If you have a small airport in town that flies in small planes, call and get the schedules, pack a lunch, park, and watch the planes zoom down overhead as they land. I had this idea last summer and can’t wait to do it this year!
Take a trip to a local bakery, look around, and grab a simple treat
Feed ducks, fish, birds at a park
Take a trip to the public library. Most people forget this little gem that is full of activities, events, play groups, movies to rent, educational computer games, and all things free!
Go to a friend’s house with chalk and decorate their driveway. I came up with this idea in 7th grade and we would go at night with a parent driving and bomb someone’s driveway with art and messages. I called it chalking. You’re welcome. You couldn’t be friends with me in 7th grade but yet, you will reap the benefits. It’s an innocent, fun “don’t get caught” thing like toilet papering but with zero clean up for anyone involved.
Do things at the mall other than shop: ride the escalators, the carousel, visit the candy shop or kiosk , play on the quarter ride-a-longs, or for five dollars, get 10-15 tokens at Chuckie Cheese.
Rent free kids movies at rental chains like Family Video. Always make sure they clean them for you there first to ensure it will play for you later.
In warmer months, go blueberry/strawberry/apple picking with your kids and family. Blueberry picking is my most favorite thing to do every summer.
Dollar store trips are the cheapest of the cheap and your kids will like exploring and finding little cheap thrills. Give each child one or two dollars and let them grab something to take home with them. It’s entertainment to get them out of the house and entertainment for when they get back.
Go to a place in town that you know is there but just never seem to go to like a local painting place for kids, a new playground on another side of town, museum, putt putt, planetarium, etc.
Go look around a pet store. Sometimes you can watch them wash and groom the dogs at places like Pet Smart. The little ones think it’s fun/funny/who cares, it’s free. One of our local places has a big pond in the back where you can feed the Koi fish. If you start digging around your hometown, little things like that to do will always pop up.
Visit your local humane society. They always take volunteers and one job is walking the dogs on the grounds. They will match the size of dog to the child. I know because they wouldn’t let me walk a Great Dane when I was 19 because I only weighed 100 pounds, haha.
Make a list of things for kids to find outside: a rock, a bird, a dandelion, an ant, something pink, etc. You can make it a scavenger hunt, a race, or just something to give them a goal to meet to see if they can find everything. This is also fun to do on a long drive.
A personal favorite that I do with my kids is go to a Pet Co/Pet Smart type of store and let your kids fill up doggie treat bags. WE DON’T EVEN HAVE A DOG and do this on a monthly basis. We make treat bags for when we visit our friends and families with pets. It’s so cheap and they feel like they are at a candy store, but you can pass on the cavity and junk and do something out of the box. Both of my girls can get a bag of dog “Oreos”, animal cracker looking cookies, toothbrush dog bones, and so on and I can get BOTH bags for 2-4 dollars. They love doing this!
Fill up the kitchen sink with bubbles and toys…after you have sanitized the mess out of it.
Go bowling and check out http://www.kidsbowlfree.com/. This site tells you which bowling lanes in your city offer daily to weekly free bowling for kids. (If you are local to me, sorry to disappoint that there are no participating lanes here.)
Fly a kite
Go to the grocery and pick out a recipe and cook together
Go to grocery and have your kids each pick three new or exotic foods they haven’t tried and go home and have a taste test. It’s cheap, easy and they may just find something they like. Have you ever tried a starfruit? This “activity” is how we did.
Visit a story hour at Barnes and Noble or your public library
Search Pinterest for DIY things to do with kids at home. It won’t disappoint.
Walk around a toy store and look at all their goodies. Mine like to go to Toys R Us and “play” in the power wheels they have out. They don’t move but those kids can fake drive for a good thirty minutes.
Check out your local gymnastics facilities and see if they offer open gym play time during the weeks.
Make cards for friends and family far away and mail them
Go to a restaurant where kids eat free
Check in to your local Home Depot/Lowes etc. and see when the offer the days where kids can come and build things/plant something etc., all for free!
Make something to eat at home and deliver it to your neighbors
Call a mom friend and do a toy swap. You each gather up three or four toys from your house, meet up with them, and swap a few toys for a few days. Free and sure to keep your kids busy for a while.
Build a fort
Go to Sam’s Club on a Saturday and go taste all the free foods they offer. It’s fun not knowing what will be there and it sure beats staring at the walls.
Let your kids tear into your make-up and do your make-up or their own
Buy a 2 dollar bag of birdseed and let them loose in the yard
Doughnut shop runs will get you out of the house and everyone can get something to eat for typically 5 dollars or less.
Go to a park with a ball, book, blanket, kite, toys, etc. and enjoy the outdoors together playing, but not on the playground. Have a change of scenery from your own backyard.
Check out books on Cd and cuddle together in a bed or in the living room and listen to stories. I love doing this because it involves NO screen time. It really gets their minds working and encourages good listening skills.