Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Rob: 12 Inexpensive Things To Do As A Family This Summer

School is out and after a long Canadian winter combined with an unseasonably cold spring, summer is finally here.  The kids are in shorts and the suburbs are alive with the sounds of lawnmowers, laughter and evenings are permeated with delicious smells coming from barbecues.  

Now that school is out Laura and I were talking about how we are going to keep the kids occupied all summer long. As a young boy, I took lots trips to amusement parks, rental cottages and several epic cross-country road trips. But honestly, it's the memories of the simple, fun, inexpensive things that we did together as a family that have really stuck with me over the years and it's those same things that I'm really looking forward to doing with my children this summer and so I present:

12 Inexpensive Things To Do As A Family This Summer

1. Go for a family walk/bike ride: Assuming the kids know how to ride their bikes or you have the proper bike trailers, a bike ride is a great way to spend time together with the kids.  If you don't have the right equipment or don't live in an area that's conducive to family cycling, a walk is also a great way to spend time together.  An after dinner walk or bike ride gives you and the kids a chance to get some exercise and get away from the television, though you may need to lure them with the promise of finding a new park. 

2. Get real old-fashioned ice cream: I know, I know it should be about healthy lifestyle but there is just something about going to a old-fashioned ice cream shop where the kids can see and pick from all the various flavours.  Why not combine the family walk or ride with ice cream and work off that delicious ice cream?

3. Take a day long road trip: Pick a destination and plan a route that allows you to interact with your kids along the way.  Growing up, there used to be all kinds of signs along the side of the road pointing out historic landmarks or places where famous people did what famous people do. I always got a kick out of seeing what General Such and Such did in this field or how a certain bridge was the first of it's kind and really want the kids to find that love of history. In today's technological world why not take a road tour and discover the history in your area. 

4. Have a water balloon fight: I think the best kind of water balloon fight is the surprise kind.  If you know the next day is going to be a hot one, spend some time the night before filling up a few buckets of water balloons for each family member.  Then, the next day when the kids are just starting to complain about how hot it is, BOOM, out comes the balloons and let the water-filled fun fly.

5. Play tag, hide-and-go-seek or similar outdoor games: I see my daughters playing tag in the park all the time.  Tag or hide-and-go-seek are great games that all kids love and we should all join in for the fun and exercise.  For the older kids, I remember playing a night time version of hide-and-seek that involved the person who was "it" capturing and turning the rest of the participants into monsters.  As a 10 year old, that game was awesome.

6. Go to a farm: Okay, if you live on a farm, this probably won't be the most exciting one but perhaps you could take your family and visit another type of farm.  For everyone else, what kid doesn't love exploring and seeing all the animals up close.  Assuming your kids aren't allergic, playing in the hayloft, collecting eggs from the chickens and feeding carrots to the horses is absolutely magical for little ones. I'm sure a quick google search will bring up any number of local farms that offer tours for families.

7. Go to a small village or town for the afternoon:  Whether you live in the suburbs like us or the heart of the city, I'm sure there is a small town or village within a short(ish) distance.  These places always have the best little shops to explore and are guaranteed to have at least one great locally owned restaurant to enjoy lunch as a family.  Most villages also have a great park and community centre for the kids to run around and perhaps even make some new friends.

8. Take your kids on a tour of your own community: Wherever you live, I'm sure there are lots of fun and interesting things to see and do.  Spend some time the night before putting together a homemade maps for the kids of all the places close by that you want to see. Then take your maps with you the next day and tick off the stops along the way.  A fun way for kids to learn about their own community.

9.Walk to the local store and buy the kids a treat:  I hope I'm not so old that when I talk about buying gummy bears for a penny people think I'm crazy.  While money doesn't stretch quite as far as it used to in the candy department, as an occasional treat take the kids to the corner store and let them pick a little assortment of 5 and 10 cents treats to take home and enjoy.

10. Have a picnic at the beach: If you live near the ocean, a lake or even a river with a nice beach, once properly sunscreened, I doubt there is a kids that won't splash and play for hours.  Why not bring a picnic lunch and make a whole day of it.  If you don't live near the water, most communities have pools which could substitute in a pinch.

11. Go to the drive-in: These aren't the easiest places to find anymore but if you have one near-by, drive-ins can be great for the whole family and if the little ones fall asleep during the first movie,
it's kind of like getting a date night.  If there aren't any drive-ins close by and you live in a large urban area, many cities are doing evening movies in the park.

12. Go for a nature walk: Maybe it sounds a bit hokey, but kids love this and with a small amount of research the night before a whole days worth of adventures can be had collecting leaves, pine cones and flowers.  As an added bonus, when the kids go back to school in the Fall, they can legitimately tell the teacher that they learned something new over the summer.

I hope these ideas have got your vacation creativity flowing because every family should have the opportunity to get out, enjoy some of that beautiful summer weather and make great memories.  It doesn't always have to cost a fortune to be a fun, family friendly activity that your kids will cherish forever.



  1. water balloon fight is always a winner in our eyes! #wineandboobs

    1. So true. What kids and adult for that matter doesn't love a good water balloon fight. Thanks for reading.

  2. Sounds like your family enjoy lovely summer days...Great ideas...I really like the surprise water balloon fight! Lucy at occupation:(m)other #wineandboobs

    1. Thanks Lucy. We haven't quite gotten to the water balloon fight yet but I'm looking forward to it.

  3. This list is amazing! I am going to have to do a few of them before the kids go back to school. I am lucky that we have a legit drive-in movie theater that is only an hour away. #TheList

    1. Thanks Kristen. I love the drive-in. We almost went last week but they were playing Ted 2 and we just didn't think it was appropriate for the kids. Thanks for reading.