Discover Family Fun on a Budget with cheap or free family activities

cheap or free family activities

Finding fun yet cheap or free family activities can seem difficult, especially if you’re on a tight budget. However, there are actually many free things and cheap kids’ activities to take advantage of if you know where to look!

As a parent, I know how tough it can be to keep the kids entertained without spending much money. But I’ve discovered plenty of ways to have fun with my family for free or very cheap. In this post, I’ll share some of my favorite cheap or free family activities, from outdoor options to indoor rainy-day activities.

In this post, I’ll share some of my favorite cheap or free family activities, from outdoor options to indoor rainy-day activities. I’ll provide tips to keep your kids engaged without spending much (or any!) money.

Key Takeaways:

  • There are many free things and cheap activities for kids and family, even on a tight budget.
  • Local parks, nature centers, free museums, and libraries offer free family activities.
  • Scavenger hunts, obstacle courses, board games, and outdoor activities are free fun.
  • Get creative with activities you already have at home, like arts and crafts, cooking, and music.
  • Taking walks, playing games in the yard, and having picnics are great free ways to spend time together as a family.

Read on for a big list of fun, free things to do together as a family!

Free Outdoor Activities

Getting some fresh air and having fun in nature is one of the best free family activities. Here are some of my top picks for outdoor fun that won’t cost you a dime:

Take a Walk or Hike at a Nature Center

One of my favorite cheap or free family activities places to take kids is to a local nature center. These centers often have miles of free trails, and nature walks suited for kids of all ages. It’s a fun way to get some exercise and explore the outdoors together as a family. Look for nature centers in your county or state parks.

Visit a Free Zoo or Aquarium

Many zoos and aquariums offer free days or times when admission is free and open to the public. Do some research to find out when your local zoo or aquarium has free entry. Then, take the kids to see all the amazing animals and exhibits.

Play at the Park

Parks offer endless possibilities for free family fun. Let the kids run around on the playground equipment and grassy fields. Pack a ball or frisbee to play catch. You can also bring snacks for a picnic. Parks are a great way to enjoy the outdoors without spending any money.

Go on a Nature Scavenger Hunt

Make a scavenger hunt list of things to find outside, like pinecones, flowers, acorns, different colored leaves, etc. See how many your kids can spot on your walk. This is an engaging free activity for kids of all ages. Offer small prizes for those who can find the most items.

Create an Obstacle Course

Use objects from around your yard or a park to make a fun obstacle course. See which kid can complete it the fastest. You can include hopping, skipping, crawling through tunnels, balancing along a line of rocks, and more. This free outdoor activity will tire out the little ones.

Take Family Photos

Spend a day taking family photos at various outdoor locations. Drive around to find interesting backdrops like murals, gardens, fountains, etc. Let the kids help pick poses and make it a fun outing. You’ll get great new free family photos to cherish.

Indoor Activities at Home

In the list cheap or free family activities include indoor activities at home. Don’t let bad weather spoil your plans. There are plenty of fun things to do with kids right at home. Get creative with activities using stuff you already have around the house.

Hold an Indoor Scavenger Hunt

Make a list of silly items the kids have to locate around your home and collect whoever finds the most wins! For younger kids, hide larger items in plain sight to make it easy. This is an engaging free activity for kids of all ages.

Build a Fort or Obstacle Course

On a rainy day, use furniture, blankets, cardboard boxes, and pillows to build an epic kids’ fort or indoor obstacle course. They’ll have a blast creating and playing with their homemade creations. Unleash their imagination with these free indoor activities.

Play Board Games or Puzzles

Break out classic board and card games the entire family can enjoy together. Or challenge older kids with jigsaw puzzles to assemble. These fun indoor activities for kids don’t cost a thing if you already have them at home.

Hold a Talent Show or Concert

Let the kids showcase their talents by putting on a show for you. They can sing, dance, act, play an instrument, or display any skills they’ve been dying to perform. Make certificates as awards. It’s a fun way for kids to have the spotlight.

Camp Indoors

Pretend you’re camping in the great outdoors…inside your home! Pitch a tent using sheets and furniture. Tell spooky stories by flashlight. Sing camp songs together. Roast marshmallows over the stove for s’mores. Kids will have a blast with this imaginative free activity.

Bake or Cook Together

Find a simple, kid-friendly recipe to make together as a family. Let little ones help measure ingredients and mix. Older kids can follow the recipe steps. Cooking is a great way for kids to learn new skills. And you get to enjoy homemade treats!

DIY Arts and Crafts

Unleash your creative side with fun art projects using supplies you likely already have at home – paper, glue, scissors, markers, crayons, etc. Make homemade cards for loved ones, build sculptures using recyclables, or create vision boards.

Have a Dance Party

Turn up some fun tunes and have an epic family dance party! Make up silly moves together. Use makeshift instruments like pots and pans to play along. Dancing is a fun way to burn energy and get the wiggles out.

Free Places to Visit

Don’t overlook free attractions and activities happening right in your community:

Visit a Free Museum

Many art museums and museums of natural history offer free admission days or times each week or month. Take advantage of these to soak up some culture and history for free. It’s often free and open to the public on weekdays.

Attend Free Library Events

From book readings to music shows craft workshops to reptile visits, libraries offer a huge variety of free events for kids and families. Check your local library’s calendar and bring the kids to some free activities.

Go to a Free Festival

Many communities host free public festivals with live music, food trucks, craft vendors, games, contests, and activities. It’s a fun way to spend the day together enjoying your town.

See Animals at Feedings

The zoo isn’t the only place to see animals up close. Many pet stores have free critter viewings and feedings open to the public. Kids love watching the fish, hamsters, birds, and more eat their lunch.

Take Free Museum Tours

Can’t you visit the museum on a free day? Many offer complimentary guided tours on select days/times. Take a free educational tour tailored for kids to maximize the experience.

Ideas for All Ages

Here are some more great free activities for kids that will entertain all ages:

Backyard Camping

Pitch a tent and pretend you’re camping in the wilderness. Roast hot dogs and make s’mores over a fire pit. Share campfire stories and sing songs. Kids feel like they’re on a fun adventure, all from the comfort of home.

Sidewalk Chalk Games

Get creative on the driveway or sidewalk with chalk. Play tic-tac-toe , draw hopscotch and other games, leave upbeat messages for neighbors, or just doodle! It’s cheap outdoor fun that provides hours of enjoyment.

Movie Marathon

Make popcorn and snuggle up for a themed movie marathon. Let kids pick the genre or franchise. Make it extra special by building a fort and playing movie bingo. It’s a relaxing rainy day activity the whole family will enjoy.

Backyard Olympics

Invent your own family olympics with relay races and competitions in the yard. Include events like sack races, egg and spoon races, water balloon tosses, hurdles, etc. Award homemade medals at the end.

Story Time

Let kids’ imaginations run wild by telling stories together. Take turns adding to the tale. Or read aloud an exciting chapter book each night before bed. Stories stimulate creativity and bonding.

While parenting can certainly be expensive, I hope this list inspires you with many possibilities for cheap or free family fun. Get creative in utilizing your storytelling.

Visit Free Festivals and Fairs

Many towns and cities host free local festivals, fairs, and events that are fun for the whole family. These are always free to visit and give kids access to live music, entertainment, contests, activities, and more. Check your community calendar and take the kids to any upcoming free festivals.

Explore a New Park

Pack a picnic lunch and head to a new park in your area. Let the kids run free on the playground and grassy fields. Parks are free places to go that provide hours of fun activity for kids. Give kids a ball or frisbee to play catch or make up new games.

Go on a Photo Scavenger Hunt

Give kids a list of silly things to try and photograph like flowers, clouds, fences, statues, trees, sidewalk chalk drawings, etc. See how many they can capture on your family walk. It’s a fun activity that engages their creativity.

Visit a Free Petting Zoo

Many local farms, garden centers, feed stores, and parks have free petting zoos certain days a week. Let the kids get up close to all the animals like goats, pigs, chickens, rabbits, and more. Call ahead to find free places to go pet animals.

Play Games at the Park

Head to your local park and bring games for kids to play like cornhole toss, ladder ball, frisbee, ball toss. You can also use the playground for games of tag, follow the leader, Simon Says, etc. Parks offer plenty of free space for active games.

Read Together at the Library

Head to your local library branch and let the kids pick out new books to read together as a family. Make it a weekly outing! Libraries offer so many free activities for kids like story time, puppet shows, music activities, and crafts.

Do Sidewalk Art

Let the kids create colorful chalk murals and drawings on the driveway or sidewalk. They can draw games like hopscotch and tic-tac-toe or make vibrant works of art. Sidewalk art is a fun and free outdoor activity.

Make Nature Art

Go for a family walk or bike ride and collect interesting natural items like flowers, leaves, acorns, pinecones, sticks, feathers, rocks. Then let the kids use the items to make creative nature art at home. Kids can make animals, collages, sculptures – anything they envision!

Visit Botanical Gardens

Many local botanical gardens and arboretums don’t charge admission and are free places to visit. Kids will love exploring the gorgeous gardens, greenhouses, and trails. It’s also a great place for a family photo shoot!

Do Kitchen Science Experiments

Use common kitchen ingredients to set up fun science experiments. Let the kids mix baking soda and vinegar for a bubbly eruption. Freeze water with objects inside and guess what will happen when ice melts. Kids can observe cause and effect with safe kitchen items.

Make Music Together

Give the kids pots, pans, spoons, empty containers and let them make music! Play freeze dance to their homemade beats, try to copy rhythms, or put on a concert for you. Making music is a fun activity that boosts creativity.

Build a Pillow Fort

Let the kids use pillows, blankets, furniture, and imagination to build the ultimate cozy fort at home. They’ll have a blast engineering and designing their structure. Pillow forts encourage creativity and problem solving.

Create Sidewalk Obstacles

Use sidewalk chalk to draw a special obstacle course outside with mazes, START and FINISH lines, hula hoops to jump through, and more. Make it a competition between siblings for extra fun. This outdoor activity gets kids active.

Paint Kindness Rocks

Gather smooth rocks and paint them with cheerful images and uplifting words. Then let the kids hide them around town for strangers to find. It’s a project that spreads kindness and joy through your community.

Play Backyard Games

In nice weather, set up outdoor games in the backyard like cornhole, ladder golf, croquet, ring toss. Or use water for fun like water balloon tosses and races. Backyard games make for a fun family day.

Grow a Garden at Home

Let kids help start seeds indoors or plant a small container garden outside. They’ll have fun getting their hands dirty while they learn where food comes from. Caring for plants together teaches responsibility.

There are seriously so many fun and free indoor and outdoor activities you can do to entertain kids without spending much money. Get creative with games and activities using items you already have at home and take advantage of free public places in your community. I hope this gives you a great list of ideas to try with your family!


In conclusion, finding joy in family moments doesn’t have to strain your budget. Embrace a world of affordable memories with a plethora of cheap or free family activities. From outdoor adventures like nature walks and scavenger hunts to indoor creativity with talent shows and board games, there are countless ways to create lasting memories without breaking the bank. Enjoy quality time together without the hefty price tag!

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