28 Cheap or Free Family Activities: All the Fun without the Price Tag

Making memories with your family doesn’t have to break the bank. Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures, creative outlets, or cultural experiences, there are plenty of cheap or free family activities that can provide hours of enjoyment without busting your budget. In this article, we’ll explore 28 wallet-friendly activities.

Cheap or Free Family Activities

Group Of Friends Enjoying Outdoor Picnic In Garden

Family Picnic at a Local Park or Beach

One of the classic family fun activities that never goes out of style is a picnic.

Pack a delicious homemade lunch, grab a blanket, and head to a nearby park or beach. Enjoy the fresh air, beautiful surroundings, and each other’s company as you indulge in your favorite snacks and outdoor games.

Let the kids run around, play games, and explore the outdoors. A family picnic is not only an affordable way to enjoy a meal together but also a great opportunity to bond and relax in a natural setting.

Mini – Golf

Miniature golf is an activity that the entire family will love. It’s perfect for all skill levels! To keep it on the budget-friendly side, be sure to check their social media accounts or websites for deals and coupons.

Groupon is another great site to check for deals on activities.

DIY Drive-In

Whether your city is hosting Movies on the Lawn, or you set up your own backyard theater, there’s something really fun about watching a favorite movie– complete with snacks!– outdoors.

Nature Hike or Scenic Walk in a Nearby Nature Reserve

Immerse your family in the beauty of nature by embarking on a nature hike or a scenic walk in a nearby nature reserve. Lace up your walking shoes, grab a bottle of water and set off on an adventure.

Explore winding trails, observe wildlife, and take in the breathtaking views. It’s a wonderful way to reconnect with nature and each other.

Listen to an Audiobook

If there’s a book that’s been on your to-be-read list for a while, why not find the audio version (most libraries offer audiobooks)?

You can break this up over a series of nights for a book-listening marathon. If you’ve got younger children, you could break out puzzles or coloring pages to keep them busy while the book is playing.

DIY #NailedIt

If your family loves to bake, why not take it up a notch by picking one or two elaborate desserts to try to bake and decorate?

The team that comes the closest to replicating the desserts wins!

Visit a Local Library for Storytelling Sessions or Book Borrowing

Libraries are treasure troves of knowledge and entertainment, and they often offer free activities for families.

Check out your local library’s schedule for storytelling sessions, where children can listen to captivating stories brought to life by talented storytellers.

Additionally, some libraries offer more than just books, they have audiobooks and movies to check-out as well!

Family Movie Night

If being outdoors isn’t an option, why not create a cozy and memorable family movie night right in your living room?

Choose a selection of everyone’s favorite movies, pop some popcorn, and snuggle up on the couch together. Transform your space into a mini theater with dimmed lights and comfy blankets.

Enjoy the magic of cinema without the high cost of tickets and snacks. It’s a perfect opportunity to relax, laugh, and share cinematic experiences as a family.

Family Game Night with Board Games or Card Games

Unplug from screens and engage in some good old-fashioned family fun with a game night.

Dust off your board games or card decks and let the friendly competition begin. From classic games like Monopoly and Scrabble to card games like UNO and Go Fish, there’s something for everyone.

Gather around the table, laugh, strategize, and create lasting memories. 

Take a Bike Ride Together

Explore your neighborhood or local bike trails by taking a family bike ride.

Dust off the bicycles, put on helmets and hit the road together. It’s an excellent opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, get some exercise, and discover new places in your community.

Take turns leading the way, point out interesting sights, and enjoy being outside. Bike rides are not only budget-friendly but also promote physical fitness and a sense of adventure.

Go on a Scavenger Hunt

Organize a scavenger hunt in a nearby park or even in your own backyard.

Create a list of items or clues, and let the adventure unfold. Divide into teams and race against the clock to find the hidden treasures.

You can tailor the hunt based on your family’s interests, such as nature-themed items or riddles related to books and movies. It’s a thrilling and cost-effective way to spend quality time together.

DIY Arts and Crafts Session

Tap into your family’s creativity by organizing a do-it-yourself (DIY) arts and crafts session.

Gather materials from around the house, such as paper, scissors, glue, old magazines, and recycled items, and let your imaginations run wild.

Create homemade greeting cards, build sculptures, or make collages. The best part is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money on expensive art supplies.

Visit a Local Farmer’s Market

Take your family to a local farmer’s market.

Stroll through the vibrant stalls, admire the colorful array of fruits and vegetables, and engage with local farmers and artisans.

Farmer’s markets often offer samples, allowing you to explore new flavors and textures. Encourage your children to ask questions and learn about the different produce and products.

It’s an educational and budget-friendly way to support local businesses while connecting with your community.

Host a Family Talent Show or Karaoke Night

Unleash your family’s hidden talents by hosting a talent show or karaoke night.

Encourage each family member to showcase their skills, whether it’s singing, dancing, magic tricks, or playing a musical instrument. Set up a stage in your living room or backyard, invite friends or neighbors to be the audience, and let the performances begin.

two boys giving a thumbs up standing in front of tents outdoors

Plan a Family Camping Trip

If you’re looking for an adventure, plan a family camping trip.

Whether you pitch a tent in your backyard or venture to a nearby campsite, camping offers a unique opportunity to disconnect from technology and reconnect with each other and nature.

Roast marshmallows over a campfire, tell stories, gaze at the stars, and enjoy the simplicity of outdoor living. 

Take a Day Trip to a Nearby Town or City

Explore the wonders of nearby towns or cities by taking a day trip with your family.

Research interesting landmarks, museums, or parks that are within a reasonable driving distance. Plan an itinerary that includes free or low-cost attractions and activities, such as visiting historical sites, exploring local markets, or enjoying public parks. 

Visit a Playground or Community Park

When it comes to free family activities, playgrounds and community parks are a goldmine.

Take your children to a local playground and let them swing, climb, and slide to their heart’s content. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the open spaces, while kids engage in active play. Many parks also offer walking trails, sports fields, or splash pads, providing additional options for family fun.

Set Up a Family Garden

Get your hands dirty and set up a family garden.

Whether you have a backyard or a few pots on a balcony, gardening is a rewarding and budget-friendly activity.

Get everyone involved in selecting plants, preparing the soil, and planting. Watch as your garden grows and enjoy the satisfaction of harvesting fresh produce or beautiful flowers. 

Visit a Local Art Museum on Free Admission Days

Museums are fantastic educational resources, and many offer free admission days or discounted hours.

Research your local museums and take advantage of these opportunities to explore art, history, science, or culture with your family.

Museums often provide programs specifically designed for children, making it an enriching experience for the whole family. Check the museum’s website or contact them to find out about their free admission days or special offers.

Explore Local Hiking or Biking Trails

Nature has a way of rejuvenating the spirit and providing endless opportunities for family adventures.

Research nearby hiking or biking trails and embark on a nature-filled expedition. Lace up your shoes, grab your bikes or walking sticks, and set off together.

Discover hidden waterfalls, observe wildlife, and breathe in the fresh air. Pack some snacks and water, and enjoy the beauty of nature together.

Two teenage girls walk along a forest road in the warm autumn.

Volunteer as a Family

Volunteer work can be so incredibly rewarding and doing it as a family just makes it a little bit sweeter. 

Research local shelters, food banks, or organizations that accept family volunteers. Activities can range from serving meals at a soup kitchen to organizing or participating in a charity event.

Start Your Own Family Book Club

Does your family love to read? Why not start your own family book club?!

Choose a book that you think everyone will enjoy and set aside time to read through it. If you’ve got younger kids, you can do read-alouds as well as allowing older kids to take turns reading.

You can talk about the characters you love, themes in the book or even speculate about what’s going to happen next. 

You can visit your local library to pick up a book or two you think your family will love to keep it economical. 

Family Sports Day in a Local Park

Get active and organize a family sports day at a local park.

Pack sports equipment like a soccer ball, frisbee, or football, and head to an open space. Engage in friendly competitions, challenge each other’s skills, and have fun! 

A family sports day is a great way to get outside together, move your bodies and enjoy the sun!

Plan a Family DIY Home Improvement Project

Think out and plan a DIY home improvement project as a family and transform your living space.

Choose a project based on your family’s interests and skills, whether it’s painting a room, building a shelf, or creating a piece of furniture.

Work together to transform your living space.  Enjoy the process of working together as a family, and enjoy the satisfaction of completing a project that improves your home.

Have a Waterballoon Fight

When hot weather shows up at your door, there’s no better way to cool off with this crazy fun outdoor activity.

Water balloons are super inexpensive and one of my favorite affordable family activities. If you want to take it to the next level you can even break up into teams or create obstacles to hide behind to make more of a game of it.

Visit a Nearby National Parks, a Beach, or a Lake

If you live near a National park, beach or lake, take advantage of this natural playground. Spend a day swimming, building sandcastles, collecting seashells, or having a picnic by the water.

Enjoy the sun, and have fun in the water. Some places also have a place to rent kayaks or paddleboards. It’s a perfect way to beat the heat, relax, and enjoy quality time with your loved ones.

Visit a Food Festival

Food festivals are a lot of fun, especially if you really enjoy trying new food! These festivals usually have a variety of vendors where you are either able to try or purchase their dishes. 

Another great reason to visit these festivals is it’s a great way to try local restraunts you may have otherwise not known were in your town!

Create a Family Scrapbook

Gather your family’s cherished memories and create a scrapbook together. Collect photos, drawings, tickets, and other mementos from special occasions, vacations, or everyday moments. Arrange them creatively in a scrapbook, adding captions and personal touches.

Creating a family scrapbook can be a great collaborative effort and sentimental activity. It’s a meaningful keepsake that can be revisited for years to come.

It’s also a great way to reflect on the memories, laugh at funny anecdotes, and reminisce about past adventures.

Attend Free Community Events

Keep an eye out for free community events in your area, such as concerts, art festivals, parades, or outdoor movie screenings. Many communities host such events throughout the year so be sure to check your city’s website often.

Pack a picnic, bring a blanket, and immerse yourselves in the local culture. Enjoy live performances, admire the artwork, or join in festive celebrations.  They are an excellent way to enjoy quality time together without spending a dime.

Bringing It All Together

Spending quality time with your family doesn’t have to be expensive. The list of 29 cheap or free family activities presented in this article offers a range of options to suit different interests and budgets. 

Whether you choose to have a picnic at a local park, embark on a nature hike, or organize a DIY home improvement project, the key is to cherish the time spent together as a family. 

Photo of author


Kristen is the founder and content creator at Mom Managing Chaos where she teaches busy moms how to simplify and organize their life and finances. She writes about frugal living, budgeting, productivity and organization.