Summer is just around the corner. You may have some summer camps planned out or a vacation scheduled. You may have some sporting activities for the kids to tackle. No matter what you have planned, you’re still going to hear these infamous words from your kids: “I’m bored.” Here are some tips for summer outings and activities that are FREE or Cheap and won’t drain your wallet over the summer.
- Go fishing. If you haven’t tried fishing the best time to start is during National Fishing & Boating week (first week of June) when most states offer FREE fishing days. Nationally the dates are June 3-11, for Minnesota the specific dates are June 9-11. FREE fishing means you can fish on any public body of water without a fishing license. Each state has different FREE fishing days, however some may not correspond with the National Fishing & Boating week. For a full list of FREE fishing days by state check out takemefishing.org by clicking here. Many states also offer FREE fishing perks including FREE fishing in state parks, FREE rental of fishing gear, FREE fishing clinics and programs and FREE fishing for kids. Check out your local state and county parks to see what fishing opportunities are offered near you.
- Enjoy a local festival. Community festivals are abundant during summer months. Each festival will have its own individual theme and events, but usually a common thread includes food, entertainment and fun activities for kids. Click here for you Summer Guide to 101 Festivals in the Twin Cities area.
- Visit a State or National Park. Only 127 of the country’s 407 national parks charge an entrance fee. That means the remaining 280 National Parks are FREE. Or for just $80 your family could purchase a National Parks Pass that will allow entrance into more than 2000 federal recreation sites including national parks, national wildlife refuges and national forests. A pass covers all passengers in a personal vehicle or up to 4 adults if the site charges per person. Children age 15 and under are admitted FREE. Click here to find a National Park near you or to plan your next vacation that includes a National Park. If you have a 4th Grader, don’t miss out on the Every Kid in a Park program. Every 4th grade student in the United States and his or her family is eligible for FREE admission to the National Parks and other federal lands and waters for the entire 4th grade school year and following summer. Click here to see how it works and get your FREE pass. Entrance fees at State Parks will vary. A few states do not charge any entrance fees and some will offer FREE days. Usually there is a daily vehicle fee of $5-7 on average and an annual permit pass for unlimited entrance of $25-$60 on average. But what’s fun about the state parks is the FREE programs offered and planned out throughout the summer including hikes with a naturalist, educational nature programs and entertainment. Explore your State Park’s web site page to find out what programs are offered near you.
- Check out events at your local library. From story time, to computer classes, to chess club to puppet shows to book clubs to craft time to educational speakers to cooking classes, local city and county libraries are full of FREE and cheap events that families or kids on their own can participate in over the summer months. Some events may need pre-registration. The bonus is that with anything at the library, your kids will be able to explore the library’s biggest resource – books and then be able to check out the books they want to read for FREE.
- Take advantage of Museum FREE days. Whether it’s the children’s museum or history center or the Art Institute, local museums tend to have FREE days they offer during select days of the week or month. Some even have special family days with extra family friendly events. Use your time over the summer to enjoy one of the museums with your family you have not visited previously. Click here for your guide to FREE Museum days in the Twin Cities.
- Try a DNR Program. Have your kids try something new with Minnesota DNR’s I Can! Programs, including I can Camp!, I can Climb!, I can Paddle!, I Can Fish!, I Can Mountain Bike and Archery in the Parks. The programs are either FREE or low cost with gear provided. The programs are designed for families to try any or all of the programs for the first time. Click here for more information.
- Play Soccer. Get your little ones out on the soccer field for FREE to learn soccer skills through play with Joy of the People at their St. Paul and St. Louis Park facilities. Hours vary by season, click here for FREE Play hours.
- Watch a Movie in the Park. The Twin Cities has numerous FREE Summer Movie in the Park nights. Click here for your Twin Cities Guide to FREE Summer Movies in the Park.