16 Frugal Activities To Keep Kids Entertained All Summer Long

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“Mommm! I’m bored!” With summer almost here, you may be looking for inexpensive activities you can do with the kiddos to avoid the “I’m bored” mom/dad call. With that being said, here are 16 free or frugal family-friendly activities that will keep the kids entertained without breaking the bank…

1.) Watch Lots of Free Movies

Like heading to the movies? Check out this list of Summer Movie promotions where you can get out of the heat and/or rain without digging too deeply into your wallet. The kids will love it!

2.) Register for Free Kids’ Workshops

Every month, The Home Depot offer Free Kid’s Workshops where kids can build something special and take it home for free (registration is limited and required)! Be sure to head here to register now for the next Free Home Depot Kids Workshop! These workshops are designed for ages 5-12 and are offered at all Home Depot stores on between 9AM-12PM (usually the first Saturday of every month).

Also, Microsoft retail stores are hosting FREE YouthSpark Summer Camps for kids during the summer. Kids ages 8-12 and 13 and over will learn how to create digital art in our Fresh Paint Workshops. Kids ages 6-8 will learn to tell stories with Make Your Own Story with PowerPoint and Word. The camps are 90 minutes per day, Monday-Thursday, and are available at Microsoft Retail Stores across the country.

OR if you’re an Apple fan, kids ages 8 to 12 can attend Apple Camp to expand their digital creativity through hands-on projects with experts at Apple. Campers choose one of three tracks, then spend 90 minutes a day for three days at a local Apple Store immersed in the subject of their choice. Fun!

3.) Like Treasure Hunts? Go Geocaching

If you like the outdoors, treasure hunts or just want to embark on a unique and FREE family activity, you may want to consider geocaching. Check out this post for more details!

4.) Get Rewarded for Reading

Avoid the summer slide! Check out these 15 Free Kids’ Summer Reading Programs where kids will get rewarded at various stores for reading a certain number of books.

Also, be sure to check your public library as many libraries have a kids’ reading rewards program, as well as free story time, family movie days, activities and more throughout the summer.

5.) Bowl Completely Free

Escape the heat and/or rain and have some family fun with free bowling! Check out this post for details on where kid’s can bowl free all summer long and families can get discounted passes too.

6.) Go Berry Picking

Berry Picking

To find a local farm that offers the option to pick your own fruit, head on over here and choose your city and state to view your options (be sure to call ahead to confirm the hours of operation). Note that depending on the time of year, the farms in your area will offer different fruits and vegetables. If you are wanting to pick a specific fruit/veggie, be sure to call ahead to confirm that this item is in season.

Be sure to ask about the cost in advance and available methods of payment as many farms only take cash or checks. Also, don’t forget to dress appropriately and bring sunscreen, bug spray and plenty of water to drink! You may also want to bring a wagon (if you have one) to hold various things or kids.

7.) Volunteer at Local Animal Shelters

If you have an animal lover at home, consider calling your local animal shelter and asking what opportunities they may have for children. Some shelters accept volunteers of middle-school age or older, and some hold out for high-school kids. There may also be exceptions for younger children if parents work alongside them, so it’s a great learning experience for everyone. If you’ve been contemplating adopting a pet, this is also a great way to see if your child is ready for one of their own.

As just one example, the SPCA of Texas has a Critter Camp where kids can read to dogs and cats (love that! 😀 ), play with dogs and cats, make treats for shelter animals, listen to guest speakers, play games, learn about the SPCA of Texas and issues in animal welfare, and much more.

8.) Get Crafty

Michaels offers Camp Creativity where kids can attend seven weeks of events for $5 per session or $12 for 3 sessions. There will be a new theme each week with coordinating crafts, face painting and more. You can also attend their weekly Kids Club Events and create a fun craft for just $2 per child – supplies included. Reservation is not required, but you can sign up in-store or online, or just drop in.

Also, Lakeshore Learning offers Free Crafts for Kids ages 3 and up every Saturday from 11AM-3PM (no reservation required). Go here for more details.

9.) Watch Free Movies (or Concerts) at Local Park

Movies in the Park

If your city offers free movies or concerts in the park during the summer (check your local city webpage to see if they offer this in your area), consider making plans to attend at least one – so fun!

Not only is the activity a great one for the entire family, but it is 100% free – love that! Be sure to dress appropriately, get there early and bring a blanket, lawn chairs, bug spray, flashlight, snacks & drinks.

10.) Cool Off at Local Splash Pads & Pools

Have little ones looking to cool off from the heat? Consider heading to a local splash pad where kids (and adults 😉 ) can play in the pads – and most splash pad sites are completely free!

Or if you live in a neighborhood without a pool or just want to meet up with friends and family, consider heading to your local city’s pool. Call or check your local city’s pool online for pool hours and prices before you make a special trip. As an idea, my area offers summer family passes for residents with up to 5 family members for just $125 and it gives access to 3 different pools through August 20th!

If allowed, bring your own lawn chairs and blankets for crowded days and bring snacks & drinks to avoid hitting up the snack bar or vending machines, but be sure to check the local pool’s policies first.

11.) Visit Your Local Museum

Many museums host Free Family Days or Nights where all admission fees are waived and families are able to come to the museum and experience everything it has to offer without paying a dime.

Also, the first Saturday and Sunday of every month, Bank of America or Merrill Lynch cardholders get one FREE admission to more than 150 museums in 31 states across the country through Museums on Us! For a complete list of participating museums and for more details, go here.

12.) Scope Out Free Recreational Classes

If your kids love the arts, consider taking advantage of all the great art, music, dance, and recreational classes possibly offered by your local city, church and schools. Keep in mind that every town is different and some areas may offer minimal to no extracurricular classes; however, if you do have access to free/cheap classes, I encourage you to take full advantage of them!

Be sure to check your local city’s website as well as your neighborhood forum or church bulletin board/website to see what options are available near you.

13.) Register for Week-Long Camps

Camp Invention is one week where kids entering K-6th are presented with fun, hands-on challenges that encourage creative problem solving, teamwork, entrepreneurship and innovation.

Camp Invention is led by experienced local educators (most are held at elementary schools) and new curriculum is introduced each year, inspired by the Inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame! As an idea, a 5-day camp near me (from 9AM-3:30PM M-F) was only $250 per child…just $50 per day!

14.) Have a 4th Grader? Explore a National Park

If you have a fourth grader (or home school equivalent) in your family, the Every Kid in a Park program gives free national park entrance to fourth graders and their families. The passes are valid for as many uses as you’d like until August 31st. Go here to print your pass – be sure to keep it handy.

Even sweeter, if you visit a site that charges entrance fees per person or vehicle, the pass actually admits all children under 16 AND up to three adults for free OR all adults in up to one passenger vehicle. Note that the pass doesn’t cover things like parking fees, camping, boats, and special tours.

15.) Visit a Fossil Park

Did you know that fossils can be observed in over 245 National Park Service areas? There are a number of dedicated fossil parks around the U.S. where you can observe, collect and in most cases keep the fossils you find. Go here to find a park near you (be sure to call in advance for their policies).

16.) Attend Free Church Camps or Events

Kids at Camp

Various churches throughout the summer offer Free Vacation Bible School events with crafts, activities, games, stories, snacks and more. Contact the local churches in your area for more details.

Written by Mary for Hip2Save. Mary is a proud mom to 3 kids in Austin, TX, who thrives off running long distance, bargain shopping, warm weather, a yummy latte…and a little Candy Crush from time to time. She loves quality time with family & friends and sharing great deals with others.

Join The Discussion

Comments 22

  1. Ritsy

    Unsure where I can post this but hope to help someone…I have a $5 kohls reward expiring today 05/31. Hopefully someone can use it..please comment when used. 218508811937523 Pin: 8263

    • Katie

      Used. Thanks!

    • V

      Went to use this and it appears someone must have used $4.99 of it. There was $0.01 left. Funny. Hope someone put it to good use. Thanks anyway.

      • V

        Mystery solved.

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Thanks Brian!

  2. Milky


  3. Brianna

    Thanks for all the ideas!
    I wish I was in your town; our pool charges $450 for a summer pass for a family of four. 🙁

  4. Momof2

    We do a lot of these activities all yr long here in Florida. Great solutions to keep the kids happy 😊.

  5. Momof2

    Also local libraries are doing more for summer too. Ours is hosting tons of events for all ages up to 12

  6. Darcie

    Good ideas! I really like the one about volunteering at a shelter. There are lots of other places to volunteer as well, like a food bank. I think it’s great to involve kids in helping others!

  7. Tiff

    We are doing swimming lessons 10 days at the swim park for free and 10 classes!! It was $35 and well worth to teach my son and get some play time! Considering it would cost $10 each time we wanted to swim.

  8. Tiff

    Check local movie theaters ours is doing a kids movie including popcorn and a drink for $4!

  9. Michelle McCue-Manuel

    Explore a National Park – free pass is great! We live in the nature coast area in Florida and this truly helps to enable my husband and son create a more memorable summer – many nearby parks that we would otherwise need to pay!

  10. Amanda M

    And your local library, mine has awesome programs like having kids that are entering 1st grade practice their reading to therapy dogs! & teen programs like making felt cat toys for the local animal shelter! & I second the Splash Parks some of my favorite summer memories with my girls is heading to the splash parks and hanging out all with a picnic and a special treat of ice cream!

    • RB

      Our local libraries all have animals shows. This week I saw a kangaroo, prairie dogs, and a gila monster, among others. The programs are led by an actual wildlife biologist, who gives countless fascinating facts. The organization is based in Middle Tennessee; if you are in the area or surrounding states, look for programs presented by the Natural History Education Center of the Mid-South (NHECM.com).

  11. H2S Fan

    I had never heard of Camp Invention so I did some reading on it. It varies greatly by the local group putting it on but most of the reviews are terrible. Some say it is $50 a day babysitting. Too bad! I am always looking for things like that for my kids.

  12. 🌻Pam🌻

    FREE $20 to use on anything on Shutterfly if you would like from Kellogg’s that expires today. KEB5-9DA5-VKTK-D48F5C

  13. Misty42love

    A.C.Moore also offering free craft class every Wednesday from June 28 to August 2nd from 1:00-3:00 pm

  14. Angela

    For the park pass for 4th graders, do they have to have just finished the 4th grade or going into it?

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      It looks like it is for those that have just finished fourth grade – “The pass is for the 2016 to 2017 school year. It expires August 31, 2017.” Hope this helps!

  15. Rosanne Rodriguez

    These are all great ideas! I’m wondering if the post will be updated for 2018 with new links? ☺

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