Are you trying to find some great activities to plan for your kids this summer? When it comes to summertime activities, there are many activities that are free and/or cheap! With a family of 4 boys residing in Florida, we appreciate being able to find free or discounted things to do to keep the boys having busy, entertained and provide learning opportunities during the summer.
Check out the list below to see what you can add to your to-do list this summer:
Summer Reading Program
Your local public library will most likely be offering a free Summer reading program this year. This is offered every year and each year they have a new theme. The reading programs that I have attended with my kids have offered quite a few different activities, many of which included prizes for the kids! More information at publiclibraries.com or nces.ed.gov/surveys/libraries/librarysearch. Here are just some of the things that we have seen at Summer Reading Programs:
- Reading challenges. In an effort to keep kids reading, the reading program offers reading challenges. When the kids reach a specific reading goal, they can show their goal chart at the reading program and get a prize. They also often get put into a drawing for a big, end-of-program award. Each library usually has more than one big gift. I have seen Amazon Kindles, NBA tickets, Zoo tickets and more being given as prizes!
- Entertainers. Each and every week of a reading program is filled with different entertainers. You will find jugglers, puppeteers, story-readers, animal trainers and more come to these programs and oh my goodness the kids just love it.
- Arts and crafts. Oftentimes there will be arts and crafts stations at the summer reading program! Kids get to create artwork and build stuff that they can then bring home and show off!
If you really like reading, you can do more than one program! Check out other similar reading programs from U.S Dept. of Education, Scholastic, Scholastic Summer Reading, FamilyEducation.com, Barnes & Nobles (Free Summer Reading Books), Sylvan Learning Center, Lifeway Summer Reading, Book Adventure.
Other Free and Cheap Things to Do with the Kids This Summer in Florida
- Kids Bowl Free. Check out Kidsbowlfree.com to find which of your local bowling alley participates in this fun Summertime activity.
- $1 Summer Movie Express. Have you looked at this year’s list of $1 Summer Movie Express Movies! The kids will love it. Also, see this list of other movie theaters offering free or cheap summer movie days.
- Drive-In Movie Theaters. Did you know that there are still over 300 drive-in movie theaters in operation across the U.S.? Providing affordable tickets (you usually only pay per car not per person) and a variety of meals/snacks, drive-in movie will provide a uniquely fun and special experience for the entire family. The following are some of the drive-in theaters in Florida:
- Free Zoo Day. Zoos and Aquariums offer special hours, discounts and children’s activities during the summer. Find local zoos and aquariums at officialusa.com/stateguides/zoos, aza.org and americanzoos.info. The Central Florida Zoo offers a Free Zoo Day for kids 12 and under in August (2017 date TBD). Children 2 and under are always free.
- Free Museum Days. The following museums offer specific free admission days:
- Free Museums. Local museums and children’s museums information can be found at Museums USA and Children’s Museums. The following Museums offer free admission every single day that they are open:
- Florida Museum of Natural History – Gainesville
- Fort Christmas Historical Museum & Park – Christmas, FL
- Holocaust Memorial – Miami Beach
- Museum of Florida History – Tallahassee
- National Museum of Naval Aviation – Pensacola (plus Blue Angels practice Tues/Wed mornings from March – Nov with autograph sessions on Wednesdays)
- Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art – Gainesville
- Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida
- Museum of Seminole County History
- Winter Park Historical Museum
- Sanford Museum
- Winter Garden Heritage Museum
- Central Florida Railroad Museum
- Ringling Museum (Free Admission on Mondays
- Orlando Science Center (Free Admission for Teachers; Low Cost Summer Programs)
- Florida Reptile Show. June 10-11. Kids 4 and under are free.
- Splash Pads. There are countless splash pads throughout the state. You can find ones near using Splash Pad Parks or by location at national.macaronikid.com. Let the kids cool off and have fun for free.
- Florida Kids and Family Expo at the Orange County Convention Center. August 19-20. Tickets to this are $5 each, but kids get to spend the day doing arts and crafts, playing with other kids, sliding on slides, bouncing in bounce houses, getting free stuff and eating yummy foods! $5 for all of that seems like a great bargain.
- Petting Zoos and Pick Your Own Farms are a fun family outing that provides access to animals, fruits and vegetables. In Florida, U-Pick Farms are available throughout the state. Find local petting zoos and pick your own farms at pumpkinpatchesandmore.org and pickyourown.org.
- State Fairs are a fun way to have low cost amusement park fun with the entire family. In, Florida, fairs and livestock shows are popular
- Going to the beach is a family favorite summer pastime. Find more information about beaches at Florida’s best beach town, best beaches and best national park beaches.
- Use Every Kid in a Park Pass, kids get into national (and Florida) parks for free!
- Go Ice Skating (even in Florida) at RDV Ice Den or Ice Factory.
- Get a discounted ticket and walk among the dinosaurs at Dinosaur World.
- Go camping at one of the free camping sites in Florida.
- See 10 easy healthy and fun summer activities.
- Eat at a restaurant on a day when Kids Eat Free.
- Visit one of Florida’s Crystal Clear Springs.
- Rainbow Springs
Rainbow Springs is popular for swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, and kayaking. The more adventurous can grab a tube and paddle through the river or hike one of the trails known for spotting fox squirrels, turkeys, and deer. $2 per person at the headsprings entrance and $5 per vehicle, up to eight people, at the tube entrance. Children under six years old are free.
19158 S.W. 81st Place Road
- Blue Spring
Blue Spring State Park is a designated Manatee Refuge and the winter home to a growing population of Manatees. $6 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle.
2100 W. French Avenue
Orange City, FL
- Wekiwa Springs
Wekiwa Springs is $6 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle.
1800 Wekiwa Circle
- De Leon Springs
Cook your own pancakes at the Sugar Mill Restaurant, and then stay for the day to cool off in the swimming area or rent canoes. $6 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle.
601 Ponce de Leon Boulevard
De Leon Springs, FL
- Rock Springs Run
Rock Springs is located in Kelly Park. A local favorite, this beautifully shaded park is perfect for escaping the heat. $3 per vehicle. Limit 8 people per vehicle.
30601 CR 433
- Wekiva Island
Entry is $1 per person.
1014 Miami Springs Road
Longwood, FL 32779
- Alexander Springs
Located in the Ocala National Forest, Alexander Springs is popular with locals.
49525 County Rd 445
Altoona, FL 32702
- Rainbow Springs