When you think of summer, what comes to mind?
For many people, things like fireworks, beach vacations, and visits to museums and amusement parks are closely associated with summertime. You may look back on similar experiences from your childhood as the perfect way to spend the summer.
While summer is an exciting time of holidays and fun for many people, for those with less money to spend, it can almost feel like a reminder of everything they can’t afford.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you want to connect with nature or leave town for a little while, there are dozens of fun things to do that won’t cost a fortune.
That’s what you’ll find in this article. From free summer activities at home to low-cost experiences to have with your family, keep reading to discover some of the best ways to spend the summer.
Go for Walks in a Nearby Park or Woods
Granted, going for walks is something you can do at any time of year. But woods and parks are especially beautiful during the summer, and spending time in nature is an excellent way to relax without spending any money.
You may be lucky enough to live in or near a wooded area. Or there may be a park or nature preserve not far from your home. Either way, it’s well worth taking a few minutes to walk through the trees and listen to the birds.
Even spending a few minutes sitting down on a grassy lawn can help you get closer to nature. Anything you can do to get outside and focus on the natural beauty around you is a great way to spend summer evenings and weekends.
Explore Local Parks and Hiking Trails
If you’re looking for more intensive nature walk activities, you might want to look for local hiking trails or nature preserves to visit. Better still, find out how many trails and state-owned parks exist within driving distance of your home and explore some new ones. You could be amazed by how many cool experiences you can have in nature, all close to home.
An important thing to remember during nature activities like these is to be respectful of the nature and wildlife around you. Bring a garbage bag to put disposable items in when you’re done with them and try not to cause a disturbance to either the park or the wildlife in it. Bonus points for picking up litter that others have left behind while you’re there!
Have a Picnic With Some Friends
Maybe you don’t have a lot of money for going out to eat at fancy restaurants. But you can get an equally rewarding experience while saving a lot of money by organizing a small picnic at a local park.
If you have a few friends who aren’t doing anything this summer, you could get them to join you for a shared potluck. That way you will each only have to bring one or two dishes to the picnic, and no one will be stuck with providing the entire meal.
If you have a family, you probably avoid eating out because of how expensive it can be to feed everyone. But your children will love shaking up their normal routine by enjoying a simple, homemade meal outside in nature.
As with going hiking, remember to bring a garbage bag or two to pick up any paper plates and unwanted leftovers. It’s important to be respectful to nature and not leave any litter behind!
Go Camping in Your Backyard
If you have children, family nature activities can be hit-or-miss. On one hand, it can be hard to find organized activities that your kids won’t find boring. On the other hand, if your children are young, it can be embarrassing for you if they start to misbehave.
But one family activity that everyone can enjoy—peacefully and in private—is a backyard camping trip.
You don’t have to spend money on campsite rentals, transportation, or fancy equipment to enjoy an old-fashioned camping experience. In fact, you might find a backyard camping trip more enjoyable than the real thing, because there’s less to think about and keep track of!
You don’t even need a real tent if you don’t have one. Instead, you can make a makeshift tent using a tarpaulin or a big blanket. Just remember to check the weather forecast before you make any plans.
If you make a bonfire in your backyard for the event, make sure you do so safely with a fire pit and a fire extinguisher nearby, and make sure it doesn’t violate any rules in your city or homeowners association.
While camping out in your backyard is practically perfect for a family activity, it isn’t just for kids. If you and a friend are down for an adventure, it’s a wonderfully relaxing way to spend a night while mixing up your routine.
Take a Day Trip to a Zoo
If you get bored with the nature that’s native to your local area, why not spend a day at a nearby zoo? Going out into the wild isn’t the only way to experience nature, after all. You can (humanely and respectfully) observe wild animals from distant lands in environments approximating their native homes—and probably for less money than you’d expect.
Many zoos rely on companies and organizations to fund their work, so admission is relatively low-cost. If you have one not far from where you live, it’s a fantastic way to learn about exotic wildlife from around the world.
Just remember that when visiting the zoo, there’s a similar code of conduct to the one you would follow when walking in the woods. Animals living in captivity are typically accustomed to seeing humans, but loud sounds and sudden movements could still disturb them. If you bring your children to the zoo, take special care to ensure they’re respectful and considerate of the animals, as well as other visitors.
Spend a Day at a Local Beach
The beach is a popular fixture of the perfect summer vacation, and most people wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s no wonder the beach is so popular, as visiting the ocean is scientifically proven to improve one’s mood and even their health.
Despite being a popular summer destination, most of the time, it isn’t expensive to visit a beach. As long as you live within a day’s drive of one, you should be able to spend as much time there as you like, with the only cost being a possible parking fee.
Of course, not everyone lives close enough to the ocean to consider going to the beach whenever they like. But even if you live far away from the sea, there may be other ways to get a similar experience. Several large lakes in state-owned parks have small swimming beaches, which can be almost as exciting and refreshing as a saltwater beach.
Become a Volunteer
What if you not only want to experience nature but benefit it in some way? If that’s something you’d be interested in, then you should consider spending some of your spare time this summer being a volunteer.
There’s probably an organization in your area that collects litter from parks and roadsides that would love an additional volunteer. And most cities have animal shelters that are always looking for more help.
Not everyone has a lot of money they can donate to support good causes, but most people have a few extra hours on the weekend they could spare. If you have some extra time this summer and need something to do, volunteering is an excellent way to give back.
Connect With Nature and Have Fun This Summer
Hopefully, you’ve found this list of inexpensive summer activities inspiring. No matter what kind of activities you enjoy, there are countless ways to connect with nature and enjoy your summer without breaking the bank.
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