23 Fun Activities to Do With Your Kids This Summer (And They’re FREE!)

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free summer activities for kids — water pads and pools

School’s almost out for summer!

[Updated May 20, 2019]

It’s not difficult for kids to get excited about the school year ending and summer starting, but IT IS difficult to keep them entertained all summer without spending a fortune. Luckily, we’ve rounded up some FREE, simple, and fun activities to make the most of summer without depleting your bank account!

1. Go bowling.

Fun free activities for kids to do in summer include bowling.

Time to rock and roll... some bowling balls! Register at Kids Bowl Free for up to two FREE games of bowling every day during the summer! Seriously – this is one of our favorite summer freebies!

Are two free games not enough? With the AMF Summer Games Bowling pass, you can get three games every day of the summer with a paid (yet relatively inexpensive) bowler’s pass.

2. Attend Home Depot kids workshops.

free summer activities for kids — home depot workshop

Kids can get hands-on and tackle fun DIY projects for FREE at The Home Depot! Check their list of upcoming workshops to get your kiddo registered. While you’re there, look for adult workshops as well — while they’re not free, they’re certainly worth checking out!

3. Get involved in summer reading programs.

free summer activities for kids — summer reading programs

Reading is a great way to keep kids engaged in learning while they’re out of school for a couple of months. Plus, there are so many FREE summer reading programs that reward kids for hitting the books all summer long. With incentives like free books, Chuck E Cheese tokens, Scholastic digital rewards, and Pizza Hut pizza, it won’t be hard to convince them to get those pages turning!

Hip Tip: Celebrate the last day of school with these fun photo printables!

4. Hit up an amusement park.

free summer activities for kids — amusement park

Obviously, most amusement parks aren’t free, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find free admission vouchers! Crazy8 is currently offering a free admission ticket to Six Flags with NO purchase necessary. Sweet! You can also find discounts to TONS of parks if you have a military affiliation.

5. Try your hand at fishing.

free summer activities for kids — free fishing days

Fishing might seem like a free activity, but you’re actually supposed to have a fishing license when casting away on public property. Check this list for the free fishing days in 2018 so you can spend a relaxing day on the water.

6. Cook together.

Bring the family together to try a new recipe for dinner! Let one person choose the entree, another the side, and someone else the dessert (feel free to add on additional sides or appetizers if you have a big family!). We have TONS of recipes on Hip2Save, making it easy to choose a dish everyone can agree upon, like copycat Chick-fil-A nuggets or heavenly blueberry cheesecake.

After everyone’s helped with dishes, follow up the meal with a Redbox movie rental. You can often get them FREE through frequent promotions — check here for any current offers!

Hip Tip: If you or your family are eating keto, you’ll definitely want to check out our newest HIP site — Hip2Keto.com! It’s a low carb lovers paradise! 😍

7. Participate in LEGO monthly mini builds.

free summer activities for kids — lego store mini builds

If you live near a LEGO store, you can register your child to partake in monthly mini builds where kids will receive a FREE LEGO set and participate in a building demo! Registration for the classes starts on the 15th of each month and fill up fast (set a calendar reminder so you don’t miss out)!

8. Join Microsoft YouthSpark camp.

free summer activities for kids — microsoft youthspark camp

This FREE summer camp is held at Microsoft stores across the country and offers a range of activities to suit all interests. Kids are guaranteed to have loads of fun making friends, completing creative projects, and gaining new skills — they won’t even realize how educational it is!

9. Or try Apple’s summer camp.

free summer activities for kids — apple camp

Kids ages 8 to 12 can attend Apple Camp for FREE to expand their digital creativity through hands-on projects with experts at Apple. Campers choose one of three tracks and then spend 90 minutes a day for three days at a local Apple Store immersed in the subject of their choice. Fun!

10. Watch movies (indoor AND outdoor).

free summer activities for kids — outdoor movies

Check your local city webpage to see if your city offers free movies (or even concerts) in the park during the summer, and consider making plans to attend at least one! Be sure to dress appropriately, get there early, and bring a blanket, lawn chairs, bug spray, flashlight, snacks, and drinks.

For indoor movies, check out this roundup of discount programs offering admission to kids films for as low as $0.50 per ticket!

11. Check out Michael’s Camp Creativity.

Get your kiddos signed up for some crafting action at Michael’s with Camp Creativity. Each week features different projects on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, ranging from $2-$5 — and the Friday slime classes are FREE!

Hip Tip: Lakeshore Learning offers Free Crafts for Kids ages 3 and up every Saturday from 11AM-3PM (no reservation required). Visit their site for more details.

12. Visit galleries and museums.

free summer activities for kids — museums and galleries

Check with your local museums and art galleries to see if they offer free admission for specific days or to children under a certain age. You can also take advantage of free admission to more than 150 museums in 31 states across the country if you’re a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch cardholder through Museums on Us!

Note that this free admission day happens on the first Saturday and Sunday of every month. View this complete list of participating museums and more details.

13. Explore historical sites.

free summer activities for kids — hip2save

By simply Googling historical locations near you, you could be introduced to a world of historical significance so close to home! Many locations are free to visit and view. Some may even include interactive elements, like guided walking tours accessible by app. So cool!

14. Go Geocaching.

free summer activities for kids — geocaching

Love the outdoors? Looking for a unique experience? Don’t want to spend money? Then you should consider Geocaching! This real-world treasure hunt involves looking for hidden boxes (known as Geocaches) using your smartphone or GPS unit and then documenting your experience online.

15. Venture to another town park.

free summer activities for kids — try a new park

It really makes sense when you think of it — kids get sick of their nearby park or playground when they become too familiar with it. Instead, travel to a neighboring town to change up the scenery. You could even bring a picnic lunch to make a day of it!

16. Give Reddit’s Summer Scavenger Hunt a shot.

free summer activities for kids — reddit's scavenger hunt

Want an activity that’ll last all summer long? This scavenger hunt is it. It’s likely you won’t come close to finishing the long list, however. There are over 300 tasks ranging from simple finds like “a tree stump” to insane achievements like “whittle a wooden chain with at least 3 links”.

That said, the clever program provides hours of busy work free entertainment to your kids. You could even have a top prize for the child who finds/does the most by the end of summer!

17. Visit national parks.

free summer activities for kids — national parks

If you have a fourth grader (or home school equivalent) in your family, the Every Kid in a Park program gives free national park entry to fourth graders and their families. The passes are valid for as many visits as you’d like until August 31st. Go here to print your pass – and 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 within the same passenger vehicle). Note that the pass doesn’t cover things like parking fees, camping, boats, and special tours.

Hip Tip: 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. Find a park near you (and be sure to call in advance for their policies).

18. Take a factory tour.

free summer activities for kids — factory tour

Options will obviously vary based on where you live, but check FactoryToursUSA.com to see what’s nearby. Many companies offer free tours of their facilities to give consumers an inside look at day-to-day operations. You never know what fun and unique factories could be around you — I just found out The Original Kazoo Company offers free tours not far from me!

19. Ask your local libraries for ideas.

free summer activities for kids — ask your library

Libraries can be an amazing source for just about anything these days, and many have free summer-time activities. Many host in-house get-togethers for crafts, reading sessions, and more, along with lending day passes that grant free admission to local attractions! Give your library a visit for their summer schedule and/or list of freebie perks.

Hip Tip: Get FREE kids eBooks and audiobooks from your library with Overdrive!

20. Enroll in church camps.

free summer activities for kids — vacation bible school

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

21. Visit a local botanical garden.

free summer activities for kids — botanical gardens

Depending on where you live, your local botanical garden may offer free admission days for all (or for children under a certain age). Be sure to check their website or call ahead to find out about any promotions so you can score a free visit!

22. Visit a splash pad or pool.

free summer activities for kids — splash pad and pools

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

23. Volunteer!

free fun summer activities for kids — volunteering

There are ALWAYS volunteer opportunities for families to give back to the community. Ask around to neighbors or friends to see if they’re active in any groups they feel are worth joining. You can also search Volunteer Match for a more comprehensive list of available opportunities.

Not only is it a bonding experience for your family, you’ll be teaching your kids a valuable lesson in the importance of giving back — how sweet!

Emily (emily@hip2save.com) loves a good deal, especially when it comes to fashion finds, fitness, and all things self-care!
Join The Discussion

Comments 31

  1. Rockstar

    Thanks for the ideas. The kids and I always come up with a summer bucket list and there’s some things on here I’d never considered 😊

  2. Michelle

    The Dayton Ohio Air Force Museum is free and it is very wonderful! This is a must if you have kids who love planes, space, or military stuff… It is very large and it is an all day event! HTH

    • Sue

      We always get so tired when we go there. So much walking. It is fun though. The planes and history are amazing.

    • 🌺Nolee🌺

      Amazing place! So much to see!

  3. Rebecca

    How much is a typical shoe rental for bowling? And so the kids are free, parents are just to sit back and watch? Lol.

    • Tracy

      Shoes at my local place they are $3.50, It might be worth it to invest in shoes.

      • Rebecca


    • Ashley

      I just signed up for the family pass- it’s $29.95 for 4 adults and then I believe you only need to rent shoes. The code Lucky7 got me $7 off so I paid $23 for bowling for 4 adults till August 31st.

    • Lnjross

      Rebecca, they actually have a one time add on price for parents and/or grandparents so they can join in too. I think it was around $20 but that covers your bowling into September I think.

  4. Lexie

    Our library also has free zoo passes you can check out once a year, free state park passes to check, passes for fishing too. It never hurts to ask and see what they have. The summer reading program for our library is also giving out free tickets to the local children’s museum when you sign up.

  5. Mary

    I’ve heard about Geocaching before and really want to try it.

    • Debbie Gwaltneyhamln

      My grandkids love it

      • Liz

        What age group is this for

    • Jessica

      We’ve done this before… it’s actually really fun.

  6. apwade21

    THanks 🙂

    • Holly (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      You’re welcome! 🙂

  7. melly

    Awesome thanks so much!!!

  8. Emily

    So many great ideas- thanks!!

  9. LC

    Thanks! Love these ideas. Especially cooking together!

  10. marmar

    This is my first time hearing about Geocaching. To my surprise there are over 100 around my area. Sounds interesting. May check it out with my 10yo son. Thanks H2S team. Always learning something new on here. Great work!

    • Holly (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      You’re so welcome! 🙂

  11. Victoria

    Don’t forget that your local sports team (minors) has discounted tickets for fireworks days or other special days for kids. I know where I live, sometimes they have days where kids can run the bases or get free tickets for finishing their reading program. Micheals also has fun activities for the kids weekly (making slime, frames) that’s free sometimes.

  12. Jennifer

    Fishing does not require a license for kids under (I think age 12) (and is free) here in Texas. I believe adults are free with any admission to a state park as well (and some of those are free). I would highly recommend people check their individual state’s fishing regulations/call their Dept of Fish & Game.

    • Jennifer

      I checked and for Texas that free fishing day is for adults. Kids 16 and under are *not* required to have a license so they are free everyday.

  13. Shannon G.

    These are WONDERFUL ideas. My local library does free lunch for kids every week day ($3.50 for adults), has free activities every Tuesday and free movie nights with popcorn every Friday AND is giving free family (day) passes for up to 2 kids and 2 adults for the local pool, science center, botanical garden, historical site, AND zoo so seriously..check out your libraries!!

    Also, our cinemark theater does $1 movies once a week during the summer so check your local theaters for something similar.

    In addition, USE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA! Like all of your local hot spots (IE: farmer’s market, science museums, universities, gardens, etc.) and watch their event section. SO many free/cheap activities for the entire family. We’ve added: family picnics, parades, carnivals, petting zoos, dairy farm visits, garden visits, freeing bats (the animal) and much more to our summer calendar. Most are free and some are super duper affordable! Have fun ya’ll! Hope this helps someone 🙂

    • Emily (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Hi Shannon! Thank you for sharing such great tips about the freebies in your area. And I LOVE the idea about following local spots on social media for free events — that’s brilliant!!

  14. Regina

    Cox Arboretum has a free butterfly event through June 17 this year it’s amazing, call ageadt for times to make sure it’s open

  15. Kelly Davis-Orr

    For those long car rides, get some free kids’ podcasts! There is a new “Highlights Hangout” podcast that is fantastic.

  16. Ashley

    Kids Bowl Free Program

    If interested in the family pass, do not purchase at first. Scroll to the bottom and click on “no thanks” then it will offer you a percent off, then select “no thanks’ for a second time. Then it will redirect you to the homepage of your account. From there click to add the family pass at the top of the page onto your child’s free bowling account you just created. Select “no thanks” for a third time. (Each time you select no, it will offer you a higher percentage off.) By the third time I received 31% off!

    This was my subtotal…

    Amount: $20.67
    -$9.28 via coupon code hot31

    • Emily (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Whoa — what a great tip for a huge discount off the program! Thank you so much for sharing, Ashley!

  17. Ji Hong Xue

    it good to help people

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