We are at that time of the year when kids are fantasizing about school being out for summer vacation and their minds are focused on all the fun things they hope to do this summer. Some may be heading to a family cabin by the lake for the summer.

Others may be heading overseas for a vacation. Whether you are staying home with the kids this summer or doing one or two vacations, you will still have days in between and you need to have some ideas close at hand to keep the kids entertained.

And yes, it is possible to have fun and keep your kids entertained this summer without spending lots of cash. Here are 21 fun and inexpensive activities that the whole family will enjoy doing this summer.

Host an Ice Cream Social

Hosting an ice cream social is so much fun. You can do one with family members one afternoon and another one later in the summer with friends and neighbours. Ask everyone to bring a unique flavor of ice cream – at least one gallon or more – and you supply the toppings like chocolate fudge and sprinkles, along with the paper dishes and plastic spoons.

Oh, and ask a few people to bring ice cream cones too.

Family Picnic

Fill a picnic basket with delicious foods that you all enjoy and do a picnic in a local favorite park. Bring a few lawn chairs and nice old blankets along, as well as a Frisbee and a football.

Play Ball

Invite friends and family to meet at a local baseball diamond and play a few games of baseball. With a few baseball bats and gloves, you can provide hours of entertainment for lots of kids and their parents.

Play Tennis

Take the kids to a local tennis court for a few rounds of tennis. Create teams and turn it into a competition.

Go Hiking

If you live near a beautiful park or close to the mountains, pack-up your gear and go hiking. Remember the camera.

Fresh Fruit Picking

Visit a local U-Pick farm to pick raspberries, peaches and strawberries.

Potluck BBQ

Host a potluck neighbourhood BBQ with hotdogs, chips and sodas. Keep it casual, inexpensive and fun.

Family Road Trip

Do a one day road trip to somewhere fun and only a few hours away from home. The closer to home, the less chance of the kids fighting in the car. Plus, you will spend less on gas by going somewhere closer to home.

Related: Fun, Summer Vacation Ideas for the Whole Family #Infographic

Plant a Flower Garden

Do you have space in your front or backyard for a flower garden? Work with your kids to choose flowers and show them how to plant them and maintain them. You can buy plants or you can use seeds. Wildflower seeds are lovely and very cheap to use. How about adding a building element, and making a DIY raised garden bed.

Go Camping In Your Backyard

As a kid I loved camping in our backyard in the summer with a few friends.

You can setup a tent and let your kids spend the night outside or you can camp out with them. It all depends on how old they are.

Swimming

Summer and swimming go hand in hand and it is definitely a fun and inexpensive activity. Pack up the kids and head to the beach or a local community pool for an afternoon of swimming.

Play Badminton

If your backyard is large enough you could play badminton back there. If not, you could play at a local park or perhaps your local community center has facilities that you could use.

Movie and Pizza Night

Create a family fun night with movies and bake your own mini-pizzas. Buy small pizza shells and your favorite toppings and let everyone build their own pizzas.

Cupcake Challenge

Have a family cupcake competition. Everyone gets to spend time in the kitchen making their own cupcake recipe and decorating them.

And afterwards you can have a tasting event to see who baked the best cupcake.

You could even consider inviting a few friends over to help with the tasting and the judging. Just don’t tell them who baked which cupcakes.

Gone Fishing

Do you have a river, lake or pond close by that is filled with fish? Get up really early one morning and take the kids fishing.

Water Balloon Fight

Balloons are cheap and water is even cheaper. On a hot sunny afternoon have everyone put on their swimsuits and head outside. Grab the balloons and the water hose and begin filling and tying the balloons. Create teams and have a blast with your water balloon fight.

Movie in the Park

If you haven’t gone before, check to see if there is a location in your city that hosts movie in the park night, or concerts. These are so much fun, and all you need to bring is a lawn chair or blanket for each person to relax on.

Mini-golf

Challenge your kids to a round or two of mini-golf. No one needs to be an expert golfer to play mini-golf and it is always a lot of fun.

Amusement Park Rides

Nothing says summer like a day at an amusement park or local county fair. Rides to enjoy, games to play and carnival food to snack on. So good!!

Chocolates – Yum!

Spend an afternoon making delicious gourmet chocolates at home. You can find supplies at Michaels Craft Store, and you can find recipes online.

Pottery Classes

Pottery classes have become very popular again, and it is easy to see why. It is a fun and relaxing activity and it definitely brings out the creative side of everyone in your family.

This is the perfect activity to enroll your kids in this summer because it is a repeat activity that everyone will look forward to each week.