Inexpensive/Free Kids Activities
Kids activities can quickly get expensive when you add up the price of admission, parking, food, or souvenirs (which we hardly ever buy) . At the same time, you want to provide a wide range of experiences for your children and have fun together as a family. Luckily, there are a lot of kids activities for the whole family that will not break the bank. Sometimes you have to get creative, but you’re sure to find something your family will enjoy.
We have used KidsSkateFree.com for the last two years and it is fantastic. When you register, you have to enter your child’s name, birthdate and pick one roller-skating venue. Once you’ve done that, you receive two coupons per week per child until they turn 13. There is a list of valid dates and times printed on the coupon. Check this every week because the day and times change often.
The coupons are good for free admission so you will still have to pay for skate rentals. Three of our kids have their own rollerblades or skates so the last time we went it only cost us $2 to rent skates for our 4-year-old.
This is such a great kids activity that can involve everyone. We go when we are looking for something to do for a couple hours on a Saturday.
Obviously, this is a similar site to Kids Skate Free where you register your children ages 12 and under. You then print out coupons that are good for 2 free games of bowling per child every day during the summer. You will have to pay the cost of shoe rentals.
Unlike Kids Skate Free, which runs all year long, Kids Bowl Free is only valid during the summer months.
While I wish this program ran all year, it’s still a good deal that is fun for the kids. The first time we went my then 5-year-old threw his bowling ball into the next lane over…twice. It was so much fun.
Reciprocal Museum/Zoo/Science Center Programs
After you have a certain number of kids, memberships just make sense. Many times one or two visits to the zoo or museum will pay for itself.
Reciprocal programs work when you purchase a membership to a museum, zoo, or science center. You not only get admission to that venue, but also any others in their reciprocal program. Depending on the reciprocal program and the museum you are visiting, you’ll either get free admission or a certain percentage off admission.
Right now we have a membership to a local science center. Our membership gets us into science centers and museums all over the United States. They can’t be within 90 miles of our home membership but we still make it pay for itself.
For example, our membership gets us into a flight museum that is 4 hours away, so we’ve taken a family vacation to visit an air and space museum where all our admissions were free and we got a discount on IMAX tickets. We’ve also used our membership while visiting family in two other states.
The best way to get involved in one of these programs is to call or check the website of the museum closest to you. Find out what reciprocal program, if any, they are affiliated with.
Once you’ve purchased a membership, use it. Check the list of museums, zoos, or science centers provided on the reciprocal program website so you know which ones are part of your program. Make that membership pay for itself.
Our local library has free passes to several museums. You can check them out for three weeks like you would a library book. They vary on the number of people admitted, but it is usually four children or two adults and two children. It’s a great way to visit local museums for free.
Free Museum Nights
The museums in our area are open for free every third Thursday of the month from 5 – 8 pm. It makes for a fun kids activity the whole family can enjoy. A note of caution, these free nights are usually pretty crowded, be prepared.
The local library in our area provides some evening and Saturday activities for kids- anything from crafts to robotics and Lego building. They aren’t usually very long but if you are looking for something to get the kids out of the house for a bit, they’re perfect. Some are drop-in and others require registration.
Reading and activity times are also available through most libraries. Plus a trip to the library for free books is a great idea anytime.
Do you have any state parks nearby? If so, it’s time to start visiting. Check to see if you need a pass for parking. We buy a year long pass for our state parks and then visit several parks throughout the year. Our pass pays for itself in three visits.
Pack a lunch and make it a day outing. If your family enjoys the outdoors or hiking, this is a great way to explore the outdoors in your area.
Activity Days at the Craft/Hardware Store
Joann’s Fabrics and Home Depot have free or inexpensive workshops and crafts for kids on certain Saturdays. Check your local store and find out if they have anything planned. The Home Depot workshops are so popular in our area that you have to be sure to register in advance.
Kids activities don’t need to be expensive to be memorable. Sometimes all it takes is a click of a button or a phone call to discover what’s available in your area.