Free Summer Programs for Kids
It’s hard to believe that June is only a few weeks away and the kiddos will be home for summer break! I thought it might be good to round up some of the various free kid programs and ideas I have to keep them busy this year.
#1 – Kids Bowl Free
Every summer, participating bowling lanes from around the country come together to offer a unique program for kids called Kids Bowl Free! Register your kids (it’s free) and they can play 2 free games every day all summer long. You will receive coupons via email every week that you can redeem. You will need to pay for shoe rentals. Family membership option available for a reasonable fee. To learn more and to register, please visit KidsBowlFree.com.
#2 – Free or Cheap Movies
It’s fun to go to the movie theater – but not so cheap, especially if you have kids in tow! Several movie theaters offer up a less expensive option for families during the summer. Cinemark offers a Summer Movie Clubhouse – pay just $1 per show for the kids OR pre-pay $5 for 10 movies! To find a participating movie theater and/or to pre-purchase your movie bundle, head to Cinemark.com.
AMC Theatres also offers up a Summer Movie Camp at select locations during the summer with a ticket and concession package for just $4. You might also inquire at local theaters near you to see if they will be offering up something similar.
#3 – Library Reading Clubs
To avoid having your kids go numb watching TV all summer, encourage reading! Many libraries offer up summer reading programs for kids with prizes and incentives. For example, this year Tacoma Public Library participants can pick up a bingo card starting June 15 and turn it in for a prize and an entry into the Grand Prize Drawing!
#4 – Kids Skate Free
This seems to be a sister program to Kids Bowl Free (see #1 listed above) and operates very similarly. Just register your child at KidsSkateFree.com to receive complimentary skating passes for children ages 12 and under. Make sure to find the participating skating rink in your area – they may have unique hours and conditions you need to be aware of. For the State of Washington, there are two participating rinks – Lynnwood Skate (Lynnwood) and Roller Valley Skate Center (Spokane Valley).
#5 – Vacation Bible School
It probably goes without saying that many, many churches offer up Vacation Bible School programs during the summer. These faith-based programs are generally offered free to the community or in some cases, a small fee (usually to cover a t-shirt, CD, or other materials). My kids look forward to attending Vacation Bible School every summer (and sometimes we enroll in multiple ones!). You might be interested to learn that in most cases, churches will welcome your kids whether or not you are a member or part of that denomination.
#6 – Discover a New-to-You Local Park
In the last couple years or so, the kids and I have made a real effort to explore some new parks and trails in our area. Turns out there are many, and they are completely free to visit. For fun, pack a picnic lunch and maybe a great plant or bird identification guide (this Plants of the Pacific Northwest guide for about $18 on Amazon is currently my absolute favorite!). If you are local, might I recommend the West Hylebos in Federal Way or Charlotte’s Blueberry Park in Tacoma?
#7 – Visit a Museum on FREE Admission Day
Many museums offer up FREE or half price admission days, you just need to be in the know! In Seattle, you can visit the Seattle Art Museum for free on the first Thursday of every month (as part of their Art Walk days). In Tacoma, visit the Tacoma Art Museum, Museum of Glass, and Washington State History Museum for free on the 3rd Thursday of every month (as part of their Art Walk days).
Some museums are free every day, and others – such as the Children’s Museum of Tacoma – are donation-based only which means that you won’t be turned away if you can’t pay due to finances. Make sure to check out our huge round-up of Puget Sound Free Museum Days.
If you are not local, I encourage you to do some research. Visit the websites of the museums in your area and see if they have an online calendar or give them a call and ask!
I hope this has given you some ideas of what to do with those littles over the summer! What else would you add to my list?