Hello, parents and caregivers! Are you on the hunt for Affordable Outdoor Activities For Kids? Well, you've come to the right place. We know that keeping the little ones entertained without emptying your wallet can seem like a Herculean task. But don't worry, we've got your back (and your budget)!

Outdoor activities are not just fun, they're also key for kids' physical and mental health. They help children develop social skills and foster a love for nature. But who says they have to be expensive?

Here, we've put together a list of affordable and fun outdoor activities that your kids will (hopefully) love.

Benefits of Outdoor Activities for Kids

Before we dive into the fun stuff, let's take a moment to appreciate the benefits of outdoor play. Outdoor play enhances physical health, promotes mental well-being, and helps children develop essential social skills. So, every time your child is out there having fun, they're also growing in more ways than one!

In fact, a study titled "The importance of outdoor play for young children's healthy development" was published in the Porto Biomedical Journal with a key takeaway being:

"...this testimony aims to highlight the importance of outdoor play in natural environments for children's learning and development and to inspire and challenge others to take advantage of the opportunities that the outdoor environment can offer."

Outdoor activities offer a wealth of benefits for children that go beyond just fun and entertainment. They contribute significantly to the overall development of a child. Here's a deeper look into the benefits of outdoor activities for kids:

Physical Health

girl with hula hoop outside exercise

Outdoor activities often involve a good deal of physical movement, which is excellent for children's health. Regular physical activity strengthens their muscles and bones, improves cardiovascular health, and helps maintain a healthy weight. Activities like running, jumping, or cycling can also enhance their motor skills and coordination. It also gets them in the habit of exercising as they age- an important part of being a healthy adult.

Mental Well-being

boy bird watching with binoculars

Spending time outdoors can significantly boost a child's mood and reduce stress levels. The natural sunlight provides vitamin D, which is known to enhance mood and energy levels. Activities like bird watching or gardening can also provide a sense of calm and relaxation.

Social Skills Development

girls outside blowing bubbles

Outdoor activities often involve interaction with others, which can help children develop essential social skills. They learn to communicate, cooperate, and solve problems together (even if that learning can be loud and dirty sometimes). Games that involve teams can teach them about fair play and teamwork.

Connection with Nature

four young kids hiking in nature

Outdoor activities provide children with the opportunity to interact directly with nature. This can foster a love and appreciation for the environment from a young age. It also provides opportunities for hands-on learning about different plants, animals, and ecosystems.

This video by alittleglam alotofmom covers 5 ideas for nature walks and crafts with your kids:

Enhanced Creativity and Imagination

girl on dads shoulders pretending to fly with a rocket booster

The unstructured nature of outdoor play allows children to use their creativity and imagination. Whether they're inventing a new game, building a sandcastle, or pretending to be explorers, the possibilities for creative play are endless outdoors.

Improved Concentration

young boys playing tug of war outside

Studies have shown that children who spend time outdoors have better concentration and are less likely to be distracted. This can be particularly beneficial for children with attention deficit disorders.

ADDitude Magazine has several articles worth reading, like this one below, that discusses the importance of time spent outdoors for kids with ADHD.

Green Time: A Natural Remedy for ADHD Symptoms
Can attention deficit symptoms be eased by alternative ADHD treatments like exercise? Research shows “green” time can lead to an increased ability to focus for both adults and children.

Development of Life Skills

kids outside in vegetable garden

Outdoor activities can also help children develop important life skills. For instance, activities like gardening can teach them about responsibility and the importance of hard work, while outdoor games can help them understand the concept of rules and fair play.

If you'd like to maximize on the learning experience, before getting your child out developing a green thumb, this <4 minute video by SciShowKids is an excellent resource for explaining how seeds grow into plants.

Affordable Outdoor Activities That Kids Will Love

Now, let's get to the fun part. Here are some affordable outdoor activities for kids that won't burn a hole in your pocket:

Nature Scavenger Hunt

young boys doing a nature scavenger hunt outside

Turn a walk in the park into an exciting treasure hunt. All you need is a list of items for your kids to find. It could be anything from a red leaf to a pine cone.

We have some free printable camping themed activity sheets for kids that include scavenger hunts and you can find them here:

link to free camping worksheets for kids

Backyard Camping

father and son set up a tent for backyard camping

Who says you need to travel far for a camping adventure? Set up a tent in your backyard, tell stories under the stars, and enjoy a night in the great outdoors.

games for camping article link

For some budget-friendly backyard camping ideas, check out this great list of 21 affordable dollar tree camping hacks by The Family Fudge

DIY Outdoor Games

home made obstacle course for kids

From a homemade obstacle course to a water balloon fight, the possibilities are endless. All you need is a little creativity and some household items.

link to best backyard games article

Gardening and Planting Seeds

little boy weeding garden bed

This is a great way to teach kids about nature and responsibility. Plus, they'll love watching their plants grow over time.

Fun and Free Printable Activities for Kids: Spring and Garden link

Outdoor Arts and Crafts

little girl doing chalk art outside

Let your kids' creativity shine with some outdoor arts and crafts. Sidewalk chalk art, anyone?

Here's another budget friendly short video by The Daily DIYer
on Dollar Tree hacks for cheap outdoor decorations and DIY projects, many of which your kids can help with depending on their age.

link to best crafts summer fun for kids article

Local Park Exploration

mom and toddler boy on a trail in a park

Visit a local park and let your kids explore. They can play on the playground, have a picnic, or just enjoy the open space.

best kites for kids 2023

Bike Rides

family posing with bikes and helmets for family bike ride

A family bike ride is not only fun but also a great way to stay active. Don't forget the helmets!

link to family cycling article for those looking to do family bike riding

Bird Watching

grandma and grandson outside bird watching

This is a peaceful and educational activity. You can even make a game out of it by seeing who can spot the most types of birds.

article link for ten outdoor activities for 2 year olds

For more ideas, check out this Kids Activities Blog that's chock-full of outdoor activities for kids.

Tips for Making Outdoor Activities More Engaging

Keeping kids engaged in outdoor activities can sometimes be a challenge, but with a little creativity and planning, you can ensure they have a blast.

Here are some tips to make outdoor activities more engaging:

Incorporate Learning Elements

Turn activities into learning opportunities. For instance, during a nature walk, you can teach kids about different types of plants and animals. This not only keeps them engaged but also enhances their knowledge.

link to best educational activities for kindergartners article


Kids are more likely to enjoy an activity when they feel safe. Always supervise them during outdoor activities, especially those that involve physical exertion. Make sure they wear appropriate gear, such as helmets for biking.

best playsets for small yards article link

Encourage Creativity

Allow kids to use their imagination. For example, a simple sandbox can turn into a construction site or a dinosaur excavation spot. The more creative the activity, the more engaged your kids will be.

link to keeping kids creative guide for parents

Involve Their Friends

Activities can be more fun when kids' friends are involved. Organize group activities like a neighborhood scavenger hunt or a mini Olympics.

link to backyard summer party ideas article

Provide Choices

Kids like to feel in control. Give them options and let them choose the activity they want to do. This will make them more invested in the activity.

link to water activities for kids article

Celebrate Efforts

Praise your kids for their efforts, not just the outcome. This will boost their confidence and motivate them to participate more.

parenting positive article link

Remember, the goal is not to keep kids busy, but to create meaningful and fun experiences that they will remember. So, go ahead and try these tips to make outdoor activities more engaging for your kids. Happy playing!

In Conclusion

So there you have it, a list of affordable outdoor activities for kids that are as fun as they are budget-friendly. We understand that the goal is to create memorable experiences, not to spend a fortune. So go ahead, try these activities, and watch as your kids' faces light up with joy and excitement.

And if you're looking for more local attractions that are free or affordable, check out Family Days Out for a comprehensive list of places to visit based on zip code, region, activity type, and more.

Remember, the great outdoors is the world's biggest playground. It's time to go out and play!

Happy adventuring!

playground shade structures article link
encouraging curiosity learning with nature and numbers free kids activity sheets
deck furniture ideas link

Questions and Answers

We know you might have some questions, so we've answered a few common ones:

What are some fun outdoor activities for kids free? 

There are plenty of fun, free outdoor activities for kids. These include nature walks, scavenger hunts, bird watching, backyard camping, and DIY outdoor games like homemade obstacle courses. Kids can also enjoy gardening, outdoor arts and crafts, and exploring local parks. These activities not only entertain but also educate and foster a love for the outdoors.

What are 3 examples of outdoor play activities? 

Here are three examples of outdoor play activities that kids can enjoy:

Nature Scavenger Hunt: This activity involves creating a list of items found in nature for kids to find. It could include things like a specific type of leaf, a pine cone, or a bird of a certain color. This activity encourages exploration and observation skills.

Backyard Camping: Transform your backyard into a camping site. Set up a tent, bring out some sleeping bags, and spend the night under the stars. You can tell stories, roast marshmallows, and enjoy the great outdoors without leaving your home.

DIY Outdoor Games: Use household items to create fun outdoor games. For example, you can set up a homemade obstacle course using items like hula hoops, cones, and pool noodles. Or, you can have a water balloon fight on a hot day. These games encourage physical activity and can be a lot of fun.

These activities not only provide entertainment but also promote physical activity, creativity, and a love for the outdoors.

What is an outdoor activity for children?

An outdoor activity for children is any game, task, or exploration that takes place outside and encourages active play, learning, or interaction with nature. Examples include nature scavenger hunts, backyard camping, bike rides, gardening, bird watching, and DIY outdoor games. These activities promote physical health, mental well-being, social skills, and a connection with nature.

What types of outdoor activities are popular? 

Many outdoor activities are popular with children and adults alike. Here are a few:

Nature Walks and Hiking: Exploring local trails or parks is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, get some exercise, and learn about local flora and fauna.

Cycling: Whether it's a leisurely ride around the neighborhood or a more challenging trail, cycling is a popular outdoor activity that's also a great form of exercise.

Picnics: A picnic in a local park or even in your backyard provides a fun and relaxing way to enjoy a meal outdoors.

Water Activities: Swimming, surfing, or even just playing in a local creek or pond can be a fun way to cool off in warmer weather.

Outdoor Sports: Games like soccer, baseball, or frisbee are popular outdoor activities that also help develop teamwork and coordination.

Gardening: Planting and caring for a garden can be a rewarding activity that also teaches about nature and responsibility.

These activities not only provide entertainment but also promote physical health, social interaction, and a connection with nature.