20 fun and FREE outdoor summer activities that young children will love

Outdoor forts, picnics in the park, homemade water fun —and more!—will keep children busy for hours.

20 fun and FREE outdoor summer activities that young children will love

We're so grateful for Pinterest. And Google. And other people's ideas.


Especially because at times, our lives get so busy that we simply run out of ideas as CEO (Chief Entertainment Officer) of our homes. But we also know that life runs better when we are equipped with easy-to-set-up, inexpensive (or better yet, free) activities to capture our little one's energy and attention.

Remember the 'busy lives' thing? We know you have a lot going on, so we created a list of 20 of our favorite outdoor activities to wow your children with this summer and beyond. You do the set up, and then kick back and let the kids go to town.

Water walls are genius ideas, just like this one from Mama OT. You can piece one of these together in your backyard with Tupperware, old yogurt containers, plastic bottles, tubes, etc. Endless water fun.

Kids love playing with water, and they love being in control. Set up a little car wash up for them outside and let them clean their Cozy Coupe themselves.They will be proud and happy. (And their car will be clean!)

How beautiful is this backyard? Set up a row of stepping logs and let your little ones practice their balance and have fun hopping from log to log.

Set up your very own water table using a big plastic container and any small table you can plop it on or into. Then, from cleaning their toy cars and animals to splashing and pouring...you've given your kiddo a couple of hours of entertainment.

Practice makes perfect, right? Start your kids early and by the time they can help with the "real laundry" they will basically be professionals.

Who doesn't love dirt? Okay, Mom might not always love it...but toddlers sure do. Give them permission to play, and even paint with dirt. Instructions: dip in water, dip in dirt, paint, have fun!

Drop your little guy or gal in one of these tubs —and add some balls or toys. You're sure to hear lots of giggles and squeals. (Always be sure to supervise during any water activity.)

Freeze toys in ice cube trays or a block of ice then let your little ones whittle away at the ice to rescue their toys!

Spray parks are awesome and they are spreading like wildfire across our country. Look up your local area to see where the closest one is.

Your baby is never to young for a nature walk! Taking them outside to see trees, birds, leaves, flowers, and more is stimulating and important for their brain development. Here are some tips for a successful walk.

Playgrounds are lifesavers. Our motto is, "when in doubt, go to the playground." There are so many across our country; find your closest parks here. Thanks 'Map of Play!'

Summer brings many free and wonderful activities for the community. Included in that is often a free outdoor summer movie series (all you have to do is put in a Google search to find movies playing near you.)

Look up your nearest farmers markets, then plan your visit. Your kiddo will love looking at all the colorful fruits and vegetables all while smiling and waving at each vendor.

Warm weather was made for picnicking. Your children will love eating dinner outside (who doesn't like a change of scenery?).

Plan a visit to one of our national parks. Only 127 of our country's 407 national parks charge an entry fee, and the ones that do charge offer a few free days throughout the summer.

"Let's go fly a kite!" Make your own, then fly it for hours out in the sunshine. Most items should be easily found in your home.

Win the coveted "Coolest Mom Award" by creating an outdoor fort out of sheets. Good luck trying to get your little one out of it when you need to go inside!

Host a toy swap and trade some of your tired, played-out toys with with other families! Here are some tips to pull off your own toy swap. This is something you can easily set up outside so your kiddos can play while the mamas shop and trade.

Get the chalk out, decorate the driveway, and strike a pose! Your child will love checking out the photos when you're done.

When the hot weather comes, we want to be by water. Check out the local beach, lake, pond, river, brook, or town pool (really any body of water will do!) to help beat the heat. Don't forget to read these tips first, so you're well prepared.

In This Article