When it comes to finding things to do with your family, there are a couple of criteria to keep in mind.

You want the activity to be fun and cost effective but you also don’t want it to be a mindless way to waste time.

As a result, most parents look for constructive, enriching activities to do with their kids. To help you plan a fun family outing, we put together this list of budget-friendly activities you can enjoy as a family.

1. Picnic at the Park or Beach Day

With video games, computers and other electronic devices, kids spend less time outside than in previous years. According to a study, one out of two kids spends less than an hour a day outside; that’s less time outside than an inmate at a maximum-security prison!

Plan an activity that allows you to get outside as a family. You can pack your favorite foods and snacks and plan a picnic, or head to the beach for some fun in the sun. While outside, you can read or tell stories, play games (board games or outdoor games), sing songs, build a sandcastle, or clean up the beach or park. Aside from food, gas and sunscreen, there’s little else you need to pay for, so you can shell out some cash for a football, beach ball or frisbee.

2. Go to the Library

With so many programs and community events, the library is a great place to go as a family for fun activities and learning opportunities. When your children realize the library is a fun place, they will be more excited about books and reading. You can enjoy free story time, shows, author visits, games and other events; check the website or call your local library to find out the schedule of events.

3. Explore a Museum

Museums are exciting places for kids to learn and explore. Take the family to the local Science center, discovery center or history or art museum. A museum is a fantastic air-conditioned sanctuary during the summer months, but you can have fun as a family any time of the year.

Make sure to check the website for the museums near you to find out about their discounted days and family events. Also, make sure to ask your childrens’ teachers for suggestions or to call ahead on your behalf. Besides museums, there are lots of places teachers can go for free or discounted prices.

4. Arts and Crafts

You could go to a paint and clay place as a family, or you can save even some money and do an art project at home. Head to your favorite craft store to get supplies and then work on an art project as a family. It’s a great opportunity for your kids to be creative and use their imagination.

Art projects are great for a wide range of kids because you can choose something easy or something more advanced for older children, and adults can also get in on the fun! Think about it, when is the last time you did an arts and crafts project?

5. Baking

Baking as a family is tons of fun; you end up with some sweet treats and everyone gets to participate. If you have younger kids, this is a great chance to teach them basic measurement skills and how to follow directions. Your kids will love getting to help out in the kitchen and of course, taste testing the delectable desserts!

6. Go Bowling

With the price of lane time and shoes, bowling can add up, but did you know kids can bowl free at several bowling alleys across the country? With the Kids Bowl Free program, registered kids can bowl two games for free everyday during the summer. While adult participants still have to pay, find a participating bowling alley near you and take advantage of the discounted rate!

7. DIY Scavenger Hunt

You can do this at a park or public place or right in your home or backyard. Hide a few things for the kids to find or make your landmarks things that already exist in nature like trees, types of flowers, animals, etc. Give your kids the list of items and let them have some fun and friendly competition.

8. Game Night

Games teach kids important lessons like following the rules,sportsmanship and taking turns. Chances are they’ll have so much fun playing, they won’t even realize they’re learning. You probably already have some family favorites at home, but if not, you can find some inexpensive board or card games that you can play again and again.

With a little creativity, there’s no limit to what you can do to have fun as a family. These are just a few ideas, but we want to hear from you. What are your favorite family activities? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author:
Maile Proctor is a professional blogger and content editor. She writes articles on health and fitness, lifestyle and family, advice, how-to and more. Maile earned her Bachelor’s in Broadcast Journalism from Chapman University. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking in Southern California.