There are a good bit of free (and often air-conditioned) activities for kids in the summer; regardless of where you live. Here are some that are offered in our area or have been offered in other areas where we've lived:
- Movie theaters run free movies...or cheap $.50-$1/movie (sometimes includes $1 concessions too)
- Rec centers usually have activities & classes that they charge for, but look closer...they often also have free events & classes throughout the summer as well
- If you're going to pay for a class at the rec center, check ALL of the rec centers that are within easy driving distance of your home. In our area, there's one pool that offers swimming lessons for $12 a child...versus $32 per child at every other area center. That's a HUGE difference when you've got 3 kids taking lessons!
- Reading programs at the library & at book stores with prizes for the kids including free books, kids meals, movie tickets &/or tickets to local attractions or events
- Cooking events just for kids at local health stores
- Local attractions will often have free or reduced days or times during the weekday (local zoos, aquariums, etc). Usually, these will be during their usual slow times. The free or reduced rate is an attempt to drum up business that they wouldn't have otherwise had. If it's free, they're probably hoping you'll buy something in the gift shop or concessions to cover their losses...or it's a day that's been sponsored by a major company.
- Be on the lookout for reduced swimming passes. If you know your kids will be at the neighborhood pool every day, it very well may be cheaper to buy a summer pass than to have them pay each day they go. A bonus is finding a place that offers a pass like our rec centers. We buy an all-access pass that works for swimming & fitness use, doesn't expire, and isn't exclusive to one person.
- Restaurants will often have cheap or reduced drinks ro desserts during the summer. Again, you'll find these promotions happening during their typical slow times or what they call a mid-day "happy hour" from 2-4.
- School districts or rec centers will often have free or reduced lunch programs for kids at local parks. The bonus is that they'll also usually have some sort of activity or even a day camp during the time/hours they are there for the lunch. You can usually participate in the free activity even if your child doesn't get a lunch.