Summer Activities Your Kids and Budget Will Love

June 26, 2014

summer activities your kids and budget will love

Ah, summertime! The season for sleeping in, running through the sprinkler, licking popsicles, riding bikes around the neighborhood, roasting marshmallow for backyard s’mores… It makes me want to be a kid again.

But there are days when kids (and/or parents!) need some variety and want to get away from the house and do something different. Here’s a list of 10 free or nearly-free summer activities that will allow your budget to keep humming along nicely.

  • Library Programs: Unless you live in a small town, you may be amazed by the free programs your library system offers in the summer! Beyond the standard preschool story time, ours has events for elementary age and tweens/teens that include science experiments, a weekly LEGO building club, a Hobbit party, and recycling old toys into art. Check your library district’s website for information.
  • Movies for free or $1: Watch $1 G & PG movies with Regal Summer Movie Express and Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse (5 for $10 with this chain if you purchase a punch card) or free movies at Bow Tie Cinemas. Be sure to double-check that yours is a participating location. Click here to view additional theater chains with summer movie programs. Also, watch your newspaper for free outdoor movies at local parks.
  • Kids Bowl Free: Kids who are registered can bowl two games daily for free. Bowling centers have varying age limits and participating days, so check the details for your location. There are Canadian locations as well. This one’s great for when the weather’s not so hot!


summer activities bowling


  • Kids Skate Free: Participating skate centers across the United States email weekly passes to kids who are registered. Age limits vary by center.
  • Factory Tours USA: Check this map to see if your area has any interesting tours available. Many of them are free!
  • Public Pools & Splash Pads: In our city, it’s $1 for swim admission or $20 for a 25-swim pass. And on the weekend, a child under age 12 is free with each paying adult. That’s a relatively inexpensive way to stay cool and active! Splash pads with water features that spray and dump are especially fun for younger kids and can be found at many parks. Check your city’s Parks & Recreation site for information on both.


summer activities splash pad


  • Vacation Bible School: These programs are typically spaced throughout the summer and provide a positive environment for kids to see friends or make new ones, play games, and learn. Most of them are free, while some charge a nominal fee to cover supplies.
  • Geocaching: This one is a family favorite and can be enjoyed by all ages. Using GPS coordinates and clues, participants search for a little “treasure” that’s been hidden, remove the contents (optional) and leave something for the next person, and write in the log. See this website for more information and to download cache coordinates to your GPS device or phone. Locations are worldwide!
  • Hiking or Biking Trails: If your area has a city trail system, it can be an ideal place to walk, bike, or roller blade without having to worry about traffic. Ours runs along a river, and our kids love leaving the trail to explore. We also have some great hiking trails in the area that require a very short drive to the trailhead and make for a perfect half-day outing.


summer activities hiking


  • Summer Concerts: Many cities have a free summer concert series in one or more parks featuring bands, orchestras, and/or symphonies. Pack your dinner and a blanket or lawn chairs, and enjoy some local talent. Just do a Google search with your city’s name and “free summer concert.”


Do you have other budget-friendly ideas to add for having fun out & about this summer?

Please share them in the comments so that other readers can benefit!


For more about living on a budget with joy and style, please visit Melissa’s blog, A Time for Everything.



Melissa is passionate about people living within their means and becoming--and remaining--debt-free. She is the owner of A Time for Everything, which includes both a shop where she sells handmade cash envelope system wallets and accessories, and a blog where she writes about frugal living, creating, and life in general. She's been blogging since 2007 and making pretty wallets since 2011.

One comment on “Summer Activities Your Kids and Budget Will Love

  1. Thank you for all the suggestions Melissa! I will check out the movie theater summer programs for the boys!

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