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7 Free Activities to Do With Kids

free activities to do with kids - hikingBeing a parent does NOT have to mean breaking the bank! It’s true that having kids means added expenses of clothing, food, and education. But there are so many free activities to do with kids, you don’t need to fret about the cost of entertaining them.

7 Free Activities to Do With Kids

This post was written by our new staff writer, Kate Underwood! Enjoy!

In almost seven years as a parent, the majority of fun stuff I’ve done with my kids has been free. And I’m not talking about sitting on the couch watching Netflix; we’ve done quite a bit of adventuring as a family! Keep your eyes open for free kids’ activities, and you’ll find plenty to keep you busy — trust me. 

1) Use Your Library

The library is a huge asset to any parent. Chances are, you live near a public library that offers many free activities to do with kids. 

Here are a few of the great free library benefits:

  • Check out books, DVDs, and CDs
  • Lego building time
  • Craft supplies and ideas
  • Story time
  • Fun place for playdates (without having to clean your own house!)
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) clubs
  • Book clubs
  • Special speakers and events (we’ve seen the Batmobile, magic shows, and a reptile presentation, to name a few)

If you haven’t checked out the library lately, there’s so much you’re missing!

Related: Free Stuff at the Library You Never Knew Existed

2) Movies In The Park

A lot of towns put on a movie in the park a few times each summer while the weather is warmest. Instead of sitting in a stuffy, sticky-floored movie theater for $8 or more per person, why not enjoy a free outdoor movie experience with your kids?

Movies in the park are generally family-friendly, and they get you outdoors. Bring your own picnic or snacks, and relax. Another perk is that if you have very young children who might melt down, you can leave whenever you like, without having wasted a cent of your money. 

raising children - little boy at the park3) Family-Friendly Festivals

Along the same lines, you can usually find a free festival of some sort. Towns love to celebrate, especially during those hot summer weekends.

They’re a great excuse to get everyone outside to enjoy:

  • live musical acts,
  • food,
  • road races,
  • car shows,
  • parades, and more. 

Family festivals can be a blast even without spending a dime. True, sometimes you have to pay for carnival rides and food, but plenty of other festival activities are free. 

Social media is a great way to keep track of fun free events. Churches and organizations often advertise their free festivals online. 

4) Free Admission Times at Local Attractions

Let’s face it: a day at the zoo or science museum can easily set a family back by $100 or more. Between admission costs, parking fees, and pricey venue food, these places aren’t cheap. 

But the great news is, most museums and attractions offer free or significantly discounted admission times

Check the websites of the attractions in your area. That way you can stay informed of their special admission dates or times. Maybe the natural history museum is free one night a week for a few hours. A zoo local to us was always free on the first Saturday of every month. 

Be aware that on these free days, you’ll probably fight bigger crowds, since many others want to take advantage of the deal. But what a great opportunity to take your kids to enjoy some awesome experiences at no cost! 

5) Gardening

Gardening is another fun activity to do with your kids for free. Lots of kids love to dig in the dirt.

They can help with the entire process:

  • picking out which types of plants to grow,
  • shopping for seeds and supplies,
  • planting seeds, and
  • watering them.  

You may even be able to obtain free seeds from a local garden center or other organization! My kids are trying out their green thumbs this spring, planting a bunch of veggie seeds to begin growing indoors. It’s been a wonderful free activity to enjoy as a family (and maybe they’ll even try eating a variety of vegetables as a result). 

Related: Start Gardening to Save Money

6) Hiking

Among the great free activities to do with kids, hiking is absolutely my top pick. Nature offers so much fun and education. Wherever we’ve lived and traveled, we’ve always sought out the best hiking trails in the area. 

The awesome thing about hiking is that even if you’re hiking on the same trails week after week, it’s almost always a unique experience. Many forest preserves and parks are free to the public. Some state parks and county parks do charge a fee, but it’s usually fairly reasonable for a full-year pass. 

I admit, my kids still complain every single time we tell them we want to go for a hike. But the moment they step out of the car and hit the path, they forget about whining and get into the spirit of exploring and adventure. 

tips to save money on vacation7) Camping

Other than a bit of money for the equipment like tents and sleeping bags, and maybe a minimal campsite fee, camping is one of the best free activities to do with kids. 

Kids rarely get a chance to disconnect from technology these days. Camping is an awesome way to do that. You can have a meaningful family getaway even in just one night. 

  • Sleeping out in a tent,
  • roasting marshmallows on a bonfire,
  • awaiting a bite on your fishing pole…

…these are all priceless childhood nature experiences. 

Related: 18 Ways to Save Money on Your Road Trip This Summer

Resources for Finding More Free Activities

These are just a few of my top free things to do with kids. There are so many more I haven’t even mentioned here! 

Here are some of the best resources you can use to help find out when and where the best free stuff is happening:

  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Parks and Recreation Department
  • Your kids’ schools
  • Churches and other local organizations

All of these will lead you to fun events occurring right near you. Sign up for their email newsletters or follow their social media pages. I’ve learned about so many great free activities for kids this way. 

You don’t need to spend your retirement to keep your kids happy or fulfilled. Free activities are the way to go!

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My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. Geocaching is my favorite free activity, it combines hiking, biking, exploring, and treasure hunting all in one. Plus the kids love finding them and trading treasures.
    It’s been around for 20 years now, but if your never heard of it, just check out geocaching dot com.

    • Great tip! That’s a good one!

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