summer savings for kids

“Yawn”. . .”I’m bored, mom.”

“I’m bored.” It’s an all too common phrase in the summer for kids who have had a jammed-pack school year. Keeping kids entertained 24/7 is not only impossible and unnecessary but expensive. Here are a few things that are cheap or free to do with kids of all ages this summer. Some of them are specific to certain areas, but you could certainly find them in your own neck of the woods.


Yesterday, I mentioned the Kids Bowl Free  promo. Most major cities have at least one bowling alley participating in the promotion. Each bowling center lists their individual age restrictions, but the one closest to us allowed for kids up to 14 to bowl two free games a day through August 31, 2012. Shoe rental is extra, but with regular priced games around $2.99 each, this is an incredible value. After you sign up your children via the link above, you are offered a pass for $24.95 for the adults to bowl two free games per day during the same time period. This will allow for up to four adults in the family including mom, dad, grandparents, or child-care providers. Through midnight EST. on June 22, you can receive an additional 20% off the family pass by entering SUMMERFUN20 at checkout.

If you don’t have a Kids Bowl Free alley in your area, check with your bowling alley for $1 game or shoe rental specials or lunch combos like the one I mentioned in the last post. We played two games, rented shoes, and ate a cheeseburger with fries and a soda for under $10 for two people.


Most major movie theaters offer movie specials for kids in the summer. We haven’t taken advantage this year, but the boy and I have definitely enjoyed them in the past. (Most patrons don’t appreciate a rambunctious one-year-old.)

Marcus Theatres features a “Kids Dream” movie series. Movies are just $2, and there are kids snacks available at a reduced cost as well. This year’s films include Dolphin Tale, The Adventures of Tintin, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Big Miracle, Alvin and Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, Mirror, Mirror, and more to be announced. Check your local theater for exact titles, dates, and showtimes.

Great Escape Theaters offer free movies at many of their theaters. Some of the summer titles include Puss in Boots, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and Rango. Again, be sure to verify with your local theater for dates, times, and pricing.

If you would rather spend your summer outdoors, check in your area for free outdoor showings of popular movies. These outdoor events have always been popular in big cities but are now making their way to smaller towns. Refreshments are often available for purchase although you may be able to bring your own nourishment.

Tahlequah, Oklahoma, a city of less than 20,000 people, hosts free Movies in the Park from May through October. The Sandlot and The Muppets were the first films of the season, and others will be announced prior to showing.

Omaha, Nebraska and its metro area offer a few options for outdoor movie entertainment. Omaha Performing Arts and Cox Cable are sponsoring events this year that include a movie and music entertainment. This Friday’s feature is The Karate Kid, the original wax-on, wax-off classic in all its glory. The up-and-coming Midtown area in Omaha has started Monday night at the movies, featuring sports-related films. The Sumtur Amphitheater in Papillion, Nebraska also hosts free concerts and movies at the popular venue.

Do a quick google search of your city and free outdoor movies to find some cheap, fun entertainment. 

Summer Reading

One of my favorite summer pastimes is joining the Summer Reading Club at the local library. Programs begin for the “Read-to-Me” kids and go all the way through high school. Not only are there prizes for hours and/or numbers of books read, many libraries also offer age appropriate activities for members of the reading clubs. Our local library had a video game competition, tie-dye t-shirt making, and ghost hunter demonstration so far this summer. Many libraries hold story time for the littlest of readers. Also check your local library for adult book clubs as well!

Get outside!

Summer is the perfect time to get outdoors and get moving! After being cooped up in a classroom all year, your child is probably ready to get some sun.

Splash pads, like this one in Tempe, Arizona, are free, refreshing places for kids to cool off. With ongoing city budget crunches, many city pools are being replaced by these pads, targeted to younger children.

Good, old-fashioned city pools are not to be overlooked, however. City pool passes are very cost effective if you plan on taking your family swimming multiple times over the season. Otherwise, most admissions costs are under $5. Some pools even offer family rates. Younger children (usually two and under) are frequently admitted at no cost.

Skate parks are also fantastic, free ways for older kids to get good exercise and have a lot of fun. Go earlier in the day to avoid the teenage crowd if you are taking your elementary-age child. Although skate parks can be a fun alternative to skating down the street, it is important to familiarize yourself with the area of the skate park before allowing your child to go their with or without supervision.

These are just a few options for affordable summer fun for the kids. What activities do you plan on doing this summer to avoid the boredom curse?

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