By doing a bit of research, you can keep your summer spending to a minimum and still be able to enjoy all that your city has to offer. I usually make a list of my kids favorite places and start there.
Free Movies Days
Well, when my kids we’re much smaller, summer camp movies were free. Now, depending on the theater you go to, it can be anywhere from $1-$4. Either way, it’s still much cheaper than a full price ticket.
Living in sunny Southern California, I usually opt for Regal Cinemas or AMC Theatres. Both offer summer camp movies 2 days a week and if you click on the links above, you can find theaters near you with a list of movies playing all summer. Granted, these movies are NOT new movies, but escaping the heat, soaking in the air conditioning, and letting the big screen entertain your kids for a while, more than makes up for it.
Free Museum Days
If you’re like me and like to add a little culture and some learning to your outings, free museum days are a great deal. Whether it’s checking out dinosaur bones or gazing at the stars, you’re sure to find something that will keep them entertained for hours and tire them out just enough to let you enjoy the day as well. Some of the museums on this link are always free, some have certain days of the month available, and some are just by donations. Rest assured, that if museums are on your list, you’ll find one right up your alley and with just a little bit of planning, it’ll make the kids happy as well.
Free Park Days
I know I already mentioned movies. However, for a much more fun outing, pack a snack, bring your camping chairs, and catch a movie under the stars. Most communities have local parks that plan both movies in the park or if you feel like dancing under the stars, music in the park. Both of these fun outings beat the heat by being night time events and tons of family fun. Best part about these, they’re free!
However, if you want some fun Adult time of the same variety, check out the Rooftop Cinema Club. This specific one is local to L.A., but I’m sure most big cities have something similar. How fun is watching movies outdoors, under the stars, surrounded by the glowing lights of the city!?!
Or maybe you’d like something a little more adventurous and want to watch movies surrounded by dead people. For those thrill seekers, Cinespa shows movies in two locations, the famous Hollywood Forever Cemetery or historic movie palaces around L.A..
Whether you choose the rooftop, cemetery, or palace, expect to pay for much more than just the movie, but with an experience like that, why not?
Free Beach Days
Most beaches in southern California have some type of parking fee, but usually it’s minimal. However, a couple bucks to soak in some rays, getting wet, and tiring out the kids is more that worth it. Don’t let parking fees keep you away, there are so many beaches in California, it’s not hard to find free parking either.
Don’t want to melt in the sun? How about the beach at night? That’s right, it’s the time of year that the grunion run. Don’t worry, you don’t have to run after fish on the beach, they come to you. If you’re not interested in getting fishy, let the kids do it, or just let it be a learning experience. Trust me, the kids will love it and you’ll love doing something free, under the stars, spending time with the kids, while they run around ‘til their little hearts are content.
Catch a local Ball Game
I’m lucky enough to live in an area with two Baseball teams, so I have my choice to choose from. To get the best bang for my buck, I go with companies like seatgeek.com or cheaptickets.com. I can get Dodger or Angels tickets starting at $5 each! Which means, for my family of 4, I can catch a local ball game for $20, plus parking. Granted, you’re not allowed to take your own snacks in, but you can have a large dinner before the game, tailgate, or spurge at any one of the food booths they have to offer. Usually, this is the only family outing we spend a little bit more on during the summer. But considering I’m saving so much money on everything else, it’s worth catching a game or two this summer.
So there you go, with a little bit of planning, a packed lunch, and some sunscreen, your kids will love the summer camp you have custom built for them, much more than those other ones. Have fun!