99 Summer Activities For Your Next Staycation
After spending last summer mostly indoors, we’re itching to get outside and enjoy this season—with masks as needed.
While many outdoor excursions can be time-intensive or expensive, there are plenty of activities we can enjoy nearby, at affordable prices or entirely for free! From outdoor concerts to composting and gardening to day trips, here are 99 low-cost summer activities to consider.
Let us know your favorites in the comments!
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99 Activities To Try This Summer
1. Head to a drive-in theater for an old-school movie night.
2. Find a local natural swimming hole and make a day out of it.
4. Stop and smell the roses, with a visit to a botanical garden.
5. Try a round of mini-golf or bowling for some friendly competition.
6. Meet up with friends to do a summer swap: clothes, books, or any other goods you’re ready to re-home.
7. Better yet, plan a network-wide or neighborhood garage sale.
8. Root for your home team at a sports game.
9. Sign up for lessons from local artisans, like a neighborhood potter or photographer.
10. Soak up some sun at a lake or beach—be sure to pack sunscreen.
11. Visit a city museum or historic building, and support your local community,
12. Spend the day volunteering for a cause you care about.
13. Plan a community clean-up on a weekend morning.
14. Take in a play, whether on Broadway or at a nearby arts center.
15. Treat yourself (or you and a friend) to an at-home mani or spa treatment.
16. Host a backyard pool party and cool off with some drinks. Pro tip: Use a secondhand kiddie pool as a cooler!
17. Do a local crawl, whether it’s to bookshops, coffee shops, pubs, or donuts.
18. Make up your own DIY walking tour (or see if one exists already, or use an app like Randonautica).
19. Go out for a nice, long bike ride. Rent one for the day if you don’t own a bicycle.
20. Try a new restaurant or cuisine you’ve never experienced before.
21. Stop by secondhand shops, thrift stores, or local boutiques you normally don’t have time for.
22. Scope out free concerts or plays in public spaces, like Shakespeare at the Park.
23. In lieu of the zoo, give bird-watching a go. Borrow binoculars from a friend, or invest an affordable pair of secondhand binos.
24. Head to a nature reserve to observe wildlife.
25. Cherries, blueberries, or strawberries…why not try them all and go berry picking?
26. Book yourself a night at a bed-and-breakfast or hotel as a staycation splurge.
27. Get a break from the city and spend a night or two camping (consciously!). Or camp in your own backyard.
28. Stop by an outdoor thrift or flea market, many of which are scheduled on weekdays.
29. Have a projector? Plan your own movie night in the backyard and invite friends.
30. Catch up on your reading list in your backyard, on the patio, or at the park.
31. Give yourself permission to camp out on the couch and enjoy your favorite show—or a new one.
32. Bring your pupper on a long day-date around the neighborhood.
33. Meet your new best friend (or help care for someone else’s!) by taking a shelter dog for a walk, hike, or just a day out on the town.
34. Host a cook-off competition (like tacos, pizza, or mac & cheese) with friends, and judge together.
35. Learn about local plants and fauna at a greenery or nursery.
36. Get up early and go watch the sun rise from the beach or lookout.
37. Turn a patch of your outdoor space (or indoor window sill) into a home garden. You can buy and decorate your own pots.
38. Stargaze in your local area or at a dark sky park. Bonus points if you can identify constellations or see a meteor.
39. Swap out your phone camera for a Polaroid or film camera, and snap away.
40. Build an at-home fort, solo or with your kids.
41. If you have a fire pit, invite loved ones over for some s’mores.
42. Visit a neighboring city that you usually drive right through—and explore it on foot.
43. Grab a coloring book and a medium of your choice, plant yourself under a shaded tree, and let your imagination run wild.
44. Play. With Legos, with Play-Doh, or indulge in some video games.
45. Cool off with homemade lemonade, or scope out a neighborhood lemonade stand to support.
46. Go to a playground and make your own obstacle course.
47. Rent a kayak, paddle boat, or canoe for a leisurely afternoon.
48. Invite a few friends over for a dinner party.
49. Try every pizza or pastry shop in the area and then rank your favorites.
50. Host your own version of backyard games, from tug-of-war to Twister to cornhole.
51. Organize a tournament—like dodgeball or water balloons—to raise money for a good cause.
52. Stop by a farmer’s market and cook a creative meal based only on what you find there.
53. Plan a scavenger hunt for a friend, and ask them to do the same for you. Do it at the same time and then meet afterward to share the experience.
54. Cook an elaborate meal, sourced from a cookbook or that saved Instagram post.
55. Plan an outdoor dance party with the works: candles, glow sticks, and all.
56. Head to the boardwalk and play circus games.
57. Give geocaching a go.
58. Spend a day mending your clothes, then do a fashion show or photoshoot in them to celebrate.
59. Attend an outdoor or rooftop yoga class. Or access one online that you can do outside.
60. Host a game night outside on the deck or patio. Ask everyone to bring a game they love!
61. Hang around on a swing set.
62. Don’t put your records on, and get yard seats for a major concert instead.
63. Take a journal and head outside—sketch what you see, explore what you’re feeling, or practice gratitude.
64. Sip your drink of a choice at a wine or beer tasting. Or, have a few friends over and host your own, inviting each friend to bring a favorite to try!
65. Visit a national park to cross off your bucket list. As a bonus for kids, see if the park offers a junior ranger program worth signing up for.
66. Channel your inner child: Look for four-leaf clovers, draw with chalk, climb a tree.
67. Forage (safely!) for food, like mushrooms, herbs, or fruit.
68. Stare at the clouds from a hammock.
69. Go on an aimless walk and call an old friend to catch up.
70. Host a Powerpoint party: Each attendee makes a three-minute presentation on the topic of their choice, from hot sauce to Beyonce.
71. Visit the library to check out a book or two or ten—we’re not judging.
72. Then, start a bookclub with friends, and choose nearby restaurants to meet up at.
73. Put on that audiobook or podcast you’ve been planning to listen to, and go for a relaxing stroll.
74. Have a full day or week to yourself? Try one of these 99 free or affordable self-care plans.
75. Turn to nature: Catch and release lightning bugs, watch a ladybug crawl along your leg, or admire bees pollinating nearby plants.
76. Join or start an intramural sports league, or go cheer on a local team.
77. Turn on the sprinklers, throw on a bathing suit, and run through!
78. Support an elderly neighbor and offer to mow their lawn or help with yard work.
79. Start a community garden with friends where locals can come and get what they need.
80. Head to a carnival or county fair. Ride all the rides, eat all the eats!
81. Take up a water sport—surfboarding, water-skiing, or learning how to swim.
82. DIY your own slip-and-slide with friends or family.
83. Tie-dye (or natural dye!) some apparel outside and hang on a line to dry.
84. Gather friends for a patio BBQ. Bonus points if you use a sustainable grill. 😉
85. If you don’t have backyard space, take a portable grill to the park. Just check their fire rules first!
86. Curious about forest bathing? Try it out for a couple of hours.
87. Press flowers, make prints using fallen leaves, or go for a nature photo walk (so you don’t have to take anything but photos!).
88. Attend open houses and scope out your dream home.
89. Revisit outdoor hobbies you used to love, like jumping rope, hula-hooping, or gardening.
90. Once the sun sets, play a round of flashlight tag.
91. Start composting! It’s easier than you think.
92. Make a time capsule for your future-self or community. What’s worth remembering right now?
93. Grab some magazines, glue, and paper, and head out to the patio: Time to vision-board your summer (or any season!).
94. Track down your local ice cream truck and get your childhood favorite.
95. Cannonball competition at the pool. ‘Nuff said.
96. Craft and cool off with some homemade popsicles.
97. Make your own kite with upcycled materials, then fly away.
98. Ready for a room refresh? Take the day to find affordable upgrades for your space.
99. Spread some joy with friends and strangers alike with a random act of kindness.
Henah Velez (she/her) is an Editor at The Good Trade. She holds a Master’s in Social Entrepreneurship and is a proud Rutgers grad. Originally from NJ, Henah’s now in Santa Barbara, CA, where she loves shopping small, hanging with her pets, or traveling. Say hi on Instagram!