When tweens and teens complain about being bored, use our list of ideas to give them suggestions. These are great options for breaks from school, summer vacation or whenever your tween or teen has some downtime they need to fill.
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We have fun activities that will help tweens: learn, create, help, move, connect and relax. Pick and choose based on the kid and the situation. It’s important to be intentional – and encourage your kids to be intentional – as they begin to build their own schedules.
Getting tweens and teens outdoors when the weather cooperates is always a good idea. Below are some great ideas for outside activities that will get kids out into the fresh air. Many things on this list of fun things could also include younger siblings if you’d like.
1. visit local Parks
Visit local parks for hikes or pull out the bikes for fresh air and exercise. This idea works for younger kids and older kids alike. Consider local parks that have unique hikes, creeking opportunities, obstacle courses or bike paths depending what your tween or teen likes to do (or if they want to try out a new skill).
2. play Frisbee
You can play frisbee almost anywhere, but the popularity of disc golf has also exploded since the pandemic. More than 14,000 disc golf courses are now available worldwide and 90% are free to play.
All you need is a disc golf starter set and a little research into nearby courses.
3. Go Rock Climbing
See if there’s a local park that has a climbing wall or check out an indoor rock climbing gym if weather doesn’t cooperate.
4. Go Horseback riding
Book a local trail ride or see if there’s a local stable that does rides or single lessons.
5. do a scavenger hunt
Teens and tweens can create old-school scavenger hunts at home with pen and paper for siblings or friends, but the app Goose Chase allows one person to build a hunt online and three teams can then compete from multiple locations. The free recreational plan provides a real-time activity feed and scores. Kids can take turns building hunts for their friends and competing.
You can also grab our free download – Outdoor Photo Scavenger Hunt – and challenge kids to complete the hunt in a certain timeframe.
6. tackle an obstacle course
Look for a local park that has a ready-made course or challenge tweens to create their own.
7. Visit a national park
This idea takes some planning, but we know many families (mine included!) that build family trips around visits to national parks because it’s something their tweens and teens enjoy.
Our national park passport books stay in the car all the time. Collecting stamps and stickers is a cheap way to track your park visits.
8. Set up Fun Outdoor Activities
We did a whole post on cool outdoor party ideas, and lots of those ideas translate into fun outdoor activities for tweens and teens. If you love being outside but you’re not up for a whole party, check out our favorite backyard games for tweens and teens.
9. Go on a Bike Ride
Bike to a local restaurant or ice cream shop. Bike on a scenic path. This can be a parent-kid activity or something a group of kids do together (just send them with phones since they can really cover some ground by bike).
10. Play Mini Golf
Mini golf is always a blast, and a fun way to spend some time outside.
Whole Family Activities
Sometimes we’re looking for things to do with our tweens & teens as a family. These activities work for families with kids in more than one age group.
11. Visit An Animal Shelter
Have kids who love animals? This is a fun family outing that also gives back, since shelters count on visitors to help socialize animals.
12. Help Someone Out
Nursing home residents and elderly adults who rarely leave their homes can feel isolated and lonely. Cheer them up by sending a card or ordering a few prints of some favorite photos to be delivered.
If you have a Shipt or Instacart account, order groceries and have them delivered to elderly friends or others in need. Kristie loves Shipt because she can request delivery in most places around the country, so you can live far away and still be helpful. (Here’s $50 off the $99 annual membership fee–it is an affiliate link.)
MORE WAYS TO HELP OTHERS >>>> 117 Ideas for Volunteering With Your Family
13. Attend Cultural Events
Check listings for events in your area. Our library system also offers “culture passes” that function as free passes to events like the symphony and ballet.
14. Schedule a Movie Marathon
If you have a free evening, grab the chance to binge watch some movies. Here are some suggestions:
- Movie Series: Back to the Future, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Mighty Ducks, Lord of the Rings, Jurassic Park, Now You See Me 1 & 2, Rocky, Mission Impossible
- Marvel Movies
- Sports Movies: Sandlot, Remember the Titans, Rudy, Angels in the Outfield, A League of Their Own, Hoosiers, The Blind Side
- Throw-Back Movies: Ferris Bueller, Princess Bride, Goonies, Karate Kid, Footloose, Grease
- Other Favorites: Mean Girls, Pitch Perfect, Napoleon Dynamite, 13 Going on 30, Clueless, High School Musical
If you’d rather binge watch a TV show, check out our favorite shows to watch with tweens.
16. Take a Day trip
Look at places less than a two-hour drive where you would have fun exploring for a day. If there’s a random day school is closed or a free Saturday, jump in the car and go.
17. Spend a Day at an amusement park
If you have a thrill-seeking tween or teen, make a visit to a nearby amusement park and spend the day on rides.
18. visit a water park
Pick out a good-weather day and make a trip to a local water park.
19. Take a Road Trip
This will probably require a little more time and planning, but road trips are where memories are made. We have some tips for an amazing road trip with tweens to make sure you’re prepared for an epic journey.
20. Go Ice skating
Look for public skate times and lace up.
21. Visit an Arcade
There are several arcade “bars” in our area, and they’re an affordable and fun way to spend a few hours. Usually you purchase a drink and most games are free to play. Bring some quarters in case pinball or specialty games still have a charge.
22. Plan a summer vacation
Travel can be one of the best ways to spend quality time with older kids. If you love national parks, we’ve written about our trip out west to nine national parks. For the beach lovers, we have posts on traveling to Naples, Florida, 30A Florida and South Carolina beaches.
23. visit a natural history museum
Many tweens and teens develop a bigger interest in history, so a trip to a natural history museum feels a lot different than when they were little kids.
24. Get ice cream
The key to bonding with tweens and teens always seems to be FOOD. Getting ice cream can be a simple and fun family outing. You can also check out an ice cream place that’s new to you.
We have screen-free activities as well as some fun things to do with screens. Hang out as a family or let tweens invite a group of friends to drop in.
25. Create a Time Capsule
This Living Well Spending Less article walks you through how to create a time capsule as a family that you’ll enjoy opening years down the road.
26. Have a Dance Party
Have an impromptu dance party with an Alexa radio station or soundtrack or a favorite Spotify playlist.
27. play a board game
We’re kind of into games, so this is one of our favorite things to do with teens and teens. Scroll through our list of the best games for tweens and teens, because it can be fun to schedule a family game night and roll out a brand new game.
28. watch a Show
We’ve got some suggestions on the best shows for tweens.
29. Do Engineering Projects
KiwiCo offers several crates that are perfect for tweens and teens who like science, engineering and design. Their Tinker Crate is for kids ages 9-14 and focuses on science and engineering. The Eureka Crate is for kids 12+ and provides engineering and design projects.
30. Go play Laser Tag
You can round up some kids for a game of at-home laser tag or take kids to place with laser tag set up and ready to go.
31. Master escape Rooms
Escape rooms are a blast. Book a time and make sure to check the difficulty of the room and recommended ages before you go.
32. play card games
Teach tweens and teens a favorite card game, or jump on YouTube and learn a new card game together.
33. battle it out on video games
From Mario Cart to NBA Jam, a video game battle can be a great way to spend time with tweens.
34. visit a comic book, sports card store
For tweens who love comic books, sports cards or other collectibles, take a field trip to a local store and spend time together looking through what they have and just talking to the staff.
35. Get Organized
Consider assigning some projects to your tween or teen that just never seem to get done. Ask them to clean out closets and create a box of items to donate (here’s a good post about organizing a teen’s closet). Other ideas: reorganize a coat closet, kitchen cabinet, crawl space or pantry. Throw away expired items and set aside things they haven’t seen used in awhile to be considered for donation. I enlisted my son’s help to put together our new Ikea cabinet.
36. Expand Your Alexa Skills
We have three Echo Dots in our house. We primarily use them to play music, answer questions or set alarms, but the Skills & Games function on the Alexa app has some really fun things to keep tweens and teens entertained or even learning. Common Sense Media lists 19 great skills for kids and teens.
Here are a few examples:
- Song Quiz. Think Name That Tune where you pick the musical genre.
- Travel Quest. Kids get a virtual passport, answer questions and learn facts as they travel to different countries.
- Escape the Room. Using simple directions, teens search a virtual room, gather clues and solve a puzzle.
- Would You Rather and Would You Rather for Family (this is the more PG version)
- The Magic Door. An interactive adventure game.
- Heads Up! Alexa takes the popular app to audio, giving you clues so you can guess the word before time runs out. There are free decks of cards and then others you can buy.
- Bingo. Print Bingo cards and off you go.
37. Learn to Cook New Things
I need to do a better job assigning my tween some regular cooking responsibilities. It gives him something to do, helps me out, and furthers my mission to make him the kind of man whose college roommate and wife thank me for teaching him basic life skills. Taste of Home has a list of 34 recipes teens should know by heart – you know, like quesadillas and pigs in a blanket.
A final option is registering for the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse. Though the beginner lessons work better for younger kids, the advanced video lessons cover knife skills, sautéing vegetables and making basic sauces and kids can watch and learn from home.
38. Become a LEGO Master
The Fox show LEGO Masters with host Will Arnett follows adult teams completing LEGO building challenges. Watch an episode on Hulu and then dust out bins of LEGOs to see how well you can complete the same challenge. Or watch enough to see the challenge, stop to build, and then compare your creation to the masters’ work.
39. Tap Into Documentaries
Common Sense Media lists the best documentaries on Netflix and allows you to search by age of your kids.