Fun and Free or "Nearly Free" Summer Activities for Kids - Simply Complicated Mom

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Fun and Free or “Nearly Free” Summer Activities for Kids Fun for Kids that Won't Break the Bank!

Fun and Free or “Nearly Free” Summer Activities for Kids

Summer can be a blessing and a curse.  Both a season your counting down too and then before you know it you are praying for school to start because you’re either out of money or out of ideas to keep the little buggars occupied.  The first week of summer you are doing your best impersonation of Mary Poppins  and the last few weeks it’s “Lord of the Flies” and you’re wondering where it all went terribly wrong.

Whether you’ve been reading my blog, or you are a newbie  you know or you’ll soon find out I’m a penny pincher.  I hate or should I say I refuse, to pay full price for anything.  That includes activities with my kiddos.  And we all know in the summer, costs can add up. With the “I’m Bored,” chorus constantly playing in the background like a broken record. So I’ve gathered a few inexpensive summer activities to help you get thru the summer months with a bit of your sanity intact!

Fun Ideas for the Kids that Won’t Break the Bank

Movie Clubs

Check with your local Movie theatre too see if they are offering a summer discount kids movie program.  Cinemark for instance is offering their Summer Movie Club.  Ten Movies for $1 per person per movie!!   AMC has a similar program available with $4 tickets that include a ticket and concession treat!

Fun and Free Summer Activities for Kids Fun and Free Summer Activities for Kids







Your Local Library

Almost every local library offers free classes for kids, adults and everyone in between.  During the summer months they have summer programs geared towards guess what…READING!  Here’s a link to help you find your nearest local library.

Chuck-e Cheese

Chuck-E Cheese has a summer reading program.  If you fill out THIS form and return to your nearest Chuck E Cheese you can redeem for 10 free tokens.  Why do I love Chuck E. Cheese?…Because It’s one of the few Pizza Joints that have machines for the “littles,” that is separate from the big kids. Fun and Free Summer Activities for Kids

Your local Zoo!

Become an animal enthusiast!  My kids love the zoo,  me not so much but eh’ such is parenting.  My zoo and most of the zoos around the nation belong to one of many larger regional zoological associations.  And better yet if you join one of these zoological associations that gives you and your family discounted access to all of the zoos in that associations region.  For example my zoo charges $9 for adults and $7.50 for children for my tribe that would close to $77 every time we visited.  If we joined the regional zoological society  for $85 that would get us annual unlimited access to our zoo and summer camp discounts as well as many other zoo discounts across the country that are members of the same society.  Those are major savings. Check into your local zoological society membership details! Another zoo tip…Pack your own food and snacks in if your zoo permits.  You will save a bundle. Fun and Free Summer Activities for Kids

Barnes & Nobles

Prevent the Summer Brain Slump and Keep the kiddos reading.  You can join Barnes and Nobles Summer Reading Program. You log books you read here  print it out and return for a free book.  The program is for kids  Grades 1-6 and runs from May 16- Sept 16.  Barnes and Nobles also has in store “Story Time” various Weekends during the month.  Check your local store for times and dates.

Fun and Free Summer Activities for Kids

Scholastic Reading Challenge

This challenge is no longer open for individual kids, but you can encourage your school and teachers to get involved here. This year’s theme is Harry Potter and the objective is to get the kids hyped about reading and create a little bit of friendly competition. There is also a map (here) you can utilize to find an organization near you that is participating.

Fun and Free Summer Activities for Kids


My kids and I tried this fun treasure hunting like game last summer.  One word,  Ok three words..”had a blast!”  You’re basically tricking your kids into exercising.  You download the app free or upgrade ( I upgraded to the $9.99) because I wanted the exact coordinates, we live in 100 plus degrees.  I’m a realist and I accept my limitations people.  We spent several days searching for knick knacks in various places around town.  They aren’t especially great finds, some are just trinkets that you replace with your own “do-dads” but it’s such a rush when you find something! Try it you won’t be disappointed! 

Abc Mouse

Honest parenting moment here- When you want to pull your hair out and drink a glass of  wine,  plop them in front of the computer let’s call it an education 😉   ABC Mouse is offering One month free right now…Here ya go! PS today is the last day for Memorial Day Sale! 

McDonalds with Your Bff

Don’t turn your nose up on the golden arches.   I have spent many a day with a sister friend at the golden arches.  Three good reasons.  1) .79 cones in the summer 2) refrigerated air 3) .79 cones get you access to indoor playground where you can sit for hours and gab while your kids lose their minds in the playground and you pretend not to know “those kids”….enough said.

Fun and Free Summer Activities for KidsThink Outside the Box
  • Join your local Facebook Mommy Group.  Ask for playdate suggestions.  There are always new ideas out there.
  • Call around to local business- I took my kids to a local dairy last year.  We saw cows and various other animals and ate enough fresh cheese on the way home we almost times.
  • Museums- Check your local museums for discount days
  • Hotels- Get a group of moms together and go in on a hotel room that has a pool with a water slide, “byo-food/drinks”!
  • Exotic Pet Stores- We call ours the “free zoo.” We have a fav on a different side of town we visit twice a year. That we spend about two hours at each time.  Find your local one,  the snakes, caymans, and all sorts of critters do not disappoint!
If you have any other suggestions I’d love to hear from you!

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