It’s the weekend or off school and it’s only a matter of time until you hear those two dreadful words from your young kids: “I’m bored.”
With perhaps a little eye-roll, you offer suggestions like “go play outside” or “read a book”, which they may just shrug off, looking for some new adventure.
When it comes to spending time as a family, those moments matter. Regardless of the age of your kids, enjoying the company of one another helps to cultivate memories that can last forever. And these moments don’t need to be expensive or extravagant. Often, it’s those small, seemingly insignificant activities that can bring the greatest influence and enjoyment for your kids.
Planning family activities doesn’t have to be stressful or take a lot of time. In fact, you probably have access to free or cheap family activities right in your own home or community.
Be ready with opportunities when your kids ask what there is to do. From warm and sunny weather to cold winter days, there are activities for all seasons. To help, here we share a list of 72 free or cheap family activities perfect for all ages.
Outdoor – Summer Activities
Visit a park – No matter where you live, you’re bound to find a park nearby with slides, swings and trails for exploring. Find one you’ve always gone to or discover something new.
Head to the beach – If you live near a lake or the ocean, find a beach with public access for an afternoon of soaking up the sun. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
Go fishing – Find a pond or lake, grab your lines and bait and head out to the water for some peaceful exploration.
Visit an outdoor concert – See what community events are going on in your area and find a concert to discover a favorite or new type of music your whole family will love.
Go camping – Whether you choose to visit a state park or just spread out tents in the backyard, celebrate the summer season with campfires and sleeping out under the stars.
Play a sport – Grab some water and head outside to play a sport like touch football, soccer, basketball, tennis and more. Choose a favorite of your family’s or try something new.
Pick up litter – Make it a game at a local park or your neighborhood to see how much trash you can collect to keep your environment clean.
Family picnic – Let your kids help pack up the basket and find a nearby park or grassy area for a fun meal outside.
Visit a farmers market – Let your kids pick out some fresh fruits or vegetables to try out at home.
Go stargazing – Grab some blankets and head outside after dark to see different constellations in the sky. Use free apps to help you find and point them out.
Visit an outdoor movie night – Check out local events going on, including free outdoor movie nights that are fun and great for all ages. Remember to bring snacks and blankets.
Make popsicles or ice cream – Cool off in the summer heat with sweet, frozen treats you can make at home for cheap.
Baseball game – Keep your eyes out for deals and promotions for cheaper ticket prices.
Have a water balloon fit – Get outside and run around as you dodge flying water balloons to cool off in the summer heat.
Tie-dye – Create unique and fun designs with this creative way to color a plain white t-shirt or bandana.
Visit a community pool – A great – and affordable – way to cool off in the summer heat.
Bike ride – Travel down a trail on two wheels with a family bike ride. Rent tandem bikes for a different kind of biking experience with the family. Make sure everyone wears a helmet.
Fly kites – Break out a kite or two on a windy day and have fun chasing it around.
Create an obstacle course – Set up barriers and things to climb or jump over in the backyard and time each member how fast they can travel through the course.
Campfire – Perfect for summer nights and fall evenings to roast marshmallows and tell stories.
Outdoor – Winter Activities
Sledding – Pack up the sleds – and snowboards if you’re brave enough – and find a snowy hill to bring delight for all ages.
Make hot chocolate – Don’t settle for pre-packaged mixes but create a new warm drink combination that matches each person’s preferences.
Build a snowman – Put that snow to good use with rolling it up and adding a hat and nose to bring your friend to life.
Construct a snow fort – Put all that snow to good use by heading outdoors and designing and constructing a fort made of snow. Once it’s built, hang out in the fort and warm up with hot cocoa.
Shovel driveways – Help out your neighborhood and work together to remove snow from other people’s driveways and sidewalks.
Take winter photos – Capture the beauty of winter with your kids in taking photos out in the snow. Encourage your kids to find good photo opportunities as well.
Ice skating – Tie those laces tight and head out to a skating-approved pond or indoor rink for a fun family time.
Snowshoeing – Rent or borrow these snow-appropriate shoes and explore some trails in a new way.
Make a jump – Create your own “sledding hill” in your backyard with piles of snow to sled, slide or snowboard down.
Play with beach toys in the snow – Who says those shovels, rakes and buckets only work for sand? Create your own snow-castles and sculptures as a family.
Color the snow – Make a mix of food color and water in a spray bottle and “spray paint” the snow.
Sports in the snow – Try playing football or soccer in the snow-covered grass for an extra challenge.
Visit a library – Let your kids explore new book genres and start reading on their own terms in the welcoming environment of your local library.
Go bowling – Find deals at your local lanes for an affordable venture out on a family activity.
Volunteer – Find a food pantry, community clean up event or other volunteer opportunity, and get your kids involved in the act of giving back.
Go thrifting – Explore the treasures at your local thrift shop with your family. Find a new board game to play, a fun outfit to sport or a new set of decorations.
Go to a movie – If there’s a movie that came out that you all want to see, go in the afternoon or morning for cheaper ticket prices.
Mini golf – Enjoy a miniature version of this popular sport, great for all ages.
Arcade – Let your kids spend some of their quarters and rack up tickets for prizes at your local arcade. Play against each other for an added level of competition and fun.
Restaurant play area – Go out for a quick snack at a fast food location and then burn some energy in the play area.
Roller skating – Listen to great music and skate fast or slow with the whole family.
Make a Target run – Pick up those small items you’ve been meaning to get and end up with a cart full of new things to do.
Visit a yoga class – Find a family-friendly yoga class to explore a different kind of exercise activity. Many community centers and organizations may offer these classes for free or cheap.
Cook something new – Let your kids pick out a new recipe to try and get them involved in preparing food for lunch or dinner.
Paper airplane contest – See who can craft the most aerodynamic paper plane.
Bake cookies – Find new recipes and decorations to bring delight now and later.
Create a movie – Use your phone to record the actors in your family and compile a home video that is directed and written by your whole family.
Board game marathon – Fuel the competitive side of your family with a board game contest. Let everyone pick their favorite games to play together.
Play with legos – Create a mini city that requires everyone’s input and planning in construction.
Bake and decorate a cake – Find a recipe everyone will love to bake; then decorate it together.
Create puzzles to solve – From crosswords to word searches to mazes, let your kids create their own puzzles and pass them to others for them to solve.
Learn a musical instrument – Gather up the family band and learn how to play an instrument or two from watching YouTube videos or having someone come in to teach you.
Have a talent show – Let your kids showcase their special talents in a fun and encouraging show. Be sure to cheer each other on in whatever they perform.
Video game tournament – Get the whole family involved in a game you all love. From MarioKart to sports games, include everyone to make it a fun activity for all.
Make cards – Let your kids be creative and then send those cards to bring joy to people in nursing homes or hospitals.
Card game tournament – Shuffle up those decks and plan a competitive tournament of your family’s favorite card game.
Trivia contest – Test your – and your kids’ – knowledge with a DIY trivia game.
Collect clothing donations – Encourage your kids to go through their closets and find clothes, toys and other items they want to donate to your local charity.
Build a fort – Gather up all the blankets and pillows you can find and construct a cozy space for watching movies and telling stories together.
Make homemade pizzas – Whip up something new for dinner with make-it-yourself pizzas. Prep all the toppings and let your family create their own pizza designs made exactly how they want.
Spa day – Get everyone involved in an at-home spa day with facials, painting nails and relaxing.
Create a paint studio – Channel the inner creative artist within all of us and paint canvases together. Choose from watercolor or acrylic paints depending on the age and skill level of your family.
Visit a museum – Check out free or discount days at your local art or public museum. Let your kids explore and maybe just learn something new, too.
Watch a documentary – Search for free documentaries that are age-appropriate for your kids. They may find a topic they’re passionate about and want to explore more.
Play teacher – Let your kids teach you something about a topic they’re interested in or want to learn more about.
Visit historical sites – If you have national monuments or other historical sites in your area, take a trip to see and learn about them as a family.
Start a rock collection – Bring out the inner geologists in your kids and help them find and learn more about rocks they find in nearby parks or trails.
Try out a science experiment – Fuel your kids’ curiosity and allow them to try out a new at-home science experiment like combining vinegar and baking soda. Just ensure the “testing lab” is a safe environment.
Write poems – See who can come up with the most creative poem. Bonus points if your kids can identify what parts of speech and poetic devices are included.
Start a garden – Let your kids pick out the flowers, vegetables and herbs to grow in the backyard or on the windowsill.
Check out the zoo – Schedule out discount days or deals at your local zoo and take a trip to see and learn about all kinds of animals and their habitats.
Learn a new craft – Check out Pinterest creations or YouTube videos to learn how to make a new kind of craft, such as knitting, origami or paper maché.
Read – Let your kids pick out the books they want to read and spend dedicated time reading together.
Savor Family Moments for Less
Cultivating family memories doesn’t have to be expensive. With these free or cheap family activities, you can grow closer as a family and enjoy the company of one another. No matter the age or interest of your kids, you can find great activities that are sure to bring delight to all. Be ready for when your kids tell you they’re bored and explore these fun family activities.