Free and Inexpensive Things To Do With Your Kids This Summer

Summer has always been one of my favorite times of year. I remember going on bike rides with my family, hanging out with my friends at the park, going swimming, playing pretend Star Wars in the backyard.

I’m 1000% in favor of kids having an old fashioned summer. I hope to strike a balance between lots of free time to play and explore, with a mix of planned events.

Library Haul - The Mahogany Way

The Library: If you’ve been with me for any length of time, then you know we love the library. I’ve taken my kids since they were babies. One of my fondest memories as a kid is visiting the library. I would walk out with as many books as I could carry in my bag and arms. Recently Ava challenged herself to read seven books in seven days. She finished one that same day while we finished running errands, made it through the 5 1/2 by the which is pretty impressive!

Libraries are offering summer reading programs, game night, movie night, teen night, lego building, the list goes on and on.

Dont forget your local and chain bookstores. Many bookstores have special events during the summer months. My kids enjoy going to the bookstore and making lists of books they want to read, or adding to their birthday and Christmas list.

Cosi Museum - The Mahogany Way

Museums: I get just as excited as my kids do and sometimes more to visit the museums. I recently purchased a membership to COSI and visited with Samuel while the girls were at church camp this week. It was all kinds of awesome.
As fun and informative as museums can be, they can also be expensive.
I recently came across Museums For All and wish I had known about this organization sooner!
They offer free or reduced admission to anyone with an EBT card. All you have to do is go to the website and enter your zip code, city, or state to find a list of participating museums in your area. Call the museum you would like to visit beforehand and ask what their Museums For All price is. Take your EBT card and ID with your for verification and enjoy.

I also like to remind people who currently hold museum/zoo memberships to check the websites for reciprocal benefits. You may not get in free, but many offer reduced admission.

Tiny Toddler Box - The Mahogany Way

Tiny Toddler Box: Tasha from Confessions of a Tiny Teacher has created a subscription box for ages 1-5. Younger children have a short attention span and like to move from one thing to the next. This subscription box contains six focused activities you can do with them.
Tasha says they are aimed toward the core developmental areas of toddlers. Check her blog for more info and how/when to order. July is airplane and August is zoo themed.

Family Movie Night: We gave up cable several years ago and only stream Netflix and Hulu, and we’re looking forward to Disney launching their streaming service.
If you aren’t already aware, Netflix and Hulu offer the option to create profiles. I have my own, the girls share one, and Samuel has one. Netflix also allows you to set a four digit pass code for Parental Controls.

Back to movie night… Netflix and Hulu have quite a few family movies, or maybe you want to watch a series together. At the end of 2017 we watched Family Matters and the kids loved it!

Movie theaters offering a reduced cost for summer.

Regal Summer Movie Express - movies are $1 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays

AMC Summer Movie Camp - Kids get a movie, drink, and popcorn for $4 on Wednesdays.

Cinemark Movie Club House - movies for kids for $1 or $5. The link takes you directly to the list of theaters by state.

Create a Bored Jar: This is something I did when my kids were much younger, but will most likely do again because it was fun. Take any old jar or container, you can paint it or decorate however you like. Cut contrcution paper into small pieces, have each person write an activity per piece of paper, fold it up and put it in the jar. I kept the jar easily acessible because you know how often kids will say they’re bored ;)
If they don’t want to do the first activity they pull out of the jar, set it to the side and grab another.

Columbus Skyline - The Mahogany Way

Staycation: Instead of spending double the money traveling out of state, stay close to home. Maybe you’ve always wanted to explore your downtown. You could drive a couple of hours to the next town and stay the weekend. We like day trips - wake up extra early and get to the museum or amusement park as soon as it opens and stay until they close, or stay for a few hours and go explore another part of the city. When I took Samuel to Columbus earlier this week, we spent about 4hrs at the museum, ate dinner then spent another three hours walking around downtown Columbus. He absolutely loved it, and I loved seeing the city through his eyes.

If you Google “free and inexpensive things to do in ____” you’ll be able to plan a fun and inexpensive staycation.

Get Outside - The Mahogany Way

Get Outside:

The park.

The pool

Hike a trail

Play with bubbles

Draw with sidewalk chalk

Take a morning or evening walk

Ride Bikes

Have a water balloon or water gun fight

Camp in your backyard

Roast hotdogs

Make S’mores

Play in a creek


Make oobleck or playdough

Build a fort out of rocks, leaves, and sticks.

Visit the Botanical Gardens

Catch lightning bugs

Play your favorite sport

Start a garden

Climb a tree - see what my kids found when they did

Do a nature scavenger hunt

Find shapes in the clouds

A lemonade stand


Have a picnic

Fly a kite

Play frisbee

Watch the sunset

Play hide-n-seek

Summer Fun - The Mahogany Way

Other Fun Summer Activities:

Let the kids Vlog a family trip, or any one of your other outings.

Do a puzzle

Build a blanket fort


Board or card games


Have the kids write or draw their own story series

Cook together


Have an indoor picnic

Play with blocks

Make popcorn

Do science experiments

Free and inexpensive things to do with your kids this summer -  The Mahogany Way

I hope your summer is off to a great start.
If you have anymore ideas, share them in the comments.