I had a list last summer of free activities and was going to write another post this year, but I found a great list from Freebie FindingMom. With this list you will have plenty to keep your family busy. Because I have followers who do not live in Greater Cincinnati or you may go on vacation somewhere, I have chosen to keep the non-local activities in this post. Those activities that are not local I have marked with an asterisk. Have a great time!
The Best Free or Nearly Free Summer Activities
Movies make great free summer activities for kids! Let’s all go to the movies…
Movies are great low-cost or sometimes even free summer activities for kids. Here are some options for movie viewing for you and the family.
Regal’s Summer Movie Express: This summer movie program is on Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10 a.m. and runs for nine weeks. Admission is $1, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Will Rogers Institute. Head over here for a list of participating locations and start dates.
Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse: 10 movies for only $5. That comes out to just $0.50 per movie! In addition, you can purchase tickets the day of for just $1. The Rave Theater is now a part of Cinemark.
* Cinemaworld’s Summer KidFest 2013: FREE films, seven days a week, all summer long. Every day at 10 a.m., Cinemaworld features a family friendly G or PG rated film for your kids to enjoy, with new movies premiering on Fridays. FREE Admission for children and adult admission is just $2 or FREE with the donation of a non-perishable pet-food item to benefit the Brevard County Humane Society.
* Classic Cinemas: Check out the Wednesday Morning Movie Series – June 12th through August 7th, you can see G and PG rated films for just $1.
* Marquee Cinemas: Enjoy a FREE family film each week during the summer. Go here for locations and movie details.
* Muvico Free Summer Film Fest: At 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday catch a FREE family movie. This deal runs June 11th through August 15th.
Sunny days are perfect for helping kids burn off energy and stay healthy! Best of all, being active doesn’t cost anything, making active adventures great free summer activities for kids!
AMF: Free bowling for kids 15 and under. Kids registered in the Summer Unplugged program can bowl two games per day, every day (until 8pm).
Kids Bowl Free: Each kid will score 2 FREE games of bowling per day. Head over here and click your state on the map to find a participating location near you. Please note: Taxes and shoe rental fees apply and vary by location.
Kids Skate Free: Kids 12 and under can skate for FREE this summer at participating Kids Skate FREE Rinks. Go here to find a location near you and sign your kids up to snag their FREE skating passes. Hours and additional fees (including skate rental fees) vary based on location.
Be a book worm.
Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program: Have your kids (grades 1st-6th) read 8 books and record them in the Reading Journal found here. Then bring the completed journal to any Barnes & Noble bookstore, and your child can choose a FREE book from their selection on the Reading Journal list. Another FREE fun summer reading option is the Barnes & Noble FREE online storytime.
Scholastic Summer Challenge: Log your reading minutes and you’ll snag some super summer prizes.
Sylvan Learning Book Adventure: Kids in grades K-8 can search for books and read them offline. Then come back to quiz themselves on what they read and earn cool prizes.
Half Price Books Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program: Kids 14 and under need to read (or have a grown up read to them) for at least 15 minutes each day in the months June and July. After they have read for 300 minutes, they’ll score $5 in Half Price Books Back-to-School Bucks.
* TD Bank Summer Reading Program: Kids 18 and under can snag a FREE $10 by reading 10 books this summer. After they have read 10 books and recorded the names in the Summer Reading Form found here, take the form to the nearest TD Bank to have $10 deposited into a new or existing Young Saver account.
Pottery Barn Kids Summer Reading Challenge: This summer reading program runs from May 16-August 26. After the kids read all the books on the Summer Reading list, they will score a FREE prize. Plus every Tuesday from 11 a.m.-11:30 a.m. there is a Pottery Barn Kids Story Time where members receive an official Book Club Passport at their first story time, plus a special FREE gift after attending five story times.
There are tons of FREE eBooks for kids on Amazon. Head over here to check them out.
A job well done….
Chores and summer educational activities may not be the most fun free summer activities for kids, but here is a way to reward them!
Chuck E. Cheese Rewards Calendars: Reward your kids for great behavior, daily chores, reading and more with the Chuck E. Cheese Rewards Calendars. Go here to download and print the calendar of your choice and once your child has completed all the tasks on the calendar bring it to Chuck E. Cheese to be rewarded with 10 FREE tokens.
Shop till you drop!
Need to beat the summer heat? Here are some indoor shopping options for those not so great outdoor days.
IKEA: If you have the urge to go shopping, bring the kids to Ikea where your kids can test all the toys in the children’s department or have fun in the FREE supervised playroom while you shop. Free toys and free playrooms make trips to Ikea fun and free summer activities for kids, while allowing you to shop to your heart’s content. (Ask at the store about specific requirements.)
Have some DIY and high-tech fun.
Tech fun doesn’t have to be costly. With these techy low-cost or free summer activities for kids, your kids can keep entertained and learn at the same time.
Home Depot: Home Depot offers FREE workshops for do-it-yourselfers of all ages and experience levels. Head over here to review the schedule of upcoming workshops and choose a specific workshop to attend.
Lowe’s: Bring the kids to a Lowe’s Build and Grow workshop. Go here for a list of the summer FREE clinic lineup.
Michael’s: Have your kids join the Michaels Kids Club and let them explore their creativity while you shop. Only $2 per child reserves 30 minutes for your creative kid. Sessions starting every half hour from 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Plus Michaels craft stores host FREE Family Craft Time sessions so the whole family can get their craft on.
Apple Camp and Apple Youth Workshops for Families: For your tech savvy kids, have them attend an Apple Camp at a participating Apple Store. At Apple Camp, kids ages 8–12 will learn the ins and outs of iMovie and how to make their own films. The FREE three-day session leads up to an Apple Camp Film Festival where campers debut their masterpieces. Apple also offers a FREE technology session for the entire family with their Youth Workshops for Families. Youth Workshops offer families with kids (ages 6 to 13) a chance to work together to hone their Mac and iPad skills and use iLife and iWork apps to complete exciting projects. You can learn how to compose a song, build a photo album, create a compelling presentation, and more.
Microsoft YouthSpark Summer Camps: Your kids can enjoy a FREE technology class with the Microsoft Store’s 2013 YouthSpark Summer Camps where technology meets creativity for ages 8–13. Head over here to sign your child up for one of four hands on camps now before spaces fill up (YouthSpark Summer Camps are first come, first serve).
* Lakeshore Learning Crafts: FREE Crafts for Kids every Saturday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Go here to find a location near you.
* American Girl In-Store Events: Your kids can participate in FREE American Girl in-store events that include crafts, cooking classes and tours.
Pottery Barn Kids Store Events: FREE kids activities that include events such as National Geographic Little Explorers and Celebrate Dad for Father’s Day.
Bass Pro Shops Family Summer Camp: Bass Pro Shops host FREE activities and crafts for the family. These FREE camps are every Tuesday and Thursday starting at noon and Saturday and Sunday starting at noon. Your family can enjoy FREE crafts, FREE shooting gallery, FREE casting pond, FREE family workshops, FREE make campfire s’mores, FREE photo, and FREE merit badge workshops. Please note that not all activities are available at all Bass Pro Shops.
Whole Foods Kids Cooking Classes: Do you have a little iron chef in your family? If so, then check out the Whole Foods Kids Cooking Classes for kids 5-12 years old. Pre-registration is required for all FREE cooking classes, so head over here to see what classes are coming up.
Let’s go exploring!
Exploring parks, trails and other outdoor locations are great low-cost or free summer activities for kids. Here are some options for exploring I found.
FREE National Park Days: Take the kids and head outside to explore on FREE National Park Days. Go here to learn when you can snag FREE Admission and plan your next trip to one of our great National Parks.
Use Trail Link to Discover Local Trails: Won’t be able to get to a National Park for Free National Park Days? Then use Trail Link to find local trails where you can go hiking, biking, and more.
Go Geocaching: If your kids love a good treasure hunt then go Geocaching. All you need is a GPS enabled device such as your smart phone and you can play a real-world treasure hunting outdoor game called Geocaching. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using their smart phones and then share their experiences online.
Make a friend.
Write to a Pen Pal: If you Google “find a pen pal” you’ll find several sites where you can locate pen pals from all over the world to correspond with.
Give back to the community.
Kids can participate as volunteers in your local community. While volunteer activities are inspiring free summer activities for kids, the rewards are great.
Use VolunteerMatch.org to find volunteer opportunities for you and your kids.
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation: If your kids want to have a lemonade stand, encourage them to donate the proceeds to charity such as Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation which helps children with cancer.
Explore the arts.
This summer, take your kids to community events, museums, or other local art exhibits. These low-cost or free summer activities can help kids stretch their creative minds while school is out for the summer.
Target Community Events: Target hosts a variety of events including a day of reading for parents and kids. In addition, they partner with arts organizations so you can snag FREE or nearly FREE entry to the arts in your community.
Bank Of America Museums On Us: If you are a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card holder you can score FREE admission to over 150 museums the first full weekend of every month.
Give your brain a workout
Printable mazes and coloring pages serve as free summer activities for kids to help them continue building their art and critical thinking skills.
Color Crayola Disney Coloring Pages including Disney Cars Maze Coloring Page, Disney Cars Race Coloring Page, Disney Cars Mosaic, Disney Princess Coloring Pages, Disney Toy Story Coloring Page, and the Disney Mickey Mouse Coloring Page.
Enjoy all the fun activities in the FREE REI Adventure Journal
Play games, read books and comics, and more all for FREE on FunBrain.com.
Visit the Nickelodeon website to play FREE online games, watch FREE online videos, get FREE kid craft ideas, kid recipes and more!
PBS Kids: FREE educational videos, games and activities.
Disney Video: Kids can watch their favorite Disney shows like Doc McStuffins, Good Luck Charlie, Shake It Up and more.
Kids National Geographic: Kids can watch videos, play games, and learn lots of cool stuff about animals and more.
Your kids can download FREE Android apps for kids on Amazon. Head over here to check them out. For iPhone and iPad users, be sure to head to the iTunes store to download lots of fun FREE apps as well.
At lots of great restaurants kids can eat FREE, making trips to restaurants perfect free summer activities for kids. Keep checking FreebieFindingMom.com for the latest FREE food offers for kids. You can also head over to KidsMealsDeals for more places kids eat FREE.
Download FREE Music for children from Amazon. Head over here to check it out.
When all else fails…Pinterest!
Still need more ideas to keep the kids busy this summer? Then head over to Pinterest for a bounty of inspiration for free summer activities for kids to make your kids’ summer super fun and maintain your sanity.
Thanks, Care.com, The Centsible Life, Passion For Savings, The Frugal Girls for helping with these tips for free summer activities for kids.