Our free show the other day at the Elementary school talent show got me to thinking. There are so many free places to take kids or almost free places that parents can take their kids to have a good time. One thing to keep in mind is though many places charge admission, generally kids 3 and under or 4 and under can get in free. So your costs is only the price for you.
1. Swimming at the Public Pool.
Cost: Generally under $10 for the whole family or $1 to $3 per person.
2. Elementary school playground during non school hours.
3. Elementary school sponsored events. IE: kids seasonal concerts, talent shows, carnivals etc.
Cost: Free to a few bucks per person. Look for your local elementary school websites for a calendar of events
4. Playhouses. Chuckie Cheese, Mcdonalds, Burger King, etc. Many of these places have free toy structures to play in. You don't have to buy the meal or pay for the tokens, just walk in grab a seat and let them go. I highly recommend hand washing and sanitizer though.
5. Head over to a local park pack a picnic and a bag with a kite or a large bubble wand for a few hours of fun.
6. Go to the nearest lake with some leftover bread ends and hamburger buns that aren't going to get used.
7. Go see a movie in the morning.
Even matinée prices can runs $6+ but some movie theaters show popular
kids movies for free around 10AM call up some local theaters and ask if
they offer this. Regal and AMC theaters are the best places to check
8. Gyms for kids occasionally offer a free session or an open house to try out their gyms. Usually it's a free hour and there's no requirement to sign up for a membership. Those mailers packed with coupons for local business sometimes have coupons for these free sessions.
9. Library's and city community centers in some areas set up a room full of toys and games for young children during the morning hours. Preschoolers can play for a few hours and make new friends.
Cost: Free to about $3
10. Go to the toy store. I use this as a tool to teach my daughter the value of money. Head for the closest toy store and go window shopping. Let them make a list of toys they want for their birthday or Christmas but also let them pick out 1 toy that costs under $3. There are sometimes areas with cheaper toys, make this your last area for browsing.
Cost: $3 per kid
11. Go to the museum. Sometimes there are programs just for the youngest kids that are free or cheap. Art museums sometimes have arts and crafts for younger kids on certain days before noon.
Cost: Free to about $5 per person.
12. Most libraries offer story time for kids under 5 for free.
More Free Places To Take Kids.. Or Cheap
13. Go fishing at the local lake
Cost: Free if you have your own bait, $2-4 if you need to buy some.
14. Find a free festival. There may not be one in your city this weekend but there may be one in a local city. Look online for a city guide and a calendar of events. Sometimes there are free shows, plays, or just some fun stuff to walk around and look at.
15. Local high schools tend to be a great source of free or cheap activities. Go watch the big kids play sports, put on a concert, or even a play.
Cost: Free to $5 per person.
16. Head to a residential neighborhood with low traffic that they are unfamiliar with. Grab the bikes and trikes and go for a ride. Your street is same old same old, but a new neighborhood means new things to look at and see.
17. Go for breakfast. Find a kids eat free restaurant and pick up one of the cheap $5 breakfasts for yourself. you both eat good and it's cheaper than dinner
Cost: Under $10 after food, drinks, and tip.
18. Find a fish hatchery and let em watch the fish go by
19. Pet stores are almost as good as the zoo to younger kids. Let them watch the birds, fish, reptiles, and other animals to their hearts content. This is my daughters favorite "zoo" during the off season.
20. Head over to a playground you drive by after work all the time but never take them too. The toys are different from their local park so it's a whole new experience.
Grab A Backpack Full Of Snacks And Go
21. Find a Parade. During the summer there are usually parades when cities hold their annual fairs.
22. Malls are sprouting up play area's with plastered structures that resemble breakfast foods (Supermall, Auburn, Wa) and other cool things that younger kids can climb on. There are generally a padded wall and benches surrounding the structures so that you can sit and watch your kids.
23. Your friend's backyard is a new adventure. When it's warm out, grab the water toys for some water play. To you it's just a visit to a good friend of yours, to them it's somewhere other then their own backyard to play in the water and have a blast.
24. Take a ferry. Everyone else is using them to get to work, but if you live in an area with a ferry you just became the coolest parent. Take them on and let them sit up top if it's safe and allowed and watch the water.
Cost: $1.50 to $4 per person.
25. Head to the beach for treasure finding. Watch carefully what they pick up. If seashells are available great, but sometimes finding the soft, smooth, shiny rocks that can be just as entertaining.
26. Go to the farm. If you know someone with a farm, ask if you and your preschooler can come and hang out with the animals, maybe even feed the chickens
27. Go to a "new home' open house. New residential areas are sprouting up fast and many have example homes that are built and fully furnished to show prospective buyers what the finished result could look like. This is generally best if there are just two of you so you can be on your child's toes the whole time. Tell them you two are going to go explore someone else's house.
28. A horse track is exciting and fun. Kids are generally free so your only cost is you and maybe parking.
Cost: Under $10
29. Local Zoo's often offer buy 1 get 1 or kids in free with paid adult coupons. Search online for coupons.
Cost: Under $10
30. Take a passenger train just for the ride.
Cost: Varies greatly depending on location. Under $15 round trip through local cities.
Amazing on November 27, 2011:
Need free things to do this summer and I just know this will help!!!
trisha on November 05, 2011:
I took my 3 year old to go to a parade. She loved it!!
pooja on August 28, 2011:
these places r sooooooo boring
Grace on June 18, 2011:
Our city does so many great free things. Concerts in the park, Halloween activities, fireworks, etc. In the summer, our church has a craft morning once a week that is free. Our friends church has a free movie night once a month. They planned "Cars" this month because the sequel is coming out soon. Costco hot dogs were $1. Most churches charge for dinner for Halloween shindigs, but I know 2 churches that do free activities AND free dinner for Halloween events. No church membership is required for any of these. Not a church goer? Grab a friend who is, and ask to be invited to the free stuff. You'll get regular fun time with that friend. I love the idea of parks you always pass, but never visit! We have several of those I am going to try. Thanks!!
pinkdaisy from Canada on May 16, 2011:
These are great ideas for keeping kids entertained!
Marissa on April 06, 2011:
These places are so cool. I never thougt of some like the open house.
Ikeji Chinweuba from Nigeria on March 31, 2011:
Great tips.Am sure by taking kids to this free places it will assist in helping that child to be well exposed and know to mix well with people even in interacting with people well.Wonderful tips.
Nay Davis on January 28, 2011:
Nicely said this will help out a lot thank you
Ingenira on January 18, 2011:
Excellent tips... I think I did most of them and kids love them.
childrensprints on November 19, 2010:
Great tips in these tough times.
smartestkidsever on November 08, 2010:
this is a wonderful list of things to do as a family.I think sometimes as parents we forget or get to busy to spend important time with our children,we have to remember that they are only young once and we need to take advantage of that time with them!!!
Joe on October 08, 2010:
"Natalia 5 months ago
These places aren't so fun8(! Kinda boring. Please think of better ones!"
How about you contribute just one? Yeah, didn't think so. Very nice list with lots of great ideas.
Lillian Eggleston on September 23, 2010:
Great tips! My kids r always asking to go somewhere and I'm always telling them next week because we can't affored it but with these options we will have fun on a budget
Dottie on August 13, 2010:
Great list of ideas. I have two young grandsons who like to visit and I will use some of these suggestions, especially the round trip train rides since they both love trains.
carrie on July 29, 2010:
Great tips, you may also want to add to the list that local libraries have free DVD rentals...just a suggestion
Michelle Scoggins from Fresno, CA on July 26, 2010:
Good list of things to do I am always looking for cheap ways to entertain.
Rachel on May 08, 2010:
Nice list! It's easy to spend too much money and come away with an experience that doesn't measure up to a lot of these. Definitely NOT boring and a nice reminder of often ignored resources. Thanks!
Athlyn Green on May 02, 2010:
What a resource-filled Hub. Very well done. Twittered.
Natalia on May 01, 2010:
These places aren't so fun8(! Kinda boring. Please think of better ones!
MaggieKubicko on March 01, 2010:
This really gives me some good ideas. We are out doing things with our 4 year old almost every weekend and we are always looking for good ideas on a budget.
Thanks for sharing your ideas.