Finding fun activities to do with your kids in the summer isn't tough, but after a few weeks of visiting amusement parks, going to movies, and paying admission to zoos & museums, keeping your little ones entertained can get a bit pricey.
But there really are plenty of things you can do with your children that are not only enjoyable -- but also inexpensive and easy to manage, especially on those days when you feel like you don't have much energy left.
Here are 30 cheap, fun, and simple activities to enjoy with your kids this summer.
1. Run the sprinkler -- For easy fun on sweltering days, put your kids in their bathing suits, turn the sprinkler on, and let 'em run wild while you relax in a lounge chair in the yard.
2. Head to the library -- Encourage your kids to love reading by making regular visits to the library, and check out a few books each time to bring home for some snuggle time on the couch.
3. Ice cream time -- Heading out after dinner and grabbing an ice cream treat with the family is always a hit.
4. Playground fun -- Hitting up a playground at a local part isn't just fun for toddlers, it's also a great way to meet other moms in your area.
5. Splash park -- Plenty of parks now have splash pads, which are a safe & fun alternative to keep little ones cool who can't swim yet.
6. Water gun fight -- Pick up a few plastic water guns at the dollar store and let your kids have it out in the backyard.
7. Farmers' market -- Head down to your local farmers' market to pick up some fresh produce & goodies for dinner.
8. Make s'mores -- Even if you don't have a fire pit, you can roast marshmallows on the stove and give your kids a yummy campfire treat.
9. Sidewalk chalk -- Always keep a container of sidewalk chalk handy to play hopscotch, or simply let your kids turn the driveway into a work of art.
10. Playdough -- It never fails, kids absolutely love playdough. Throw down some newspaper on the kitchen table and let them smush & play all day.
11. Go to IKEA -- If your kids need a break (and you do too), the IKEA play-place is a great spot to drop them off and enjoy a little shopping while they have fun.
12. Head to a reservoir -- If your town has a local reservoir or nature preserve, pack a picnic and go & enjoy the great outdoors for an afternoon.
13. Board games -- All kids love to play games, and with plenty of them on the market geared for toddlers, board games are fun and educational.
14. Go to the airport -- Even though you can't get through security without a ticket, the airport is a great place to cool off and watch the planes take off and land.
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15. Play hide & seek -- Little ones will squeal with delight when they find you hiding crouched behind the bed!
16. Schedule a playdate -- Sometimes all it takes to keep toddlers happy is having another child their age to play with. Invite a friend over and have a little girl time while the kids hang out in the playroom.
17. Build a fort -- Forget about the toys in your house, because as any kid will tell you, the couch cushions are the most fun thing in your home.
18. Bake cookies -- Have your little baker help you whip up a yummy batch of desserts (and maybe even let them lick the bowl).
19. Have a dance party -- What's more fun then turning up the music and shaking it with your kids?
20. Make sock puppets & have a puppet show -- Put those mismatched socks in your drawer to good use & create puppets with magic markers for some silly fun.
21. Go for a drive -- Load the kids up into the car and see where the road takes you for a few hours (just make sure to pack plenty of snacks!).
22. Visit a bouncy play area -- Most towns have one of those places with five or six bounce houses that the kids can play in as long as they want, and typically they only cost about $10 or so.
23. Bucket & paintbrush -- It sounds boring to an adult, but give a 2-year-old a bucket of water & a paintbrush and tell them they can paint the deck or sidewalk. You'll be amazed at how thrilling they'll find this simple activity.
24. Bubbles -- No home with kids under 5 should ever be without a few containers of bubbles. They're the universal toddler pleaser.
25. Color -- On rainy days, grab a stack of coloring books, lie down on the floor with your kids, and scribble together.
26. Local farm -- Many local farms will allow you to stop by and "visit" the animals. Your kids will love hearing the cows "moo!"
27. Scavenger hunt -- While your little ones are napping, hide a few items in the backyard or around the house, then have a fun scavenger hunt when they get up.
28. Berry picking -- Teach healthy eating habits all while enjoying some fun at the berry patch.
29. Wash the car -- Get out the hose, a sponge, and a bucket of suds, and trick the kiddos into making your car sparkle.
30. Take a walk -- When you really can't think of anything else to do, taking a walk through the neighborhood as a family is a great way to get a little exercise and spend quality time together.
What are some of your favorite inexpensive summer activities?
Image via Mary Fischer