Fun Activities to Do With Your Child This Summer

Summer is right around the corner! While Americans typically think of beach vacations as the best use of summer, you can have plenty of fun without even leaving your city! With some planning and intentionality, you can make this a summer to remember! 

Planning: The Key to a Fun Summer

At the beginning of summer vacation, you feel like you have all the time in the world. Before you know it, the first day of school is rapidly approaching and you wish you had used your time more wisely. Take advantage of your summer break with just a little planning!

First Things First

Put the big items on your calendar first: vacations, day trips, visiting family, or other out-of-town trips. Summer camps can be a week or more out of your summer vacation, so these need to be scheduled in advance. 

Reach out to friends and family for playdates. Friends have schedules, too! So if you plan on meeting with a friend, put these playdates on the calendar early. 

Summer Work

Summer is about fun, but work (both your job and special projects) still needs to get done. Write out some household or yard projects, planning for no more than one a week. 

The extra time of summer is an excellent opportunity to include your child in special projects! Let them help you paint the fence in the yard, plant or weed the garden, or hang pictures on the wall. Putting these special projects on the calendar will help you feel accomplished at the end of the summer. 

Consider Local Events

Once you have planned the big items on your calendar, you can fill in the gaps with fun local things to do. 

Social media pages, local news sources or magazines, and neighborhood bulletins can help discover local events, new parks, parades, and more! You can also search for “summer events near me” in a search engine.

Leave Time for Rest

When planning your summer activities, be sure to schedule regular breaks. Your child shouldn’t return to school exhausted from their summer break–if they are, they may struggle when school starts. Schedule a few days off a week for leisure and to recover from busy activities. Consider your child’s personality and whether they need more alone time to recharge versus social children. 

Ready for some fun and free summer activity ideas? Here are our favorites!

Your Local Library

If you haven’t discovered the resources in your neighborhood library, summer is the perfect time! Most libraries have weekly scavenger hunts, baby to kindergarten story times, arts and crafts events, culinary events, LEGO play dates, science experiments, and so much more! 

Many libraries have reading challenges where kids can win prizes. These help children stay motivated, improve their reading skills, and keep their brains sharp during the academic break. 

Most library events are free and require no registration, so they are the perfect last-minute activity to add to your calendar. 

Backyard Campout

Camping provides many wonderful childhood memories. But many of us don’t want to pack up our whole house or forfeit indoor plumbing. When you camp in your own backyard, you have the best of both worlds!

Children are just as delighted with pitching a tent, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows over a campfire, and stargazing in their backyard as they are in the middle of the forest. Backyard camping is a low-risk activity because if things don’t go well, you can just go inside! But if your child loves camping, you can try an official campground later. 

Watch an Outdoor Movie

Going to the movies can be expensive and you’re limited to what you can watch. But with just a projector, a big sheet, a speaker, and some blankets and pillows, you can have a memorable outdoor movie experience!

Invite over some friends or keep it small; go all out with a candy and s’mores bar or just pop some popcorn. The details are up to you! Either way, your kids will love watching their favorite movie outside.

Nature Hike and Picnic Lunch

There’s only so much video gaming and television watching that a kid can (or should!) do in the summer. While technology has its place, summer is the main time schoolchildren have to explore outdoors for a great length of time. These opportunities should be taken advantage of!

Pack a picnic lunch and find a local hiking trail. Many parks in your area have walking paths or easy hiking trails. Even better, pick a park that has a splash pad and pack a swimsuit to cool off after your hike!

To make your nature hike more engaging and educational, bring along a bird or insect identification guide, print out a scavenger hunt page, or bring along a bag or cup to collect interesting nature items and flowers for a bouquet. 

Water Fun Four Free Ways

Children of all ages love to play in the water, even if it’s just splashing in a shallow pool. While adults typically think of swimming in a pool as the main summer activity, this isn’t always possible from a time and financial standpoint. But that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on water fun! Here are some easy ways to enjoy water activities:

  • Splash Pads: Many local parks have splash pads in addition to their playground equipment. For extra fun and creativity, bring some plastic cups or bath toys.
  • Water Balloon Fight: There are countless ways to enjoy water balloons on a hot day: games, races, battles, and more! Make it a neighborhood event or keep it small–either way, it’s sure to delight your children!
  • Sprinkler: This old-fashioned backyard water fun never goes out of style! While there are hundreds of colorful blow-up sprinklers, any yard sprinkler would do!   
  • Squirt Guns: Another favorite that never gets old! Similar to a water balloon fight, you can make a squirt gun battle a social event or keep them handy for when boredom strikes. 

Have a Nature Evening

Nature is full of beauty and magic at night, but children are often sleeping by the time it gets dark. But one night, plan a special night to soak up all the beauty and enjoyment of nature, even if it goes past their bedtime:

  • Watch the sunset
  • Catch fireflies
  • Stargaze on a night with a full moon
  • Find the constellations

No matter what your summer plans include, there’s always time to make memories with your children that will last a lifetime!