54 Summer Activities for Teens (‘Cause They Need Something to Care About)

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There’s a slug (oops, person) with a difficult temperament in your home, but it’s lovable nonetheless—namely because you made it. Yes, we’re talking about the bored adolescent kid under your roof who’s all but begging for you to introduce some enriching summer activities for teens to save them from the ennui of an unstructured day. Just kidding, they’d never ask that…but just in case, here’s a roundup of ideas that will help older kids get through the long, cruel summer with something that sparks their interest—be it pizza-making, dancing, stargazing or just about anything else you can think of.

21 Books Every Teenager Should Read

1. Introduce Them to Pickleball, KanJam or PaddleSmash

No, we’re not talking signing up for a team or lessons. Challenge your kid to try out a sport that’s purely recreational. It’ll get them moving, having fun and burning off a little steam. (For the uninitiated, Pickleball is like ping pong and tennis combined. PaddleSmash is, essentially, a portable version of pickleball—so you don’t need to have access to a court to play. And KanJam is a game where you toss discs into cans, which is both more fun—and challenging—than it sounds.)

summer activities for teens play chess
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2. Play Chess

This game of strategy goes way back, and the creativity and critical thinking it requires explains why it never gets old.

3. School Them in a Classic Video Game

Yeah, your kid’s a pro at Call of Duty, but how would she fare with something a bit more retro? We can sense a Tetris showdown coming on.

4. Go for a Hike

The best medicine for a languishing teen is an afternoon of vigorous exercise in the Great Outdoors.If you’re in need of some inspo, here’s a guide to the best hiking trails in the U.S.

5. Play Cards

There are tons of card games that can keep a group entertained, but solitaire is always a solid choice for a teen party of one.

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6. Journal

Put that teenage angst down on paper—and if you’re brave, give it a read in ten years’ time. Here are some prompts that may inspire them.

7. Visit a Museum

Psst: Your teen can soak up some culture without leaving the couch by taking one of these virtual museum tours.

8. Walk Through the Botanical Garden

Head to the local botanical garden to learn about the flora whilst enjoying the mood-boosting benefits of a serene stroll and fresh air.

9. Hit the Bike Trail

BMX, cruiser or fixie—whatever type of bike your teen has, summer is the perfect time to take that baby for a ride.

summer activities for teens go for a run
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10. Go for a Run

For teens who have felt particularly lethargic (and possibly surly), a hot and sweaty cardio sesh might just be the solution to the summertime blues—’cause, you know, endorphins.

11. Start (or Join) a Book Club

This roundup of our top picks for teens has good reads in every genre.

12. Grow a Flower, Herb or Salad Garden

Gardening is an excellent workout and an opportunity to practice mindfulness, to boot. (And the fruits of your labor aren’t so bad, either.)

13. Have a Yard Sale

Missed the spring cleaning boat? No worries—It’s never too late to purge some old stuff and make a buck while you’re at it.

summer activities for teens volunteer
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14. Volunteer

Gather some friends to pick up trash at a local park, help out at a soup kitchen or do some virtual volunteering from the comfort of home—no matter how you go about it, giving back just feels good.

15. Get Artsy

You don’t need to be the next Van Gogh to enjoy some time spent with a sketchbook or blank canvas. Psst: If you’re in need of inspiration and supplies, these art subscription boxes will help.

16. Relax in a Hammock

Teens like to kick back (who doesn’t?) and swaying in a hammock with a glass of lemonade in hand is arguably the best way to spend a lazy summer afternoon.

17. Learn a New Dance

Get your teen to cut a rug (and break a sweat) with one of these dance workout videos—you know, so they have some fresh moves ready for homecoming.

summer activities for teens stargaze
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18. Stargaze

When the days are so hot it makes sense to stay indoors, just wait for nightfall when temperatures drop and you can send your teen outside for some fresh air under the stars.

19. Have a Picnic

When air-conditioning is a requirement, an indoor picnic can be just as fun (and far more comfortable).

20. Take Up Photography

Time for Insta-fanatics to get artsy.

21. Go Fishing

A little bonding time with your teen is in order and fishing fits the bill.

summer activities for teens write letters
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22. Write Letters

Whether your teen finds a pen pal or writes a heartfelt note that makes Grandma’s day, a handwritten letter is a welcome change of pace from texting.

23. Find a Summer Internship

You know, because they’ll be joining the workforce before you know it.

24. Paint a Bedroom Mural

Encourage your teen to get creative on their own bedroom wall, lest they opt for a not-so-legal form of artistic expression instead. Arch accents are trending right now, and this video makes it surprisingly easy to pull off using a pencil, tape and string (and, oh yeah, paint).

25. Make Pizza

The teen in your life will be far more inclined to suffer a family dinner when they’ve just played pizzaiolo. Here are some of our go-to recipes.

summer activities for teens make a summer playlist
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26. Make a Summer Playlist

Bonus points if you get your kid to bring you on as a collaborator so you can introduce them to some oldies-but-goodies.

27. Watch a Movie

Drive-in? Movie theater? Backyard viewing? When it comes to spicing up the Netflix + living room couch routine, there are plenty of options.

28. Go to the Pool

Between sunbathing and raucous pool games, there’s plenty of fun to be had with friends at a public or backyard pool.

29. Bake

Or maybe point your budding star baker in the direction of a no-bake dessert recipe so everyone can satisfy their sweet tooth without overworking the A/C.

summer activities for teens scrapbook
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30. Scrapbook

Now that the school year has come to an end, it’s time to commemorate all those coming-of-age memories with a scrapbooking project. After all, disposable cameras are trending with Gen Z, so they might as well put all those snaps to use.

31. Go for a Drive

Needless to say, this suggestion applies to licensed teen drivers only. Added incentive? Have them look up mini road trips they can take on a single tank of gas—perhaps a national park, cool museum or quirky roadside attraction (ahem, world’s largest ball of yarn)—that they can chronicle with their cameras. And later add to their journals and scrapbooks (it all comes full circle!).

32. Try Indoor Rock Climbing

Here, a risk-free but thrilling workout that takes place in a refreshingly cool indoor gym.

33. Make It a Beach Day

We see an Instagram photoshoot in your teen’s future.

summer activities for teens tackle a diy project
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34. Tackle a DIY Project

Make it a team effort and the finished project will inspire pride in parents and kids alike. Here are some nifty ideas to consider.

35. Go Camping

The backyard is a totally acceptable place to pitch a tent if you’re not wild about the idea of a teens-only wilderness adventure.

36. Fly Kites

Or a drone if your teen is currently too cool to participate in such a quaint pastime. (Sigh.)

37. Try Creative Writing

That’s right—your gloomy 16-year-old is ready to fill the blank page with the stuff of the next Great American Novel.

summer activities for teens cat
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38. Work on a Puzzle

This calm, brain-boosting activity is just right for teens who are bored but not feeling particularly energetic. (i.e., met your ‘go for a run’ suggestion with an epic eye-roll.)

39. Belt It Out at Karaoke

Find an all-ages karaoke night in your town and send your teen off to get their Ariana Grande on. Or bust out a $60 machine like this and let them take over your basement.

40. Phone a Friend

Because your teen’s thumbs are tired of texting and the time to bring back the long, gossipy phone call is now.

41. Go to a Concert

Score your teen tickets to see a band they love and you’ll be giving the gift of a memorable experience and instantly achieving ‘cool mom’ status in one fell swoop.

summer activities for teens visit the zoo
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42. Visit the Zoo

Watching those meerkats get all silly may help your disenchanted teen reconnect with their inner child. (Just sayin.’)

43. Have a Tie-dye Party

Ask your teen to invite some besties over for a backyard tie-dye party—just be sure to consult these tips to ensure it’s a smooth and mess-free event.

44. Build a Family Tree

This parent-teen bonding project will pique your kid’s curiosity and give both of you all the feels.

45. Craft Something Cool

Have your teen browse Pinterest for inspo, or maybe just suggest one of these mason jar crafts. Easy-peasy.

summer activities for teens make family dinner
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46. Make Family Dinner

All the same benefits of making a pizza, but better-suited for low-carb and gluten-free families.

47. Bowl with Friends

Here, an indoor leisure activity that lends itself to casual socializing with friends. (Hint: If your teen has a blast at the bowling alley, be sure to look into summer league opportunities.)

48. Look at Colleges

Spoiler: It’s more exciting than studying for the SATs.

49. Go on a Food Crawl

Your teen is too young for a bar crawl (thank goodness), but a food crawl is an excellent way to explore all the good eats your hometown has on offer. Choose three to five spots, commit to sharing an order at each, and you won’t feel (too) bogged down by the end. Bonus points if you create scorecards to rate the top experiences.

summer activities for teens do some thrifting
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50. Do Some Thrifting

Teens can score cool, retro styles and shop ‘til they drop without maxing out their monthly allowance.

51. Have a Home Spa Day

No need to break the bank at Sephora—just raid the pantry and hook your teen up with some budget-friendly staples that can be used to whip up a rejuvenating DIY face mask.

52. Learn a New Instrument

Word on the street is that boring summers breed rock stars.

53. Make Domino Art

The classic game is plenty of fun to play with a partner, but stand those suckers upright and you have a challenging STEM activity that requires engineering skills and creativity to boot. Plus, the end result is pretty darn neat—just check out domino artist Lily Hevesh’s work and see for yourself.

54. Get a Job

The only thing better than a summer internship is work that actually pays. If your teen groans at the suggestion, just ask how they plan to fund their gap year travel plans.

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Freelance PureWow Editor

Emma Singer is a freelance contributing editor and writer at PureWow who has over 7 years of professional proofreading, copyediting and writing experience. At PureWow, she covers...