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30 free summer activities that the whole family can enjoy all season long

In need of fun things to do with your kids once school's out? Look no further.

You were once a kid, so you know how it goes: You look forward to summer only to find that you’re bored — a lot. Your little ones are likely experiencing the same thing right about now. So, maybe they’re spending their days scrolling on their tablets and smartphones to pass the time, which of course isn’t the greatest way to make the most of summer.

Instead, propose some boredom-busting, fun summer activities that you can all do together as a family. And since summer can be an expensive season between road trips, hosting parties, and back-to-school shopping, your wallet can breathe easy since most of these activities are completely free.

Some of these activities can be done right at home, which is especially helpful if you’d like to squeeze in some summer merriment at the end of a workday or during a busy weekend. It can be as easy as heading to your backyard and getting inventive with outdoor games your little ones won’t soon forget. But if you have a free day, stack several activities together for a packed day of fun.

Ahead, find 30 things to do this summer that’ll make “I’m bored” a thing of the past.

Hike a local park

Explore the trails of a nearby park that you may have not visited together as a family yet. Take in pretty scenery, bring your dog along and don’t forget to make a stop at the playground, too.  

Look for fireflies

Whether it’s your backyard, a field or a wooded area that you drive to (fireflies love to hang out in dark spots or in fields of corn), viewing fireflies is a surefire way to create some magic on a summer evening.  

Create chalk drawings

Get out the sidewalk chalk and have an art competition right in your driveway. Have your kids each make a masterpiece and vote on the best work of art, then give out treats or prizes to each kid because they’re all winners.

Go stargazing

Find a spot that’s far away from city lights and streetlamps and do some stargazing. You can even download a free app that will identify the constellations in the sky. Be on the lookout for shooting stars, too.  

Make up a new game

Have your little ones come up with a brand-new game to play outside, using items from around the house or nothing at all for a true challenge.  

Bike somewhere new

Have some summertime fun on two wheels and head to a bike path your family hasn’t tried before. For a little splurge, stop for ice cream along the way, too.  

Enjoy a free concert

Many communities put on free concerts, from blues to acoustic rock to back-to-back covers. Pile up the kids, bring along lawn chairs and don’t forget snacks so you can make the most of the event.  

Have a picnic

Enjoying a picnic is as easy as grabbing a basket and packing it with tasty eats from your own kitchen. Make lunch together as a family, then go to a park or even the backyard to eat al fresco.

Watch a fireworks show

Many fireworks shows are free, and even if they’re not, you can always park nearby to watch the sparkling display in the sky.

Collect rocks or seashells

Head outside and gather items from nature, everything from cool rocks to stunning seashells to beach glass. Just make sure it’s OK to take items from the place you’re visiting before going home!  

Read outside

Curl up in a hammock or snuggle up in a patio chair to do some reading outside — as a family or each on your own.  

Build a fort

Using sticks and blankets, create a cozy hideaway to escape the summer rain.

Wash the car

Although this may seem like a chore, washing the car as a family can be a lot of fun if you turn up some good music and have an occasional water fight.  

Identify native plants and flowers

Stroll through a nearby forest or garden and take in your surroundings. Download free apps like PictureThis to identify the names of the plants and flowers you come across.  

Make your own kite and fly it

It’s a piece of cake to build your own kite from items you have around the house. After it’s completed, head out on a windy day to an open area to see your kite in action.  

Go to the beach

If you have any beaches near you, make a day out of it with your family. Bring the inflatable toys, pack a lunch and build sandcastles in the summer sun.  

Camp in the backyard

Perhaps getting away for a camping trip isn’t in the cards this summer. That’s OK because you can camp out in the backyard for just as much fun! Set up the tent, tell ghost stories and make s’mores, even if you make them in the microwave.

Put on an outdoor play

Have your kids write their own script, create costumes and put on an original play right in your backyard. You’ll smile from ear to ear when you see what they’ve come up with.  

Try birdwatching

Pull out the binoculars and go to a natural area to see birds. Use a free app or visit your local Audubon Society website to learn about regional bird varieties, then watch from a safe distance as your little ones see your feathered friends in flight.

Go to summer programs at the library

Libraries become even more fun during summer since they put on tons of different events and programs. Go to story hour or take a free class for a summer afternoon that’s anything but boring.

Run through a sprinkler

For a classic summertime activity,, get out the sprinkler on a hot day and let your little ones have a blast.

Blow bubbles

Simple, timeless and even a bit magical, blowing bubbles is a quintessential thing to do during summer.

Watch the sunset

Find out the best spot in your area to take in the sunset, then time it just right to see the sun going down amid all those kaleidoscopic colors.  

Attend a parade

Whether it’s Memorial Day, the 4th of July or Labor Day, summer is packed with parades, making them a fun, free event that your whole family can enjoy.  

Take game night outside

Does your family love to play board games? Skip the dining room table and take your game night out on the patio for some friendly competition under the stars.  

Start a family book club

With all that extra time on their hands, your kids might enjoy reading a few new books this summer. Make it a family affair by reading the same book and meeting up to talk about it.

Tour your own city

Play tourist in your own hometown. Pick up a guidebook, learn about history and local architecture, and take yourself on a walking tour to learn more about the place you call home.

Take nature photos

During the summer, there are endless opportunities to capture nature in all its glory. Flowers, animals, sunsets — capture it all with your phone or camera.

Visit a free museum

No matter if you’re into art, history or science, you’re bound to find a museum in your area that taps into your interests or unlocks new ones. See if there’s one in your area that doesn’t charge for admission, then round up the family for a summer day of learning.(and air conditioning).

Paint summertime pictures

Ask your kids to paint or draw their absolute favorite thing about summer, then put them up on the fridge for some seasonal decor.