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20 Fun Things for College Students To Do This Summer

Summer break is almost here! After a long year of exams, papers, and stressful all-nighters, every college student deserves an epic 3 months off. With endless possibilities for fun, don’t let your summer just slip away.

Travel Somewhere New

One of the best parts of summer is having time to travel and see new places. Take a road trip with friends, visit national parks, or check out a cool city you’ve never been to before. Travel doesn’t have to break the bank as a college student.

Tips for Affordable Summer Travel:

  • Stick to driving over flying to save money
  • Use sites like Airbnb for cheaper lodging than hotels
  • Choose free activities like hiking, walking tours, and museums
  • Pack snacks and a cooler for cheap on-the-go meals

Cheap U.S. Destinations: New Orleans, Austin, Denver, San Diego, Portland

Cheap International Destinations: Thailand, Peru, Guatemala, Spain

No matter where you choose to visit, soak up the history, sights, and culture of somewhere new. It will give you an unforgettable summer and eye-opening experiences!

Gain Professional Experience with an Internship

Summer internships let you gain real-world experience in your future career field. They look great on a resume and help you make connections. With abundant openings across many companies and organizations, you should find something aligned with your major and interests.

Tips for Landing a Summer Internship:

  • Start searching early – competitive openings fill up fast
  • Check your campus career center for openings targeting students
  • Attend virtual job fairs to connect with employers
  • Update your resume and practice interview skills

Look for opportunities to learn new skills, take on projects, and get exposure to the field during your internship. Reflect on everything you learned to help guide your remaining college years and post-grad plans.

Take Interesting Summer Classes

Just because it’s break doesn’t mean you have to stop learning! Take fun classes offered through local colleges or community centers over the summer to gain new skills.

Types of Classes to Consider:

  • Photography
  • Art studios – painting, pottery, etc.
  • Exercise – golf, martial arts, dance
  • Foreign languages – intensive 2-3 month summer programs
  • Philosophy, psychology, anthropology
  • General education requirements or prerequisites for your major

Most summer classes are fairly affordable, especially at your own college. You can enroll as a non-degree-seeking student just for the summer term. Earn credits while having fun!

Find a Summer Job

A college female student looking for a summer jobWhat better place to earn cash over summer than at a fun venue like the beach, amusement park, or tourist hotspot? Look into summer gigs like:

  • Lifeguard
  • Camp counselor
  • Server at a beachside restaurant/tiki bar
  • Tour guide at a zoo, aquarium, or museum
  • Scoop ice cream on the boardwalk
  • Operate rides and games at a theme park or state fair

Just be sure to balance working with having unstructured time for relaxation and adventure!

Volunteer for a Worthwhile Cause

Spend some of your extra downtime volunteering for an organization aligned with social issues or causes you care about. This is rewarding in itself and also looks great on resumes and grad school applications.

  • Pre-med students – volunteer at hospitals, clinics, or health nonprofits
  • Education majors – help out at youth camps, community centers, shelters
  • Environmental science majors – parks departments, wildlife conservation groups
  • Consider roles like camp counselor, tutoring, cooking meals, social media marketing, etc.

Research groups that interest you on sites like and VolunteerMatch. Giving back while also gaining valuable experience is time well spent.

Go Camping

Three college guys going camping during the summer break

Camping is a very good and affordable summer adventure. Spend nights under the stars at state parks, secluded nature spots, or even your backyard if space allows!

Tips for Memorable Summer Camping Trips:

  • Many campgrounds have tent sites for just $20-30/night
  • Try a mix of established campgrounds and dispersed camping on public lands
  • Borrow gear from friends to save costs or look into camper van rentals
  • Plan both weekend trips and 1-2 week camping road trips
  • Build campfires, go fishing, play games, stargaze – enjoy the simple things!

Immerse yourself in nature and bond with friends while making lifelong memories. Wherever you pitch your tent, embrace the magic of evenings outdoors!

Attend Summer Music Festivals

One of the best parts of summer is the abundance of lively festivals and outdoor concert series. These range from huge multi-day music festivals to quirky local events, Pride celebrations, county fairs, food festivals, and more. Most are very low cost or even free!

Search sites like Everfest to find festivals happening near you. Make an epic summer concert bucket list spanning your favorite music genres. Outdoor venues like amphitheaters are perfect for seeing live music under the stars.

Festivals let you discover new bands and experience local culture while making fun memories with friends. Don’t miss the magic!

Plan a “Staycation”

A “staycation” involves playing tourist right in your hometown for a long weekend or week, enjoying local attractions, restaurants, and activities.

Tips for an Epic Staycation:

  • Search for discounts and deals on hotels, museums, shows, etc.
  • Visit new neighborhoods, parks, and shops you’ve never explored before
  • Take a guided walking tour and learn some history
  • Make a list of iconic local foods and drinks for a progressive meal
  • Support small businesses – farmers markets, breweries, mom-and-pop shops
  • Snap pics at popular murals, landmarks, and scenic outlooks

You may be surprised by the hidden gems in your own area. Spending time rediscovering the charms of your hometown helps you appreciate them more. Plus, you can explore further afield the rest of the summer if desired!

Reconnect with Old Friends

College students catching up with their old friends during summer break

Summertime and reunions go hand-in-hand. Link back up with old friends from high school, freshman year dorm buddies, study abroad comrades, and others you’ve fallen out of touch with. Pick up right where you left off!

  • Get the gang together for picnics, beach days, game nights, karaoke sessions, and other fun group activities
  • Nostalgia over past adventures while also making new memories together
  • Even quick coffee catch-ups or video calls mean the world – promise to stay better connected moving forward
  • Use Snapchat, Instagram, and other apps to keep up on each other’s lives

Don’t lose contact with people who shaped who you are. Bonding over fond memories is the perfect medicine.

Enjoy the Outdoors

Take advantage of sunny days to fully immerse yourself in new outdoor hobbies like:

  • Surf lessons
  • Hiking for beginners classes
  • Recreational sports leagues – volleyball, softball, kickball
  • Paddleboarding, kayaking, sailing
  • Fishing, golf, rock climbing, mountain biking

Sign up for intro lessons, watch YouTube tutorials, and use student discounts to skill up while enjoying nature. You’ll return to campus with awesome lifelong outdoor hobbies!

See Live Music

Catch some epic concerts this summer! Search sites like Ticketmaster and StubHub for shows coming to your area.

Compile a bucket list spanning your favorite music genres – country, rock, punk, hip hop, EDM, and more. Outdoor venues like amphitheaters are perfect for summer shows. Sing and dance the night away with friends while making lifelong memories!

Tend a Garden

A college student planting flowers in her garden during summer break

Plant a summer garden for fun, rewards, and eco-friendly organic produce! Growing your own vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers is satisfying. Enjoy homegrown goodies or gift extras.

Tips for First-Time Gardeners:

  • Use backyard space if available or look into community gardens
  • Decide what to grow based on climate, space, and preferences
  • Talk to local experts for planting tips
  • Make caring for your garden a nice daily ritual

Nurture your green thumb, get closer to nature, and reap organic rewards.

Focus on Your Health

  • Book doctors’ visits – annual physicals, dental cleanings, eye exams
  • Address any ongoing health issues
  • Research providers and sign up for new insurance if needed
  • Adopt an enjoyable exercise routine – beach yoga, sports leagues, home workout videos, bike rides
  • Try new healthy recipes, fruits, vegetables, and cuisines
  • Meal prep

Learn New Cooking Skills

A college student that enjoys cooking during summer break

Summer offers time to advance your culinary abilities beyond dining hall fare!

Tips for Improving Cooking Chops:

  • Master basic techniques – sautéing, roasting, baking, grilling
  • Take student discount cooking classes
  • Follow YouTube channels like Tasty and Bon Appétit
  • Ask parents or grandparents to teach you treasured family recipes
  • Host potlucks or cookoffs with friends to try out dishes
  • Shop local farmers markets and docks for fresh ingredients

Preparing awesome homemade meals will make you feel happier and healthier!

Pursue Your Passions

Dedicate time each day to hobbies and passions you don’t get to enjoy as much during school semesters.

  • Artists – Set up an art studio and explore new mediums
  • Writers – Write poetry, stories, songs, journal entries, blog posts
  • Creatives – Program games, knit scarves, record songs, choreograph dances
  • Build LEGO creations, play instruments, and more based on your interests

Don’t downplay hobbies as unimportant – they provide mental nourishment. Follow your inner fire!

Get a Head Start on Fall Planning

  • Map out ideal fall class schedule
  • Reach out to academic advisors with questions
  • Apply early for preferred housing
  • Research study abroad programs, fellowships, internships
  • Update resume with summer accomplishments
  • Browse clubs to join aligned with new goals
  • Make an on-campus social bucket list

Strategically preparing for returning to campus will ensure you start the semester strong!

Relax and Recharge

Most importantly, summer is crucial time to restore mental health through relaxation and recharging. Don’t cram every minute with activities.

  • Sleep in when needed
  • Spend afternoons reading by the pool
  • Try yoga, meditation
  • Have movie marathons in PJs
  • Savor quality time with family and pets
  • Volunteer at an animal shelter
  • Let yourself fully destress

Arrive back at school feeling mentally refreshed and ready to thrive!

Key Takeaways

  • Travel somewhere new on a budget
  • Land an impressive internship
  • Take interesting classes just for fun
  • Find a fun summer job
  • Volunteer for a worthwhile cause
  • Go camping
  • Attend summer music festivals
  • Plan a local “staycation”
  • Reconnect with old friends
  • Learn new outdoor hobbies
  • See live concerts
  • Plant a garden
  • Focus on health and fitness
  • Improve cooking abilities
  • Pursue passions and hobbies
  • Strategically prepare for a great fall semester
  • Make sure to relax and recharge

Mix and match activities from this list to create your own epic summer full of making memories with friends while also preparing for an awesome year ahead!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are 5 affordable travel destinations for college students?

Some of the most affordable, student-friendly destinations in the U.S. include New Orleans, Austin, Denver, San Diego and Portland. For international travel, consider cheap destinations like Thailand, Peru, Guatemala and Spain.

What types of summer jobs or internships give you valuable career experience?

Look for internships and jobs tailored to your major and future career goals. Pre-med students can volunteer at hospitals and clinics while education majors can help at youth camps or tutoring organizations. Working at a museum, zoo or publishing house is great for history and English majors. There are abundant openings across diverse fields from technology to sports marketing to green energy and more.

How much does camping cost for a summer trip?

You can camp very affordably, with many campgrounds having tent sites starting around just $20-30 per night. Additional costs may include gear and food, but you can save by borrowing equipment and packing affordable snacks. Many state and national parks also offer free dispersed camping on public lands. Overall camping is one of the cheapest, most adventurous summer trip options.

What are 5 low-cost summer hobbies and activities?

Aside from affordable camping and road trips, other budget-friendly summer hobby ideas include:

  • Trying new easy local hiking trails
  • Joining recreational sports leagues
  • Learning outdoor activities – surfing, paddleboarding, fishing
  • Exploring free museums and art galleries
  • Attending free concerts and festivals
  • Checking used bookstores for beach reads
  • Volunteering for a cause you care about

How should you prepare for going back to college in the fall?

To go back strong next semester, map out an ideal class schedule, apply early for housing, update your resume with summer experiences, browse clubs that interest you, strategically set goals for the year ahead, and take care of any health appointments. Preparing over summer makes your transition back to campus life smoother.

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