There are plenty of free and low-cost outdoor activities for kids that also come with great health benefits!
Why is outdoor play so important? When kids seem glued to devices, outdoor play is a much-needed break from screens in this day and age. Instead, it gives them a chance to interact with their friends, get active and take in some fresh air. Spending time outside has health benefits like reducing stress and insomnia and boosting energy levels.
No matter the season, there is no shortage of fun ideas for outdoor activities for kids that will keep them busy and entertained. There are always activity ideas for all ages. There are fun activities for children and fun outdoor activities for families!
The following is a list of fun activities by season. Many are free or affordable, but we include a few splurge items of fun things to do outdoors that will cost money but are worth it.
Outdoor Activities for Kids
Grab a sled, find the biggest hill close by, and have fun flying down it! Tubing is also a great option if you have a giant blow-up donut. Going up and down a steep hill is also a great energy burner!
Many city-owned skating rinks are available for families to enjoy. So, put on your skates, bundle up, hold hands with your bestie or family member and have fun.
Building a Snowman or Snow Sculptures
With the right kind of packing snow, the fun never ends! Build a snowman, snowwoman, or snow family for people driving and walking by to enjoy. Get an old hat and scarf, some branches for arms, a pinecone for the nose, and start building.
Buckets and shovels aren’t just for the beach! You can make a snow castle with the same tools. Not into snowmen? Be creative and build different sculptures and structures and forts with snow.
Have a Snowball Fight
To begin with, please don’t aim for the face! Second, roll up your balls, hide behind trees and bushes and try to get each other with a snowball. Make it more fun by creating teams and earning points for each hit.
Go to a Santa Claus Parade
Santa Claus parades were an annual tradition in many people’s childhoods! People line the streets and watch the different floats go by, waving, drinking hot cocoa, and catching little candy canes thrown off the floats.
Walk Around the Neighborhood to Look at Christmas Lights
Christmas lights help get people into the Christmas spirit, and they also give people the opportunity to show some creativity and dedication! Some neighbors work very hard at covering rooftops and trees with beautiful lights. It can be fun for families to walk around and observe the beautiful lights in the area.
Splurge Activity: Try skiing! Families can rent equipment if the plan isn’t to go often. Skiing is an activity that can accommodate families with different aged children and different skill levels.
Go on a Scavenger Hunt
Create a checklist or bingo card for kids to walk around the house or neighborhood to find. Once they have spotted the items, they can check them off. Try a theme-based scavenger hunt, such as spotting different animals, things you would see on houses, yards, roads, etc. Also, you can organize an Easter egg hunt outdoors at Easter time!
Sidewalk chalk can keep kids busy for hours! Draw pictures with different colors and play games like tic-tac-toe and hangman. You can even assign the kids a theme. For example, ask them to draw farm animals or a city with cars, trees, and buildings. Draw different hopscotch grids and get hopping on one foot!
Spring is usually the time to start pulling out weeds and planting seeds! Get the kids involved with planting flowers and vegetables and taking care of them. Plus, a parent can always use a hand with watering and weeding!
Observe Different Birds and Bugs
There are so many different species of birds and bugs. Kids will be fascinated by how many there are and how different they can look. The kids can also catch some bugs in a jar with holes in the lid and look up the names of the insects online.
Fly a Kite
If there is a windy day in the forecast, go to a park and try to fly a kite! You can purchase a kite at a low cost or even at the local dollar store. The kids will love running with the kite and trying to get it to fly high.
Geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunt game that people from all over can play. The game’s purpose is to try to find treasures hidden by other players using a GPS device while exploring interesting locations. It’s an exciting activity, with fresh air and exercise, and is a fun family activity.
Go to the Beach
Almost an entire day can be spent at the beach lounging on the sand and swimming in the water! Pack the sand toys and a picnic, get on your swimwear and you are all set!
Go to City Swimming Pools and Splash Pads
Many local parks have community pools and splash pads for free or low-cost. Drive around and go to different parks in the area, keeping it fun and exciting.
Visit Different Parks in the City
Go playground hopping! Yes, it’s a thing! Kids get to try different climbing structures and other playground equipment. You can do the same for skate parks as well.
Also, consider visiting the state parks. Many are beautiful with excellent hiking trails.
Whether camping in the backyard or at a park, there are lots to do when camping outside. Campgrounds often have nice hiking trails and access to lakes where people can go kayaking, canoeing, and swimming.
There are many games kids can play in their backyards for hours of fun. Tossing water balloons and running through the sprinkler is excellent for hot summer days.
Set up an obstacle course using sporting equipment, sticks, rocks, and anything else they can find outside! Have fun running around and jumping over things.
Splurge Purchases: Setting up a sandbox or purchasing a sand table or water table can be an excellent investment for kids. A much larger purchase would be a playset with swings, a slide, and climbers. Also, consider a trampoline, but smaller, affordable backyard games are available and can be just as entertaining.
Fishing is another great way for kids to connect with nature. Kids can get some fresh air and learn patience while waiting for a fish to bite!
Biking is a great family activity. It’s fun to explore different neighborhoods and trails on bikes.
Kids love going mini-golfing. The different courses with varying degrees of difficulty make it a fun challenge for the whole family to enjoy.
Splurge Outings: Visit an amusement park or carnival to go on rides and go-karts. Go down giant water slides at a waterpark. Zip-lining and horseback riding are also fun outings.
Go on a Nature Walk
Hiking on a trail through the woods can be picturesque, especially in the autumn season when the trees are full of colorful leaves. An outdoor adventure like this can also be a calming experience, fun, and great exercise. If you have little ones, collect things in nature for sensory play like pinecones, different shaped rocks, and colorful leaves.
Visit a Farm
Visiting a farm is a fun and affordable activity. Many farms have set up activities for children, such as hayrides and corn mazes. There is often an area for observing and petting some animals close up. Of course, you can also buy fresh fruit and vegetables and sometimes even pick them yourself.
Go Out for Halloween
What’s better than dressing up in fun costumes and collecting free candy? Kids love this annual tradition and will go outside for hours, rain or shine.
Go to a Pumpkin Patch
Pick out a pumpkin for carving and roasting the seeds. Pumpkin patches often have other fun fall activities, warm apple cider, and plenty of pecan and pumpkin pie.
Visit a zoo
Kids love animals, and the zoo gives them a close-up look at how different animals live and interact with each other. They also can watch some incredible animal shows where kids can learn more about different animals.
There are many benefits to getting the kids outdoors to play. As the seasons change, so do the activities that kids can play outside. Be prepared for different activities and make the best of the time kids have outdoors so they can benefit from the fresh air and exercise while having fun.
This post originally appeared on Savoteur.
Nadia is an M.B.A. graduate and freelance writer. She also likes to write about all aspects of mom life, co-authors the blog This Mom Is On Fire and advocates for better dementia healthcare for seniors.