Free (Or near Free) Events for Kids

Updated on August 09, 2013
M.C. asks from Lake in the Hills, IL
13 answers

My son is 7 years old and I take him to all the free (or near free) events in the area, such as, the Lowes/Home Depot (kids) building events, Toy's R Us (specifically all the Lego events), Michael's Kids Club, etc. Is there any kid specific events I am missing? What do you and your kiddos like or don't like about any of the kids events you go to? I am always looking for new and fun things to do with my 7 year old. Thanks!

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answers from New York on

Season-permitting, we visit farms, feed the animals and have a picnic. I'm a big fan of the outdoors--weather-permitting--as you're bound to run into other families/kids and see what fun develops.

Also, lots of movie theatres have discount days for kiddos.

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answers from Dover on

We utilize the Kidgit's Club at our local mall (it's something at most, if not all, the Simon Malls). Here it is $5 for the year and they do various activities about once a month (sometimes there may be two but other times there may be none just because it could be 6 weeks between activities). Each time, the activity is different.

You can also find Kids Skate Free and Kids Bowl Free in some areas.

Library programs are also good options.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I don't know about your area and free events but.... you have a 7 yr old. I assume he is in school. Our elementary school has weekly announcements go home with children weekly and these include information for free or low cost events for children... $1 day at the zoo, etc.

Each child in the district gets a free ticket to the State Fair but it is far from free if you look at a parent chaperone, activities at the fair, etc. The costs runs pretty high for fair attendance around here.

The local parks and rec have opportunities for families and children at low to no cost as well as local public libraries.

My suggestion is to be involved with the school system and you child can learn about programs available where some of his friends are involved as well.... Family skate night, family movie night, etc.

Around here, there are a lot of festivals for fall, etc... most cost a bit to get in and once in, it is fun but none are completely free.

Good luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

The library always has free events - fun and educational. Here in Houston we have several library systems around the city and metroplex, so there is never a shortage for free events for us.



answers from Chicago on

* If you belong to a church, they usually put on some great free/inexpensive picnics or other fellowship activities
*volunteer work ~ like feed my starving kids favorite thing to do
*Fermilab has a lot of great activities
*Go fishing
*state parks
*hiking in Galena
*hiking at starved rock~ you can rent paddle boats, horses
*matinee rollerskating
*long grove has great festivals ~ chocolate festival, mmm
*botanical gardens
*lincoln park zoo
*Santas village
*movies in the park
*downtown Aurora has the lovely Paramount Theaters that have $1 movies
*join cub scouts ~ my sons pack is amazing and they do stuff all summer long
*go bird watching and take pictures then look them up on the internet when you get home
*we love to go to a local nursery that has a lovely kids area
*some museums in the city have free days

My kids just did a safety camp that was FREE. It was at the Lions club, they even fed them lunch. It was two days from 8:30-3:15. My kids had a blast and got some very educational information. I was very impressed. The kids can also become members and become part of a great organization that does so much volunteer work.

Also go on Groupon and find some great ideas too. I got ice skating tickets super cheap & sky high trampoline.

Good luck



answers from New York on

These sound like great activities. I would also check with your area libraries, as many of them offer programs and/or have a community bulletin board advertising community events.


answers from Boston on

I think you might get more specific info if you put your city in the title of your post.

However, in general, I think the public library is a huge untapped resource in most communities. They often sponsor musicians and storytellers as well as craft projects, sometimes around a theme (e.g. environment for Earth Day). They also usually have a bulletin board for flyers, and the librarian is a very knowledgeable person. Our library has a ton of free or discount passes for children's museums, the science museums, and more.

Town recreation departments sponsor things like July 4th and "Hot Summer Nights" block parties, community bands exist, and a lot of senior citizen complexes have summer band concerts for free (in our area, people bring lawn chairs and enjoy the free music, and sometimes there is a sundae bar). A lot of our local garden centers have small petting zoos and sell food (so people don't feed junk food to animals). Sometimes they have a planting day in the spring to help families plant seeds or learn to make a vegetable garden. (An added benefit is that kids tend to eat what they grow!)

State and national parks are great places for hikes and nature walks and picnics, sometimes canoeing and kayaking. The Audubon Society and other land trust organizations often are trustees for open space, and many have self-guided or naturalist-guided tours.

Many organizations and museums have links on their websites that connect you with similar organizations. A membership in one museum in our area often gives free admission to other museums in the network, all within an hour's drive.

In our town, the fire house welcomes kids to come and learn about the department - one of the big problems in fires is that kids hide, so firefighters often gear up to teach kids to run TOWARD them. Fire stations are either very quiet or chaotically busy, so unless there's an emergency, they often allow kids in. Yours might be a little old to climb up in the driver's seat of the engine, but learning about the types of equipment or the inside of an ambulance can be educational and also a great experience if there's ever an emergency down the road.

Community Supported Agriculture is a big movement, and our local farms have all kinds of opportunities for pick-your-own fruits/veggies, whatever's in season. We're in the middle of berry season, and in the fall it's apples and pumpkins. A lot of the farms have hayrides, petting zoos or fresh ice cream from their own cows.

I think it's great that you get out there with your kid! I always did with my son, and he really blossomed from not being in front of a TV or computer screen the whole time.


answers from Grand Forks on

I can't speak to your area for local events, but in my area each of the local politicians (city, provincial and federal) put on a bbq or picnic each summer, with free food and children's activities. Our library does weekly kids programs, plus special events such as magic shows or children's performers. Our city park and rec department has tons of free programs, like daily drop-ins with weekly field trips. Our city pools all have free-swim times each week. I can go to a different pool in the city each day of the week and swim for free. In the summertime all of the small towns hold festivals, which usually include lots of free kids activities such as parades, candy scrambles, petting zoos etc. Any Saturday I can drive to a different small town (within an hours drive) on a Saturday to hit one of the festivals (Strawberry Festival, Icelandic Festival, Corn and Apple Festival, Potato Festival, Honey and Garlic Festival, Pumpkin Festival etc.) Our book stores (Chapters) often have children's events. Our big city park offers free movies on the big screen on Friday evenings (double feature), as well as free concerts on Sundays. Our local city run nature center does kids workshops and guided hikes each Thursday. We have lots of free museums as well, like the police museum, the air force museum, the railway museum and the electrical museum. Kids bowl free two games a day all summer long (we pay shoe rental). I have a great network of moms, and we all keep each other informed of free events. When we hear of something going on we send out an email to all the other moms.



answers from Dallas on

Don't know if there is one in your area. It is all summer, through 9/15 and I just found out last week. 2 free games per day and you pay for shoe rental. So it is about 30 - 40 min of fun for under $3 for my 5 yr old.



answers from Columbus on

I know this will sound kind of crazy BUT if you guys don't have any food allergies, I used to take my kids to stores that had free food samples! Seriously! We made a game out of it and had a blast!! They're teens now and we still love to go taste all the different foods. My daughter found out at a very young age that she loves pineapple!! This was also a great way to introduce them to things without having to buy it and throw it away if they ended up not liking it. Cucumbers, different fruits, crackers, breads, cheeses - all these things were fun to taste.

Also, it's not free, but if you have a zoo nearby it's totally worth it to get a membership which often includes parking. When my kids were little, they would get so tired trying to see the whole zoo all in one day - with a membership we can go as many times as we want and if we only want to see one display we can be there five minutes or five hours! It's really been worth it.

You might check with your library - ours does different events for all different ages. Tomorrow they're doing "Chalk on the Walk" - each child is given a square of the sidewalk to draw on and then there are prizes. It's always fun! They're also doing a summer reading program right now and then there will be a pizza party next week. All free!!

A lot of parks also do different programs - sometimes free or at least very inexpensive.

I know what it's like to try and find free and cheap events!! They're out there; you just gotta dig!!

Good luck!!



answers from Washington DC on

Yep, your local library system probably has lots of free stuff for kids. Note that I say library "system" because you need to look beyond just the most local branch. Find out about all the branches and you'll greatly expand the activities your son could be doing! Our library system offers the following just as a few examples: Kids' book clubs; kids' craft times; game days when kids can bring their specific games such as Pokémon and other card-based games to play with other kids, with adult supervision; free talks by animal trainers (often with animals right there to show); free meetings with kids' book authors; much, much more. Don't miss out on the HUGE resources of a good library system.

Also check with your city, county or town parks and recreation department. Parks and rec departments usually have lots of classes for kids not just in summer but all year long. These usually cost but can be very, very cheap, and there sometimes are free kids' or family events sponsored by parks and rec departments.

If you can get to any mall that has a Lego store, the Lego stores very often have events for kids. There are "builds" where kids can go and just build while there. You don't necessarily have to purchase anything (though your son might want you to!).

And Google "free kid event" and specific dates for your location.


answers from San Francisco on

At the front of our grocery store is a rack of free newspapers and magazines, and one of these is called The Parents Press. It comes out every month and lists tons of free or low cost events, broken down by age, date and category (art, science, nature, etc.) Do you have something like this where you live?
For "free" we did a lot of (easy) hiking in our regional parks, played in the creek, went on bike rides, went to the beach, the farmer's market and the library, took our dog to the dog park, stuff like that, sometimes just me and the kids and sometimes with other moms and kids.
<sigh> I miss those days, now everything they want to do costs money :-(


answers from Phoenix on

Just google, "free events in Whatever Town". I did that with Phoenix when we moved here and found a website that only lists events in the area, including free events. Good luck.

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