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10 Frugal Ideas for Family Time

Enjoy a not-so-bummer summer with these 10 frugal ideas for family time. Making great family memories for summer doesn’t have to break the bank. Some ideas are more exciting than others, but each is sure to help you create memories of summer that you can share together for years to come. What’s better than fun ideas for family time? Fun, frugal ideas for family time!

frugal family summer fun


Get off to a great start this summer: 

1. Hit the water. If you live near beaches or lakes, it’s a great time to get out and swim or to go for family walks. In our area, it’s much cooler for an evening stroll, unless we’re in the water! Check local and county pools for “Family Fun Nights” – often you’ll find they set up movie screens and give out popcorn or let you bring your own. State and local parks have free and affordable swimming in many locations. Some include tubing in cool springs and rivers and other exciting adventures. Often you can find frugal canoe or kayak rental (around $20 at state and local parks) to try something a bit more exciting.  It’s a great way to try a new water sport before investing in equipment.

family canoeing

2. Backyard Fun. Set up your own water park. Look for a clearance sale to pick up an inexpensive slip-n-slide or get out the hula-hoops and set up the sprinklers. Water gun fights and water balloon games make for fun and inexpensive back yard water park fun. Get creative and set up a water obstacle course!

3. Visit museums. The Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) has a list of participating museums. Join your local participating center and then gain FREE access to some 300+ across the country. Next time you visit grandma or if you take a road trip this summer, plan to stop  and explore new science and history museums that you find on the ASTC list.

Don’t forget to ask if your local museum gives discounts for homeschool families. We saved $50 out of $100 when we joined our local museum, by using our free homeschool ID from Homeschool Buyers Co-op. I would not have known the discount was available, as it was not advertised, but when I asked, they surely did have a 50% off discount available – special for homeschoolers!

visit museums for free

4. Summer programs. Check with your local museums and organizations about special summer programs and free family fun projects. Often times, they will have special nights or weekends set aside with an extra dose of fun planned. Libraries and community centers are also great local resources for summer programs. One year we won an entire set of World Book Encyclopedias while participating in a local library reading adventure!

5. Vacation Bible School. VBS is a great experience each summer and is a chance to volunteer or let your kids help and share Jesus with others. Church  picnics and ice cream socials are also frequently planned during summer time and can be a great way to connect with more friends and enjoy fellowship with other Christians. It is a wonderful way for families to serve together during the summer.

6. Dollar movies. They used to be free, but most places now charge a dollar – still a great deal for a summer movies with the kids. Even though they are movies that have been out for a time already, they may be new to you, or worth watching again for the price. Best of all, you get to enjoy the full “at the movies” experience together.  Joining movie clubs can save money on popcorn and drinks and earn points towards free tickets. Check Regal Cinemas Summer Movie Express for a location near you.

7. Homeschool days. Check parks in your area  (or in an area where you will be visiting this summer) to see if they have special discount days for homeschool families. LEGOLAND is a perfect example. They even have a water-park for an added fee. On special homeschool days during the summer, students can get in for $10 per ticket (instead of the usual $62 each) and adult chaperons are only $25. That is a HUGE savings over the regular prices, especially for such a big adventure. If the theme parks in your area don’t provide homeschool days or discounts, consider requesting that they do so, and ask others in your local support group to call or email with the same request. Maybe they need to know what a great resource the homeschool community can be in sharing their park with others!

Legoland Homeschool Days

8. Festivals. Music festivals and others with free admission can make for terrific summer fun. Bring a picnic and chairs or blanket and get there early to get a spot in the shade. Local parks and online websites can be a terrific source to track down family friendly festivals.  You might even start a new annual family tradition.

9. FREE bowling. The nationwide Kids Bowl Free program and the AMF Free Kids Bowling are both options for a free family good time! AMF Summer bowling will give kids 3 free games every weekday. There are discounted options for adults to join the fun as well.

10. Family Summer Camp BPS. Bass Pro Shops have fun family activities planned from June 7 – July 13. Enjoy Free workshops on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The workshops will teach about topics such as water safety, archery, kayaking, hunting and more. Crafts on those days from 12 – 2 p.m. include creating a camp journal, coloring a wooden wiggle fish, and a wolf track.

*Bonus idea – Family Camping. If you haven’t yet tried a family camping trip, well, there’s no time like the present! There is something very special about sitting around the campfire, sharing stories and enjoying marshmallows. If you aren’t quite ready to jump in and try camping in the woods, try pitching a tent in the back yard. Last year, we dug a hole in the yard and lined it with large sea shells. It wasn’t a fancy fire pit, but it provided many hours of special family time nonetheless, and the marshmallows were JUST as tasty! Even when we couldn’t get away to go camping, we could sit by the fire pit and talk about it. Read up on some great family camping tips here. 

How about you? Do you have some frugal ideas for family time to share with us?

About the author

Kelli Becton

Kelli lives on the coast of Southwest Florida with her Pro Fishing Guide husband, Mark. They were introduced 16 years ago at the beach, and quickly discovered they had grown up in the same church. They were married on that island beach, and now have three little boys who play & explore there together. She is ever grateful for God's faithfulness. It was in the midst of a booming real estate career, that God called them to homeschool. Once she recovered from the shock, and stepped out in obedience, they have never looked back! The boys are now 13, 10, & 9 years old. You will often find them kayaking, hiking, camping while exploring God’s creation. They share these learning experiences with Wildlife Adventures Unit Studies on the family blog.


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    • Kimberly, nice to hear from a fellow Floridian! We are southwest FL along the Gulf coast – but hubs & I both grew up in Orlando. I am now the mother of a teen – this is new for me!!! 🙂 Nice to “meet” you-

  • This is such an awesomely fun activity! Thank you for sharing your post with The Natural Homeschool and The Life of Jennifer Dawn Linky Party. 🙂 See you next Wednesday! 🙂