Free (or Next To Free) Summer Activities


Summer is officially here. Want to know how I can tell? The hot, sweaty, bored kids. Ha! Actually they are loving summer so far, we get to play outside more often and there are a lot of activities they can do now that weren’t available in the cooler months. The problem, however, is that summer can also be expensive. Day camps for my 4 year old run about $150/week for 3-3.5 hrs/day, so utilizing those all summer just isn’t going to happen. So here are some awesome things I’ve found that cost little to nothing that keep everyone happy! And dont worryits not just a list of places you already go!

Summer Activities

  • Summer Library Programs. I love our library here. They offer awesome activities through the summer like “Pictures and a Picnic” where they read books outside to the kids and everyone brings a picnic lunch. They also offer Lego building classes, superhero lessons, and much more. Check out your local library to see what their summer schedule looks like, you might just be surprised.
  • Summer Passes. Did you also know that your library probably offers free passes to local attractions? All you have to do is ask. I know our library has passes to museums, local shows, and even the zoo.
  • Go to the Museum. Remember those passes I was talking about? A lot of libraries have ones you can check out for free admission. If your library doesn’t Target Community Events and other organizations sponsor a lot of museums for free admission on specific days. Bank of American and Merrill Lynch users can also use their debit or credit cards as passes on specific days. Here is more info.
  • Go to the movies. What… wait…what?! Yep, you heard me right…go to the movies. Did you know a lot of theaters offer discounted or free family days during the summer? They are typically kid friendly movies and first come first serve, but you can still see a great flick and sit in an air-conditioned room for a few hours for free or next to free. Here is a link to Regal’s $1 shows and locations. But check your local theaters, too!
  • Don’t want to go the movies with a bunch of rowdy kids? Want to see the latest movies? Check out this article from the Penny Hoarder on how to score free movie tickets for movies you actually want to see!

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  • Want to get paid to go to the movies? Check out MarketForce and become a Theater Checker. You get paid to check the ads at the beginning of movies and then you can stay for the rest of the movie! A lot of times you don’t have a lot of notice, but it is great when you want to get out the house for free (and make a few bucks at the same time).
  • Get active! A lot of roller rinks and bowling alleys offer free or discounted games to kids. Here are 2 websites to help you find locations where kids can do both for free. Kids Skate Free. Kids Bowl Free. My kids love to bowl (even the 1 year old) so don’t think your kids are too little for bowling!
  • Shop ‘til you drop! Ok, this one isn’t exactly free…but it’s up to you how much you spend! Ikea has an awesome supervised play room! I used to go and drop kids off and then head up to the café for a coffee and a $1 cinnamon roll with my mom friends. It was awesome because both mom and kids got a much needed break for the low low cost of $1.
  • Build something! Did you know that both Lowes and Home Depot offer free classes to kids? They can build a project and learn a new skill. And these are cool projects like building a mini sled, or a mini-crate pencil holder! I have even seen parents get in on the fun and make their own projects! It’s a great way to spend a few hours when it’s too hot to play outside!
  • Go Exploring! There was nothing more fun to me as a kid than exploring the woods by our house. I loved romping through the forest finding ‘treasures’ and ‘hunting’ (we didn’t really hunt…we just threw rocks at bigger rocks and pretended they were bears). You can get into the National Parks for free on National Park Day and if you want to go more frequently check out your local library. Our library has passes we can check out for free admission!
    • You can also try geocaching. If your kids are anything like I was as a kid (and honestly as an adult) geocaching is the way to go. It is like a high-tech scavenger hunt. All you need is a GPS enabled device such as your smart phone and you can play a real-world treasure hunting outdoor game. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using their smart phones and then share their experiences online. Check out here to get more info on places to go and where to start.

Now that you have an arsenal of activities you can combat those summer boredom blues!

What are you planning to do for the summer?

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