April 23, 2013

Free or Low Cost Summer Fun

We really like to keep busy in the summer but don't like to spend a lot of money doing it.  Here are some ideas of things to do as a family that are either free or don't cost a lot.

1. Fun Free Summer Ideas to keep the kids busy. Water balloons, sprinklers, chalk, bubbles, catching lightening bugs, have friends over, cook out, picnic, riding bikes or scooters, playing with a ball, Frisbee or baseball and bat, or go to the park... Phew...Okay, I wanted to get some of the most obvious freebies out of the way.  Now here are some other ideas.

2. Take classes through the local Parks System.  Where we live there are some great local parks.  I can think of at least 4 or 5 parks that either we could walk to or are within a short drive from our house. Not only are our parks great, but our county has an amazing parks system that provides tons of low cost or free classes and events for families like fishing derby's, a Summer Splash Party that includes free pontoon rides, canoe rides and kayaking, summer concerts and outdoor movies. Our parks system also offers free classes for different age groups each month. There are classes for Little Explorers ages 1 - 5, Nature Rangers ages 4 - 7, and Junior Rangers ages 8 - 12. Each month they will offer 1 or 2 different themes and even though you have to preregister to go to it, it is free. In June, some of the programs will include topics like Becoming a Wild Life Detective, Gardens, Ohio Birds and Ohio Mammals.

3. Summer Movie Clubhouse.  A Cinemark theater near you may be offering the Summer Movie Clubhouse.  Buy a pass to see all 10 movies for only $5 (50 cents each) or if you pay as you go, it is $1 per movie.  One of the Cinemark Theaters near us is showing the following movies this Summer as part of the Summer Movie Clubhouse. 

June 11 - Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (PG)
June 18 - Horton Hears a Who (G)
June 25 - The Smurfs (PG)
July 2 - Ice Age: Continental Drift (PG)
July 9 - Dolphin Tale (PG)
July 16 - Happy Feet (PG)
July 23 - Oceans (G)
July 30 - Rio (G)
August 6 - Chimpanzee (G)
August 13 - Alvin & The Chipmunks (PG)

4. Library. Our local library has tons of programs for kids.  Although a lot are during the day on weekdays which means we don't get to go to them.  They do have some kids parties on Saturday mornings about once a month.  We've gone to a Mickey Mouse Party, a Backyardigans Party, a Barbie Party, recently they had a make your own pizza party with a local pizza restaurant (mmmmm... too bad we missed that one), and next week I'm taking the girls to a Spring Party.

5.  Kids Bowl Free. Kids can bowl for FREE all SUMMER!  See my previous post here on this or go to kidsbowlfree.com to see if a bowling alley near you is participating.

6. Free Community Events or Concerts. Some of the ones we have in our area are concerts in the park, concerts downtown in the street, a hot air balloon festival, First Friday Downtown, arts in the park... all of these are free to go to and usually have plenty of free activities, entertainment and sometimes even fireworks. Just eat before you go and take snacks, a blanket to sit on and drinks with you. 

7. Festivals and Fairs. I know these can really get out of control cost wise if you don't go with a plan.  But there are a few in our area that we never miss and really make an affordable family outing if you plan ahead.  Every summer there is an Italian festival at the local fairgrounds that only charges $5 per person and it includes most of the entertainment, rides, and parking.  We also usually hit 2 local fairs and our city has a Main Street Festival that we go to every year.
Some tips to save money:
  • Don't go hungry.  Eat before you go and plan to buy only one or two treats to share with the whole family....elephant ear anyone?
  • Set a limit on rides or have the kids pay for their own rides - One of the festivals that we go to is right after my daughters' birthdays so I usually let them have some of their birthday money to use towards rides or getting their face painted.
  • Don't waste money on the carnival games.
  • Take cans of pop, juice boxes and snacks.
8. Drive Ins.  We usually drive about 25 minutes to a drive-in theater about once or twice a summer.  My husband and I actually used to go a lot more often before we had kids.  The theater offers a double feature of two newer movies for only $6 per adult and $2 per child.  Children under 5 are free.  Yes, it makes for a late night but we take blankets and pillows, pop open the back of the van and lay down to watch the movies.  We pack snacks and drinks but usually end up buying popcorn.  It smells way to good to pass up but its a lot cheaper than it is at the regular theaters so I don't feel too bad.

9. Join a Museum, Zoo or Swimming Pool. This will cost some money up front but its a great way to keep busy during the summer and throughout the year.  Especially if you know you will use the membership enough to get your moneys worth.  Our Zoo membership cost us $71.  We get free parking, free or discount admission to other reciprocal zoos and discounts to special events throughout the year.  We've already been to the zoo 3 times in the last 2 months.

Do you have any other ideas of low cost or free fun activities to do with the kids this summer?  I'm always on the look out for something fun to do!

1 comment:

  1. Those are great ideas! I'm going to bookmark this so I can remind myself.

    I used Kids Bowl free last summer - it was a great way to get out if the heat but still burn up all that energy.