Go on a bike ride. A bike ride is great exercise for kids and grown-ups alike, the perfect way to explore the outdoors together, or to reach another destination for more fun and activity.
Take a hike. Hiking is a great workout and a way to explore more interesting scenery than your family will find along a path or sidewalk. Put on some good shoes, grab some water, and hit the trails together! Never hike alone.
Go swimming. Visit a community pool or a nearby lake or river for some summer fun in the water. Be sure to heed any safety warnings.
Fly a kite. Let the wind be your adventure; go fly a kite!
Visit a nature center. Park systems often have nature centers that offer free educational programs, as well as sites to explore nature and wildlife.
Go to the zoo. If your zoo isn’t free every day, inquire about special events or other programs that might be.
Pitch a tent. You and your kids don’t have to go far to enjoy a change of scenery. Consider pitching a tent in your backyard. Don’t forget the camping adventures like cooking out, roasting s’mores, playing flashlight tag, and telling spooky stories!
Go stargazing. There’s amazing beauty right above you most nights! Lay down a blanket and look up at the stars together. Try to recognize different constellations in the sky. If there’s an observatory or planetarium in your community, ask if they offer free events.
Feed the ducks or birds. Go through your kitchen cabinets, fridge, and freezer. Oats, corn, defrosted peas or corn, and limp lettuce are more healthful than old bread or crackers. Your can encourage wild birds to your garden by scattering seeds and, especially in winter, by making easy ‘fat cakes’.
Visit the library. Learning is right around the corner at your local library! Many libraries have story-time and other free programs for kids.
Start a community book club. Bring together neighbors to share favorite books, reading insights, and to inspire reading and learning. This activity is especially useful to keep your kids reading and fulfill summer reading requirements.
Start a social club. Find a common interest among friends and neighbors, and organize a social club.
Play cards. A stack of cards can keep kids busy for hours with simple or more complex games.
Play board games. These are great on rainy days or in the evenings. If you don’t have a board game, let your kids make one. Checkers is an easy option to make at home.
Learn how to juggle. You just need a few balls or other soft, small objects – and lots of practice!
Enjoy a free concert. Many communities have free concert series for kids and/or adults. Look to musical venues and parks for listings.
Visit a museum. Check with nearby museums to inquire about free programs for kids and adults. Also, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch credit or debit cardholders receive free tickets to a number of museums around the country on the first Saturday of every month. Check out the Bank of America Museums on US program for more details.
Be a photographer. Practice and develop photography skills, perhaps using an old camera if you’re teaching your kids. Look in advance at photography of similar scenery, encouraging how to correctly focus, frame, and capture an image.
Learn some new jokes. Teach your kids new jokes, or learn new ones together by searching online or visiting a local library.
Learn magic. Magic is fun at any age. Try looking online for easy or more complicated magic tricks that you and your kids can try at home. Once learned, you can dazzle family and friends!
Go on a picnic. Pack a meal and go on an adventure. Meals can be so much more fun in the park, woods, by a lake, stream or river, or even just in your own backyard.
Garden. Buying a few seeds can create a full summer of gardening activities, teaching yourself and your kids how to grow, tend, and harvest a garden. Growing herbs, fruit or vegetables doubles the fun, as your family and friends get to enjoy eating what you grow.
Paint garden rocks. Find some medium sized rocks and your kids can paint them with faces and designs. They can then be used as indoor or outdoor ornaments, and are a much prettier way of labelling plants than the cheap plastic tabs that plants often come with.
Pick flowers. Your kids can pick flowers from your back yard to make a bouquet to enjoy at home or give to someone as a gift. You can also teach your kids how to dry the flowers or press them for long-term enjoyment.
Go fishing. Spending a day on the water can be fun, and you might just have dinner for free! Note that most states require a license to fish public waters, and remember to teach your kids basic water safety.
Learn origami. Search online for fun origami tutorials, and learn how to fold, design, and create paper shapes and sculptures.
Watch a free movie. Free movies are available on TV (remember the popcorn!). You can also check local listings for community showings in large parks and other venues, particularly during summer. Movie theaters might also offer cheap kid options throughout the year.
Making crafts. You can either use store-bought craft materials, or get creative with items around your house. There are plenty of online suggestions to encourage creativity.
Make a scrapbook or collage. Gather memorable or interesting photos and make your own collage or scrapbook, capturing fun memories for years to come.
Paint. Try painting with fingers or brushes; or, get really adventurous by creating your own Jackson Pollock (the artist known for abstract drip paintings) by splattering paint on an old sheet, canvas, or large board.
Play charades. This is a fun activity that can be made age-appropriate for almost any age. You can buy a game or an app, or come up with your own list of challenges. Get ready to have fun and laugh!
Bake and cook together. An afternoon spent in the kitchen can support math and reading skills, as your kids help you measure, mix, and create treats or a meal for family and friends. It can be as simple as baking cookies, or as advanced as preparing a gourmet meal.
Play your own version of Pictionary. Your family doesn’t need to own the game. You can simply use paper, pens, and a free internet Pictionary word generator list.
Play a trivia game. Have your kids challenge each other or friends with trivia questions, keeping tally of scores, maybe even on a difficulty point system like ‘Jeopardy’.
Visit a pet store or Humane Society Shelter. If your or your kids love animals, go to a local pet store or shelter to enjoy some furry (or not-so-furry) friends. Be sure to warn your kids in advance that this is like going to a mini zoo, and that no pets are coming home today (unless that’s part of your plan). Also, consider volunteering.
Learn a language. Ask your public library if it offers any free programs. Alternatively, check out YouTube for online lessons in whatever language you or your kids find interesting.
Travel the world from the comfort of your own home. You can learn so much about the world through the Internet. Look at a world map, then choose a different city or country to ‘visit’. Look at pictures and learn about its culture, history, currency, language, major attractions, and more. Perhaps even consider a traditional meal from the area, by preparing a meal together at home, or by eating out.
People watch. This might sound terrible, but just observing people in public settings can be interesting. You can just sit and watch people, or you can make it more creative and fun by coming up with stories about what’s going on in their lives.
Fix something. One of the best ways to learn is by fixing something. Some people go to garage sales specifically to look for things that they and their kids can fix. You can learn new skills, and might even be inspired towards a career in engineering, fashion design, construction, or more.
Learn a skill. Home Depot offers free weekly workshops teaching various skills and techniques for everyone; check online for workshops near you, and for registration options.
Exercise and get fit. There are plenty of healthy activities you or your kids can enjoy without going to the gym. Go walking, running, hiking, biking, jump rope, play tag, do push-ups … the list goes on.
Be sure to look at our list of Free Activities for Kids to get more ideas for your kids, family, and friends!