Summer Fun with the Kids - Plan Some Inexpensive Family Fun for Summer

By Jennifer Hill Macaroni KID Fremont Publisher April 10, 2024

Before summer arrives I like to sit down with my kids and talk about some ideas of we would like to do during summer break. We make a list and highlight ones that seem really important. Then we pull out a calendar where I've already added any scheduled travel, appointments, and camps and see what we can make happen. 

You don't have to have a large budget to have a fun summer. There are many free or low-cost ideas and activities out there. Plus, the Macaroni KID event calendar is FULL of local family fun as well.

Here are some free or inexpensive ideas to get you started, or fill in the gaps. Whatever you choose to do, make some memories and have some fun with the kids!

Visit Local Parks
We have so many great parks to explore. Different playgrounds, walking trails, and more. Check out the Parks and Playground Guide and visit a different one each week all summer long.

DIY Crafts
Use recycled materials or items collected from nature (tip: take a bag on a hike and find some great items to use) and create some crafts such as nature collages, bird feeders, and rock painting. Here are 7 Art Projects Kids Can Do Using Rocks, Sticks, and Other Natural Objects.

Take a Hike... or Two
Check out the Hiking Guide for some fun options to get everyone moving. 

Backyard Camping
This is an easier option (or go all out and plan a camping trip) that will make the kid's summer! Pitch a tent in the backyard and enjoy checking out the stars, telling stories around a fire pit, and don't forget to roast some marshmallows.

Scavenger Hunt
This can be simple or elaborate. Plan one for indoors if the weather is unbearably hot or raining. Plan for one at the park or while hiking and exploring. There's no limit to themes and ideas for scavenger hunts. Here is a free printable for a nature scavenger hunt and a free printable for a photo scavenger hunt for teens and tweens to get you started.

Visit a Splash Pad or Pool
Check out the Staying Cool Guide to find local splash pads and pools to visit.

Go Geocaching
Combine this one with your planned hiking trip or bike ride and enjoy a treasure hunt with the kids. Find out how to get started here.

Outdoor Movie Night
Check the Macaroni KID event calendar for local community events or organize your own outdoor movie night in the yard for your family and friends - invite the neighbors too! You can even create your own backyard movie night cars!

Visit the Library
Did you know the local libraries host free events all year long? From storytime events and crafts to movies and themed activities. Be in the know - you guessed it - by checking the Macaroni KID event calendar!

Bike Rides
Get the kids out there on their bikes. If they aren't ready to ride along the Alameda County Creek Trail, find a park with a nice path or other area with room to ride and enjoy bicycling. Stop at the ice cream shop for a fun, and sweet, treat

Community Events
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy local festivals, fairs, farmers markets, and outdoor concerts. You can check the Farmers Markets Guide and Outdoor Concert Guide to plan some fun outings and the Macaroni KID event calendar as well.

Outdoor Games
Teach the kids those childhood favorites such as Red Light, Green Light and Mother May I or gather the neighborhood kids for a fun game of tag, hide-and-seek, or kickball.

Science and STEAM Fun
There are lots of simple science experiments and activities you can do with the kids (or set them up to do on their own if they are old enough - tip: a table in the backyard is perfect for potential messes). Some of our fun ones include 5 Fun Experiments Kids Can Do with Candy, A DIY Density Tower that Will Amaze and Teach Kids, and Make Ice Cream in a Bag in Just 15 Minutes!

Involve the kids in planting a small garden - or even a few pots - with veggies or flowers. Our kids love finding blueberries on the bushes to eat! Here are 3 Themed Vegetable Gardens Kids Will Love to Grow - and Eat.

Splash in a Creek or Stream
Check out the Guide to Bay Area Creeks and Streams and spend the day cooling off in nature while they splash and play.

Have a Picnic
Kids love anything out of the norm. Eating a picnic lunch at the park or anywhere other than at the kitchen table is sure to be a hit. Pack a lunch and pick a place and GO!

Community Service
Volunteer together as a family for community clean-up events, food drives, or other local opportunities to give back to the community. Keep an eye on the Macaroni KID event calendar as we add the family-friendly volunteer opportunities there.

These activities provide opportunities for kids to have fun, learn, and bond with family and friends without spending a lot of money while enjoying summer break. Enjoy your summer adventures!