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.
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.
Make cookies, grilled cheese sandwiches, or make pizzas and let everyone choose their own toppings.
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 mealtime 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.
Bubbles are fun for many ages!
It only takes two people but any number can play.
Kickball, hopscotch, jump rope, Frisbee, run races – there’s a game for everyone.
From board books to comic books to chapter books, reading (and listening) is fun!
Look at rocks, catch bugs, pick flowers, and explore the great outdoors.
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.
Find a swimming pool, pond, or lake.
Go to a farmer’s market, festival, or other community activity
Local activities are happening all the time in your community and most don’t have any entrance fees.
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 clothesline.
Camp in the back yard
You don’t have to leave home to go camping; set up your tent or sleep under the stars.
A lot of towns and cities have walking tours, some are guided and some are not. Contact your local visitor’s bureau for information.
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.
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 are 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.
Singing can be fun for everyone! Sing old favorites or find new ones.
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?