magic for everyone!
28. Restaurant for Lunch
Sometimes you just need to get out of the house. And treating your kids to lunch can be a fun treat during the summer.
McDonald's does possibly include a Playland, so that's always a good option. Or Dairy Queen so you can top lunch off with ice cream.
It doesn't have to be fancy (and probably shouldn't be if your kids behave like mine in restaurants) but it can be a fun summer treat with your kids.
Summer Activities for Kids at Home
Outdoor Summer Activities for Kids at Home
Summer doesn't need to be spent in the car every day driving from one activity to another. There are plenty of ways for kids to have fun during the summer in their own backyard!
29. Backyard Scavenger Hunt (or Neighborhood)
Speaking of your backyard, how about creating a backyard scavenger hunt for your kids? Or even a neighborhood one if your kids are allowed to walk your area more freely.
This can be as simple or as challenging as makes sense for your kids. You can get my free printable Backyard Scavenger Hunt using the form below. Or use it as a jumping off point for creating your own.
30. Bike Ride
If you're lucky enough to live somewhere your kids can safely ride their bikes, strap on some helmets and go for a ride around the neighborhood.
31. Start a Garden
Starting a garden can be an outdoor project for your kids that lasts all summer long. Grow vegetables for your table or flowers for fun. Maybe your kids will just dig around in the dirt. It's all in good fun.
If you need some help getting started, check out this article on starting a garden with kids.
Sidewalk chalk is one of my go-to activities for kids outside. It's easy and cheap and the chalk can last for multiple uses.
33. Camp Out in the Backyard
Want to make the most of a summer at home with your kids? Try a campout in the backyard! I have super fun memories from childhood of setting up a tent in the backyard and sleeping out on a summer night.
Your kids will love the adventure and fun of sleeping outside.
34. Backyard Water Toys (Sprinklers, Kiddie Pool, Water Shooters, etc)
Turn your backyard into a mini-waterpark on hot summer days with some super fun water toys. Set up a sprinkler, a slip and slide or a kiddie pool.
For a list of the best water toys for the backyard, check out my list here!
35. Water Balloon Fight
A water balloon fight is a super fun way to cool off in your backyard with kids. It doesn't have to be just a battle either. Try water balloon tosses or trying to hit targets.
36. Blowing Bubbles
Equal only to sidewalk chalk for fun outdoor activities that are easy to set up and enjoy, blowing bubbles is an absolute classic when it comes to outdoor summer fun.
37. Lemonade Stand
Want to help your kids learn a little something about entrepreneurship this summer? Help them set up and run a lemonade stand.
38. Outdoor Games (Tag, Kick the Can, Foot Races)
One of my favorite ways to enjoy a summer day at home was getting some friends together for outdoor games like tag, kick the can, or racing across the yard.
Think back to your favorite games from childhood and teach them to your kids and their friends this summer.
39. Bird Watching
Teach your kids about the nature that exists all around us. Bird watching can sound a little dull at first. But get your kids a guide to local birds with pictures and help them start identifying your feathered backyard residents and they'll start to get a kick out of it.
40. Bug Collecting or Frog Catching
If bird watching doesn't catch on with your kids or you've already spotted all the birds, try a bug hunt. Or look for frogs. Or find whatever creatures and critters make their home in your backyard.
My kids look for everything from frogs to worms to snails. And they are delighted with each discovery.
41. Take a Neighborhood Walk
There is no need to plan a major hike to do some exploring. Set off on a walk in your own neighborhood. See what there is to see right outside your door.
42. Backyard Picnic
Break up a long summer day by moving lunch or dinner outside. Set up a table or picnic spot in the backyard and enjoy a meal in the fresh air.
Rainy Day Activities for Kids at Home on Summer Days
For those summer days when getting outside isn't part of the plan, check out these indoor activities for kids at home this summer.
43. Board Games & Cards
Board games and card games are a great way to spend time with your kids any time of year. And they can be a fun way to pass a day inside this summer.
44. Movie Day
If there is nothing good at the theater or you don't feel like leaving the house, enjoy a movie day of family favorites at home this summer.
45. Play Dough/Slime/Oobleck
Call it sensory play or just call it a mess, kids love play dough, slime, oobleck or other textury play goops. Make your own or buy it at the store.
It's a fun go-to activity for kids to do inside during the summer (or take that mess outside when the weather allows!)
46. Homemade Ice Cream
Summer means ice cream, right? So, if you're spending the day at home, why not make your own. You can use an ice cream machine or make it in a bag with this recipe.
47. Summer Crafts
Hit up your local craft store or dollar store for craft supplies and let your kids make their own summer-themed crafts!
Pinterest is full of craft ideas. Or I always like a nice craft kit from a craft store where your kids can do most of the work themselves.
There is always crayons, paper, scissors, and glue and just tell your kids to see what they come up with. It's all about creativity.
48. Bake Cookies
Baking projects are a fun way to spend time with your kids, teach them useful skills, and then enjoy a tasty treat at the end of it.
Pull out your favorite cookie recipes and make some treats to enjoy as a family.
49. Make Homemade Popsicles or Snow Cones
If the thought of turning on the stove on a hot summer day is not appealing, consider making popsicles or shaved ices instead.
It's nice if you have a machine for shaved ice. You don't have to wait like you do with homemade popsicles in molds.
This is the shaved ice machine I use. It's not fancy but I've had it over 5 years and we still use it every summer.
50. Dance Party
Stuck inside with kids that need to burn off some energy? Sounds like it's time for a dance party! Turn on your kids' favorite music and let everyone get the wiggles out!
51. Improvised Indoor Games
There are plenty of ways to help your kids burn off energy indoors with simple games and activities. These can be anything from pretending to walk like animals to creating an obstacle course with tape and string in your living room.
To see my complete list of ideas for physical activities for kids indoors, check out this post!
Summer Activities for Kids (& Moms)
Take advantage of long summer days to plan some fun activities for your family this summer. Whether you want to make the most of your summer weekends with your kids or are trying to fill up the days as a stay-at-home mom, I hope you can use these ideas to create some summer fun with your kids this year!