I’ll put my cards on the table and tell you all up front—I don’t love summer. I do love my birthday, which happens to be in the summertime! But I don’t love sweating and bug bites and not being able to start the dang weed-eater. However, I have made an effort the past couple of years to enjoy summer when it rolls around by making a list of fun things to do and referring to it throughout the season. And because I am a penny-pincher, you won’t have to sweat your bank account balance to pull off these ideas. All ten will only set you back $10 or less.
(Side note: I make no apologies for the number of times ice cream is mentioned in this article.)
1. Sip mint tea on the front porch
This is simple and sweet, and last summer, it became a routine I thoroughly enjoyed. I kept a small mint plant and clipped leaves to add to my iced tea and sparkling water all summer long. If you’re really feeling those chill, summertime vibes, pull up the Louis Armstrong or Ella Fitzgerald Pandora station and set the mood with some old-fashioned tunes. Ahhhh! Front porch living is where it’s at.
2. Take a trip to the farmers market
The farmers market in my little town is a happening place on Saturday mornings! They serve a giant breakfast (biscuits and gravy, sausage, eggs, sliced tomatoes, and coffee) for $5 and always have live musicians playing, too. I love to go with a couple friends and look around, even if I don’t buy anything. If you are in the mood to shop, fresh produce abounds this time of year and you can often score a gorgeous bouquet of fresh flowers on the cheap, too.
3. Make homemade ice cream
This is easy if you already have an ice cream maker and so much fun to experiment with different ingredients! But even if you don’t, there are lots of recipes online that don’t require any equipment. Click here for starters.
4. Visit an orchard
I’m not sure what’s in season where you live, but it is currently blueberry season in my region and it’ll be time for peaches soon. Several of our local berry farms and orchards will let you come and pick your own fruit for pretty cheap. It’s great to take home and eat right away or freeze for fruity treats later!
5. Go for a midnight swim
If you’ve got friends who have a pool, this is such a fun treat! At the summer camp I went to growing up, we had an annual midnight swim, usually toward the end of the week. It wasn’t ever at midnight—more like 10 PM. But we got to swim at night, stay up late, and eat ice cream. I’ve repeated the tradition as an adult and discovered that it hasn’t lost its appeal.
6. Catch some live music outdoors
Keep an eye out for concerts or festivals in your community and catch a band or two. Many of these have free admission or ticket prices that are pretty reasonable. Hot summer days can be a drag, but cool summer nights are perfect for taking your lawn chair to the park or downtown to enjoy local musicians.
7. Drive-in movies
There is a drive-in movie theater that looks exactly like the one in Grease very close to where I live, and going there is a summer tradition. Movies start late (close to sunset), but for $7, you can watch two movies under the stars from your comfy lawn chair (or the back of your pick-up truck if that’s how you roll). We also have outdoor movies at the park and other locations, too, so be sure to check your options locally. The cost of entrance is usually small, and you can bring your own concessions to save some cash!
8. Check out a museum
By the time August rolls around, I am so done with summer and very happy to stay indoors where I can enjoy the A/C. This is the perfect time to visit a museum and spend an afternoon wandering the cool corridors, enjoying the arts or history or science. Most museums have days of the week or specific hours when the public can look around for free or at a discounted rate, so check with museums in your area for budget-friendly options. And if you’re a student or senior citizen, be sure to ask about special rates.
9. Yard Sale Game
This is more fun with a group, but here’s the idea: scan your local newspaper for yard sales happening on an upcoming Saturday. Pick a few, make a route, and have a friendly competition to see who can get the best deal for under $1. You’ll have fun seeing who can wrangle the best price and what qualifies as a “worthy” purchase—one gal’s trash is another gal’s treasure, after all. And with fun that comes this cheap, you can splurge on ice cream afterward!
10. Plant some bulbs
Depending on where you live, late summer or early fall might be a great time to plant flower bulbs that will bloom the following spring. Spring-blooming varieties of flowers include daffodils, tulips, irises, and hyacinth to name a few. As summer winds down and the nights start to get a little cooler, pick up a bag of bulbs from your local gardening center and plop a few in the ground. When spring comes around and your yard is full of color, you’ll be glad you did!