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Dozens of Free (or Cheap) Things to Do With the Kids This Summer

From giant playgrounds to outdoor movies and festivals, we've compiled this guide to help you get the kids through the summer with maximum fun and minimal hassle (and cost).

Use this guide to find things to do, like these kids searching for wildlife at the John James Audubon Center in Mill Grove.

Photo by Colleen Claggett

Have you reached the "Mom, I'm bored" stage of the summer yet? If not, fear not; it will be here sooner than you think.

So we've put together not only dozens of places to go with the kids, many of them free or cheap, but thrown in a few other tips to help you move smoothly through August without breaking a sweat (Okay, figuratively; we can't change the weather.)

1. Jumbo playgrounds that are worth the trip

These play spots are more than a few swings and a slide. Most will keep the kids busy for the day or until they wear out. Many are designed to be accessible to all children and some have features especially for kids with special needs

2. Schedule of outdoor movies (and they're free)

What happens when you combine kid-friendly movies, the soft breeze of a summer's night and BYO snacks: two hours of mesmerized kids and an occasional mosquito bite. Check out the list of free flicks near you. 

3. $1 and $4 movies for kids

If you prefer to see movies with AC but don't want to pay too much for the luxury, Regal and AMC theaters offer cheap summer movies for kids (and humidity-exhausted parents).

John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove4. 10 towns that are worth your time

Ever drive through a small town and think, "This is cute, I wonder what there is to do here?" Us too, so we found out and give you the run down on where to take the kids to learn, shop, eat or even paddle a canoe.

5. Beach vacation freebies (or cheapies)

If you're lucky, you'll get to spend a few days at the beach this summer. If you're really lucky, it hasn't happened yet. If so, now you're super lucky, because here's your list of things to do on the cheap.

6. Save-the-date festivals for summer (and fall)

We've pulled together the best free festivals for summer and fall along with other performances and events the kids will love. 

7. Cool pools with one-day passes

Some days you just need a pool. If plastic or inflatable doesn't satisfy your urge, we have a list of places to welcome you to swim with a one-day pass or, sometimes, even for free. Cannonball! 

Ridley Creek State Park8. Smooth trails for strollers and little bikers

Hiking is great, but did you ever try it while pushing a stroller or pedaling with kids on tiny bikes? Not so much fun. So here's a list of paved and smooth trails that will make your roll in the park a walk in the park.

9. Minor league stadiums, major league fun for kids

Going to see the pros play is great, but maybe too expensive to take the kids and they might not appreciate it as much as mom and dad. Minor-league teams, however, have several local stadiums and ice rinks where admission is cheap, parking is easy and in-game entertainment can keep the kids interested even if they don't give a hoot who wins.

10. See the Eagles practice

We know the feeling: Summer's great, but when will football season get here? If you need a football fix, you can go to the Eagles only public training-camp practice on Aug. 4. It will cost you $10 this year (last year, it was free) but that's still a low-cost way to take the kids to see their favorite players IRL.

Baltimore Inner Harbor

11. Bolt to Baltimore for the day (or weekend)

Sometimes you want to get away, but not too far. Baltimore fits the bill. It's close and has plenty for families to do within walking distance of the Inner Harbor. So don't get crabby, go get crabs.

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