51 Summer Activities for Teens (‘Cause They Need Something to Care About)
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.
1. Play chess
This game of strategy goes way back, and the creativity and critical thinking it requires explains why it never gets old.
2. Play video games
Whether the teen in your life chooses to spend some QT with an Xbox console or while away the hours playing PC games, this boredom buster is certainly not a hard sell.
3. Go for a hike
The best medicine for a languishing teen is an afternoon of vigorous exercise in the Great Outdoors.
4. 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.
Put that teenage angst down on paper—and if you’re brave, give it a read in ten years’ time.
6. Visit a museum
Psst: Your teen can soak up some culture without leaving the couch by taking one of these virtual museum tours.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. Start (or join) a book club
This roundup of our top picks for teens has good reads in every genre.
Gardening is an excellent workout and an opportunity to practice mindfulness, to boot. (And the fruits of your labor aren’t so bad, either.)
12. 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.
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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
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.
18. Have a picnic
When air-conditioning is a requirement, an indoor picnic can be just as fun (and far more comfortable).
19. Take up photography
Time for Insta-fanatics to get artsy.
20. Go fishing
A little bonding time with your teen is in order and fishing fits the bill.
21. 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.
22. Find a summer internship
You know, because they’ll be joining the workforce before you know it.
23. 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.
24. Make pizza
The teen in your life will be far more inclined to suffer a family dinner when they’ve just played pizzaiolo.
25. 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.
26. 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.
27. 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.
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.
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.
30. Go for a drive
Needless to say, this suggestion applies to licensed teen drivers only.
31. Try indoor rock climbing
Here, a risk-free but thrilling workout that takes place in a refreshingly cool indoor gym.
32. Make it a beach day
We see an Instagram photoshoot in your teen’s future.
33. 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.
34. 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.
35. Fly kites
Or a drone if your teen is currently too cool to participate in such a quaint pastime. (Sigh.)
36. 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.
37. 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.)
38. 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.
39. 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.
40. 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.
41. Visit the zoo
Watching those meerkats get all silly may help your disenchanted teen reconnect with their inner child. (Just sayin.’)
42. 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.
43. Build a family tree
This parent-teen bonding project will pique your kid’s curiosity and give both of you all the feels.
44. Craft something cool
Have your teen browse Pinterest for inspo, or maybe just suggest one of these mason jar crafts. Easy-peasy.
45. Make family dinner
All the same benefits of making a pizza, but better-suited for low-carb and gluten-free families.
46. 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.)
47. Look at colleges
Spoiler: It’s more exciting than studying for the SATs.
48. 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.
49. Do some thrifting
Teens can score cool, retro styles and shop ‘til they drop without maxing out their monthly allowance.
50. Have an at-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.
51. Learn a new instrument
Word on the street is that boring summers breed rock stars.