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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

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Beyond Disney: 10 fun activities for kids this summer that won't break the bank

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Parents and kids can have a good time this summer while also taking control of the costs and the scheduling. 

Here are 10 fun summer activities the whole family can enjoy without breaking the bank. 

1. Have some backyard fun

Parents and caregivers can put a lot of pressure of themselves to try to keep their kids happy. But us-regions — like plenty of others, to be sure — discovered that you don’t need a ton of money to be creative. I bought an all-purpose pop-up sun tent for the beach — and used it in the backyard as a fort, which is great fun for kids ages 3-12. 

Check your local stores’ prices or go online, as the costs vary. 

Set up a sprinkler or baby pool for the kids to cool off in — or set up a bubble station and play some upbeat music. You don't need to spend a fortune for the kids to have fun.

Set up a sprinkler or baby pool for the kids to cool off in — or set up a bubble station and play some upbeat music. You don’t need to spend a fortune for the kids to have fun.
(iStock)

Add a child-sized beach chair, blankets, pillows and towels for the inside of the tent. Pull together some healthy snacks and add drinks to a cooler for convenience.

Around the yarda>, set up a sprinkler or a baby pool to cool off in if there’s no pool (make sure to watch all young children closely around any body of water, no matter how shallow the water may be). <

Become a member to enjoy events all year ’round. Prices range from $69 for an individual adult to $249 for a family (deluxe package of two adults and three guests) per year. 

3. Go to a county, state or national park

Find a great park to visit. Many parks have camping grounds, cabins, hiking trails, bike trails, lakes, beaches and more — and many of them host local events.

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Most parks charge an entrance fee. Admission may be free at some parks or range from $5 per person to $35 per vehicle. Go online to contact your preferred park for fees. 

These kids are completely absorbed in their sandbox fun at a local park. 

These kids are completely absorbed in their sandbox fun at a local park. 
(iStock)

For five days in 2022, the National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to everyone. The remaining free dates in 2022 are August 4, Sept. 24 and Nov. 11.

4. Spend a night or two in a hotel near home

Book a hotel room in your area for a night or two — or try a local restaurant you’ve never been to before.

Search out art festivals and food festivals to enjoy. 

Check out local splash pads in your area or buy your own to cool off.

This child plays in an outdoor fountain in Boston on May 22, 2022. 

This child plays in an outdoor fountain in Boston on May 22, 2022. 
(REUTERS/Katherine Taylor)

Plan an indoor picnic, book a spa day, or plan a themed lunch or dinner at home. 

Better yet, throw a summer party for the kids with music. Pick up balloons and decorations from a local dollar store to spice up a room, patio or deck.

5. Go to a children’s museum

Check out general in your local area for a day out with the kids. Hunt out educational presentations, planetariums, exhibits and interactive games.

Check with your local museum to learn about summer programs — and sign up the kids. Costs vary according to the city or town in which the museum is located. 

6. Head to an aquarium

Aquariums are always a good idea for the kids — they learn and have fun at the same time.

Families enjoy the views at the largest aquarium in the world in Atlanta, Georgia.

Families enjoy the views at the largest aquarium in the world in Atlanta, Georgia.

Depending on where you go, there may be otters, dolphins, turtles and stingrays — maybe even sharks. 

Some museums offer special dolphin trips. The Virginia Aquarium offers dolphin-watching and whale-watching boat tours. Prices vary, depending on the aquarium.

7. Enroll the kids in an art class 

Look into art classes or craft classes for your children this summer. 

Local art studios often have a variety of classes and options such as pottery making, canvas painting and glassworks for older kids and adults.

8. Help your children learn to cook

Introduce your kids to the joys of cooking by signing them up for classes — then try making some recipes together at home. 

This little baby is relishing the sweet taste of ice cream in summer!

This little baby is relishing the sweet taste of ice cream in summer!
(iStock)

Look into local classes this summer; take a few classes together. 

Or hold your own cooking class at home. Pick out a cookbook — and just go for a recipe that’s right for your child’s age. Maybe choose a favorite dessert to make together, then watch your young one enjoy it with relish. 

9. Plan a fun day trip 

Pack the car and take a day trip with the kids to a local lake, mountain, beach or waterfall. 

Take plenty of snacks with you, plus lunch — and take the scenic route to your destination. 

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Regardless of the exact activity you choose this summer, there are plenty of ways to have fun together without spending a fortune — and your kids will remember this special time for years to come.

10. Take advantage of military and veteran discounts

If you or a spouse are an active military service member or a veteran, the Interagency Annual Military Pass provides free entrance to national parks and other federal recreation areas to current U.S. military members and their dependents, according to the National Park Service on its website. 

U.S. military veterans as well as Gold Star families are eligible, the park service notes. Check out www.nps.gov/findapark to find a U.S. park near you. 

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