Ideas on What to Do w/Kids During Summer Break

Updated on June 29, 2011
K.B. asks from West Jordan, UT
13 answers

I need some suggestions on things to do w/kids during their Summer break. I have a 6 yr old, 8 yr old and sometimes a 12 yr old w/us as well. Normally am not home w/them but I am between jobs right now so want to enjoy every moment that I can while I can. I need suggestions for things that are FREE or very economical to do since our income is limited. I know they need some good old fashioned playtime but any and all ideas are welcome. Thanks!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Pools, water parks, zoo, museums, parks, amusement parks, library, hikes, biking.....

OK--limited budget revision: baby pool & buckets of water with squirt guns or cups, THE HOSE, lawn sprinkler, hikes, library, biking, walks, trip to the park playground, scavenger hunts, bubbles.....

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answers from Salt Lake City on

Go to and check out their "No Bored Kids" calendar. Many of the activities they list are cheap or free, and many have indicators about the target ages for the activities. There are loads of free activities through both he Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City library systems - more than just story times, too - performances, crafts, movies. Again, their websites are a good source. The Utah Museum of Fine Arts is free the first Wednesday and third Saturday afternoon of every month. The Saturday free afternoons include an art project. Several parks and outdoor venues, among them Gallivan Center, Jordan Park, and the West Jordan Soccer Complex, offer free screenings of family-friendly movies throughout the summer. And of course there are numerous places both in town and up the canyons for hiking and biking.

Also, if money is tight, I would recommend the free lunches in the parks. I don't know where close to you they are doing this, but in SLC both Sugarhouse Park and Liberty Park (and others, I'm sure, but those are the ones I have personal experience with) host the child nutrition lunch programs. They do not ask any embarrassing questions - in fact, I've seen them send someone through the park to make sure everyone knows they're there and that all are welcome. If a child shows up and gets in line, that child gets a lunch. In SLC in past years adults could also purchase lunches if they were available after kids had been fed for $2. I think you could find out from the parks system or from the county where this would be offered near you.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

Most of the libraries have storytime for different age groups, which is free. They read a book and have an activity. Even just going to the library and browsing books can be fun.
We like to go on walks or bike rides together, especially along the Jordan River Parkway (be careful to keep a close eye on the kids with the river running so high, but most of it is not right by the river). In Murray, probably about 5000 or 5100 south on the parkway is a "nature center." The actual learning center is not open in summer, but it is a larger wilderness area with small trails where you can explore and, if you're quiet, even see small animals occasionally. Just keep kids really close!
Lunch at the park ... several different parks even have free lunch for kids (under 16 I believe) through the school nutrition program. Taylorsville park did last year, at noon I think. Liberty Park also does this (noon also I think) and there are the water fountains for kids to play in there. Just bring a towel!
Check out the Utah State Fair Read and Win program (google it for the forms). Each child who reads 10 books (any level, any length, aim for what is appropriate for your kids) will get a free pass to the state fair. My kids love it and it keeps them reading all summer.
There's the zoo, the aviary, and the aquarium. Not cheap, but once each might be good. Same for Discovery Gateway museum. Museum of Natural History at the University of Utah, as well as Museum of Fine Arts, aren't too pricey if I recall. If you're willing/able to go to Ogden, the TreeHouse is a fun kids museum, too (I don't recall prices, but I'm sure you can google them)
Even taking a ride on trax/frontrunner can be fun for the kids (I think you can get a day pass for 4 people for $12, check with UTA, or 801-RIDE-UTA).

Have a fun summer!

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answers from Minneapolis on

Public libraries have a variety of activities for a wide range of ages and are usually inexpensive or free. Contact your local park and rec department. Many zoos, etc. offer seasonal or summer memberships. Even a full year membership can be a real bargain if you go frequently. Our city art museum has free admission. Our YMCA offers a very economical summer membership. Hiking in state or county parks, bike rides, picnics. A book club or reading program. Board games and puzzles. Inexpensive arts and crafts projects from places like Michael's. Water balloons? Messy, but cheap and fun. Slip and slide or sprinkler. Sidewalk chalk. Neighborhood game of kickball. Rent movies. Have a good summer.


answers from Phoenix on

I think it would help to know how old the kids are. But we have a pool, its super hot here in the summer so not only are we swimming in our own pool (thats a given!) but I bought summer passes for the local water park so I can REALLY wear them out and get in some good exercise! Not exactly inexpensive but considering its $28 per person per day, $220 for all 3 of us was a great deal. If I didn't have that, I would be spending a lot of time at the local pool (usually $1 to get in) or asking the kids friends to come over and swim in our pool. Its really just too hot here to spend time outside unless you are in the water. Good luck and enjoy your time with the kids!



answers from Spokane on

Get movies for free at the library and have a "movie night" on the floor with popcorn, apples, and cheese. Go to the library programs - they have free activites for all ages, even mommies :)

Spend lots of time at the pool swimming and snacking.

Paint with water on the sidewalk, color with chalk, take a bowl of fruit out to the yard and invite all the neighborhood kids to come have a snack, blow bubbles.

Our public parks have "splash pads" that are free, so we did that several times, I just packed a cooler full of fruit and cereal and made a day of it.

When it's just too hot to be outside stay in and make a fort of sheets in the living room, play playdoh, do puzzles, bake cookies, or make homemade popsicles.

We were on a serious budget last summer and we spent most of our time at home, the kids really thrived and enjoyed it. I like being out and about, but my kids just want to be home spending time with each other and me. We made really great connections with the neighborhood kids and moms and just had a blast!



answers from Great Falls on

Check out
They have some great ideas. I just printed out some cool charts to use this summer.

Also, just make a plan. I taped a giant calendar of the summer up and started filling it in with things. We don't want to forget to do fun things but I also have to plan days to stay home and play or work.
Ask your kids what they want to do and then do it.


answers from Provo on

Oh nice, I just checked to see if you live in Utah and you do! That makes it easier to give suggestions.
I check daily to see what deals they have going. Just last week they had a deal for Tracy Aviary, $10.00 for a group of 4, valid till December. I believe admission is usually $7.00 a person, so it was a great deal. I would suggest looking on there.
There are so many family friendly hikes in Utah. Pack the kids up in the morning and go explore. We went on one in Fruit Heights that was only 1 mile long, so my 3 year old even did well on that one. Go downtown to the Gateway and let the kids play in the fountains. Clark Planetarium is also near there and is free (except the star shows). You could also visit the temple grounds which are beautiful and teach your kids about Utah History, even if you are not LDS.
It could be fun to see how many parks you can visit- kids love this as they sometimes get bored of the same old playground. Have a picnic lunch at the park. Liberty Park is way fun. It has fountains to play in too, plus the ducks and swans which you can feed, swimming pools, tennis and BBall. See if some neighbors want to meet weekly for a playdate at the park. Go shoot some hoops or fly kites. Go for bike rides. I hate biking, but lately I have been going jogging in the evening while my 8 year old bikes next to me and it has been so fun for both of us.
I have heard that Herriman Pond is really neat too, it is a nice beach to play at and is not too far from West Jordan.
I would also suggest looking on your City or county website, they should have a calendar of events which are often free like concerts in the park, festivals, etc.
I have also been having my kids journal every day to keep them working on their writing skills and then we are going to make it into a scrapbook at the end of summer. Also we are going to put the kids' memory books from the last school year together.
Anyway, hopefully that gets you started with some ideas. Have fun!


answers from St. Louis on

How about Vacation Bible School, trips and picnic's in the park, does your library have a summer reading program or the school. Slip-n-slides are like $8-$50 at Wal-Mart/Target/K-Mart depending on which one you buy. You can let them plant a garden and tend to it daily. Ride bikes they should all be old enough to go for bike rides.

I love the movie night idea sinceyou can now rent them for $1 a night.



answers from Pocatello on

My church has set up a weekly play group. We are going to different locations to have an activity or play. Last week we had a tour of the grocery store, we are going to the firestation one week, petsmart, a greenhouse, parks, the zoo, a tour in the geology department at BYU-I (one hubby works there), we are doing the free lunches in the park (through the schools). We do these on Tuesdays. Set up your own group things.
I am also doing storytime at the library and the summer reading program. I too am trying to figure out what to do with my kids. If summer ever comes to Idaho it might be better, all this wet / cold weather has really kept us cooped up inside.



answers from Provo on

big boxes! they make great castles, boats, caves, cars, etc.



answers from Dallas on

You could go to the park w/them or go to your community pool.Go to the library and rent movies.



answers from Denver on

Look for nearby parks that have water jets! :) We have two city parks within a couple of miles that have this feature - and we're not a big town so maybe you'll find some too?
Also, check with your local movie theater. Usually they have a free or very low cost day (once a week?) that they'll show kid movies. Especially good when it gets super hot.
Make sure to check in with your library too. Ours does story time for young kinds two days a week, but they also have different things going on there all the time. Cheap classes, free concerts, etc.
Have a great summer!

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