Discover: An Epic List of 100+ Outdoor Summer Play Activities for Kids

We consider Memorial Day weekend the unofficial start to summer, so I spent the day before our holiday weekend compiling a list of over 100 outdoor summer play activities for kids. I’m talkin’ the definitive summer bucket list – simple fun-in-the-sun play ideas for all ages and interests!

Use these quick links to jump straight to a category…

There comes a point in every summer when the novelty of free days turns into (dare we say it…) boredom. That’s when this collection really comes in handy. Print it out and keep it on hand for sunny summer days when you want to be outside but need some fresh entertainment. Or hot hazy late summer afternoons when the kids have come down with a case of the summer blahs.

There are even some classic summer night play ideas for those perfect golden evenings when everyone’s looking for an excuse to stay outside just a little longer. Oh summer, don’t ever end!

Classic Summer Neighborhood Play Activities for Kids 

These activities were the play staples of my childhood summers, and they’re still the best surefire, simple ways for kids to entertain themselves outside all summer long…

  • Look for fireflies.
  • Make s’mores.
  • Make and fly a kite.
  • Go berry, fruit, or vegetable picking.
  • Get the gang together for a neighborhood bike ride.
  • Set up a tent for a backyard camp-out.
  • Play red light, green light or capture the flag.
  • Find shapes in the clouds.
  • Set up an iced tea or lemonade stand.
  • Put on a swimsuit and play in the rain.
  • Play ghosts in the graveyard or flashlight tag after dark.
  • Make folded paper fans.
  • Have a potato sack rack.
  • Try rollerskating.
  • Stay up late to celebrate the summer solstice.
  • Pump up the summer jams and wash a car or bike.
  • Get out the hula hoop, jump rope, or sidewalk chalk for driveway play.
  • Watch for falling stars.
  • Make your own set of paper sparklers for summer festivities.
  • Plan a picnic in the backyard.
  • Build a stick fort, sheet tent, or treehouse.
  • Tell scary stories around a campfire or lantern.
  • Play wiffleball or dodgeball.
  • Make shaved ice or homemade popsicles.
  • Get out a sprinkler or baby pool.
  • Play a lawn game (croquet, etc).
  • Make a dandelion necklace.
  • Try to identify summer bugs by sound.
  • Bury a time capsule.
  • Put on a backyard show (a lip-synching contest, host a neighborhood pet show, turn your backyard into Broadway, pull out the puppets, or have a talent show!).

Outdoor Summer Sensory Play

From squishy sandy play to chilly frozen surprises, these invitations use the senses of touch, smell, sight, sound, and even taste. These are all wonderful activities to take outside and let your little ones enjoy under sunny skies.

Four kids summer outdoor sensory play activities

Kids Summer Outdoor Arts and Crafts Activities

This bevy of beautiful nature-inspired art and craft activities all require some quality outdoor time or use a natural element as the main supply. Each idea provides a great gateway to creating works of art al fresco!

Four kids summer outdoor art and craft activities

Backyard Summer Kids Games

Run, skip, hop, throw, kick, and balance with this fab collection of summer outdoor movement games!

Four kids summer outdoor art games and movement activities

Summer Nature Activities for Kids

The best of simple summer nature activities!

Four kids summer outdoor nature play activities

Outdoor Summer Science and Engineering

These science and engineering-based activities will have your kids begging to get outside for some fun STEM learning this summer

Four kids summer outdoor science and engineering activities

For more seasonal kids’ backyard activity collections, visit our lists of more eco-friendly water games and play ideas, spring gardening activities, and outdoor winter play ideas.

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Amanda E.

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.

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