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From Our Readers: Fun, Low-Cost Summer Activities

Page 4 of 5

By GreatSchools Staff

Localized Suggestions


"Here are some great free summer activities for the entire family:

  1. Spectacular fireworks at Navy Pier on Wednesday's and Saturday's (check for times).
  2. Lincoln Park Zoo.
  3. Film festival at dusk (bring your own chairs). Listing of movies and times
  4. Venetian Night! Downtown Chicago (parade of beautiful boats).
  5. The Air and Water Show (check dates and times).

Those are just some of the free outings that our family is planning for this summer. Of course, you'll end up spending some moolah, but not too much. Happy summer guys!"


"My family enjoys hiking in the mountains. There is a trail at Fort Mountain (North Georgia) that is great for most ages. We even took our 3-year-old when he was 2. He enjoyed it. We always pack a picnic lunch and they play on the playground. I am currently planning a sleepover party for my girls. Not for a birthday or anything, just to have some friends over and let them stay in touch over the summer. I am going to have them do a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood. As they find the clues I post in various places it will lead them back home where they will find a treat, home made ice cream! YUM!


"Our family has two low-cost favorite summertime activities that we all love to do every summer. The very favorite of these two is taking a picnic dinner to our local drive-in, Getty's 4 Drive-In, located in Muskegon, Michigan. We pack flashlights, a cooler full of drinks, sandwiches, an air mattress, lawn chairs and of course a Frisbee. The most important item to pack is bug spray! We try to do this at least four times during the summer months.

"Our second favorite thing to do is being tourists in our very own hometown, Holland, Michigan. Each year we take a different bus route and make as many stops as possible. With a scavenger's list, bottle water and a disposable camera, we have a fun-filled day with little cost. We end our day with an ice cream at the local ice cream parlor downtown."

New York City

"We have three small children and everything becomes so expensive. Here are a few cheaper things that we enjoy doing over the summer months: taking a day trip by subway - for instance going to Coney Island and spending the day swimming - eating at cheaper restaurants and catching a show at the aquarium. Also, concerts for kids in the park. A day in the playground with the sprinklers is always a crowd pleaser. And we all enjoy the Museum of Natural History (emptier during the summer)."


"We are a single-income family, so I'm always looking for multi-age activities for my children during the summer months and throughout the rest of the year. Here are a few of the fun things we do: AMC theaters offer a free movie on Wednesdays in the mornings. The movies are usually from the prior summer but are still big hits and they even discount the kids packs so the kids get a special treat for just $3. (AMC has theaters across the nation.) Another favorite free activity is going to the libraries. The libraries here in Phoenix offer activities, such as learning/improving chess skills, story times, movie nights, arts and crafts, and even magic shows. This is a particular favorite of moms because it also encourages the kids to take advantage of the books around them and inspires them to read! Finally, there is always the mall. Most of the malls in our area have installed indoor play/parent rest areas, again these are free, and along with this, they have also begun doing a story time/arts and crafts bit, at least one day a week at each mall. We usually will attend the story time and then head to the play area for some play time and possibly a play area, picnic from home, or maybe since we save so much money on our activities we splurge on a lunch at the food court. If you want to pay for activities, Parks and Recreation offer a wide array of activities and sports programs for children, teens and adults for minimal cost. And a recent discovery is the Arizona Mine and Mineral Museum with only a $2 entry charge for anyone over 18. This is definitely a fun and cool way to spend some time. Whatever we do the goal is to be active, have fun and hopefully learn something new!"


"When my daughter was young (she's now 28), there was plenty of free things to do that were well advertised, but not any more. It's work to find the fun/free stuff now for my grandson (9). I check the neighborhood and TV Web sites for what events are coming up. I also make use of the local Boys and Girls Clubs and community centers. They normally have activities that are free, low cost or have scholarships available. Lastly, I make note of public-sponsored "free days," such as EMP [Experience Music Project], Seattle Art Museums, Asian Art Museums, etc., which usually have one free day a month."

Comments from readers

"I'm a Korean middle student. I search this site, It's very fun! Does your school wear uniform? Does your school have a gym?..."
"My 6 and 3 year old love playing 'I spy' it makes a great indoor or out door activity!!!!!!!"