7 Budget-Friendly Summer Activities to Try This Weekend

Create some homegrown analog entertainment with unique date-night ideas, group outings, and activities that will get the whole family outdoors.

Go out or stay in this summer—with our ideas, minimum materials, and your companions of choice, the day (or night) just got more interesting. Choose from our favorite cheap summer activities to make the most of the warm weather and family time. Try hosting an outdoor scavenger hunt or invite the crew to a blind tasting of colorful foods—these family-friendly ideas are made for summer entertaining.

family parents boys outside patio s'mores fire pit
Adam Albright

Plan a Scavenger Hunt

Working to solve these outdoor puzzles may lead tosome friendly rivalry.

How to Organize a Scavenger Hunt

Create a hunt to meaningful local spots for your partner or family. Write clues on slips of paper wrapped around flower stems. Each time your partner completes a task, give them the next clue (and stem) until they've solved them all—and built a bouquet. Some clues can be finding locations, others activities like winning a game of pool at a pub. Try this idea at home as well! Hide the ingredients to make s'mores throughout the house with clues for each spot. Once you've found all the ingredients, head outside to make the classic summer dessert.

Plan a Treasure Hunt

In a crunch and want a hunt that's planned? Try these apps for searches near to you.

  • Let's Roam offers themed scavenger hunts in cities around the U.S. teach the history of landmarks.
  • Geocaching is free and hiking gets everyone exercising.
  • GooseChase uses suggested "missions" to create a task list, or compile your own for a personalized hunt.

Summer Drink Ideas

Put your flavor-profiling skills to the test with these food and drink guessing games. Set up the tastings outside to enjoy the warm summer nights.

Guess the Wine

Choose a few different wines from one category—a grape varietal, reds from a particular country, or unusual whites, for example. Cover the labels. As you taste them, have everyone rank their favorites, try to guess the variety, or list as many flavor notes as they can.

Taste the Color

Can you tell the difference between red and green, eyes closed? Find out by laying out different colors of the same foods. Which blindfolded person can guess the difference? Test favorites like apples, grapes, raisins, cheese, candies, or sports drinks. Even if you guess wrong, snacking is always a win.

Fun Family Activities

Go back in time to a favorite era or head in an unknown direction for an adventure that covers new territory.

Thrift Store Challenge

Armed with $10 each and a sharp eye, everyone puts together a thrift store outfit for a friend. Create an alter-ego for your partner or pals with flashy throwback clothes and go to a venue that matches your finds. Say, '90s night at the bowling alley or '80s attire for the roller rink.

Design Your Own Crawl

You've heard of bar and gallery crawls, but the idea works for any theme. Make a list of all the parks in town and see which one has the fastest slide. Hit several farmers markets to find as many different heirloom tomatoes as you can. Or taste your way through the city's street taco options.

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