My favorite Season of the Year is upon us, many kids are FINALLY getting out of school and parents are thinking: Now what to do with the kiddos this summer? Budgets are probably tight, and that is why many places offer FREE or FRUGAL Family Fun in the Summer. I have saved you the work and complied a NICE listing of many Activities for Family Fun!
National Programs for all:
FREE or Cheap Summer Movie Events:
Cinemark Movie Theatres will have the Summer Movie Clubhouse. Movies are shown on Wednesday at 10am. You can purchase a 10 movie Punch Card for $5 or pay $1 per show. The rates are per person.
Regal Movie Theatres have the Summer Movie Express. Movies are shown Tuesday and Wednesday at 10am. Cost is $1 per person per movie.
Classic Cinemas has Wednesday Morning Movie Series. Movies are $1 per person per movie.
Marcus Theatres has the Summer Movie Series. $2 movies on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday from June 15th until August 13th.
Check your area Movie Theatres for more Deals and Summer Movies!
FREE or Frugal Bowling:
Kids Bowl Free is a wonderful site that lists many "Independent" Bowling Alleys in all 50 states. Sign your child up and they get 2 FREE games a day. Shoe rental is not included, but usually inexpensive.
AMF Bowling has changed their Summer Bowling program this year. The program is FREE in some areas, but in many areas there is a one time cost per child,the cost does include Shoe Rental for the entire summer. Sign your child(ren) up and they receive 3 games a day through Sept 1st. AMF Bowling also has an Adult Bowling Pass, cost and rules vary by area.
Brunswick Bowl has a FREE Bowling Program. Sign your child(ren) up and they receive 1 FREE game each day through August. Shoe rental is Extra.
Free Roller Skating:
Kids Skate Free is still a little new, but has quite a few locations throughout the USA. You can register at the location nearest you and each facility runs the program independently.
Barnes and Noble: The B&N Summer Reading program: have your child(ren) read any 8 books. The child(ren) will get a FREE book from B&N once list is complete.
Half Price Books: Feed Your Brain is the Half Price Books Reading program Children need to read at least 15 minutes a day and 300 minutes per month during June and July, turn in form and receive Half Price Book Bucks. Each child can earn Book Bucks each month.
Check your local Library to see if they have a Reading Program going for the summer. Most libraries have a FUN program each year!
Apple Stores: Apple stores offer FREE workshops for Kids 8-12. The kids will learn how to use iMovie and how to make their own films. Sign up HERE!
Windows Stores: Microsoft offers FREE SummerCamps for kids ages 8-13. Kids are divided into 2 age groups 8-10 and 11-13. The "camps" offered include: Smart Game Coding, Smart Game Designign, Smart Movie Making, and Smart Photo Taking. Sign up HERE!
FREE Family Fun Festival at Millennium Park begins June 23-August 24. Check out the info and Schedule HERE. We went to this a couple summers ago and it was soo much fun! My boys LOVED it!
Lincoln Park Zoo is FREE year round, although parking can cost a "pretty penny". GREAT zoo to visit and have fun at.
Brookfield Zoo has a cost associated with it. You can visit your library in the City of Chicago and in the Suburbs and get a Pass that allows for FREE admission for a limited number of people in the family. Our family buys a yearly membership which not only allows for unlimited FREE admission but also FREE parking. We live only 5 minutes from the Zoo, so the cost is worth it because it pays for itself in 2 visits.
The Cosley Zoo is a small Zoo located in Wheaton, IL. The cost is FREE for kids 17 and under, $5 for Adults and FREE for residents of Wheaton.
Museums around the City:
Museums very rarely have FREE days in the summer. Residents of the City of Chicago can get FREE admission to most of the City Museums using the Kids Museum Passport. Each pass generally admits 4 people FREE and one must be an adult over 18. Some passes have different restrictions.
Suburban residents can visit their local library to see if they are a participant in the Museum Adventure Pass. Many different Museums are included and most passes are valid for Buy 2 get 2 FREE admissions.
The Chicago LakeFront has many Beaches and FREE swimming available. For a listing of Chicago Beaches and locations check HERE.
The Cook County Forest Preserves have 3 Aquatic Centers. There is a small FEE for these attractions, but it is very inexpensive. Adults (12 and up) are $6, and kids 4-12 are $4, 3 and under are FREE. Check out the locations and more info HERE. Our family went to the Cermak Aquatic Center in Lyons, last summer and it OK, mainly for kids 8 and under.
I found a really nice listing of Aquatic Centers all around Chicagoland HERE. The Aquatic Centers do have an admission price and each varies by location. The listing covers many areas of Chicagoland! Chicago Parent Magazine May issue, has an article with 27 Different Pools and Aquatic Centers. Many Suburban Park Districts have turned their "Pool" into AWESOME Aquatic Centers, so check the Park District websites. Also, if you are looking for an indoor Pool fun there are a few around Chicagoland. A favorite of my family is the Oak Brook Park District Aquatic Center. My oldest has Asthma and the heat and humidity make him have Asthma attacks, so we enjoy the indoor locations for his benefit. My boys and I are like "fish in the water" and we LOVE swimming!
I grew up in the City of Chicago and moved to the Suburbs when I got married. I didn't realize until I got to the suburbs that the Forest Preserves have soo much more to offer then just "Picnic Areas". The only time I went to the Forest Preserves growing up was for Picnics. I have since discovered the Nature Centers and Programs the Forest Preserves have to offer. Events that I have seen listed: Astronomy Nights, Campfire Nights, Butterflies, Family Fishing Days, and MUCH more!
Here are the websites for the different Forest Preserves in and near Chicagoland.
Cook County Forest Preserves
DuPage County Forest Preserves
Will County Forest Preserves
Kane County Forest Preserves
Lake County Forest Preserves
Forest Park Nature Center(Peoria Park District)
North Park Nature Center(Chicago)
Check them out for FREE or Frugal Family Fun for the summer.
I also discovered a couple of Nature Centers within Park Districts in the Chicago Area. Lake View Nature Center in Oak Brook Terrace and Lake Katherine in Palos Heights.
LakeView Nature Center is bringing back Wild Wednesdays. The event is FREE and on a drop in basis, No registration required. Check out the websites for more details on the program. Summer Time Nature Fun is a wonderful thing!!
Check your local Library for FUN activities like Movie Days, Story Time, Arts and Craft time and much more. Libraries are a GREAT resource for FREE family fun, including Family Game Night a couple times a month.
Park Districts all over offer Movies in the Park at least once a month during Summer Months. Our family went to a couple of movies in the Park last summer and it was so much fun. The movies are mainly from the summer before or a couple years back, but being outdoors, after dusk, watching movies with the family and neighbors is FUN. Our family wants to attend quite a few Movies in the Park this summer, so I did some research and found the movie listings for a few Suburbs and the Chicago Movies in the Park listings.
City of Chicago: Millennium Park will be hosting the Chicago Summer Film Series on Tuesday evenings from June 24- August 26th. FREE Admission and the movie begins at 6:30pm. The listing for the entire SUMMER FILM SERIES.
Kriz Park, 15th & Maple
June 19th- Monsters University
July 24th- The Lego Movie
August 21st- Despicable Me 2
Proska Park, 31st & Wisconsin
June 20th- Dolphin Tale
July 11th- Wreck It Ralph
August 15th- Despciable Me 2
Jaycee/Ehlert Park, 4315 Park Avenue
June 20th- Frozen
August 22nd- The Amazing Spiderman
Park District of Forest Park, 7501 Harrison
June 6th- Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the original)
June 20th- Grease
July 18th- Planes (Disney movie from 2013)
August 8th- Hunger Games Catching Fire
August 28th- Mary Poppin
Lilicia Park, 150 S. Park Ave.
June 25th- Frozen
July 16th- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
July 23rd- Angels in the Outfield
July 30th- Despicable Me 2
Hertiage Park, 1S325 Ardmore Ave.
June 25th- Frozen
August 5th- Despicable Me 2
Central Park, 15601 S. Central Ave.
June 27th- Monsters University
July 18th- Despicable Me 2
August 15th- Frozen
Oak Lawn: "On the Green", 9446 S. Raymond Ave.
June 6th- Wreck it Ralph
July 18th- Despicable Me 2
August 1st- Hunger Games
Ty Warner Park, Plaza Drive and Blackhawk Dr. 8:30pm
July 18th-Despicable Me 2
Check your local Park District, as I only searched and found a few suburbs. Park Districts are a wonderful place to have a Family Movie night and it is FREE!
More places to find ideas for Family Fun and Family Activities:
Pinterest: I tried so hard not to get pulled into Pinterest but about a couple years ago I get "reeled in" and I LOVE IT! I have found many great ideas on Pinterest. I even have a Summer Fun Board.
A GREAT resource for Chicagoland parents is Chicago Parent Magazine. The magazine comes out monthly in libraries in both the City and Suburbs. The magazine publishes a calendar in the back of each monthly edition with Family Fun activities all around Chicagoland. 4x a year(one for every season) they put a special edition called Going Places. It is a BIG listing of their monthly calendar of events. Check out the website and pick up a copy of the monthly magazine and the Summer Edition of Going Places for some GREAT listings of Family Fun. (not all events listed are FREE, but many are). I LOVE Chicago Parent magazine, it is a GREAT resource year round! Do a google search if you live in another state, near a BIG city. I know cities like Dallas, New York and others have a "Parent Magazine", like the sister magazine to Chicago Parent.
Chicago Kids is a GREAT online Resource to find fun and activities for Kids and Families.
KidWinks is another WONDERFUL resource for Family Fun Activities. KidWinks has a weekly email that they send out year round, just sign up for it.
OakLees Family Guide is yet another Family Fun Resource. OakLee Family Guides are available in Libraries and other places all over Chicagoland. Their website is also filled with VALUABLE info!
Our family also loves Summer Time Fairs and Festivals. Neighborhoods, Towns, Cities and more have some fun Fairs and Festivals. We really like some of those that "take us back in time" like Old Fashioned Days, Cival War Days, etc. Make sure to check local towns, cities and neighborhoods for local Festivals and Fairs. Also, many towns and villages have "Downtown Fun" nights once a week. Check your own neighborhood for Family Fun events.
I wish EVERYONE a WONDERFUL, FUN FILLED Summer! The BUDGET doesn't have to go BROKE for Family FUN. Time Spent with your children and/or as a family is the important thing, not how much you spend on your children! Enjoy your SUMMER!!