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30 Cheap and Free Things to Do With Kids During the Summer | from Blue Bells and Cockle Shells

Summer Is a Magical Time for Kids

Kids love the lack of routine and the long days that are the hallmark of summer, but summers aren’t what they were when we were younger. Gone are the days when most kids spent their days outside, playing with friends. Between helicopter parenting, over-scheduled kids, kids splitting their time between multiple households, etc. the number of kids that can just play outside all summer is at all time low. For those of us with kids at home without an abundance of playmates, we can only expect our kids to entertain themselves for so long, before we start hearing “I’m bored”. Inevitably, there comes the day when you and your children will be tired of doing crafts and science experiments, playing board games, reading out loud, and all the other things you can do at home. Every summer, it seems, there are days when I ask myself, “What in the world will we do today?” So I like to maintain an ongoing list of cheap and free things to do with kids during the summer. One thing that makes things so much easier, is smart phones. Life is so much easier when you check start times, make reservations, verify addresses, get directions, and so forth on a smart phone, like I have been doing with my LG Grace LTE†, which I purchased at Walmart. I like that Walmart Family Mobile, Powered by T-Mobile’s nationwide 4G LTE† network, doesn’t have an activation fee, contract, or late fees. And I don’t have to worry about data charges with my $49.88 PLUS Plan – Unlimited Talk, Text & Data Plan which Includes up to 15 GB of 4G LTE† data, then 2G*. And customers receive a free VUDU◊ movie rental credit valued at $7.00 each time they renew their service.

Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to this page or your local Walmart for current pricing.

30 Cheap and Free Things to Do With Kids During the Summer | from Blue Bells and Cockle ShellsThings to Do This Summer

  •  Beaches – Of course, beaches are fun for kids, whether they are at the ocean, lake, river, or creek, but there is more you can do than just splash and play in the water. You might go tidepooling and find hidden worlds. You can check when the tides are happening near you on the free Tides Near Me app on your LG Grace LTE† with a Walmart Family Mobile plan. If you don’t live near an ocean, why not hunt for polliwogs and raise them at home to watch observe them metamorphose into frogs? (Release them back in their native habitat once they become frogs of course!) Or you can hunt for crawdads, minnows, or whatever other aquatic life is near your home. You don’t have to take anything home, it can be fun just to find and observe creatures in their native habitats.

30 Cheap and Free Things to Do With Kids During the Summer | from Blue Bells and Cockle Shells

  • Become a Junior Ranger – If you have a national park near you, your kids can earn a junior ranger badge there.
  • Biking – Kids love biking, but they love biking with mom or dad even more. You can find local bike trails on Google maps, going to the Menu Menu in the top left corner and selecting “bicycling”. The dark green lines are actual bike trails, while the medium green lines show bike lanes (the two greens can be hard to tell apart).
  • Bookstores – many bookstores offer free storytimes during the summer. They also may have visits from authors, craft sessions, and more.
  • Bowling – Kids Bowl Free is a wonderful program for kids:

    Select bowling centers and schools around the country are participating in the first ever Kids Bowl Free program. This program is designed by bowling centers to give back to the community and provide a safe, secure, and fun way for kids to spend time this summer. Children whose age does not exceed a limit by a participating bowling center are eligible to register for 2 free games a day, all summer long, courtesy of the participating bowling centers along with the schools and organizations.

  • Coffee Shops – A lot of non-chain coffee shops have play areas for little ones to enjoy while mom or dad takes a load off.
  • Craft Stores – Most craft stores offer programs aimed at kids during the summer. They may charge a nominal fee.
  • Farmers Markets – Farmers markets often have free activities for children, plus kids can meet local farmers, learn more about where their food comes from, eat some yummy, made-from-scratch treats, listen to bands perform, enjoy some ethnic cuisine, get their faces painted, and more.
  • Farms – Local farms may have play areas for kids, but it is also fun for kids to get out and pick their own fruit and vegetables. The cost is just for food that you get to eat, is higher quality than you could buy at the store, and is probably cheaper than you’d pay at the store also.

30 Cheap and Free Things to Do With Kids During the Summer | from Blue Bells and Cockle Shells

  • Festivals – Check your local city’s website to learn about upcoming festivals, such as food and heritage festivals. Admission is free and it’s fun just to walk around and enjoy the sights.
  • Game or toy stores – Do your kids love playing games? Check out your local game and toy stores to see if they offer game days or leagues. Other toy stores offer free building sessions, crafts, and more!
  • Geocaching – Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. Summer is a great time to take up geocaching with your kids. Check out the free geocaching app for the locations and description of local caches.

30 Cheap and Free Things to Do With Kids During the Summer | from Blue Bells and Cockle Shells

  • Indoor Playgrounds – If you are needing to play inside because it is just too hot or rainy outside, indoor playgrounds generally have free play time periods to let kids burn off energy.
  • Hardware Stores – Some hardware stores offer building sessions just for kids. The sessions are generally offered free or for just the cost of supplies.
  • Hiking – Download the free AllTrails app to a phone like the LG Grace LTE† to learn about kid-friendly hikes in your area. The site has difficulty ratings, reviews, trail head directions, facility notes, and helps and hints.
  • Learn Some Tech Skills – Several technology stores offer free computer and robotics workshops, camps, field trips, and classes for kids aged 8-18.
  • Letterboxing –

    Letterboxing is an intriguing “treasure hunt” style outdoor activity. Letterboxers hide small, weatherproof boxes in publicly-accessible places (like parks) and post clues to finding the box online on one of several Web sites. However, clues to finding some of the most highly-sought boxes are passed around by word of mouth.

    There are about 90,000 active letterboxes hidden in North America alone. Individual letterboxes usually contain a log book, an often hand-carved rubber stamp and occasionally contain an ink pad. Finders make an imprint of the letterbox’s stamp on their personal log book, and leave an imprint of their personal stamp on the letterbox’s logbook.

    Check out the letterboxing website to learn more.

  • Libraries – In addition to all the wonderful things offered at bookstores, such as story times, author visits, craft sessions, etc., many libraries offer a plethora of other wonderful summer programs. A common summertime library program is reading challenges for kids, which encourages summer reading, combats summertime brain drain, and lets kids earn some fun rewards. But library summer programs are often so much more and will include things like magic shows, concerts with kid-friendly musicians, science programs, and whatever else your awesome children’s librarian can dream up.

30 Cheap and Free Things to Do With Kids During the Summer | from Blue Bells and Cockle Shells

  • Malls – Malls aren’t just for shopping, they also serve as community gathering places. They frequently have play areas, splash pads, concerts, community festivals, and other fun happenings. check out your mall’s online calendar to see what is going in your area.
  • Minor Leagues – Minor league baseball games are just as fun for kids as the major leagues, at a fraction of the cost. You find their schedules on line or checkout the MLB app.
  • Movies – Movie theaters across the country offer free or discounted movies for kids all summer long. They are usually in the mornings and are previously-released movies. Check your local theaters website for more information.
  • Museums – Museums offer a range of family activities such as themed days, free admission days, story times, and more. Check their calendars or apps for more information. You can get free admission to some museums through your local library system (or the local major city’s library system ). Military families can visit Blue star museums for free. Or if you bank with Bank of America or Merrill Lynch, check out Museums on Us. Finally, if you have a membership to one museum, you may be able to get into other museums for free with their reciprocal relationship program.

30 Cheap and Free Things to Do With Kids During the Summer | from Blue Bells and Cockle Shells

  • Parks and Rec – Your local parks and rec probably offer more than just camps and sports. Check their listings for concerts in the park, movies in the park, plays in the park, and many other fun activities.
  • Park Rangers – You may have park rangers as part of your city, county, state, or U.S. parks program. Park rangers can offer a large variety of programs, such as guided tours aimed at all age groups, educational programs, story times, movies, and more. The Oh, Ranger! Park Finder app is free and can help you find parks and programs near you.

30 Cheap and Free Things to Do With Kids During the Summer | from Blue Bells and Cockle Shells

  • Ride Public Transportation – We often spend many summer days on our local islands, but the real reason is because Sola’s favorite thing to do during the summer is ride the ferries. Buses, trains, monorails, light rails, etc. are all fun for kids to ride and they don’t have to go anywhere exciting to enjoy them. It is easy to check on schedules, trip costs, estimated waits, and more using your LG Grace LTE† and a Walmart Family Mobile plan using public transportation websites or, even better, apps.

30 Cheap and Free Things to Do With Kids During the Summer | from Blue Bells and Cockle Shells

  • Skating – During the summer, ice skating and roller skating rinks offer extra open skate sessions, as well as “How to Skate” lessons, cheap skate nights, and themed activities. You might even be able to skate for free, check KidsSkateFree.com.
  • Splash Parks – While all parks are a great place to spend your summers, splash parks are a fun way to cool off too. If you don’t know of any splash parks in your area, you may need to look the parks departments in your area and scour the park descriptions to find out where they are.

30 Cheap and Free Things to Do With Kids During the Summer | from Blue Bells and Cockle Shells

  • Tour a Factory – Factory tours can be fun and educational and some factories give out freebies at the end of the tour. Your can find tours near you on the Factory Tours USA website.
  • Volunteer – Check your local volunteer organizations to see if they need help during the summer. It’s a great way for kids to beat summer boredom while giving back to the community. You’d be surprised by how much children can do! VolunteerMatch.org can help you find the right type of volunteer work for you and your family.
  • Zoos and Aquariums – In addition to being fun places to go during the summer, zoos and aquariums frequently offer extra activities during the summer, such as themed days, educational shows, public feeding times, concerts, petting zoos, etc. If you are a member of one zoo or aquarium, you may be able to get into other zoo and aquariums for free with their reciprocal relationship program.

30 Cheap and Free Things to Do With Kids During the Summer | from Blue Bells and Cockle Shells

Turning Things Over to You

Did I miss your favorite cheap or free thing to do with your kids? Tell me about it in the comments below!

The LG Grace LTE† and all the other phone options Walmart offers can be found in the electronics section of Walmart stores. The Walmart Family Mobile, Powered by T-Mobile’s nationwide 4G LTE† network, display looks like this.30 Cheap and Free Things to Do With Kids During the Summer | from Blue Bells and Cockle Shells


*Please always refer to the latest terms and conditions at myfamilymobile.com.
†To get 4G LTE speed, you must have a 4G LTE capable device and 4G LTE SIM Card. Actual availability, coverage and speed may vary. LTE is a trademark of ETSI.
◊Limited time offer. Available for lines active with the PLUS $49.88 plan only. VUDU enabled device and account required for digital viewing. Customers must be 18 years or older to open a VUDU account. Movie rental only available in the USA. Free movie rental provided in the form of a movie rental code to the value of a $7.00 VUDU credit. Movie rental code allows for selection from available movies for rent. May not be readily redeemable on all new releases. Code will be delivered within up to 24 hours of the effective account renewal date. Must be used within 30 days of receiving code. Offer is non-transferable. Limit 1 per customer. Additional terms and conditions on VUDU’s website: http://www.vudu.com/termsofservice.html