Summer Fun - Minneapolis,MN

Updated on June 23, 2010
T.I. asks from Minneapolis, MN
20 answers

I was layed off a few weeks back. With the way the economy is, we thought I would stay home with the kids this summer to save money. So what do I with a 3, 6 and 9 year old all summer long? Help. I love my kids, but I don't want them sitting in front of the TV all day all summer. Any ideas for fun, inexpensive activities or events?
Thanks so much for your help.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Go to a Hennepin County Library and pick up one of their free tickets for any number of local museums. Try out a new playground each week. Try out a new beach or wading pool each week.

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answers from Washington DC on

The library is a wonderful resource for fun on a budget. Not only are books way more productive than TV, but most libraries have great self-help sections, crafting sections and doing-about-anything-on-a-shoe-string books. You just need a library card (cheap or free) and you're in business.

Where do you live? In the country? Suburbs? City? It really makes a difference in the kind of activities you have available to you, but many things translate with a little alteration. For example, we live near a lake in the country, so swimming is a great option for us. However, if you live in a city, maybe going to the local fountain would be just as good. It's free, it's outdoors and you can cool off. You'll probably meet other SAHM's too.

Check out your local Parks and Rec. They always have cheap to free activities for the community to participate in.

Pick up a child seat for the back of your bike for the littlest one (shouldn't be too much money) and take the kids for a bike ride.

Go for nature walks. Check out a book from the library about animal tracks and see what you can find.

Go to an appliance store and ask for the cardboard boxes that they take off of their floor models. They'll ususally give these up for free. Use them to build a fort. Make some of your own paint (recipes are available online) and spend the day decorating the fort.

For a wooden fort go to a lumber supply company and ask them if they would be willing to let you have the scrap ends of wood left over from cutting orders. At the least you'll get a hefty discount on it. Some of this wood, some nails and a hammer and you're in business.

Go to your local newspaper printing company and ask for the remnants of their paper rolls. These are huge rolls of paper and usually still have several yards of paper left on them. They are usually available cheap or free. Tape some of this up on your garage wall, then get the kids in swimsuits and mix up huge batches of finger paint. Let them roll around in it, then press themselves against the paper. Lay some paper on the floor for this too. They can make all sorts of designs.

Basically just use your imagination. Also search this topic on this site. I remember a few other threads like this. You'll find a lot of good suggestions.

Have a great summer!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

I don't know where you live, but here in Des Moines the free public wadding pools are open in the parks. You can play, swim, and if you pick up a list at your local community center some are even offering free breakfast and lunch to children under 18 and preschool play activities all in the park.

We have a faily pass that is good for the science center and the zoo. The pass cost roughly what it cost for us to go to the zoo twice and now we can go to the zoo as much as we want to and when it's just to hot out we go to the science center. Their are bonus perks for members too like free train rides on Mondays and discounts in the gift shops.

The local libraries are offering summer reading programs again with rewards for reading and different fun themed events at different libraries all summer. This is also free.

The Art Center here in Des Moines is donation based for getting in. So on a hot day you can throw a couple of bucks in the donation box and. Walk arround in the ac enjoying paintings and sculptures. This is actually fun to kids for a time or too. Pack a picnic lunch for the park outside and make a day of it.

Find your local Dollar Tree store and stock up on fun outside supplies. They are good for bubbles, sidewalk chalk, smaller balls, hula hoops, squirt guns and waterballoons, bug catches and critter keepers, and all manner of cheap get outside and play fun.

We also make occassional use of the local McDonalds and mall where we can get out of the heat and play on the playground and eat a cheap lunch and meet up with other families.

We have six kids ranging in age from 1, 4, 7, 8, 10, 15). We are on a tight budget and have had to find activities that are not only cheap but fun for a large age range. If you are still stuck your local community center is always a good place to start for kid activity locations. Have fun this summer!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Scavenger hunts are always fun!
Plan a movie day: sleeping bags in front of the TV with the curtains drawn, bowls of popcorn and a double feature. (I know you said not in front of the TV.. but this is more like a family activity).
Teach them to play marbles!
Buy a big set of dominoes (through double 12 at least) and show them how to make designs and get them to fall down by tapping just one.
Get some sidewalk chalk and teach them hopscotch.
Turn on the sprinkler outside, fill a bucket with water, and give them each a water gun.
Teach them how to help wash your car!
The hardest thing, really, is planning out something for each day. As long as you have a 'game plan' for tomorrow, then you won't slip into never ending hours of TVland. :)
I have days where I just tell the kids (8 & 11)... the TV is staying off today. Find something to do. And amazingly, they do! Usually outside, but sometimes it's legos or lincoln logs or lately even reading books! They took a big plastic bin from my son's closet last week and dumped it out to sort out all the tiny pieces distinguishing "plain" legos from bionicle legos... then built stuff and played with it for about 3 hours!

You also could pack a picnic lunch (PB &J works just as well as anything elaborate) and take a blanket and go to a nearby park to have lunch. Even the smallest, shortest things like this, that incorporate something you are already going to do (have lunch) make summer memories for the kids.
Have them help you make cupcakes, then decorate them. (take a couple with you the next day on that picnic)

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answers from San Diego on

Check out your local libraries...they have lots of activities that are free.

YMCA's are also good. Memberships are next to nothing and they have great family friendly activities.

Check out the zoo. A family membership can be very reasonable especially if you go a few times or more.

Museums usually have some free days throughout the month.

Picnics and parks are always free. Check out local gardens. They don't always seem like fun to kids, but a lot of them have free activities and are cool once you get there.

How about creating your own treasure/scavenger hunt. Research something the night before and then have your kids look for it the next day while at the park, on a hike, etc.

Good luck.



answers from Dallas on actually has an amazing list of fun and free things to do this summer. Take a look at the GoNannies Blog "20 Fun and Free Summer Activities for your Children" at

Have a great summer!



answers from San Francisco on

My kids love going to the pool. That might be harder with the 3YO. We also do activities such as kid oriented museums, factory tours that might be near you (we have Jelly Belly and Mrs. Grossman's Sticker Factory) Hikes, swimming lessons (during the day) and day trips (zoo, big parks, etc.) Try to find a parenting magazine and there might be suggestions for local activities. It can be a lot of work but fun. I also schedule play-at-home days as my kids enjoy that.



answers from Minneapolis on


Chutes and Ladders park in Bloomington is really fun. Target sponsors a free night once a month at the Children's science center in St. Paul. The MOA and several other movie theatres show free movies every week. Picnics at Minihaha falls are nice. Como Zoo in St. Paul is free (asking donations only) and they have a free carousel ride once a month.

I want to expand on the library answer. Sign your kids up for the summer reading program. When your kids read, they earn nice prizes - meal coupons at restaurants, t-shirts, new books, etc. There is a free activity at the library multiple times per week - crafts, magicians, jugglers, musicians, meet the author, storytime, kid comedians, etc.

Also, the library has free passes to the zoo, local museums, arboretums, etc.

Good luck,



answers from Minneapolis on

There is a program running this summer called kids bowl free. You can check it out at you have to pay $25 for a family for 4 and then you each get 2 games of bowling free everyday all summer!
I know it's just like watching TV but many local theaters do a kids free or $2 movie every week during the summer.
Check out your community flyers, local parks, beaches and find some parades.
Good luck to you!



answers from Minneapolis on

Summer passes to local pools could pay for themselves if your kids like to swim (Richfield and St. Louis Park are favorites). The YMCA/YWCA are offering inexpensive summer memberships. Minneapolis has so many parks, you could pick a different one every time and check out the playgrounds.

Try this site for ideas:

Here is the site for "movies in the park" for the schedule of free movies in Minneapolis parks. Music at the Lake Harriet bandshell happens every night.



answers from Madison on

Go to the beach at one of the wonderful lakes around mpls. Bring some buckets, shovels and a picnic lunch. Doesn't cost anything. The kids can play there for hours without getting bored. :)



answers from Chicago on

Check out the local museums in chicago all the museums have "free" days each month. park districts have loads of fun stuff to do. make picnic lunches and go spend the day at the park. look up

this has a bunch of fun stuff to do free. have a good summer



answers from Reno on

There is nothing better today than just look & search in YouTube for crafts
and learning like crazy. Watch videos there, when they have questions,
enter it into the search bar & find their answers. Let them tell you what they want to do. This planning is for the birds. Listen to your kids & you will learn.
When you watch a video together, hold one kid at a time on your lap, close
to your heart. Its total magic. Your hearts will syncronize & form a lifelong
bond. Let the love flow freely & always calm them down by holding them
close to your heart.



answers from Sioux Falls on

You've gotten some great ideas. I'm going to use some of them. One of the things my kids love is tents. We have a small single person tent i got at walmart a few years back that was like $10 so i often put that up in the back yard but the tents they love the best are the ones built with lawn chairs, tables, the clothes line and blankets, sheets, whatever. I remember my grandmother doing this for me and my cousins, she'd hang blankets and sheets in a spiral pattern on her round clothes line and we loved it. my kids love to bring books and dolls, toys etc out to their 'tent' and play together. also we do picnics in the back yard under the tree with whatever we are eating for lunch or dinner. anything you can do inside, that doesn't require electricity, you can do outside. read books, eat, nap, cuddle, play with toys, color, day dream, tell stories, watch the clouds, paint nails, etc. we love the shade tree in our back yard!



answers from Des Moines on

Library! Library! Library! - obviously has movies, books, music to check out and also children's programs for all ages all summer long.

Make one day of the week Park Day. Travel around to a new park each week, bring a picnic lunch and enjoy. Include lakes/ponds and wilderness areas.

Play tourist - go to all those historical sites near your city, stuff you would usually just drive past.

Bake and Cook. All of your kids are old enough to help out in the kitchen at varying degrees. Look or fun kid friendly recipes online. They'll enjoy eating what they make.

Invite friends over, this may sound like more work, but actually it takes one or more child off your plate as they are entertained by their friend.

Public Pool Pass - usually reasonable family rates.

Set up a time each day for them to find something to entertain themselves. You'll get exhausted trying to be the events planner, it's good for them to choose and be responsible for their own activities, and it gives you a break.


answers from Provo on

Sprinklers!!!!!!!!!!! Oh my word how a little water will go a long way. I am having to watch my 7 year old niece for a month or two and I plan on using the sprinkler a lot. We also have a park a couple blocks away so we will walk there often.
Are there any friends in the neighborhood? Playdates are so great. I met a great lady that also live a couple blocks away, she and I are planning on meeting up once or twice a week so that we can have grown up time and entertain the kids. I can't wait!!
There are ton's of websites with puzzles and coloring pages. We printed off a ton.



answers from Janesville-Beloit on

My kids are now 19 and 16 and some of their fondest memories are still the simple ones...finding tadpoles and watching them turn into frogs, making a mural on the sidewalk with chalk, giving them cookie sheets and shaving cream for designs they can erase and remake, water balloon games, etc... your kids are at perfect ages to use your imgaination and I bet they will follow! I don't know that I have ever succesfully flown a kite, but tie some thread to a plastic bag from the grocery store and kids of any age will have it flying behind them on a walk!
Have fun and keep it simple!


answers from Austin on

I suggest you assign a theme or activity to each day of the week...

Monday could be reading/story day (take them to the library, start the week out with new books to read); you could even have them come up with their own story (either as a group or individually). Start out by taking a well-known fairytale and having them retell it in a different way (like with a future, space, rocketship way.). once they've imagined the story, your 9 yo can write it up and the others can draw pictures to illustrate it.

Tuesday could be an outside activity day... Kite flying, fishing, swimming, slip-n-slide, etc.

Wednesday can be music day... Whether they make their own instrument out of household items, learn to play the kazoo, recorder or harmonica, or learn about different types of music (ragtime, 50's, etc.). If you have girls, they'll love to make up dances for the music.

Thursday be fieldtrip day... Zoo, museum, nature trail/hike, etc.

Friday could be cooking day (and/or sewing day). Perhaps have different themes... Mexican, Chinese, Italian... or something like baking homemade bread, making homemade icecream/popsickles, pickles, canning peaches, making applesauce, etc.

You can have a day for card and board games. A theatrical day, either acting out scenes (like charades) from movies or making sick puppets and putting on a puppet show. You can also see if any are old enough to volunteer at the animal shelter (they may need help walking the dogs or brushing cats?).

Have fun!



answers from New York on

My kids are younger--a toddler and a perschooler but we are at the local parks and playgrounds all the time, almost every nice day. I recently found a web site with all the best playgrounds and parks in our state (NJ). Picnics are good too. sometimes just going to a new park and playground to explore gets them out of a rut. Some parks in our area have a sprinkler park area too. I have wanted to join a pool but since there isn't one in our town it is pretty expensive to get a season membership. But as a kid I lived a block away from the town pool and we were pretty much spent every day there in the summer. If you have this option nearby and you can afford it, it is worth the money. Also when I was a kid the recreation department had free or very inexpensive classes like swimming, tennis, arts and crafts at the park. You might also look at your budget and see if you can plan a few day trips and put them on the calendar for the kids to look forward to. It could be a zoo, aquarium, children's museum, water park, lake/beach or whatever is near you.

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