Everyone appreciates something free every once in awhile, especially when it involves the family. I spend a small fortune every time I take my family of six out for dinner and if I add a movie to the mix, forget about it! That amount more than doubles! (Please tell me why buttered popcorn and a pop can cost so much.) So as we hit the midpoint of summer, and we are wondering where all of our money went, here are some fun free summer activities for the whole family to try before your kids head back to school.
You may have grown up without visiting the library very often, but let me tell you, there is more to do there than meets the eye. Libraries are a source of many fun things to do. You can often find summer reading programs at your local library, which is a great way to get your kids reading, and they may earn free prizes, which are often tickets or coupons for other activities you can do as a family. Libraries also often have zoos and other organizations come in to run free presentations. They host movies, and sometimes a wide variety of other clubs and story times.
Local parks are an amazing resource when you’re looking for free things to do with kids. They spend a lot of time and energy on free programming over the summer months. Many parks run workshops based around their specific habitats and wildlife, which may include rehabilitated animals. They also may have a speaker come in from a local raptor center and bring owls or hawks for the kids to see. Parks also serve as venues for other free events like farmers’ markets or concerts, and of course, they have hiking trails, playgrounds, and other free amenities.
You may have heard this before that “those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” There is so much we can learn from our past. It is important to give our kids opportunities to have fun over the summer but learning can also be fun, and museums are a great place that offers fun and learning. You can check with art, children’s, and historical museums in your area to see what is available.
Does your area boast lakes with beaches that don’t charge admission? You should check, because even if they don’t typically, they may do so on certain days for locals. If not, many parks and open-air malls are adding splash pads. These outdoor water playgrounds are a fun way for kids to cool off and are almost always free. I just googled splash pads and several links pulled up, including one that listed splash pads located here in Indianapolis.
As you can imagine, places like skating rinks and bowling alleys often see a decline in business in the summer. To keep interest high, AMF bowling alleys offer a free Summer Games program and skating rinks often offer “Kids Skate Free” days, too. Watch out for the popcorn, snacks, and pop though, or your free activity may quickly turn into an expensive outing!
If your kids are always after your tools and want to build things on their own, channel that DIY energy by taking them to a home improvement store. Many of them offer free carpentry workshops for kids, as do some local garden stores. If they like making virtual things, instead, both Apple and Microsoft stores offer free coding workshops, or you can find online tutorials on sites like Khan Academy or Kids Ruby.
This is a personal favorite of mine. When we are in a new city we always try to take in a factory tour. We find it fascinating how things are made and the history behind them. The Hershey’s Chocolate World, The Candy Factory and the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory are just a few great tours. There are factories all over the country well known for their tours, so there are plenty of options out there. You and the kids can learn all kinds of things, and hopefully, score some free samples!
It would be easy to fill your summer with the free activities I described in this week’s blog. It is important to remember that we really don’t have to spend a fortune to have fun with our kids. I would argue that most of the time, they care more about you being with them then doing the latest and greatest thing. Why not try a few of these free summer activities? If you no longer have kids in your home, forward these suggestions on to someone who does. In our busy lives, we often forget how easy it is to have fun without breaking the bank.