It’s a couple of weeks into summer break now and I am continually doing my best to get my kids out of the house a couple of times a week at least! Getting out of the house is a lot of work with children sometimes, but it is a great way to let the time pass by in the day and to get some energy out of their little bodies!
The problem with going out of the house is that it often ends up costing you money. There are so many amazing options out there for fun things to do with kids like the museum or the zoo, but at the end of the day the kids had fun, but I’m broke like a joke.
I am here to share with you my top 10 favorite FREE activities to do out of the house with your kids this summer! Some are obvious suggestions, but I also share some tips to making it a more enjoyable outing! This is a friendly for locals and non locals, but I do share some specific ideas for my West Michigan local friends!
Enjoy and please share any ideas you have in the comments! I would love to hear about any free or cheap activities you have come up with!
1/ Go to a splash pad!
I am assuming most people have splash pads in their areas, but if you do not it is time to start a petition and get one! Splash Pads are the ultimate option for getting out of the house on a super hot day, but not paying a dime for it! Also, kids can just run wild at splash pads and I have found that my kids can kill a couple of hours there easily! We usually invite some friends along, pack a lunch and make an afternoon of it! I do suggest investing in some waterproof shoes for your kids! Some splash pads are just cement and it can be rough on your kids feet. I have found waterproof shoes have made for a much more enjoyable experience for everyone!West Michigan locals, here are some of our favorite splash pads!
Maplewood Park– 8000 12th Ave. Jenison, MI- This is a gated splash pad and it also includes a fantastic play ground as well!
City of Zeeland Splash Pad– Main St. Downtown Zeeland, MI- This is a gated splash pad
Pinewood Park Splash Pad– 1999 Wolfboro Dr. SE Kentwood, MI- There is also a very large playground here!
2/ Go to the park!
I know this seems like an obvious one, but my kids can play at the park for hours! One of our parks also has trails so it is fun to change it up sometimes and walk the trails too! Sometimes we will pack lunches and eat there as well! I also like to head to the park about an hour before my husband gets out of work and have him show up with pizza! Then I have entertainment and dinner all accomplished at once and my kitchen stays clean!So pack up the kids, head to the park and bring a book along for you! I am always amazed by how relaxing it is to let them run free on the playground and have some time to breathe in peace!
West Michigan locals, here are some of our favorite parks!
Maplewood Park– 8000 12th Ave. Jenison, MI- This also has a gated splash pad!
Helder Park– 3751 104th Avenue Zeeland, MI- This park has two playground options. If you enter off of 104th it is a newer and bigger playground for big kids and littles!
Hager Park– 8134 28th Ave, Georgetown Twp, MI
3/ Go to the beach!
Anyone else already sweating in anxiety over this idea? The beach can be a scary adventure to face with children! I always recommend grabbing a friend to tag along and you can both tackle all the children together! In order for a beach trip to work for us I have to be organized! I absolutely LOVE the totes from Thirty-One Gifts! They truly are the best bags for anything, but especially for a trip to the beach! I can fit towels, extra clothing, sunscreen, snacks, lunches, drinks, shoes, puddle jumpers and still have room left! So go run as fast as you can and get one! Your life will be changed forever!Here are some other tips for making the beach a little more manageable:
- Bring a couple of plastic bags along for wet items or if a child poops in their swimsuit and its a disaster (not speaking from experience *wink*)
- Bring baby powder for easy sand removal from little feet! This is like magic and it spares your vehicle from becoming its own beach on wheels!
- Be prepared with snacks! It’s like my kids grow a second stomach when they are on the beach! Constantly hungry! So I say, fed kids equals happy kids and happy kids equals happy mom!
- If you have a baby, a tiny inflatable pool would be a lifesaver for baby and you! I know it may seem like you will look like the crazy mom carrying her whole house to the shoreline, but seriously, where else will the baby go? Straight to the sand, which will go straight in their mouth! *gag*
- Zip lock bags are your friend! Anything you don’t want sandy or wet, put in a zip lock bag! Sometimes I wish I could fit in a zip lock bag myself!
Obviously they are so many other amazing ideas for the beach, but these are some of my top must haves!
4/ Go to Vacation Bible School!
Do you hear that? I don’t either cause my house is completely quiet right now because my kids are at VBS! I know you can always find multiple VBS weeks in your area at different churches! My kids love VBS week at our church and it’s FREE! They play games, do crafts, learn fun new songs, dance like crazy kids and learn about Jesus in a super fun way! If you have not had your kids try out a VBS, it is time to check it out! This also means you get a few hours of quiet 4 days in a row for a week! We take what we can get right?!
Hop online and search for a VBS in your area!
5/ Go to the Library!
I used to be scared of taking my kids to the library because my kids think being quite is at megaphone level. Well, libraries are known for being quiet, but these days you can find a library that has a specific kids area where kids don’t have to be super quiet. I think it is safe to assume that most libraries have grown in this area and serve well to the tiny library lovers!
Our library has a specific floor just for kids with toys, dress up clothes, train table, playhouse, computer games and books for days! I highly recommend finding a library in your area that has a great kid area! Also, check out any of their summer reading programs and FREE events!
6/ Go on a hike at a nature center!
Now this is one that is great for a cooler summer day! I personally don’t like dragging my kids out on a hot day when there is no water involved at all, but this would be a great outing when the clouds are out!I know most areas have at least one nature center! We have a few in our area and they are all free to explore! Some places have fees for extra activities, but if you don’t want to spend a dime then roam the nature center trails and enjoy the great outdoors! Most of the time there will be some animals on the trails, various kinds of birds and you could even teach your kids about different kinds of trees! It can be educational for sure, which is a total bonus!
West Michigan locals, here are some of our favorite nature centers!
Degraff Nature Center– 600 Graafschap Rd. Holland, MI
Outdoor Discovery Center– 4214 56th St. Holland, MI- This one has a super neat bird exhibit were you can see various kinds of birds like owls, hawks, bald eagles and more!
Hemlock Crossing– 8115 West Olive Rd. West Olive, MI
7/ Go Bowling!
Bowling is a perfect rainy day outing! It isn’t necessarily free, (unless you get a free pass through something like a summer reading program) BUT it is a very cheap outing! Most bowling alleys offer summer deals for kids bowling OR $1 days where everything is a dollar each! It’s definitely something to look into in your area!
My number one tip, though, is not to forget socks for everyone! It can be so easy to forget socks during the summer because everyone is wearing sandals! Not only are the shoes way more comfortable with socks, but they ease the minds of any germ crazy moms like me!
West Michigan locals, here are some bowling alleys that have some great deals this summer!
Hudsonville Lanes– 5775 Balsam Dr. Hudsonville, MI
BAM!– 478 E. 16th St. Holland, MI
8/ LOCALS FRIENDS- Go to the Critter Barn!
This one is specifically for my local friends, but if you haven’t experienced the Critter Barn yet, then it is time to go! It is located in Zeeland, Michigan and it is completely FREE!
The Critter Barn is a farm where you can go and explore the farm, pet animals, feed animals and more! My kids love going there and we can easily spend a good couple hours there! The Critter Barn has cows, pigs, goats, donkeys, horses, ducks, sheep, rabbits, cats, chickens and more!
Go check it out for FREE!
The Critter Barn
9275 Adams St,
Zeeland, MI 49464
9/ Go to the Farmer’s Market!
This is something I don’t always think about as a family outing, but the Farmer’s Market is a great option of something to do out of the house! Farmer’s Markets are also in the morning so it is a good place to go while the temperature is still cooler. It’s a great opportunity to teach your kids about different fruits and vegetables and to try some new fun foods!Some Farmer’s Markets cater very well to kids and have kid friendly activities as well!
West Michigan locals, here are some Farmer’s Markets to check out!
Holland Farmer’s Market- 150 W 8th St. Holland, MI
Fulton Street Farmers Market– 1145 Fulton St. E Grand Rapids, MI
10/ Go to an Indoor Play Place for FREE
I recommend this one lightly because I am not always a huge fan of indoor play places because of germs. But thankfully summer is a season when sickness is not as common so I don’t stress as much about it! I am sure everyone has a big indoor play place in their area that costs an arm and a leg, but there are also free options out there that I often times don’t consider.
Fast good play places are always an option and they are FREE! Unless you buy food there, which is still very affordable! I personally prefer the Chick-fil-a play places over any other because they definitely feel cleaner and nicer. Another option would be a play place in your local mall! We have a big tree house play place in one of our malls, which is known as the “plague tree!” Sounds appealing doesn’t it? But really, it is a great free option to get you and the kids out of the house! We also have a carousel, which costs $1 to ride, but if you have something like that in your local mall it is a good cheap option! Maybe you could even sneak a little shopping in as well…maybe!
So go find yourself a free indoor play place and let your kids run wild!
Now I need to go through this list myself before I can say I have nothing to do with these crazy children! It’s always nice to get out the house during the summer and hopefully this gave you some ideas that don’t break the bank!
Have a beautiful summer and happy exploring!
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