10 Resources for Finding Free and Cheap Things to Do This Summer

Like many families, the schedule of our family changes drastically during the summer. My wife goes on hiatus from her job for a few months, our children are constantly at home, and I strive to rearrange my own work so that I can spend more time with them. Plus, the weather is beautiful, encouraging us to be outside.

Most summers, we load our summer scheduled down with all kinds of different activities – camping trips, visits to state parks, community festivals, and lots of other things.

But how do you find all of these things. Here are ten resources we use for finding great free/cheap things to do during the summer.

Community Festivals
Looking for city-wide festivals in your local community or in neighboring communities? Festivals.com is the best resource I’ve yet found for collecting listings of all of these festivals. While it doesn’t include everything, it does point out lots of interesting activities near your zip code all throughout the summer.

Music Festivals
Once you get beyond mega-festivals like Bonnaroo, there are a lot of music festivals all across the country, and many are surprisingly inexpensive (sometimes free). Such festivals are a great way to hear lots of interesting music and meet people who have similar interests.

National Parks
A national parks pass can be one of the best frugal investments around. National parks are wonderful places to explore, camp, hike, and enjoy. The stunning beauty and majesty of nature found within many of the parks is well worth visiting.

State Parks
If you want a even less expensive and more local alternative to national parks, try finding a great state park near your area. State parks offer very inexpensive camping options and plenty of interesting area to explore and enjoy.

Many libraries offer great summer programs of all kinds: reading groups, reading programs for kids, free film nights, and so on. Summertime is a great time to get in touch with the many interesting and free programs available right in your own town at the library.

Community Calendars
Just add your city and state to the above Google query to find the community calendar for your own town. Community calendars are loaded with interesting and enjoyable free events, from community dinners to farmer’s markets in your local area. It’s also worth searching for the community calendars of cities and towns adjacent to where you life.

Craft Fairs
If you enjoy crafting, craft fairs can be incredibly fun ways to spend a day or two. Most craft fairs are free to enter and often provide a way to sell or trade your craft products, as well as pick up interesting and useful supplies and also learn new techniques.

Natural Collections
Summertime is the perfect time to start a natural collection of your own. It gives you a great reason to start exploring the outdoors anywhere and everywhere, doesn’t cost a thing, and can provide the foundation of a lifelong passion. Start a notebook tracking the birds you find. Collect leaves or interesting rocks. Just explore the natural beauty around you.

Minor League Baseball
Most communities of any size have a minor league baseball team in the area – or has one at least somewhere nearby. Minor league baseball games are pure fun – much more frugal and much more laid back than major league games, often with wacky entertainment to boot. Minor league versions of any other sport are similar in their frugal fun, particularly minor league hockey, though it is rarely played in the summer.

Want a great free activity that you can spend lots of hours on, enjoy the outdoors, and feel good about yourself afterward? Few things can beat volunteering, and you can usually get the whole family involved.

Trent Hamm
Trent Hamm
Founder of The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 after developing innovative financial strategies to get out of debt. Since then, he’s written three books (published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press), contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.

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