Free Activity Ideas for Kids and Families


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    By: ActivityTree

    Who doesn’t want to sign their kids up for everything from art to zoo camp?  Unfortunately, the cost of activities can really add up.  Have no fear. There are tons of options for kid’s and family activities that don’t cost a thing!

    Art Activities

    Is your child is a little Picasso? Or, does he just like to get messy? Check in with your local Michael’s store.  They host crafts events for kids on select Saturdays. Lakeshore Learning Store, which is open to the public, also hosts free crafts on Saturdays. Both retailers feature fun make-and-take projects that are sure to keep your kids engaged.  The supplies are usually included at little or no cost! 

    Children’s Museums

    Expose your child to something new, and encourage them to explore at a local museum. Most large and small museums have at least one time a month (e.g. the first Saturday) where admission is free. Sometimes it’s the whole day, sometimes it’s just the evening. A select number of cities around the country offer what’s called the Museum Adventure Pass. Visit your local library to ‘check out’ the pass and get free admission to a variety of local museums and attractions.

    Libraries and Book Stores

    Speaking of the library, it is a great place to enjoy free family fun. Most libraries offer weekly story times - a great way to get your children reading. They also host community events (e.g. fire department meet and greet). My local branch has a program called Dog Gone Reading that allows kids to read to therapy dogs.  Barnes and Noble, Borders, and likely your local children’s book store, also host free story times regularly.

    Pet Stores

    What child doesn’t love animals? Pet stores are a great place for kids to interact with animals without taking on the full time responsibility of caring for them at home.  Birds, cats, hamsters, fish, dogs, you name it, they have it.  When you and your child are ready to own a pet of your own, you will already be well on your way to making an educated decision about the animal that is right for your family.

    Nature Centers

    Nature Centers host a ton of educational fun, and events are almost always free. Walk the trails and go on a nature scavenger hunt. Go inside and see live animals and interactive displays. Looking for more nature fun? Many nature centers have activities that are specifically designed for preschoolers or families.

    Parks and Recreation Departments

    Many recreation departments host special family events throughout the year.  Think family movie nights, Fall Festivals, Holiday crafts, Easter Egg Hunts and more! 

    Company Tours

    A good number of local factories and manufacturing companies offer free guided tours of their facilities. Even young kids will enjoy seeing how candy, chocolate or toys are made – especially when they realize there are free samples!  Be advised, advanced reservations are sometimes required and some companies have tour group minimums.

    Toy Stores

    Toy stores also offer special events that don’t cost a penny. Board game nights, Pokemon(r) competitions and Lego(r) building activities are some examples.  Just contact your local store to ask about their upcoming events calendar.

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