Now that school is out, are you looking for activities to do with the kids, but don’t want to spend an arm and leg? Summer is a perfect time to visit loved-ones and enjoy activities that we missed during the school year due to hectic schedules and tons of responsibilities.
I’ve started creating a Summer Bucket List with my kids. Ours is a short list where the kids choose places and activities they would like for the family to enjoy on the days we feel like getting out (and days where I know I’ll lose my mind if I stay inside with the 3 of them all day). We write them down and check them off as we go.
I provide choices from the list below as they’re still young and require a little guidance (plus my choices are all FREE which means nothing to them, and everything to me). My daughter had us going to the Eiffel Tower one year. I have to remind them occasionally that this is not our family vacation bucket list, but one for us to enjoy quality time in and around our city.
Let me just tell you that things can get expensive quick! Just having kids alone is expensive but entertaining a family with 3 kids can be a lot. I began to look for ways to get more fun in for little to no money (outside of parking fees) and was impressed by the amount of things we could do!
24 Free Summer Activities For Kids
- Zoos. Some zoos are FREE daily. Find one in your area here. Others offer free programs with a family membership.
- Neighborhood library. Most likely, your public library hosts story hours and other FREE events for kids. Some even have outdoor story hour in the evenings so be sure to check the website of your local library for dates and times.
- Nature parks. Many national parks are FREE for visitors on various days. For a full list click here.
- Bowling. Register your kids to bowl for FREE at kidsbowlfree.com. Check out days, time, and age requirements that may vary between bowling centers. Some require you to rent or bring your own bowling shoes, so don’t forget to add that cost or come prepared.
- Swimming pools. Start your weekends off with a splash! Look in your area for Park Districts or organizations that offer FREE swimming.
- “Fun worlds” and game centers often host FREE movies or other events outdoors. Don’t let the kids trick you into going inside…you will pay for games!
- Train rides. Urban areas may offer FREE commuter train rides for children ages 11 and under. The train ride itself is an event, plus you can explore your city!
- Firework displays. Many cities and villages host FREE firework displays at various points during the summer.
- Public beaches. If you live by a lake, ocean or gulf, many public beaches are absolutely FREE!
- Outdoor or drive-in movies. Tired of looking at your living room? Pack those chairs, blankets, snacks and be out! There are approximately 338 drive-in movie locations left across the nations and some may even be FREE! See if there is one by you.
- Do-It-Yourself-Stores. Home Depot and Lowes have FREE crafts for young children on Saturdays. Michael’s offers a craft camp for $5 per child Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at some store locations. I’ll be checking to see how soon my kids will be able to use these learned skills to fix things around the house! *wink*
- LEGO stores host a FREE mini model build every month for kids ages 6-14. Click here for more details. I’m grateful for this because all the Legos in our house have been confiscated at this time, so this will be the only time they get to play with them. I just refuse to step on another one!
- Junior Ranger. Do you have nature-loving dirt magnets? Children ages 5-13 can become a Junior Ranger through the National Park Junior Ranger Program. Visit nps.gov to search for national parks in your state that offer the this FREE program.
- Museums. Many local museums are FREE, or host free-days. Check here to find one by you!
- Maker Camps. Teens can also get in on 6 weeks of fun with Maker Camp. Kids ages 13-18 are inspired to make, break, and fix things during this FREE online and on-site (at participating libraries) camp. They can choose to participate in a range of topics from design, music, technology, science and more. Check out makercamp.com for all the details.
- Technology camps. Microsoft Stores offer a FREE YouthSpark program where kids from ages 6-13 get to code, create digital apps and more. They also offer DigiGirlz, a 2 hour workshop for girls ages 14-18 that explore the importance of computer science. Head over to Microsoft.com to find a store nearest you and register.
- Apple Camp. Apple offers FREE Kids Hour workshops, which are “designed to spark imagination and creativity through fun, hands-on projects”. These are open to children ages 6-12 at participating stores. They also offer Apple Camp, a 3 day workshop for children 8-12. You can sign up at applersvp.com.
- Restaurants.Don’t feel like cooking? You can find a restaurant for almost every day of the week where your kids can eat for FREE! The following websites allow you to locate participating restaurants in select cities and/or states: timeout.com, mykidseatfree.com, mykidslist.com, kidwinks.com.
- Pottery Barn Kids hosts FREE weekly story, crafts and more every Tuesday at 11am. Go to potterybarnkids.com for participating stores near you.
- Toys R Us offers FREE races, parties, and giveaways every month on Saturdays. Check out toysrus.com for participating stores and times. Don’t forget to have “the talk” with them before you go in…you know they never want to leave.
- Chuck E. Cheese offers rewards charts for things like good behavior, daily chores, clean room, good listening, etc. Just take the completed chart to Chuck E. Cheese for 10 FREE tokens! Check out chuckecheese.com for all the details.
- The Disney Store has Summer Play Days everyday at 3pm. Children ages 3 and up will receive a FREE patch for each week of participation. If you collect a patch from all 10 weeks, you receive an exclusive Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse patch on the last day. Go to Disneystore.com for more details.
- American Girl offers fun and FREE crafts every Wednesday from 1-3pm for girls ages 8 and up. Girl of the year, Contemporary Characters and BeForever are just a few themes in the lineup. Visit Americangirl.com to locate a participating store near you and don’t let your girls talk you into spending any money…this is supposed to be FREE.
- Festivals There are also a host of FREE food festivals in your city. You can hang out with the kids AND not have to worry about finding lunch or dinner! Can you say win?!
This Summer Bucket List is tailored for you! Feel free to check the websites of your local museums, county parks, etc for info on FREE activities specific to your area.