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Where to Find Free (or Cheap) Summer Activities

by Susan Perna


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You don't need to spend a lot of money to cure summer boredom. There are plenty of fun summer activities that the whole family can do without breaking the bank. Summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy the weather, so spend some time in the great outdoors and enjoy all it has to offer for free.

Hang Out at the Park

The park is a great place to unwind and have fun for the young and old alike. There are plenty of free things to do at the park. You can have a family picnic or BBQ, and play games. Depending on the park size and facilities, some parks offer a wide variety of recreational activities and have free activities scheduled all summer long.

You can gain free access to the national parks during free entrance days. Find participating national parks near you by visiting NPS.gov This website also lists the designated fee-free national parks by state.

Have Fun at the Beach

Spending time at the beach is always fun, and what could be more refreshing on a hot day than splashing around in some cool water? Most towns have free community pools, but if you prefer the beach, you can head to your nearest ocean shoreline, lake, or river to cool off. Don't forget to bring sunscreen, snacks, and water. There are plenty of fun things to do at the beach besides swimming, such as having a picnic, building a sand castle, or flying a kite. The list goes on.

Let's Go Camping

Camping in the great outdoors is always great fun, and there are plenty of places where you can camp for free. You can even pitch a tent in the backyard and roast hot dogs and marshmallows on a fire pit or grill. FreeCampsites.net lists free camping sites by location.

Where to Find Free (or Cheap) Summer Activities

Catch a Free Movie, Concert, or Festival

There are also fun free indoor activities to do in the summer to escape the summer heat, including going to the theater, watching a free concert, and enjoying a free festival. The whole family can watch movies locally for free by signing up to various sites that offer free sneak preview tickets and film premieres. These sites include SonyScreenings.com, LionsgateScreenings.com, Gofobo.com, and AdvanceScreenings.com.

Many cities and counties sponsor free concerts and performances, movies in the park, and festivals during the summer months. Target.com lists a multitude of admission free locations across the globe. You can check out location and times at Target.com and you can find free upcoming events near you by searching EventBrite's platform.



Indulge in a Free Day at the Museum or Zoo

A day at the museum or zoo is the perfect family outing. BradsDeals.com lists seven major cities that offer free museum days. The National Geographic website lists museums in 20 major cities that are free to the public.

There are also free museum entry days that Bank of America offers to their credit/debit card customers called "Museums on Us." All you have to do is show a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card and a picture ID on the first weekend of every month for one free general admission. Visit the Bank of America website for a list of all the participating museums and zoos by state.

This summer bucket list of fun should keep the whole family entertained all summer long and the best thing about it is that it won't cost a dime.


Take the Next Step:

  • Check out our listing of free vacation attractions.
  • Is debt preventing you from taking your family on their dream vacation? Start taking the steps to get out of debt today so you can provide your family that vacation tomorrow.
  • Find new ways to reduce the family budget each week on our page dedicated to frugal families like yours.
  • Stop struggling to get ahead financially. Subscribe to our free weekly Surviving Tough Times newsletter aimed at helping you 'live better...for less'. Each issue features great ways to help you stretch your dollars and make the most of your resources. Subscribers get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist And What You Can Do About It for FREE!

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