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15 budget-friendly ways to have fun this summer

If you’re craving a summer packed with exciting adventures, you aren’t alone. You don’t have to choose between summer fun and a season of saving. Check out our money-smart ways to have the best summer ever that won’t break the bank. 

Image of a five by five summer fun bingo card. The squares read: try gardening, make fresh lemonade, watch the sunrise, break a world record, make homemade ice cream, make a DIY charcuterie board, go out dancing, read a library book, host a field day, have a backyard movie night, join a sports team, go on a virtual tour, free space, go night swimming safely, visit a free museum, hide a time capsule, picnic in the park, explore the farmers market, watch fireworks, bike/run/walk a half marathon, take a road trip, visit or call an old friend, do a local food and drink tour, enjoy a festival or concert and take a tech-free day.

Arts and entertainment

1. Attend free museum days and local community events

Keep an eye on event calendars for any free entry days at museums, zoos and botanical gardens, as well as local parades and art fairs.

2. Check out local music

You don’t have to splurge on concert tickets — look at event management and ticket websites to find street fairs or concerts in the park.

Outdoor activities

3. Backyard movie night

All you need is a small projector, a Bluetooth speaker and a plain white sheet to project your movie on. Then, grab the blankets, popcorn and bug spray and settle in. (String lights optional but highly recommended.)

4. Pack a picnic for the park

Bring a Frisbee or enjoy your feast near water for an afternoon dip. Bonus points: Plan a BYOB, potluck-style picnic brunch with a group of friends.

5. Discover your green thumb

Whether it’s flowers, succulents or tomatoes, summer is the perfect time to work on your gardening skills — and you don’t need a yard to do it. Community gardens are a great way to meet others in your area and grow your own produce or share it with others.

6. Host a field day

Croquet, horseshoes, relay races, badminton, kickball and more — the options are endless. Gather neighborhood friends and family for some light-hearted competition and cap off the event with a potluck or BBQ.

7. Exercise outdoors

Skip the gym and get endorphins going outside. Try excursions like hikes or kayaking trips. Paddleboarding beats the elliptical any day — and can be just as tough.

8. Find the nearest body of water

Maybe it’s the neighborhood swimming pool, a nearby lake or the ocean — jumping in the water on a hot day is a summer staple ... and often free.


9. Join a rec sports league or club

Find an adult sports league, join a jogging club or attend an outdoor yoga class. Sign up with friends or use it as an opportunity to meet new people.

10. Explore the farmers market

Fresh produce, beautiful flowers, artisan goods — a farmers market is an ideal place to mosey around on a weekend morning. Go with a friend and plan to make a fresh and delicious lunch together afterwards using only farmers market finds. Or pick up a locally grown bouquet to bring to someone you haven’t seen in a while.

11. Bike a half marathon

No official race needed. Just search “bike trails near me” and you’ll be sure to find plenty of nearby options. Then, pick a scenic route, grab a helmet and water bottle and cross 13.1 miles off your list.

Create and explore

12. Take a day trip

Get up early on a Saturday morning, pack some snacks and hit the road to a neighboring town, park or venue.

13. Hide a time capsule

This is a super fun way to make memories with your kids, nieces and nephews or friends. Give everyone a few categories of items to collect, seal them up in a box and find somewhere safe to bury or hide it for the next few years. (Just don’t forget where it is.)

14. Make your own ice cream

All you need is cream, condensed milk and toppings of your choice! It’s that easy to prepare this sweet summer treat .

15. Make the most of a rainy day

A summer storm doesn’t mean the fun needs to be put on hold with the kiddos. Enjoy the great indoors with fun at-home activities like our Planet Zeee and the Money Tree book and learning activities or video games. Or, if your kiddos are itching to get out of the house, visit your local library where they can pick titles that offer the ultimate escape.

Skip the spending, not the fun

Use the features and tools in Ally Bank’s Savings Account to set aside funds for “summer fun,” and, armed with our bingo card of ideas, you’ll find some of the best ways to make the most of these long, hot days.

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