In this article I’m going to share more than 20 awesome ideas for water activities.
Doing water activities can be a great way to spend quality time together as a family and strengthen family relationships. Include water activities at your next family reunion or family gathering!
Doing water activities is also a great option for school groups, church groups, neighborhood gatherings, and more! And you don’t have to spend much money to do it! Enjoy hours of fun with your family, friends, and neighbors with these fun and frugal ideas for water activities!
Tip: Pin this awesome list of water activities so that you can refer to it later!
21 Fun and Frugal Water Activities
One of the best ways to pass the time during the warmer months is to do water activities! And you can do water activities with both small groups and large groups alike!
One of the best things about the summer are the many ways that you can enjoy water activities all season long. By planning fun water activities, you can spend quality time with your family members, friends, and neighbors. Check out this list of more than 20 fun water activities!
1. Water Gun Fight
With the huge variety of water guns that are on the market these days, your water gun fight can look however you want it to. You could buy small, inexpensive water guns from the dollar store and give one to each child to use, or you could spend $5 or $10 for a nicer water gun that could last all summer long.
Once you have your water shooters of choice, players work on dousing each other! It’s a great way to get cool on a hot day!
2. Rain Gutter Regatta
The rain gutter regatta activity provides a fun time for water lovers of all ages! To create the sailboats for the race, use dowels or bamboo skewer sticks or similar sticks for the mast, pieces of colorful fabric for the sails, and pieces of pool noodles, computer packaging pieces, or other foam pieces for the boats themselves. Then all you need are the rain gutters, which you can get from your local hardware store for pretty cheap. Be sure to seal the rain gutter end caps with waterproof sealant so that the water stays in the rain gutters once they are filled.
Once you have created your sailboats and positioned the rain gutters on the lawn, use your hose to fill them with water, and you are set! Just place the sailboats in the filled rain gutters, and get ready to start your race! You can then use fans made out of paper or other material to create the wind to blow the sailboats. The boat that makes it to the end of the rain gutter first wins!
3. Water Gun Bubble Blasters
This game was invented by one of my cousins, and we played it at our huge (400-plus people) family reunions last year. The kids had a blast playing it, and I think yours will, too!
For this water activity you need the big bottles of bubble solution (or make your own homemade bubble solution, to save money; directions below!), two or more small plastic kid swimming pools, water guns, and large bubble wands.
Pour bubble solution into one of the pools, and fill the other pool with water. Then half the group uses the large bubble wands to makes bubbles, while the other half shoots as many as they can to pop them with the water guns! Then the groups switch roles. If you want you can keep track of who shoots the most bubbles, but we just did it for fun and didn’t worry about keeping score.
Simple homemade bubble solution: Pour 6 cups of water into a large bowl or other container. Then add 1 cup of liquid dish soap to the water and slowly mix in the soap (try not to let the bubbles foam). Then add 1/4 cup of corn syrup to the water and soap solution. Stir the solution well until it is all mixed together.
4. Slip ’n’ Slide
You can buy a slip ’n’ slide, but you can also make them yourself for cheap (under $50)! You can make a slip ’n’ slide by using heavy duty plastic sheeting. Then use a hose or sprinklers to keep the slide wet. (Adding liquid soap or shampoo helps the slide to be slick.) Landscape pins or tent stakes can help to keep the sheeting in place.
5. Slip ’n’ Slide Kickball
This game is similar to regular kickball, but you end with a fun twist! (Perhaps literally! :)) Instead of running to home base, the players slide into home base on a slip ’n’ slide! For even more water fun, use small kiddie pools in places of regular bases for the other three bases.
6. Rubber Duck Race
This water activity is similar to the sailboat rain gutter regatta described above. With rubber duck races, you simply use small rubber ducks instead of foam sailboats. You can use fans to race the ducks along the course, or simply blow.
7. Homemade Water Blasters
Love to DIY? Another of the best water activities is to create your own water blasters with pool noodles and PVC pipe! You can find the instructions for creating the water blasters here.
8. Bucket Relay
Bucket relays are another of my personal favorite water activities. In this water game players sit or stand in a row, and then water is passed with cups or similar items from the bucket at the beginning of the line to the bucket at the other end of the line. The team who fills up their bucket first wins.
9. Water Balloon Toss
In another fun water game, two players toss filled water balloons between them to see how far apart they can get without dropping or popping the balloon.
10. Water Balloon Catapult
This is another fun water activity, popular at family reunions and other larger gatherings. In water balloon catapult, three people use slingshots (two people hold the ends of the slingshot and one person pulls back and releases the slingshot) to launch balloons across a field, while the other players (often in teams of two) use towels to try and catch as many water balloons as possible. If you choose to, you can have a winning team—the one that catches the most water balloons.
11. Water Balloon Volleyball
In this fun twist on a traditional sport, teams volley water balloons over the volleyball net and work to catch them with their towels, rather than using a volleyball.
12. Run through the Sprinklers
Kids love running through sprinklers! You could make it a friendly race if you want, or simply let the kids run around to their hearts’ content to keep cool on a warm day.
13. Kiddie Pool Fun
One of the simplest water activities (and cheapest!) is to buy the inexpensive plastic pools from Walmart or a similar store (for about $5), and then let the kids swim or play in them. Add some inexpensive dollar-store water toys to the mix, and you have a recipe for hours of fun!
14. Water Table Fun
You can buy a water table new, but you definitely don’t have to! We got our water table for cheap from a local thrift store—and you can too!
15. Water Balloon Races
This water activity is similar to egg races, but you use small water balloons instead of hard-boiled eggs. All you need are several wooden spoons and filled water balloons. Then all of the players start on one end of the yard or field, with a balloon on their wooden spoon. Then they work to be the first person to quickly (but carefully!) get to the finish line with their water balloon still on their spoon.
16. Sponge Relay
In this relay game you have a full bucket of water on one end of a line of people and an empty bucket of water on the other end of the line. The first person in the relay dips the sponge to soak it and then passes it to the next person down the line, and each person continues passing it until it gets to the person at then end. The team that fills up their second bucket first wins!
17. Splash Pad
Our kids just love the splash pads in our area. And they are so diverse! Some of them are simple sprinkler-type systems, but some have rivers and waterfalls and wading pools and water shooters and other features. They’re pretty incredible. And very fun! If you haven’t checked for splash pads in your area, you need to!
18. Water Jump Rope
Play a game of water jump rope by letting teams of two children each maneuver the jump ropes while one or more children jump them while holding a water balloon or cup of water. This game does require more coordination, so it is better for older kids.
19. Water Tug-o-war
Tug-o-war is one of the most popular outdoor games for larger group parties or family reunions. For best results, use a long, very thick rope (so that it won’t break). For water tug-o-war, use a soft-sided swimming pool as the middle point that you have to pull the team across, rather than a simple rope or line in the sand or similar marker, You can make the game as structured as you want, such as designating the exact number of team members on each side and specific age ranges. Or just let it be a free-for-all.
20. Water Balloon Obstacle Course
For this fun water activity, set up a simple obstacle course using chairs, outdoor toys, trees, and so forth. Then each person who plays has to do the obstacle course while holding a water balloon tucked under his or her chin. The person who finishes fastest wins! Or you could let anyone who finishes the course without dropping the balloon be a winner.
21. Pop Goes the Water Balloon
In this water activity, players pass around a water balloon like you would a ball in hot potato. But this time when the music stops, the person holding the balloon has to pop it on himself or herself. Depending on your perspective (and how hot it is!), this could be a blessing or a punishment. 🙂
22. Sprinkler Obstacle Course
For this water activity, set up various sprinklers around the yard or field, turn them all on, and then let people run around them. The object of the game is to not get sprayed!
23. Water Limbo
For water limbo, instead of using a limbo stick, you use a stream of water from a hose as the object you have to limbo under. Fun times!
24. Water Duck, Duck, Goose
In this variation to the much-loved children’s game, the children sit in a circle. One person is it, and he or she must walk around the outside of the circle, tapping each person on the head. The person taps each head or pours a little bit of water on the person’s head and says “Duck” until he or she gets to the person they want to be the goose. Then the person says “Goose,” dumps the rest of the water on the person’s head, and starts running!
The person who is tagged as the goose must get up and chase after the other person who had been it. The person who was originally it tries to sit in the place of the goose before getting tagged. If successful, the goose is then it, and he or she then walks around the circle saying “duck, duck, duck, duck” until getting to the person they want to choose as the goose.
25. Sponge Tag
In this fun water activity, the person or persons who are it try to tag the other kids by throwing soft sponges.
26. Water Three-Legged Race
As if a three-legged race isn’t challenging enough, in this water activity the pairs of racers must run either carrying a water balloon or sponge gently between their sides. If they drop the sponge or balloon, they have to return to the starting line and begin again.
27. Swimming Pool Fun
Whether a small kiddie pool or a huge community pool, you can’t go wrong when a swimming pool is involved.
28. Marco Polo
In this water game the person who is it closes their eyes and calls out “Marco.” Each time the person calls out “Marco,” the other players call “Polo.” The person who is it listens carefully, trying to touch one of the people saying “Polo.” Once the person who is it tags another, then that person becomes the person who is it.
29. Hot Tubbing
Want a calmer water activity for your group? Go hot tubbing! This is an awesome activity, even if it is warm outside (just do it at night).
30. Water Balloon Bash
This fun water activity is the same idea as hitting a piñata. But instead of swinging at the piñata, you swing at large, hanging water-filled balloons! You can still give each participant candy, if you choose, to not break from that long-standing tradition. 🙂
31. Water Balloon Towel Toss
For this water activity, instead of tossing a balloon back and forth to another person, the pairs of players use a towel to catch water balloons that come their way.
32. Kayaking and Canoeing
Kayaking and canoeing are another way to enjoy hours of water fun! If you don’t have kayaks or a canoe of your own, no problem! You can rent kayaks and canoes pretty inexpensively from the rec departments of local colleges and universities.
33. Water Blobs
In this fun water activity for DIYers, you will need a big roll of plastic sheeting and some duct tape. Fold the plastic sheeting in half, and tap the three open sides carefully with duct tape. (You may want to have someone help with that part.) Be sure to leave a hole to insert the water hose.
Then, insert the hose and turn the water on to fill the blob with water. When it is full, pull the end of the hose out, and tap the small opening shut. You can then have fun jumping on it, lying on it, sliding on it, and more!
34. Water Gun Tag
Instead of tagging the traditional way, the person in this fun variation who is it uses a water gun to try and spray the other players. The first (or last, if preferred) player to be sprayed is then it.
35. Beach Ball Blast
For this activity, you use the stream of water from hoses to see who can move their beach ball across the yard and over the finish line first.
36. Pool Ping-Pong
Next time you take the kids to the pool, take some ping-pong balls with you! Then put an inflated tube in the middle of the pool, and have the kids see who can throw the most ping-pong balls from a certain distance back into the hole in the middle of the tube.
37. Lake or Pond Fun
Visit a nearby lake or pond for hours of water fun! Whether you are fishing, paddleboarding, swimming, having a picnic, or just wading, your family can find plenty to do at the ponds or lakes in your area!
38. Skipping Rocks
Finding smooth, flat rocks and skipping them as far as possible across the surface of a lake or pond is a simple but fun way to pass the time at a lake or pond.
39. Tubing down the River
Tubing down the river was one of our favorite family water activities when I was growing up—and it still is.
40. Jumping the Waves
Whether in the ocean or at a wave pool, jumping waves is just good old-fashioned fun!
41. Water Park Fun
In this twist on the traditional hide and seek, everyone seeks while one person hides. As each person find the person who originally hid, they then hide with the original hider, until the last person find all of the players who are now hidden—and often packed in as tight as sardines.
42. Hot Springs Fun
One of my favorite places in the world is the hot springs about an hour from our house. It has multiple hot tubs, two huge bath-tub temperature pools, a toddler warm pool, a regular swimming pool, and a couple of slides with bath-temperature water. This place is a popular attraction year-round.
If you have a hot springs near your home, take advantage of it for hours of water fun!
43. River Rafting
If your family is a little more adventurous, rent a raft (check universities and colleges to save money) and hit the river, or pay for a guided tour. My husband and I love white water river rafting, and we’re excited to enjoy this activity with our kiddos when they get a little older. But river rafting doesn’t have to be white water to be fun! Just floating the river is an awesome way to enjoy the beauty of nature.
If you have a boat or have access to one, go explore a lake you’ve never been to! Yes, you will have to pay for gas, but there are parts of nature you can access only with a boat. So if you have the means or the availability to do so occasionally, go enjoy them!
45. Riding Jet Skis or Wave Runners
In my family growing up, riding wave runners was a treasured part of our occasional trips to the lake. I love to go out early in the morning on a glass-smooth lake and just soak in the beauty as you zip along in a red-rock canyon. You can buy used jet skis and wave runners for pretty cheap from your local online classifieds, and then they are yours to enjoy for years to come! We don’t have wave runners yet, but I hope we will someday. And if you only go occasionally, then renting them may be the better way to go.
46. Playing at the Beach
Playing at the beach is another of my favorite water activities! Even if you live four or five hours away, get up early and make the drive, and your kids will be delighted by this rare treat!
47. Water Skiing
If you have access to a boat, water skiing is another fun activity for the adventurous.
And so is wakeboarding. We don’t have a motorboat, so I have only been wakeboarding a couple of times when we have gone boating with family, but it is another fun way to enjoy the water.
My husband learned to sail as a 14-year-old working up at summer Scout camp, and he has loved it ever since. We own a sailboat that we got used, and one of the reasons that I love it is that you don’t have to spend much money on gas but you still get the benefit of being out on the water. 🙂
And if you own a sailboat like a catamaran, you don’t have to spend any money on gas at all. You can simply enjoy the wind and the waves as you zip along in the wonderfully cool breeze.
If you don’t feel quite up to taking a sailboat, sailboarding can be another fun option! Basically a modified surfboard with a small sail, a sailboard is another fun way to enjoy the wind and the waves.
Fishing is about as classic a water activity as you can get. Whether you are taking your kids out for their first fishing trip or you are veterans at it, fishing is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon. And you definitely don’t have to spend a fortune. Fishing can be expensive, but it definitely doesn’t have to be—and if you are lucky, you will be rewarded with a delicious dinner!
Water activities are a great way to have a good time with friends or family members. The wide variety of water activities available ensures that whether you have a family group, group of friends, school group, or church group, you’ll find a water activity that everyone can enjoy.
What are your favorite water activities? Are there any activities in this list that you haven’t tried before that you plan to try? Or do you have fun water activities that you love to do that I didn’t include in this list? Leave a comment below and let me know! I would love to hear your ideas!
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