School is out in just a few weeks and that means one thing. Summer is just around the corner, and it’s time to start thinking about fun summer activities. My girls will be 4 and 6 this summer, and I decided not to enroll them in summer camp. People either think that’s the best idea given their ages, or that I’m crazy for not having a place to send them all day. We won’t be going on a summer vacation this year, so we’ll be spending our summer months at home and getting the kids out the door is always such a pain. We have a pool to go to and our kids are still so little. And we have our au pair, so I’ll still get some breaks. Here are some of our favorite summer activities to keep the whole family happy, busy, and engaged this summer. 


The Ultimate Guide to Fun Summer Activities to do With Kids


Summer is the perfect time to really make the most of your days. It stays lighter later and there’s just so much more to do. If your kids aren’t attending summer camp, it’s essential to create a well-balanced and engaging summer schedule. We have our au pair, so we’ll have help with the kids, but I want to make the most of the summer season. I don’t want our summer days to be overly structured, but don’t want our kids to sit around in their pajamas until 10 every morning. I do need to work and am trying to figure out what makes the most sense, but want to enjoy fun summer activities with my kids. I’ll probably do 2 full days with the kids, and work half days the other days. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy my favorite season. 


We’re going to have a (mostly) screen-free summer

I’ve also decided that we’re going to have a screen-free summer during the day. We’ll still do family movie nights, but no iPads or TV during the day while the weather is nice. Our kids have half the year to stay inside when it’s cold, so I want to get them outside as much as possible while it’s warm. We’re going to play and hang out at the pool, and hopefully it won’t feel like groundhog day.  


So let’s go over a screen-free, camp-free summer schedule

7:30-9:00: Wake up, have breakfast, and get ready for the day. 

9:00: Play outside before Jack’s nap. This is a great time to go on a morning walk.

9:30-11: Jack naps. The girls can play outside or do something indoors if the weather isn’t ideal. 

12:00: Lunch

1:00: Head out for some fun summer activities. This is when we’ll visit the local pool, a museum, the zoo, or another “field trip” type of activity. 

5:00: Family dinner. We’ll make dinner at home, go out, or eat at the pool. 

6:30: Jack goes to bed. Movie night or playing outside for the girls.

8:00: Bedtime 


Outdoor activities to do in your own backyard

Your backyard the perfect place to start having outdoor fun, and it’s right outside. Transform your yard into a hub of excitement and fun for the whole family. Host a backyard movie night under the stars with blankets, pillows, and popcorn for a cozy cinematic experience.  And don’t forget the classic activities like playing catch, having a picnic, or simply lounging in a hammock with a good book. From obstacle courses to games and water fun, there’s so much you can do right in your own backyard.


Have a picnic at your local park:

Gather your favorite food, a cozy blanket, and head to your nearest park for a  picnic. It’s a simple and wonderful way to spend quality time with loved ones and create lasting memories outdoors.


Go on a scavenger hunt:

Search for hidden treasures or specific items in your own backyard. It’s a fun activity that encourages teamwork, problem-solving, and outdoor exploration.


Play with water balloons:

I like these reusable ones. Better for the planet and easy enough for little kids to use on their own. 


Watch an outdoor movie:

I don’t want my kids watching TV during the day, but there’s something so fun about a movie night. And the best way to have a movie night is on a big screen under the stars.


Make a backyard obstacle course:

Get creative and design a backyard obstacle course for a day of active fun and adventure. Use everyday items like hula hoops, cones, and jump ropes to create challenges and obstacles for kids to navigate. 


Plant a garden:

Dig into the earth and cultivate your own garden oasis. Whether it’s vibrant flowers, lush vegetables, or fragrant herbs, planting a garden offers a sense of connection to nature and the satisfaction of nurturing life. From preparing the soil to sowing seeds and watching plants grow, gardening is a rewarding and therapeutic activity that brings joy and beauty to your outdoor space.


Roast marshmallows:

Gather around the campfire or fire pit and indulge in the simple pleasure of roasting marshmallows. Whether you prefer them golden brown and gooey or charred to perfection, roasting marshmallows is a beloved summertime tradition that brings people together. Enjoy them on their own or sandwiched between graham crackers and chocolate for a classic treat that’s sure to delight taste buds of all ages.


Play with sidewalk chalk:

Unleash your creativity and add a splash of color to the pavement with sidewalk chalk. Whether you’re drawing pictures, creating hopscotch grids, or writing messages of positivity, sidewalk chalk offers endless opportunities for artistic expression and outdoor fun. It’s a simple yet enjoyable activity that sparks imagination, encourages physical activity, and brightens up any neighborhood or driveway.


Stomp rockets:

Stomp rockets are a thrilling outdoor activity that combines science, engineering, and pure excitement, providing hours of entertainment and educational fun for kids and adults alike.


Water activities:

My kids love their water table – it’s a fun way to spend a hot day, and great for toddlers and little kids. These reusable water balloons are a huge hit, too. 


Host a BBQ: 

I love hosting BBQs – such a summer get together, the food is always great, and nothing feels more like summer. 


Go camping in your own backyard: 

Ok, so I’m not really one to want to sleep in our yard, but we have coyotes here so that’s why. But if that’s not the case for you, grab a tent and go camping in your backyard and sleep under the stars. 



This is another favorite. Nothing beats sitting under a sky full of stars on a warm summer night. 



We love these soft disc frisbees. They’re fun and easier for little kids to catch and throw. 


Indoor summer activities

While I want to be outside as much as possible, some days are too hot, and we can’t forget about summer rainstorms. Indoor summer activities offer a break from the heat. Dive into projects like crafting, painting, and drawing. Host a movie marathon in a fort with your favorite films. Experiment in the kitchen with new recipes or have a baking day with cookies, cakes, and treats. Organize a board game tournament with family or friends for friendly competition and laughter-filled moments. Try your hand at indoor gardening with potted plants or herbs to bring a touch of nature indoors. AWith a little creativity and imagination, indoor summer activities can be just as enjoyable and fulfilling as outdoor adventures.


Visit a children’s museum:

From science and technology to art and history, these museums offer learning experiences that entertain and educate children of all ages. Museums are a great way to encourage exploration, creativity, and discovery.


Make ice cream:

Making ice cream at home is a fun and delicious summer activity for the whole family. With just a few simple ingredients and an ice cream maker, you can whip up delicious treats that everyone will love.


Visit your local aquarium:

Explore exhibits and learn about the importance of ocean conservation at your local aquarium. 


Cook or bake one new recipe every week:

Expand your culinary horizons and unleash your inner chef by cooking or baking one new recipe every week. Whether it’s a savory dish, sweet treat, or exotic cuisine, trying new recipes is a fun and rewarding way to explore new flavors.


Try rock painting:

Channel your creativity and spread joy in your community with rock painting. Gather smooth stones, paint brushes, and vibrant colors, and let your imagination run wild as you decorate rocks with colorful designs, inspirational messages, or whimsical characters. 


Make a fairy garden:

Create a magical oasis of enchantment with a fairy garden. Use a container or small outdoor space to design a miniature landscape filled with tiny plants, whimsical decorations, and charming fairy houses.


Write a book:

Unleash your inner storyteller and embark on a literary adventure by illustrating a book with your kids.


Make a fort:

Gather blankets, pillows, and furniture to create a comfy fort where you can read, play games, or simply relax and unwind. It’s a nostalgic and fun-filled activity that sparks creativity and brings out the kid in everyone.


Tie-dye t-shirts:

Add a pop of color to your wardrobe with tie-dye t-shirts. Gather plain white shirts, rubber bands, and vibrant dyes, and get creative with different folding and twisting techniques to create unique and colorful designs. 


Make friendship bracelets:

We got very into friendship bracelets when we were getting ready for the ERAS tour. Friendship bracelets are a fun way to celebrate and honor friendship, and my girls love making them.


Play board games:

Whether it’s a a round of Monopoly or the game of Life (my daughter’s two favorites) board games are fun way to encourage a little friendly competition. 


Summer activity ideas

These are some of the adventures that we’re planning to have this summer. We spend a lot of time at the pool and want to spend more time doing new things in our city. I am admittedly not the best about this during the school year since weekends are always so much busier, and it’s so cold here in the winter months. I’m planning on really making the most of summer this year!


Visit your local pool: 

This is one of our favorite summer activities. Grab a fun raft and head to the pool for the afternoon. Our kids love swimming, and our local pool has a toddler pool that’s perfect for little kids to sit and play in. 


Visit your local farmer’s market: 

This is something I’d like to do with the kids every week. Visit your local farmer’s market to support community agriculture and enjoy fresh, locally grown produce. It’s a great way to connect with farmers, discover unique products, and promote sustainable living.


Attend an outdoor concert:

Get some fresh air and enjoy live music – summer is a great time to attend a free concert with the whole family. 


Miniature golf:

Miniature golfing is a great way to spend quality time together while helping them develop their hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills.


Visit a local amusement park:

Visit a local amusement park to experience thrilling rides, entertaining shows, and a variety of fun activities for all ages. It’s the perfect destination for a day of summer fun. 


Go bike riding:

Bike rides are a fun and healthy way to connect with your kids. 


Head to the splash pad:

I don’t like water parks, but can get behind a local splash pad. My kids know how to swim this summer after completing survival swim, so I’m excited to do this with them. 


Visit a local arboretum:

If you’re hoping to spend time in nature, head to your local arboretum. It’s also a great way for kids to get their energy out. 


Plan a day trip downtown:

I want to say that I’d like to take the kids downtown once a week, but I prefer a low bar, so I’m going with twice a month. I plan on having an adventure when we go – we’ll visit the beach, zoo, aquarium, nature museum, and city parks. 


Go to the beach:

We almost never go to the beach in downtown Chicago but it’s such a fun way to spend a few hours. 


Visit your local zoo:

We love Oak Brook zoo in the Chicago suburbs and the Lincoln Park Zoo downtown. 


Visit a local farm:

Visit a local farm to gain firsthand experience of agricultural life and see where your food comes from. Enjoy activities like picking fresh produce, meeting farm animals, and understanding sustainable farming practices.


Go zip-lining: 

My kids our little, so our zip-lining experience would need to be pretty low to the ground, but it’s something fun that they like doing. And bonus: our neighbors have a zip-line.


Go on a nature walk:

Take a nature walk and immerse yourself in the beauty and tranquility of the outdoors. It’s a peaceful way to exercise, relax, and rejuvenate while connecting with the natural world.


Have a picnic at a park or beach: 

Have a picnic at a park or beach to enjoy a delicious meal in a scenic outdoor setting with family or friends. It’s a perfect way to relax, play games, and soak up the sunshine and fresh air.


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