It is officially summertime. The kids are out of school, the weather is heating up, and everyone is going stir crazy. Problem is, how do you keep the kiddos busy all summer without breaking the budget?
Guess what? With these fun idea’s, you can keep your kiddo’s busy, and happy, for FREE (Or very little money in some cases.)
If you are not utilizing your local public library this year, you totally should be! In the past, we have not been very involved with our public library system. Now, I really regret my lack of involvement. Most libraries have a summer reading program that not only encourages your little ones to ignore the screen’s for a good book, but they also give out prizes for doing so! I do not know about you, but with my pre-teen, I can use all the help I can get to get her to read. This being said, the program is a win, win situation in my book. I get a child with a nose in a book, and she gets to earn some pretty awesome prizes. Not only that, but the library also allows me to be a part of the reading program! Cool, no?
Not only can you check into the summer reading program at your local library, but a lot of libraries also have weekly programs that they host for all ages. My local library has movie days, adult craft nights, teenage hangout days, as well as story hour and special programs throughout the summer. All of these are free, which allows your kids to have all kinds of fun without it destroying your wallet! Need another perk? I have yet to find a library that is not air conditioned, which allows you and your kids to get out of the summer heat!
Local Nature Preserves or State Park
When was the last time you took your kids hiking? To play in the mud? Learn about wildlife? Play in a creek? I am telling you, you would not believe the amount of memories you can make with your kids on one trip to the woods! If you have a nature preserve in your area, most of the time you can visit them for free to get in your daily dose of the outdoors.
If you do not have a nature preserve close, look into State Recreational Area’s near you! While these may cost you to get in (normally less than $10 for in state vehicles) they are so worth it! Many SRA’s have daily programs that are great for teaching your children about the world around them. Also, aside from hiking, you also can generally find picnic area’s, pools or beaches, and playground area’s for the kids. Quite literally, you could spend all day at a state park, and only see a fraction of what there is to see.
Want to try to check out your local SRA for free? Check with your local library to see if they have a state park pass available for check out! In Indiana, several passes have been distributed throughout the library system and are available to checkout to get free entry into any park in the state. Pretty awesome program if you ask me!
Parks and Playgrounds
I do not know about you, but my kids LOVE taking trips to the park. It does not matter if it is a park they have been to 100 times, or a brand new park, they love getting out to explore and play! Honestly, I do not mind taking my kids to run and play at the park for several hours, namely because it gets them out of the house for a bit. While they do not seem to get bored of the same playground over and over, I seek to find new playgrounds when we are out and about to keep things fun. Plus, since I have yet to find a public playground that I have to pay to get my kids into, you could take your kids to a different playground every week all summer long, and always have a fun, new place to play!
Have you looked into your local museums lately? While some bigger museums do have a pretty hefty price tag on them, I have always been able to find little museums and art galleries that charge little to nothing to get in. While you may not think that your child will be interested in a museum, you would be shocked at the level of excitement that your child will reach when you take them to a new place, filled with lots of cool things they have never seen!
Guess what else? You know those super cool libraries that I keep talking about? You should check with your local one! My local library has recently secured a pass for a local museum that allows your whole family to get in for free. That may expand the number of museums you are able to visit for little to no money, as well as expanding your child’s mind this summer!
Checking into your local movie theater could score you some cheap and amazing entertainment for your kiddo’s this summer! Almost all of the local movie theaters in my area are showing free or discounted summer movies. Heads up, these movies probably will not be playing at times you normally would be at the movies. Good thing is though, the movies they are playing will totally make up for it when your kids realize they get to go watch their favorites on the big screen! Not only this, but many times, there are also discounted snacks during these shows as well, so your kids can get the full movie experience without it breaking the bank. Not to shabby right?
Plus, I am not going to lie, free summer movies are also the perfect time for me to catch up on some”mom time”. I can take my venti espresso frap, find a seat behind the kids, and spend an hour and a half in a quiet, dark theater enjoying coffee and silence. Yep, I take it when I can get it.
This is not always a sure thing, but most people can do a quick google search and find at least a couple of mini zoo’s in their area that are free to the public. In bigger cities, you often times will also find larger zoo’s that are free. I don’t know about you, but I am pretty sure that I enjoy a good trip to the zoo almost as much as my kiddo’s do, so zoo trips that are free are a slam dunk in my household.
Something else to consider, is that taking your children to the zoo when it does not cost you to get in also allows for many more learning experiences. Since you are not rushing from animal to animal to look as fast as you can so that you can see everything and get your money’s worth, you have time to actually take it all in. I love being able to meander through exhibits allowing my children to ask questions and take it all in!
Well folks, there you have it, my list of free activities to give your kids summer vacation the extra boost it needs while getting you out of the house! Where will you and your kiddos be heading to this summer? Let me know in the comments section, I would love to hear about it!