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7 Fun, Cheap and (Almost) Free Summer Activities

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Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla: Summer is here, and my kids lie around for a week or so, then like to get busy. I've made a list of some fun and free (or close to free) summer activities to keep them occupied. Enjoy!

7 Fun, Cheap and (Almost) Free Summer Activities


Family Film Festival: Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 AM; free.

Summer Movie Camp: Tuesdays at 10 AM; $1.00.


Barnes and Noble, Borders and various other bookstores and libraries offer free storytimes; check with them for info.

Also: At Pottery Barn, you get a free gift for attending five free storytimes.

Summer-reading programs

Barnes and Noble: Earn a free book!

Borders: Earn a free book!

Build-a-Bear also has a program (you can earn bookmarks, bookcovers, bookplates and coupons), but their form isn’t online. Go into a Build-a-Bear store near you to pick one up.

Local summer-reading giveaways also include those from Half-Price Books, The Old Spaghetti Factory, TD Bank, certain McDonald’s restaurants and HEB Grocery, as well as local libraries.


Almost all museums have a free day every month, and some have a free day each week. One of my friends writes down all the free days for all the local museums on her calendar at the beginning of the summer.


Always free, of course, but they often have extra activities in the summer. Check your local Parks and Recreation website to find out about free theater, movies and concerts in parks near you.

Park and Wilderness visitor centers are always free, and usually have fliers for free activities. Last summer, there were free guided hikes and campfire sing-alongs near me.


There are some great bowling deals this summer, with kids bowling free at a number of centers — and some offering greatly reduced rates for accompanying adults:




Home Depot:On the first Saturday of the month, kids get to do a free craft (such as building a birdhouse) and get a kid-size Home Depot apron to take home.

Our local mall has a free kids’ club with performances and crafts; check with yours ….

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