free things to do

5 Free Things to Do as a Family This Summer

Money can be a struggle, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun as a family. There are plenty of free things to do. When my wife and I had our first child our finances were especially tight. It was Fourth of July and we were sad because we had to find something free to do. Fortunately, we lived outside of Baltimore, so we took our son to Fort McHenry and had a picnic down by the water. To this day it remains one of my favorite Fourth of July’s.

The long summer vacation provides families with the perfect opportunity to create great memories together.

The long summer vacation provides families with the perfect opportunity to create great memories together. If your budget is tight, actually even if it’s not, here’s a list of 5 free things to do as a family this summer.

1. One tank trips.

Okay, the gas isn’t free. But the idea is and it’s a great way to make summer special without packing up for a vacation you might not be able to afford. Figure out how far you can go on a tank of gas and then draw a “half-tank” circle around your home. Now mark all the state parks, hiking trails, beaches, and other freebies within range. Take turns picking a destination and then do one per week for summer fun.

2. Summer-long game leagues & tournaments.

Scrabble. Monopoly. Life. Chess. Checkers. You know the classics. Include friends or extended family if they live nearby. Mix up game days with ongoing tournaments. Pair game days with other treats such as Homemade ice cream night, Taco Bar Tuesdays, or Old fashioned float day (use your imagination). The idea is to be deliberate about family and to carefully plan for together time.

3. Grandparent story-catching.

Arm the kids with notepads, cameras, and recorders; then spend time with each grandparent, catching their best stories for posterity. Decide the questions ahead of time, make the interview a special occasion, and make it a family project.

4. Volunteer at a local retirement community.

Talk with the activities director at a nearby retirement community and be creative about what you can do as a family. Crafts? Board games? Conversation? Simply listening? The gift of presence makes a huge impact, and the impact goes both ways. Make this a summer-long commitment.

5. Family movie marathons.

Set aside a theme night one evening a week. Pizza, popcorn, and a family-friendly adventure film. Check out iMOM’s movie monitor to see if the movies are family-friendly. Put out a blanket and eat on the floor. Make it special. The point is to experience this time together as a family. It’s about doing things different from your usual routine.

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “If you could do one thing this summer, what would it be?”