Looking for inspiration for fun outside activities for your kids this summer?
My kids and I have tested most of the ideas on this page, although a few are new to us. We’re excited to give these new activities a go this summer, as well as revisit “old” ideas that have entertained us for years of summers.
So, check out the list below, and be inspired to make this summer a memorable and joy-filled time for your whole family.
(Dreading a rainy season ahead? Don't miss my other activity list: 25 Fun Rainy-Day Summer Activities for the Family.)
25 Fun Outside Summer Activities for Kids
1. Plant a garden pot.
Plant a garden pot with your favorite herbs or veggies.
Let your kids plant their own. It’s fun, and they’ll learn about the responsibility of watering and weeding their tiny garden.
2. Draw a sidewalk-chalk board game.
Draw a sidewalk-chalk board game on your patio, sidewalk, or street.
STEP ONE: Draw the board.
Draw the gameboard squares/board on your back patio or front paved driveway.
STEP TWO: Fill the squares.
Write “START” in the first square and “FINISH” in the last square.
Then, fill the rest of the squares with whatever you want! Here are a few ideas:
- Go back 2 spaces
- Stand on 1 foot (until your next turn)
- Skip ahead to the rainbow square
- Then, draw a rainbow square
- Do 10 jumping jacks
- lose a turn
- (you can leave several blank squares, of course)
- Jump ahead 5 spaces
STEP THREE: Play!
Grab a spare dice from inside the house and take turns rolling on the patio. No game pieces needed, cause your kids are the game pieces.
For more sidewalk-chalk board game ideas, go here.
3. Paint a flower pot.
No, you don’t have to splurge on a terracotta pot. We primed free plastic pots from the greenhouse, then painted our designs in cheap dollar store acrylic paint. (If you want the paint to last more than one summer, buy an outdoor furniture glaze from your local paint store.)
4. Outdoor scavenger hunts.
There are a bazillion and one different scavenger hunts available for free online. Here are just three ideas:
- List hunt. Sometimes, running around somewhere new with a list of things to check off is enough fun all on its own. Try this free Cemetery Scavenger Hunt.
- Photo hunt. Grab your camera/phone and take pictures of each of the items on a list like this one: https://niagarafamilies.com/outdoor-scavenger-hunt/
- Clue/riddle hunt. Print a list of clues (like these: http://scavenger-hunt.org/10-outdoor-scavenger-hunt-riddles/) and place them around the yard to be found. Or, make your own.
5. Paint with water.
Grab an old paintbrush, a pail of water, and start drawing on your concrete patio or sidewalk. When the water dries, you have a fresh canvas to start again.
6. Picnic outside.
Picnic at a park you’ve never visited before.
7. Take a mini road trip.
Research local attractions, parks, monuments, nature spots, etc. that aren’t more than an hour’s drive away. Pack snacks and books, etc. for the trip. It’s short, it’s sweet, and it gives the whole family a small dose of family vacation feelings.
8. Create a backyard obstacle course.
Time each other and record your speeds to see who’s fastest.
9. Go swimming
Swim at your local pool. Or try a new water park. Or go to the beach.
10. Reach for a goal.
For example, if you’re a family who likes running, set a date a few weeks into summer for a 2k run at a local park. Then, decide on a training schedule together. The schedule will give purpose and rhythm to your summer days, and the goal will give your kids something to look forward to.
11. Play “Around the World” (Basketball Game).
This is one of our family’s favorites. If you don’t have a basketball hoop in your yard like we do, walk over to the nearest schoolyard. Draw chalk circles on the concrete and have fun!
(Here are the instructions for this simple game: https://www.wikihow.com/Play-Around-the-World)
12. Visit a skatepark.
Other similar places to visit are:
- any smooth, rolling sidewalk near your home (skateboard)
- bike hills (bikes)
- bike path (bikes, walking)
13. Visit an acreage or hobby farm.
Visit a friend/family member with an acreage or hobby farm.
The kids and I have often visited a family member who had a fresh litter of kittens. The kids played joyfully all afternoon while I enjoyed coffee and an awesome visiting time!
14. Splash around!
Visit a local splash park.
Or turn on the hose/sprinkler and make up some watery games.
15. Make an adventure slideshow.
Pack your camera/phone and head to a park or nature spot. Take as many pictures of your adventure as possible. Then, go home and turn your pictures into a slideshow set to music.
16. Pitch a tent in the backyard.
Younger kids can play “camping” during the day.
Older kids can sleep outside at night.
17. Follow a one-day schedule.
This is NOT a daily or weekly schedule. The idea here is to create a sense of purpose for that one day and to motivate the kids with a reward at the end of their list of tasks.
You don’t have to print something out or make your list fancy (although here’s an example of one of the great lists you can print for free: https://www.raisingdragons.com/summer-screen-time-checklist-ages-4-10/.)
Walk around your neighborhood with your family and pick up garbage. Go for a drive afterwards to grab an ice cream.
19. Water pistol target practice.
We like to set up a ladder outside and line up empty tin cans on each rung. Of course, you could use a nerf-gun for this, too, but water is much more fun in the summertime. Even a water hose with a spray gun attached works!
20. Make a backyard water blob.
What is a water blob, you say? This is new to me, too.
Here’s the link where I found the idea: https://www.clumsycrafter.com/water-blob-tutorial/
21. Refurbish old furniture.
Refurbish and repurpose a piece of old furniture. I love doing this. Why not include the kids in the project? Especially if you’re painting a small dresser or table that can be used in their rooms.
22. Go hiking.
Go for a hike on a trail you’ve never tried before.
23. Make a backyard water slide.
Got a portable small kiddie slide and kiddie pool in your backyard? We’ve done this every summer since the kids were toddlers. It’s a keeper.
(Looking for an example? Check out #18 here.)
24. Go on a treasure hunt.
Create a town treasure hunt. I like to use this free map generator: https://treasuremaps.kadsoftwareusa.com/
25. Paint each other!
“Let the kids paint each other with washable tempera paint and then wash it off in a sprinkler run.” (https://www.care.com/c/stories/3331/101-fun-things-to-do-with-kids-this-summer/)
26. (Bonus) Ask your kids what THEY’D like to do. 😊
I know it’s sometimes hard to get on board with the kids’ ideas when we’re already feeling tired or overwhelmed. But why not ask? Kids often have the best (and simplest) ideas.
Fun is Contagious!
Remember, your excitement will rub off on your kids.
For example, you’re not just going to visit Grandma: You’re off to Grandma’s house to see the new kittens!
Your enthusiasm is one of the key ingredients to the whole family’s fun (like it or not).
But, wait! What if it’s raining?
No problem. Check out my other list: 25 Fun Rainy-Day Summer Activities for the Family.