Thanks to this huge list of fantastically fun things to do in summer, there’s no need for school break boredom! We have all the best ideas for outdoor activities, water play, arts and crafts, indoor activities, summer learning and more!
With tons of inexpensive at-home options, you can start making memories right away!
Outdoor Summer Adventures
Perhaps the best part of summer is getting outdoors and enjoying a little fun in the sun. These first 42 activities will help you do exactly that! There are tons of family-fun ideas for when you want a little togetherness, and plenty of kid-only ideas for when you need a little break!
- Host or attend a stargazing party.
- Fly a kite, or attend a local kite festival.
- Visit a natural playground.
- Volunteer to clean up your local park.
- Go on a family-friendly hike.
- Go pole fishing down at the creek or lake.
- Learn how to fly fish.
- Go zip lining.
- Picnic in the park or in your backyard.
- Visit the local zoo.
- Play an exciting yard game like Can Jam, Ladder Ball, or Croquet.
- Explore a local petting zoo.
- Visit a new playground.
- Pick your own fruits and vegetables at a local u-pick farm.
- Visit an amusement park.
- Go camping.
- Host or attend a bonfire.
- Play mini-golf.
- Visit a living history museum.
- Ride go-karts.
- Visit a botanical garden or arboretum.
- Take a stroll through Market Square.
- Visit your local farmers’ market.
- Attend a FREE outdoor concert.
- Find your center at a family-friendly outdoor yoga class.
- Walk or bike the local greenways.
- Take a free trip to Safety City in downtown Knoxville, an outdoor miniature city that teaches bicycling safety.
- Go mountain biking.
- Take Fido to the dog park. *Please remember that dog parks are for dogs, not kids. Kids should be closely supervised at all times.
- Throw an outdoor BBQ.
- Grab some tasty grub at a local food competition, like The Big Kahuna Wing Festival, or Pesto Festo.
- See the synchronous fireflies.
- Take a scenic drive.
- Watch a movie under the stars at the local drive-in.
- Pick wildflowers.
- Hunt for bugs and insects.
- Tag monarch butterflies at Tremont.
- Let your kids enjoy some summer fun at one of the many summer camps throughout the region.
- Connect with family by dining alfresco.
- Explore a family-friendly festival like the Children’s Festival of Reading, the Rossini Festival, or the Great Smoky Mountain Balloon Festival.
- Go horseback riding.
- Invent a brand new yard game using supplies you have around your house.
We live in the South y’all and sometimes it’s hotter than blazes outside! These fun water play ideas will help you beat the heat so you can get back to enjoying your summer!
- Visit a local splash pad.
- Run through a sprinkler.
- Try building your own sprinkler by poking holes in a 2 liter bottle, and then taping a hose to the pour spout.
- Take a dip in the pool.
- Bring out the old slip & slide.
- Have a wet sponge fight, with a cheap $1 pack of sponges.
- Visit a local swimming hole.
- Rent paddle boards.
- Learn to kayak.
- DIY a fun outdoor water play area, using a storage container and bath toys.
- Build and sail recycled boats using materials like tin foil, sticks, tape, and old plastic food containers.
- Visit a pond to catch tadpoles.
- Have fun learning with water balls.
- Start a water balloon fight.
- Spray battle with squirt guns.
- Visit a water park.
- Take swimming lessons.
- Create an obstacle course in the pool using noodles, hula hoops, and more!
- Play in the bathtub on a gloomy day.
- Let the kids have a little good clean fun helping you wash your car!
Arts and Crafts
Art projects have so many benefits for both kids and adults. In addition to having a calming effect, art projects can help develop creativity, problem solving skills, perseverance, motor skills, and more.
When art projects are completed together as a family, you can fill your home with handmade memories!
- Paint sea shells you collect on your beach vacation.
- Paint flower pots.
- Paint Kindness Rocks to brighten up your town!
- Use natural items like flowers, cat tails, etc. as paint brushes.
- Try using colored sand to make a sneaky hidden sand painting.
- Get crafty with yarn by wrapping sticks, rocks, vases, flower pots and anything else you can think of!
- Create a colorful pine cone project.
- Design a beautiful concrete or plaster stepping stone.
- Help your kids sprinkle their broken crayons into silicone molds. Then, melt them in the oven using low heat. Once cooled and hardened, pop out your new rainbow crayons.
- Use spray bottles to spritz a fun and nature painting.
- Make masks out of paper plates. Glue a craft stick to the side as a handle.
- Transform ordinary leaves into delightfully silly faces.
- Use wax paper to press flowers between the pages of heavy books, then use them to create nature collages and other paper crafts.
- Let the kids get a little messy making fun mud prints.
- Take an art class.
- Scratch your way to a relaxing day with this soothing scratch painting project.
- Create a sidewalk chalk masterpiece.
- Make friendship bracelets.
- Tie dye shirts.
- Glue paper scraps and magazine clippings onto paper to create a fun summer collage!
Indoor Summer Adventures
In East Tennessee we know all too well what type of devastation can be fueled by a drought. So, lets embrace those rainy days as a blessing with a little help from these local indoor attractions!
- Paint your own pottery.
- Visit the indoor playground at your local mall.
- Splash down at an indoor water park.
- Play at one of the local children’s museums.
- Expand your mind at a history museum or science center.
- Attend Kids Day at the Knoxville Museum of Art.
- Jump at the trampoline park.
- Take a train ride through the Smokies.
- Try a game of indoor mini-golf.
- Go bowling.
- Enjoy a free story time or educational class at your local library.
- Play laser-tag.
- Try a free kids’ make-and take at Home Depot, usually held the first Saturday of the month.
- Make slime and other fun summer treats every Saturday at Michael’s craft store.
- Enjoy a comedic dinner show.
- Enjoy the indoor visitor center attractions in GSMNP.
- Visit an indoor nature center, like IJAMS.
- Get friendly with fish at the aquarium.
- Go ice skating or roller skating.
- Play trivia night at a local restaurant.
Small Building Projects
If you or your kids like building projects, these inexpensive builds will be the perfect addition to your summer vacation. All of these projects are made using un-treated cedar fence pickets which are naturally moisture resistant and only cost between $2-$3 each!
- Build a bird house.
- Modify the bird house plans to design a magical fairy house.
- Create a DIY bird feeder.
- Build your own raised garden bed by making a box out of 4 or more cedar fence pickets.
- Build a bug hotel.
Fun Frozen Treats
Is summer even summer without ice cream and tasty frozen desserts? Of course not! Thankfully, these fun ideas for frozen treats are all easy enough to make together as a family, and totally delicious!
- Shake things up with this fun recipe for ice cream in a bag.
- Make 1 ingredient mango sorbet by placing frozen mango chunks in the food processor until creamy.
- Make coconut milk ice pops.
- Design a unique ice cream sandwich, like these banana cream pie versions.
- Don’t be afraid to phone it in with healthy DIY freezer pops made from 100% fruit juice. Your kids won’t care that they aren’t fancy and will still have a blast making them.
- Make 1 ingredients banana “ice cream” by placing frozen banana chunks in the food processor until creamy.
- Kick the fun up another notch with this “kick the can” ice cream making method.
- Make your smoothies extra refreshing by adding ice to the blender in addition to frozen fruit. This will create a thicker milkshake-like effect.
- Freeze grapes for a 1 ingredient, low prep, healthy snack.
- Freeze pudding in freezer pop molds for a quick and tasty pudding pop. The flavor and mix-in ideas are endless!
Switch Up Your S’Mores
S’mores are another summer staple, but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring. Check out these creative ideas for switching up your s’mores this year!
- Use different flavors of graham crackers.
- Swap out the graham crackers all together. Instead, use any kind of cookie, cracker, chip, or fruit slice your heart desires.
- Break way from plain chocolate. Instead experiment with different types of candy bars including white chocolate, and caramel. Bars with nuts and nugget are fair game too!
- Try adding a drizzle of honey, jam, caramel, nut butters, or maple syrup for an added kick of flavor.
- Create a s’mores buffet party, where the fixings are plentiful and the combinations are endless!
Building Brain Power
School is finally on break and this is your big chance to bring learning to life as a family. Read new books, explore new topics, and make learning exciting!
- Pick a chapter book everyone can enjoy and read it aloud as a family. Think along the lines of Harry Potter, Little House on the Prairie, Magic Tree House, Chronicles of Narnia, etc.
- Join the summer reading program at your local library.
- Take leisurely nature walks, allowing time to make scientific observations along the way. This includes catching bugs and exploring textures, sights, sounds and more!
- Set up an indoor nature table for science exploration when it’s simply too hot to step foot outside!
- Spend the summer bird watching. This can even be done in your own backyard. There are free phone apps to help you recognize the various species of birds and their calls.
- Create an outdoor reading nook that begs your family members to sit down, curl up, and open a book.
- Download this free summer constellation map and spend your summer nights together searching for pictures in the stars!
- Learn about wildlife through one of the free educational programs offered by Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cherokee National Forest.
- Join in on an educational program at one of our local nature centers or animal rescues.
- Explore the wonder of flight at the local aviation museum.
Happy summer y’all!