1. Backyard OR indoor camping - Set up a tent in your backyard or living room. Cook up a real camp dinner (hot dogs on a stick and baked beans??). Have a bonfire (outside only please). Make 'Smores (they're just as tasty cooked in the oven!). Grab a flashlight and tell scary stories. Take bets on which kid gets spooked first and sneaks into their bed.
2. Hit the pool. Once upon a time we had a pool. But then we moved and now we don't. However, our community has a very nice town pool. It's clean, quiet, close by, and cheap ($1 for kids and $2 for adults- you can't beat that)! If you don't have your own pool, find out if there is a community pool nearby. Pack a lunch and some snacks and make a day of it.
3. Hit the playground. A good playground will entertain your kids for hours (well, at least ONE hour) and again, pack a lunch and have a picnic!
4. The Drive-In. The movie theatre is expensive, especially when you are paying for 4 people and snacks! Any time we take the kiddos to the movies, it makes a huge dent in our wallet. A lower-cost option is the drive in. Some drive-ins charge per car, and the ones that charge per person are still usually much cheaper than the theatre. Plus the snacks are cheap (real cheap if you sneak in your own), and you don't have to do the booty shuffle in anyone's face when you need to hit the ladies room!
5. Outdoor movie nights. Continuing with the movie theme, lots of communities offer free outdoor movie nights during the summer. Check your town's website and see what's happening!
6. The library. Check out your local library for free or low cost summer activities. I, for one, was floored when I saw all the cool stuff our library had going on this summer. And if you have little ones, story time is always a favorite!
7. State Parks. We have some gorgeous state parks here with lakes to swim, fish and boat in, hiking and biking trails, playgrounds and camping. Our favorite park (see pics below) charges $7 per vehicle, which is pretty typical. We bring our beach chairs and umbrella, sand toys, and a cooler with drinks and snacks (or lunch) and we are set for the day.
9. Outdoor family game night. Kickball, dodgeball, badmittten, jump rope contest, relay races, slip and slide contest (who can slide the farthest)... whatever your heart desires! Just do it outside and make it fun! Then maybe a make your own sundae bar to end the night?
10. Your county fair. Admission is cheap (usually) and kids often get in free. There is generally a day or two where you pay one price for unlimited rides. A day at the fair can get expensive (food, rides, games) but if you plan accordingly, it doesn't have to break the budget.
What ideas do you have for some end of summer fun that won't break the budget?