Entertainment Ideas, Fun

25 Free (or Almost Free) Things To Do With The Kids This Summer

25 FREE (or almost free)

It’s gorgeous out today! Along with the beautiful weather, school is also out for the summer in New Jersey. In fact, the kiddos and I were finished work and school three weeks ago. I absolutely love the blessing of being off with my kiddos in the summer. I love to hang out with them, whether it’s home or out and about. Thankfully, there’s plenty of fun things to do with them that won’t break the bank. Here  are 25 to get you started.

 

  1. Museums On Us by Bank of America: If you have a credit or debit card with Bank of America or Merrill Lynch, each adult cardholder can receive one free admission on the first full weekend of each month to over 150 museums in the United States. My mom and used this a couple of months ago to go to the MET in New York City, saving us $25.00 each. Museums generally charge children a very small fee if not free. This is a great thing to take advantage of if you are a customer here. For more info, click here.
  2. Visit a Big City: Speaking of New York City and museums, if you are near (by near, I mean within a couple of hours) any big cities, you are doing your children a great disservice if you aren’t venturing there to explore. We live less than 45 minutes from Philadelphia and two hours from New York City and I have taken the kids plenty of times. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to spend an arm and leg to spend the day in the city. They are filled with museums, theaters, parks, and more that are all busting at the seams all summer long with FREE family days, festivals, outdoor movies and more. Our nation’s cities are rich in history and culture that every kid should be exposed to at least once if you are able to. Not sure where to start? Visit the tourism page for the city you are interested in and plan away. For my South Jersey friends, click here for Philly.
  3. Free Tours By Foot: Not a great trip itinerary planner? Visit Free Tours By Foot and they’ll do all the work for you. All you have to do is show up. Located at many major cities located throughout the United States, this company is exactly what it sounds like: free tours. You have a very knowledgeable tour guide lead you around for a two hour tour and you simply tip them if you want to, or not if you don’t, for their service at the end of the tour. It really is that simple. We tried out the Philadelphia tour and it was pretty awesome. Our group had about 15 and our tour guide was a very enthusiastic history major from a nearby college. She took us on a historical tour around Philly, telling us things the history books don’t usually tell you in school. My kids had a great time. We tipped her 25$ for our family of 5 and there were probably an additional 10 people in our group who each tipped her as well, so she did quite well! We will be using this company to visit Washington DC this summer. For more info, click here.
  4. Kids Bowl Free: Kids can bowl two free games every day during the summer. You can even purchase a family pass for a flat fee of approx. $25.00. On that pass, 4 more adults will get to also bowl two games a day. We have participated for the past three summers at our local alley. It’s a fantastic program to introduce your kids to the sport of bowling. Please click here for more information.
  5. Kids Skate Free: This program is similar to Kids Bowl Free. Instead of bowling, your kids will receive two free session passes a week to your local participating skate rink. Please click here for more information.
  6. 4th Graders Are Free National Park Program: Do you have a 4th grader? If so, you and your entire family can get free entry to all United States National Parks from now until August 31, 2016. While most parks are free, you still have gate or parking fees which can be anywhere from $5.00 to $30.00. The only catch is that your teacher (or a teacher or home schooler you know) has to sign your child up for it. Our National Parks are educational treasure troves of fun for your entire family. Our family is a big fan of our National Parks. Please click here for more information.
  7. Tour Sport Stadiums: If you live near a major sport stadium, your family can get a really cool, behind the scenes tour of the stadium. Even if you or one of the kiddos are not a diehard fan, you will still get a thrill at actually walking on the field where the pros play. Tours are only scheduled when teams (or, if you’re a NASCAR fan, no races are scheduled) are away. They are usually under ten bucks for adults and less for the kids. Some places are even free. To find out more info, simply google the name of your local sport franchise with the words “tour” and a link will come right up. My family has gotten a kick out of touring Citizen’s Bank Park and Daytona International Speedway (we all laid on the crazy steep track!!). For my South Jersey friends, please click here for info on touring Citizen’s Bank Park,  click here for Lincoln Financial Field or click here to tour Wells Fargo Center.
  8. Minor League Baseball Game: We love going to see the Wilmington Blue Rocks in Delaware, a Kansas City Royal’s minor league team. Minor league fields are much smaller, so you get to see the action up front and the players LOVE to play the game and interact with fans. They are really great with your kids. They have free fun theme nights, like Star Wars or Dirty Car night. The food is yummy and reasonably priced at the minor league level, with a lot of dollar dog nights thrown in. They often have concerts and other events thrown in with the price of the ticket. Imagine our surprise one night when we went and Cal Ripken was there! With general admission tickets priced extremely lower (Only 6$ at the Blue Rocks) than their major league counterparts, going to see a minor league game is a fun and inexpensive alternative. For my South Jersey friends, please click here for info on the awesome Blue Rocks.
  9. 4-H Camps & Workshops: 4-H is a great place to find some fun in the summer. They offer great camps with a variety of topics, from agriculture to cooking to the arts and more. Your child does not have to be an actual member of 4-H to participate and camps are usually under 50$ for the week, with some even as low as $20.00. You just can’t beat that price for an all day, all week summer camp. Click here to find your local 4-H headquarters.
  10. VBS: Vacation Bible School is so much fun! Chances are that your kiddos already attend VBS at your church. However, I am sure there are many other VBS running all summer long. Look on your local community board or do a quick Facebook or google search and you can find more for your kiddos to attend. Most are free or only require a donation. Your child can never hear too many times how much Jesus loves them!
  11. Summer Craft and Street Fairs: A summer time staple, these sorts of fairs are chock-full of shopping, food and fun. Most of them have free concerts as entertainment and lots of free kid’s activity booths filled with crafts, games and more. As long as you can curb your need to purchase something yourself, this can be a fun but inexpensive afternoon to get outside and out of the house. Doing a simple google search or visiting your town’s homepage is a good start to finding one near you. Please click here for a great site to find something near you.
  12. Regal Summer Movie Express: Taking the entire family to the movies these days can set you back a hundred bucks easily. This is why taking your kiddos to the Regal’s summer movies are the best. For only $1.00 per person, you can see a G or PG kid’s movie. Our movie theater allows you to bring in your own snacks for the $1.00 movie days or the concessions are open. The movies are usually movies that ran this past year, so chances are you haven’t seen them all. For a complete schedule, please click here.
  13. Visit Your Local Library: Your local library is a gem. In addition to the wonderful world of books, did you know you can borrow movies, music, puppets and more at your library? Your child can also enjoy educational games in the kid’s computer zone. How about a monthly book club where they receive a free book? Lego Club. Pokémon Club. Teen Movie Club. Tutoring. Reading to therapy dogs. Young Writer’s Club. Movie and craft nights. Traveling theater performances. All can be found at your local library. Our summer mainstay is the National Summer Reading Program. Always centered around a cool theme, this program is designed to encourage kids, teens and adults alike, to love to read while giving fun incentives like free books, movie coupons, free kid’s meals, and weekly reading groups filled with fun and games. We started the summer reading program when my oldest was 18 months and he is now 13 ½ years old. We love it. To find your nearest participating library, please click here.
  14. Have Fun In Your Own Backyard: You can have lots of fun right in your own backyard. I like to take my kids places as much as the next person. I like to expose them to different cultures and activities and give them a chance to see more of America than what is in our town. I want them to be well rounded. But it’s a proven fact that good old fashioned imagination and exploration are just as important. If your kids are older, kick them out the door and lock it! No really. They will entertain themselves, they really will. Backyard experiments are fun and require nothing more than what you already have in your kitchen cabinet. We have a few books, but the book 365 Science Experiments, illustrated by Glen Singleton is a go to for them right now. Your local library is also filled with fun activity and experiment books. You can also visit my backyard fun age on Pinterest by clicking here.
  15. Volunteer at Your ASPCA: As long as you don’t have allergies (we do!) go hang out at your local ASPCA. They welcome families to come in and read or play with the animals. I have friends who do this with their kids and they love it. While you are there, why not adopt? J Look for your nearest shelter by clicking here.
  16. Volunteer at Your Local Zoo: I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding zoos right now, but the bottom line is that the vast majority of zoos serve a happy and healthy purpose. Yes, it’s a great place to take your kids and see animals, but the fact is they are not just there for your entertainment. Most zoos takes very good care of their animals and house animals that are endangered, protected, or were hurt and can no longer survive in the wild. Without charging admission, they’d be unable to take care of the animals. Many zoos that do not charge admission, rely heavily on donations, so if your local zoo is free like ours, than be sure to drop a few dollars in the donation box on your way in or out. A lot of zoos are also in need of things like stuffed animals, blankets, and straw. So, feel free to bring them along and they won’t be turned away. Our local zoo also has really nice year round festivals in the zoo: Walk of Lights at Christmas or Boo in the Zoo, as well as kid’s zoo camps. Your family can also volunteer to help clean the zoo, feed animals and even adopt an animal. Your family makes a monthly donation the care of a certain animal and you receive photos and updates through the year. To find a zoo near you, please click here.
  17. Workshops at Home Depot: Did you know that places like Home Depot and Lowe’s offer free Saturday workshops for kids? They can go and have fun building things like birdhouses while learning basic carpentry safety and skills in the process. Please click here for Home Depot’s information.
  18. Free Lego Builds at Lego Stores: My kiddos LOVE Legos. Who doesn’t? Visit your local Lego Store for free monthly builds. You can also sign your kiddo up for the Lego Club and they can participate in a themed (think Marvel or Star Wars) monthly meeting where they go before the store opens with a small group of kids and get a really cool Lego Club T-shirt and take home Lego item. There is a fee for the Lego Club monthly meeting, generally around $10-20 per child. Please click here to find your local Lego store and event calendar for that store.
  19. Free Christian Concerts: Visit K-Love by clicking here. You can search out concerts and other great Christian family events that are in your area. If you have a larger church near you, chances are they offer free or love offering concerts. In the past couple of years, my kids have seen Unspoken (twice!), Love & the Outcome, Jason Gray, JJ Weeks Band, Carrollton Band, Jeremy Camp and more at local churches, all which were love offering or under $10.00. Christian concerts are a great way to get your kiddos excited about learning and worshiping the Lord.
  20. Barnes and Noble Story Time: B & N have a great story time for kids, as well as special craft days and other children’s events. Sign your child up for their summer reading. If they read five books or more, they get a free book from Barnes & Noble! Click here for more info on B & N programs.
  21. Cabela’s: I have boys and they love to visit Cabela’s. They love the huge fish tank, all the different taxidermy animals, the quarter hunting games, and the indoor archery range. We spend some time walking around and sometimes have lunch in the café. The café has normal kiddo meals, like chicken nugget and mac and cheese, but if you are adventurous, they also have wild game such as buffalo to try. Please click here for your nearest Cabela’s.
  22. Factory Tours: If you live anywhere near a factory, they probably offer up free tours. Tours are educational but fun. Most factory tours are free, but some may charge a nominal fee. Click here for a listing of over 600 factories you can tour in the USA. In the past, we have visited Harley Davidson in York, Pa and Turkey Hill. Kiddos loved it. Just check the ages first. Some factories don’t allow children on the floor due to safety and insurance issues.
  23. Farm Tours: On the same note, if you live near a large working farm of any sort, they also probably offer free or inexpensive, interactive tours of the farm. New Jersey, being the Garden State, is full of them. Click here to find a few.
  24. Living History Museums: Think Colonial Williamsburg, but smaller scale. There are many, small scaled living history museums all over the United States. They often offer free family days and most of the time in the summer, there are themed events going on each weekend. A couple of our favorite is Cold Spring Village in historic Cape May, NJ or Batso State Park. Last summer, we visited an old actual prairie homestead in South Dakota. That was pretty awesome. Click here for a link to listing of museums.
  25. NFL Football: Do you live near a NFL franchise? Consider going and watching pre-season practice or camps, which are usually free to watch, or cost a fraction of a regular season game. Some are only open to season ticket holders and some are open to everyone. Visit the home page of the franchise you are interested in watching for more information. South Jersey friends, please click here for info on upcoming Eagles’ camps.

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