Sometimes money is tight and entertainment can be expensive. I’ve compiled a list of free or almost free fun family activities guaranteed to make both the kids and mom’s pocketbook happy. Sometimes the most fun can be had for free!
- Go to the library
Your local library probably has a ton of free activities, like story hour, book clubs, after school programs, and art shows. Many libraries offer more than just books: often you can borrow music, movies, and video games too.
- Go to a park or playground
Always a kid favorite!
- Play a game
Put together a puzzle, get out a board game, play tic-tac-toe, have a thumb war, the options are endless.
- Get artsy
Draw, color, paint, knit, kids and adults love being creative.
Whether it is walking the dog or doing yoga, it’s more fun together.
- Have a spa day
Give each other facials or manicures and pedicures.
- Make a play date
Have double the fun with another family.
- Go for a bicycle ride
As kids, my sister and I rode our bikes for hours. Get the whole family in on the fun.
- Cook together
Make cookies, grilled cheese sandwiches, or make pizzas and let everyone choose their own toppings.
- Dance party
Turn on some music and see who has the best moves.
- Play dress up
Try on mom and dad’s clothes, old Halloween costumes, anything goes.
- Have a picnic
Eating in the park or even the back yard makes meal time more special.
Fire up your imagination- play dinosaurs, astronauts, cowboys – there are so many possibilities!
- Have a tea party
My niece and nephews loved playing this and always giggled so much when I would tease that there was a (pretend) bug in my food.
- Water balloon fight or play in the sprinkler
Lots of hot summer afternoons were spent in the sprinkler or with epic water balloon fights when I was a kid.
- Blow bubbles
Bubbles are fun for many ages!
- Play catch
It only takes two people but any number can play.
- Outdoor games
Kickball, hopscotch, jump rope, Frisbee, run races – there’s a game for everyone.
- Read together
From board books to comic books to chapter books, reading (and listening) is fun!
- Nature exploration
Look at rocks, catch bugs, pick flowers, and explore the great outdoors.
- Lemonade stand
Because every kid has to have a lemonade stand at least once.
Get out the digital camera and take photos. You’ll get to see your world from different perspectives.
Gardening can be an educational and delicious hobby.
- Listen to music/make music together
Everyone loves music. Turn on the radio, get out an instrument, or make your own instruments.
- Take a drive/ride
Drive around your neighborhood or out in the country.
There are many volunteer opportunities that can be done as a family.
- Go swimming
Find a swimming pool, pond, or lake.
- Go to farmers market, festival, or other community activity
Local activities are happening all the time in your community and most don’t have any entrance fees.
- Sidewalk chalk
Drawing with sidewalk chalk can be done over and over again because it washes right off.
- Build a fort
Build a fort in the snow, in the living room with the sofa pillows, or even in the yard with blankets over the clothes line.
- Camp in the back yard
You don’t have to leave home to go camping; set up your tent or sleep under the stars.
- Walking tour
A lot of towns and cities have walking tours, some are guided and some are not. Contact your local visitor’s bureau for information.
- Tie dye shirts
This one is a little messy but always a good time. All you need is some white shirts, rubber bands, and dye; or use a colored shirt, rubber bands, and bleach.
- Movie night
Make a bowl of popcorn and watch your favorite movie or movies, or watch something totally new!
- Put together a model
As well as being fun, building something together can teach skills like focus and patience.
- Paper airplane competition
All you need is paper!
- Look at the stars
Go star gazing. Try to find constellations.
- Go to a pet store or farm store
It’s always fun to walk around a pet store to look at a variety of animals. In the spring many farm stores will have adorable bunnies, chicks, and ducklings.
- Go to the zoo
Spending a day at the zoo seeing exotic animals is always a memorable time. Small children are often admitted for free.
- Go to a museum
Find an art museum, a children’s museum, a natural history museum, your local historical society- there are so many options to have fun and learn! Sometimes if certain attractions are closed or broken free admission is offered.
- Play in the dirt, sand, or snow
Make mud pies, a sand castle, make a snowman, or just dig.
- Fly a kite
A little wind and a kite is all you need.
- Watch a sunset
See a free show every evening.
- Play flashlight tag
Flashlights, friends, and the dark are all that is required.
- Sit around a fire
Build a fire in the fireplace or outside and then roast marshmallows, cook hot dogs, have a sing along, or tell ghost stories.
- Sing together
Singing can be fun for everyone! Sing old favorites or find new ones.
- Treasure hunt
Hide a treasure and then create a map to help everyone else find it.
- Hike a nature trail
Hiking is a great way to get exercise and enjoy nature.
- Go to Home Depot
Some participating Home Depot locations offer free kids projects on the weekend. Call your local store for more information.
- Bring out the photo albums
Look at old photos, tell stories, and reminisce.
What other free activities can you think of?