Free or Super Cheap Activities With Kids [2019 Edition]

April 2, 2018

Every year, I do my best to put together a guide to a free/frugal (at least) guide for summer! My mission is really just putting everything kind of in one place for you guys. You could even just print it out, and have it on hand for some inspiration. Share it with your friends, and see what piques your interest, add or take away. Now, I will also give the disclaimer that each community is different so you may have more or less where you live, so be sure to check out your local resources too! (Think parks and recreation, local libraries, your church, etc.)

As you guys know, my heart in 2019 has really been for slowing down. So, our summer will be spent a lot at home. Hopefully, hosting friends for cook outs and books on my porch. I’m also a realist and know that children like to get out, and that we all fare a little better when we have SOME structure to our days. So, hopefully this list will give you some inspiration as well. I know especially when my boys were younger it was really helpful to me to have a morning activity that got us out of the house, and ahem, dressed. I also hope this list gives your kids some things to look forward to!

  1. Participate in Barnes and Noble summer reading program. — Note that some B&N stores also offer free story time events. I like to do one of these, bring in our form, and let the kids choose their free book that day.
  2. Summer reading programs and activities at your local library. Everywhere we have ever lived has provided us with a schedule of things for the summer. Be sure to grab one! I like to add anything we might be interested into my calendar at the start of the summer. Also, note the prizes because you might get a free activity!
  3. Splash pads & Parks.
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  4. Attend Dress Like A Cow Day at Chick Fil A (customer appreciation day = free lunch or dinner!)
  5. Half price shakes at Sonic after 8 pm. Perfect for a dessert treat on those long summer days.
  6. Host a play date at your house. Keep it simple with peanut butter & jelly sandwiches! Or just coffee and goldfish crackers, honestly.
  7. Visit a farm or a U-Pick! Pick berries and bake a pie together, make extra and turn into a service project for a neighbor.
  8. Attend a Minor League sports event. We used to love going to minor baseball games, and I hope to make it to a couple this summer. They are so fun and affordable! We have even attended on kid’s days and gotten free food too!
  9. Have a hot dogs and s’mores night in the backyard.
  10. Sidewalk chalk (PS – this just convicted me to make a blog post on what to have on hand at home before summer starts! Stay tuned for that!
  11. Attend Vacation Bible School— be sure to check in and see if your church offers a VBS! I have found these to be affordable and incredibly fun for the kids.
  12. Have one day a week you make a new recipe with your kids.
  13. Be sure to sign up for Kids Bowl Free. This one is so fun when it gets so miserable hot outside!
  14. Also, sign up for Kids Skate Freeso you have plenty of indoor variety!
  15. Regal Movie Theaters usually offers 1.00 movies, they haven’t released any information for 2019 that I’ve seen yet. I will update this with a link if they do!
  16. Attend discount days at your local museums. For example, some children’s museums will offer 1.00 admission on a certain day each month!
  17. Visit the Zoo.
  18. Rent a kayak or canoe- I recently discovered how affordable it is to rent these things for a few hours., and we will for sure being doing that as a family day this summer.
  19. Free slurpees on 7/11!
  20. Swim lessons– Some local places offer free week long lessons, check in your area to see if something like this is available to you!
  21. Swap childcare with a free once or twice a month- whether you need a date night or just want to get away and run errands along. Set up an exchange with a friend (or more!) Give each other a break and your kids a playdate.
  22. Read a lot!
  23. Rent a movie! — it’s hot in the summer, ya’ll. Check out some DVDs from the library.
  24. Get some friends together and go for a hike. (A morning hike that is, and pack water. Lots of water!)
  25. Go fishing! Take advantage of “free fishing days” to go fishing with your kiddos!
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  26. Attend a free kid’s clinic at The Home Depot. We have done SEVERAL of these, and I always enjoy taking the boys. I love that they use real tools and can make a mess there, without destroying my house. Not to mention, it’s free! The kids get an apron and a pin showing they completed the task too!
  27. Make a Dollar Tree run- I will share more on this when I do my other post about prepping your home for summer, but hit the dollar tree and grab some workbooks. My kids did a page a day last summer and really enjoyed it, actually.  If you need some inspiration on what to grab at the Dollar Tree, check out this post!  
  28. Go to garage sales and yard sales together!
  29. Visit the beach or lake- Maybe it’s my kids age right now, but my kids were so happy playing in the tide pool and sand the other day. We stayed out there for several hours. I packed a picnic from home, and the beach is free sooo.

  30. If you have a fourth grader, be sure to get them a free fourth grader pass to visit National Parks for free for an entire year!

Stay tuned over the coming weeks, as I have a few other summer related posts to share! Easy meals, educational activities, and what to have on hand at home before the summer gets underway! Here’s to an intentional, not as stressful summer!

If you found this helpful, would you be willing to share with your friends or pin it on your summer pinterest board!


More about This Messy Season

This Messy Season is a blog serving families through practical tips for nurturing their families, emphasizing quality time and adventure. Helping young families bloom where they're planted, embrace their mess, and thrive through a series of honest, blog posts highlighting realistic travel tips, favorite products that simplify the work load of families, and family entertainment.


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