PRACTICAL MONEY SKILLS: 7 fun family activities for summer

Published: Monday, June 23, 2014 at 07:00 AM.

Summertime is just a few weeks away, and this is the perfect time to start thinking about how to make a memorable vacation season for your family.

Creating unforgettable family memories does not need to cost an arm and a leg. All it takes is a little energy, time and creative thinking. One idea is to have a "family fun brainstorm session" over popcorn and lemonade, and you'd be surprised at how many ideas the kids will have.

To help you get started, here are some other family activities to spark your imagination.

  1. Staycation: With the rising costs of gas, many families are opting to stay local and play tourists in their own backyards. Visit your local tourism office, go online or get tips from your family and friends on fun things to do in your neighborhood. Also look into nearby attractions such as museums, historical sites, parks, farmers' markets and zoos. Make dinner together and end the evening with family game night or a movie.

  2. Go outside: Kids love to get active and explore the great outdoors. Find some local hiking trails; take a family bike ride; head to a public lake, beach, or pool; walk to a nearby playground; or simply play ball, throw a frisbee or play badminton in your backyard.

  3. Summer movies and concerts: Many movie theaters offer summer matinee promotions that can make for a fun family outing and save you lots of money. Also, many communities offer movie and concert nights in the park where you can enjoy some free entertainment under the stars and possibly even meet some new neighbors.

  4. Visit a national park: Did you know there are almost 400 parks under the National Park System here in the U.S., including well-known destinations such as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite? Not only do these parks offer spectacular scenery and exciting experiences for everyone in your family, but depending on when and where you go the cost can be free or free entrance with parking costing as little as $10–$20.

  5. Host a block party: Speaking of neighbors, consider hosting a neighborhood potluck party. Get your kids involved in creating invitations or flyers and take a family walk to personally deliver the invites door-to-door. You will probably be surprised at the friendly reception you receive from your neighbors; this is also a great way to introduce an informal "Neighborhood Watch" program once people get a chance to meet each other.

  6. Take a class: Local stores and businesses often offer free classes, workshops and demonstrations during the summertime, with topics ranging from home repair, to gardening, to beading and artwork. Check out stores like Home Depot, Michael's and local libraries for classes in your area.

  7. Back-to-basics: When it comes to family fun, don't forget classic and simple ideas such as creating a lemonade stand, putting together a family play or concert, having a backyard campout or washing the car together. Often the simplest and most fun summer activities are also free.

If you're hoping your summer plans will involve some travel, check out this helpful calculator to budget your costs.

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