Summer Bucket List: 30 Fun and Frugal Things to Do in Summer on a Budget

Here are 30 fun and frugal things to add to your summer bucket list!

Summer is here, which means it is time for doing some fun things with friends, or by yourself! Who doesn’t love the sunshine and the occasional summer rain that makes the air so much fresher and the grass so much greener? Here are a list of ideas that really should go on your summer bucket list. While some may cost you some money, others are completely free! Let’s go check them out!

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1. Go to the beach and build a sand castle

Who doesn’t love the beach, especially during the summer time? Watching the white sand and listening to the waves splashing against the shore are for sure items that ought to be on your summer bucket list. But why not go one step further, and build a sand castle? It will be one of those memorable and fun summer activities that you can do alone, or with your friends. Not to mention that you can take a picture of your sand castle at the end of it and store the photograph in your album forever.

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2. Go for a swim

If you love water and summer, this is a no-brainer. Go to the nearest lake or ocean where you can swim, and embrace what nature has to offer. If you don’t happen to live near a natural body of water, You can choose to hang out at a public pool. You can go to your local YMCA, or somewhere fancier like a hotel. If your apartment building comes with a free pool, now is the time to take advantage of it for sure!

What if you don’t know how to swim? Maybe it is time to take some lessons! Swimming is a great sport for your back for those of us who sit in front of a desk all day, and it is an important survival technique that is certainly useful to have.

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3. Do some water sports

Since we are talking about summer bucket list and the beach, one fun thing to do that I cannot miss is doing water sports! Do you have a favourite water sport? If not, it is time to explore! Kayaking, canoeing, stand up paddle boarding, these are all fun activities that you can do while getting some nice splashes of water to cool you down.

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4. Hike in the nearby national park

National parks are the treasures of our mother earth. The green trees, the hidden trails, the clear streams and the waterfalls are all wonders of nature waiting for you to discover. Below is a list of things you should bring with you if you do decide to go visit a national park:

  • A water bottle full of water
  • Insect repellant
  • Sunscreen
  • A simple but nutrition-packed lunch
  • Comfortable and weather-appropriate shoes and outfit
  • Cell phone or other forms of communication
  • First-aid kit
  • Hand sanitizer
  • If you are looking for an even more comprehensive list, check out this article by REI Co-Op!

You are now all set to explore nature! It is certainly one of the items worth putting onto your summer bucket list.

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5. Dine al fresco

Let’s enjoy the sunshine and the warmth that only summer can confer on us, and dine al fresco! Having a picnic with your friends for sure belongs on your summer bucket list.

One side benefit of having a picnic is that because you no longer have to pay for labour, sales taxes and tips at a restaurant, you can save quite a bit of money, even if you pack fancy sausages and cheese and side dishes. I highly recommend a picnic as one of the fun things to do in summer for those of us who are frugal and financially-savvy.

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6. Brunch with your friends on the rooftop

Who doesn’t love enjoying a nice brunch with your friends, especially on the roof top with the sun smiling in the sky! Summer is the perfect time for such a fun activity. It is definitely worthy of a spot on your summer bucket list.

Use this time to venture out of your comfort zone. Try a dish from the brunch menu that you have never tried before. You may find a new favourite!

7. Have a summer party

It is time to put on a cute little summery dress or a nice T-shirt and shorts, and head out for a summer party! Green leafy lettuce dancing with freshly cut tomatoes and naughty olives in a nice Greek salad dressing, meat hot on the grill with the classic signature charcoal patterns, and iced cold beer or non-alcoholic beverages are all components for my version of a successful summer party. There is no time to wait. Start planning now!

Of course, with the pandemics going on, we need to make sure that we have a summer party in a socially responsible way. Let’s make sure that we keep one another safe by maintaining safe social distances, and wash our hands! The circumstances for sure will make this year’s summer party unforgettable and unique.

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8. Play games in the park

This is another one of the fun summer activities you can do with your friends. Let’s stop staring at our computer screens, go outside, and play some old-fashioned games with your friends! Ultimate frisbee is for sure something suitable and fun for the present moment. There’s nothing better than enjoying some sunshine with your friends while getting your heart rate up!

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9. Have an ice cream date with your best friend, or your significant other

In my opinion, a summer is not complete without some ice cream. I know it has quite a bit of sugar, but as long as you consume it in moderation, it can still be a part of your diet without causing a negative impact on your waist line. Not to mention ice cream is such a sweet treat for your mind and your soul!

I recommend that you add a small twist to this item on your summer bucket list. Instead of going to the usual spot, you may consider checking out a different neighbourhood for the ice cream. Instead of having the standard chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry ice cream, pick a new flavour like taro or pistachio, or even charcoal! A new part of town or a new flavour will for sure add some originality into your daily life.

10. Dance under the stars

There is nothing more romantic than dancing under the stars with your significant other. Writing about this fun summer bucket list item brings me back to She’s All That starring Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook. The theme song, “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer, is still one of my favourite romantic songs of all times. Find a star-lit night, and invite your significant other to join you for a romantic dance.

11. Get yourself a new outfit

Of course, a romantic dance under the stars is not complete without some nice outfit. It is a perfectly valid excuse to give yourself some much needed self-love and get yourself a nice dress or a shirt. Even if you aren’t looking for a complete outfit makeover, getting a nice accessory, such as a pair of new earrings or a new scent, can add more than a hint of freshness and excitement.

12. Go to a farmers’ market

Summer is the perfect season to enjoy some hustle and bustle of a farmers’ market. Not only can you get the freshest in-season fruit such as watermelon and mangoes, you can also find home-style baked bread and pastries, and so much more.

As I am writing this paragraph, I cannot help picturing the freshest baguettes and sourdoughs that I have come across in my local farmer’s market. This is certainly a fun activity to in the summer time, and worth to be added to your summer bucket list.

13. Eat summery fruit

Now we come back from the farmers’ market, it is time to eat the fresh fruits we just bought. You can just eat the fruits on their own, or make some fruit yogurt parfait, or even turn them into a salad to bring to your summer party!

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14. Do a road trip

The weather is clear and the road is clean, there isn’t a better time to cross that “do-a-road-trip” item off your bucket list than summer! Road trips are so much fun and offer so much flexibility. I typically like to plan ahead for a few things that I absolutely want to see, but still leave some blank space in my trip planner for some spontaneity.

One of my fondest summer memories growing up was a cross-California road trip my dad and I did when I was 10. We visited Disneyland, saw flamingos in the San Diego zoo, and got splashed by water in the SeaWorld. It has been quite a few years since then, but I still distinctly remember many scenes like they just happened yesterday.

I highly recommend that you add a road trip to your summer bucket list. Even if you don’t have enough time to do a week-long trip, you can at least plan a day trip and visit a town nearby. To this day, my family still do this quite often. Every time we come back with some fresh perspectives and appreciation for nature and culture, and for one another.

15. Go on a camping trip

Instead of a road trip to a major city or town, a camping trip can be a fantastic alternative. Not only will you be close to nature, you will also have fun doing lots of hands-on activities, like heating up food, starting a fire, or building a tent. They will certainly teach you a thing or two about surviving in nature.

Even if you don’t want to do a long drive, you can camp in your backyard! Kids will for sure love this fun summer activity. When I was a kid, even switching beds was an adventure, not to mention being able to sleep in a tent and watching the stars late at night! Oh, and don’t forget some S’mores!

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16. Do some people watching

I love to be an observer of people. Watching people coming and going and picking up a few idiosyncrasies about them make me appreciate fellow human beings so much more. There is a story behind every individual. What brought them to this coffee shop, this park, or this neighbourhood? Out of the 7.6 billion people living in this world, you and these people cross path. It is certainly a miracle.

Don’t stare though, and don’t make fun of people. You are simply an observer of their lives. Don’t turn into an intruder.

17. Do some animal watching

Animal watching is another fun activity to do in the summer, when pets are out, and wild animals are active. Watch these cute little creatures of the world. Ants, butterflies, bunnies, squirrels, cats, dogs, deer, you name it. I love watching bunnies eat grass. They devote so much attention to eating, their little mouths moving so quickly. It almost makes the grass seem delicious even to me!

Closely observing animals certainly gives me pleasure and a greater sense of belonging to the world. It also slows the world down for me, and gives me some time to appreciate the little creatures I may have overlooked when I am busy running around. Maybe it will have the same impact on your as well.

18. Listen to the thunderstorm

Thunderstorm is a common phenomenon especially in the summer time. Although the thunders can be loud and the accompanying lightning can be bright, I can find a strange sense of tranquility while listening to and observing a thunderstorm. This feeling is typically enhanced by a cup of warm tea or coffee on hand. Try placing your focus on observing this unusual gift of nature. You may find some beauty in it the same way I do.

19. Find one educational/self-improvement channel on YouTube that you like

Summer (or any season really) is a great time to focus on self-improvement. One item that you can easily weave into your life is finding one self-improvement or educational channel on YouTube. Most of us have all spent a bit too much time on YouTube, haven’t we? So why not leverage this wonderful platform for some self-improvement, or for learning something new? A bonus is that the channels, in addition to being educational, are also fun and visually appealing.

Some of the channels I like include:

  • POPSUGAR Fitness
  • Patriot Act

What are some of the channels you like? Leave a comment down below if you have any other recommendations!

20. Find one food blogger, and make one dish using his/her recipe

This one is somewhat related to the YouTube point above, in that instead of browsing aimlessly online, you are doing something productive with what the Internet has to offer. There are so many food bloggers nowadays. Why not follow one, and make one dish following the exact recipe?

One platform that I think is great for discovering food bloggers is Pinterest. Their pins are usually beautiful and informative, showing you the final results of their recipes for you to easily pick and choose. If you do decide to go to Pinterest, you may want to stop by my account and give me a follow!

21. Make a meal for your family

Many people take some days off in the summer. One of the fun things you can do on your vacation is to make a nice meal for your family. This is easier now that you have found your favourite food blogger! Find some recipes, and give it a try! You will be proud of what you make.

22. Make your own beer

If you are feeling adventurous, making your own beer can be a really interesting and fun thing to try in the summer. If you are an amateur who just wants to give beer making a try, you can consider purchasing a beer kit. I personally tried this beer making kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop. Though it was a lot of effort and the result definitely wasn’t as delicious as a Peroni, it was still a lot of fun. It was definitely a worthy item on my summer bucket list and I was proud of myself to be able to accomplish it.

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23. Make your own cocktail at home

If you are successful at making your own beer, you can consider making you own beer cocktail at home. Otherwise, consider purchasing a few key ingredients for your favourite cocktail, and make your own!

What’s nice about it is that the options are endless. You can make multiple versions of the same cocktails but varying the amount of each ingredient to find your personal favourite, or you can venture out and create four or five different ones for a tasting flight. The sky is really the limit for this summer bucket list item you can’t miss!

Another side benefit of making your own cocktail at home is that you get to save quite a bit of money, compare to the $12 per drink you have to shell out at a restaurant. It is definitely one of the money habits that I have cultivated at home that helps me improve my financial journey.

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24. Make your own iced tea at home

If you have kids at home, or if you don’t consume alcohol, a great alternative to making cocktail will be making your own iced tea at home. The basic ingredients are the same for all recipes, and are easy to find. All you need are some ready-to-drink tea and ice. You can then add whatever ingredients and toppings you can think of! I personally like to have some milk, a little bit of honey, and some mint fresh from the garden.

25. Read a good book

As a self-proclaimed book lover, reading a good book (or multiple) is definitely on my summer bucket list. I love to go find a spot in a park in my neighbourhood, bring the iced tea I made at home and a good book, and while away an afternoon. Here is a list of books that I recommend you to read:

If you want to use this time to up your personal finance game, you may be interested in checking out my list of recommended personal finance books!

26. Call a friend

When’s the last time you had a heartfelt conversation with a friend that moved to another city, or even another country? While it is natural for people to come and go in our lives, physical distance shouldn’t be the barrier for those we want to keep close. Take the time to give that friend of yours that you have been meaning to talk to a call, and see how he/she has been doing. It doesn’t hurt to have one more friend in your life!

27. Try a new hairstyle

How long have you been rocking the same hairstyle for? Now is the time to try something new! Try straighten your hair or give it a nice curl, or be bold and try a pixie cut. It will for sure give you a fresh look and boost your confidence.

28. Create your own summer bucket list

Since this summer bucket list is curated by me, it certainly has a lot of personal preferences embedded in it. Why not use my list as an inspiration, and create your own? You will discover a lot about yourself, the preferences of your friends and family, and have a fabulous summer!

29. Start thinking about you fall bucket list

Oh no! Are you telling me that summer is almost over and we need to start thinking about fall? What’s not to love about fall? Every season has its unique beauty. Let’s embrace autumn and the beautiful golden leaves by creating our own fall bucket list. With the list in hand, instead of lamenting about the passing of summer, you will shift your mindset and be excited for the arrival of the next season.

Here is my fall bucket list. What is yours?

30. Give yourself permission to spend at least one day doing nothing productive

I know I talk about productivity a lot. In fact, I even wrote an article on how to stop procrastinating. But I also think it is equally important to have a balance in life, and to have some down time. Give yourself permission to have some down time and leave your mind alone to wander. Do whatever you like during the day, and give yourself no pressure to do anything. Just simply enjoy the day off, and be happy.

Final words

What are your thoughts of my 30 recommended items for a summer bucket list? What are some other fun activities you will recommend? Leave a comment down below and share with me and the other readers!

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