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Category: Free Kids Activities

8 Free and Frugal Activities for Children

activities for children

Guest post from Aileen of Aileen Cooks

When we made the decision for me to stay home with our kids, we knew we would need to cut corners. Staying home meant more quality time for our kids and a better balance for our family. It also meant fewer funds for extras.

Not only have I learned to cut corners by making my own version of expensive items, I have learned about some great resources for free and inexpensive activities to do with your kids.

Being on a budget does not mean you have to stay at home!

1. The Library

The library is not just for books and storytime (which are great). Our local library hosts all kinds of events including live entertainment (jugglers, puppet shows, drum circles, etc.), weekly play times, a new mom’s group, crafting programs, and weekly movies.

Our library also offers the Discover & Go Program which allows us to visit museums for free or at a discounted rate.

2. Splash Pads

Splash pads are getting more popular. They are basically playgrounds that spray water so you and your children can cool off during those hot summer months. It’s worth it to ask around and see if there are any free splash pads available in your city.


Find a Mom’s Group through My mom’s group has been a lifesaver… and most events are free.

My kids and I have made some wonderful friends through our group. I get out at least once per week and get to connect with adults while my kids enjoy the company of their friends. It’s win-win!

4. $1 Summer Movies

Both Regal and Cinemark theaters offer $1 summer movie showings. They are usually the first showing of the day and are a fun outing — even for little kids.

5. Kids’ Building Workshops

Both Lowe’s and Home Depot offer free building workshops to kids. They suggest this for kids ages 5+, but I have taken my 3-year-old with no problem.

We haven’t been to the Lowe’s workshop, but the Home Depot workshop provides a free apron for each kid and pin for each project they complete.

6. Free Bowling

Kids can bowl two free games per day at select bowling centers (only during the summer). You can search for a participating bowling alley at

7. Regional & State Parks

Check to see if your local parks offer any free classes or events for kids. Ours offers free toddler hikes and nature classes.

8. The YMCA

If you have a local YMCA, I highly recommend their kid’s sports classes. I’ve found their prices to be quite affordable price — and you might even be eligible for a scholarship.

What are your favorite free and frugal kids activities? 

Aileen is a stay at home mom of two living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She blogs at Aileen Cooks where she shares family-friendly recipes, tips on cooking with kids, and money-saving tips.

photo source

Free Places to Go With Young Kids


Guest post from Emily of Queen of the Wilson Household

Sometimes as a SAHM, I have to get out of the house to keep my sanity. However, I don’t want to spend a lot of money each week just to get out of the house.

During our no-spend week, I got creative about things to do that didn’t cost any money. Some of these activities have now become a weekly tradition. There are plenty of places to go that allow me to keep my sanity and my money!

1. Library

It’s not just for books. The library is a great place to check out movies, music, audio books, and magazines.

Also, ask your library about any free programs that may be available. Our library has an awesome children’s section complete with a play room, a faux front porch with rockers, computers, story and song time, arts and crafts, tables and chairs.

2. Pet Store

If your child loves animals, this is a great place to wander around and look at all of the animals. You could also make the visit educational by talking to your kids about how the fish breath or why the gerbil has chubby cheeks!

3. Park

We love the park because my son can run around, and I can even get a little exercise in too.

4. Pool/Sprinkler

In Florida, public pools are free. However, if they are not free where you live, you can always have a water day at home. You may not go somewhere, but it is still a fun way to get out of the house.

5. Plan an Outdoor Activity

Take a picnic lunch outside or to a park, feed the ducks at a nearby pond, or go on a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood. You could make a list of items to find, or keep it casual and have your child gather as many leaves or special stones as he can find.

6. Visit family or neighbors.

If you have elderly neighbors like we do, they might like a visit. You could bring them a card made by your child to make your visit even more special.

7. Mall Play Area

Indoor play areas are great for little ones to run around and play especially when the weather isn’t the best for being outside.

8. Museums

There are some museums in our town that offer free nights or lower admission rates on special occasions. Call your local museums and ask when they run their discounts.

9. Window Shop

Leave the cash and debit cards behind, and just have fun looking around. Specialty stores are great for window shopping. We love to visit outdoor stores like Bass Pro Shops or Cabela’s and home decor stores like Hobby Lobby or Kirkland’s because they have merchandise we don’t normally see in the stores we frequent.

Where else do you like to take your kids for free?

Emily blogs at Queen of the Wilson Household where she shares encouragement for being a wife and mother, saving money, and topics related to the home.

Free LEGO Education webinars

There’s a free LEGO Education webinar on Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 1:00 pm. Here’s the description:

In this Webinar, Kelly Reddin, curriculum developer and master trainer for LEGO Education, will discuss ways to take the LEGO DUPLO bricks already in your classroom to a new level with guided activities for your students. She will provide specific examples of resources, explaining how they can be utilized to teach cross-curricular subjects.

Attendees of this Webinar will receive a free e-kit of activities via e-mail after the live event.

You can also watch free pre-recorded LEGO Education webinars here.

The Master List of Kids Eat Free (and Almost-Free) Restaurant Deals

 Kids eat FREE at ALL of these restaurants! This is a massive list!

This list was last updated in February 2018. As always, these deals may vary by region/store. Check with your local stores ahead of time to see if they participate.

Kids Eat Free

Atlanta BreadAtlanta Bread: Tuesdays 4pm – close—One free kids meal per adult purchase.

backyardBackyard Burgers: Tuesdays—Buy one adult combo meal and get a kids meal free for kids 12 and under from 4 pm to close.

Baja FreshBaja Fresh: Sundays—Free kids meal with an entree and large drink purchase.

Beef ‘O’ Brady’sBeef ‘O’ Brady’s: Tuesdays from 4-8 p.m.— Kids ages 12 and under can get anything off the kids’ menu with the purchase of an adult entrée.

bennigansBennigan’s: Tuesdays after 4pm—Kids 12 and under eat free with the purchase of an adult entree.

blackBlack Eyed Pea: Tuesdays—Kids 12 and under eat free. One item from the kids menu is free with each purchased adult entrée from 5 pm to close.

bluemesaBlue Mesa Grill: Sundays—Kids 5 and under eat free with the purchase of adult brunch from 9 am to 3 pm. Check individual locations for participation.

bobevansBob Evans: Tuesdays—Free Kids’ Meal with every Adult meal purchased after 4pm.

brustersBruster’s Real Ice Cream: Daily—Kids under 40 inches receive a free baby cone.

Captain D’sCaptain D’s: On Tuesdays and Thursdays—Kids can eat for free. Limit of 2 free kids meals per adult entree purchased.

Chick-fil-AChick-fil-A: Tuesdays between 5:30-7:30 p.m.—Kids eat free with the purchase of an adult combo meal. NOTE: some locations charge $0.99 per kids meal.

ciciCici’s Pizza: Daily—Kids 3 and under eat free. Ask server for specific details.

culvers_logoCulver’s: Daily—Kids 12 and under receive a free custard with the purchase of a meal.

dennysDenny’s: Tuesdays—Kids eat free from 4-10 pm. Restrictions may apply. Ask your server for details.

DICKEY'S BARBECUE LOGODickey’s Barbecue Pit: Sundays—Kids 12 and under eat free. One free kids meal for every adult meal purchased.

doubleDouble Dave’s Pizza: Daily—Free kids buffet with purchase of an adult buffet. Qualifying age varies by locations, so call ahead or check with your server.

firehouseFirehouse Subs: Wednesdays—Kids eat free with the purchase of an adult combo. Participating restaurants only. Varies by location.

Freebirds World BurritoFreebirds World Burrito: Tuesdays from 10:30am – 9pm—Kids 11 and under get a free burrito or quesadilla meal with the purchase of an adult entrée.

Fricker’sFricker’s: Daily—Kids can eat free all day, every day – valid for dine in only.

gattitownGatti Town: Wednesdays—Kids 10 and under get free kid’s buffet with the purchase of adult buffet at regular price. Limit 1 child per adult.

Genghis GrillGenghis Grill: Tuesdays—Kids 12 and under can eat Free with the purchase of an adult full-price bowl.

Godfather’s PizzaGodfather’s Pizza: Tuesdays—Kids aged 10 and under can eat for free from 11am-2pm and 5pm-8pm at the buffet.

Golden Corral LogoGolden Corral: Mondays—Kids 10 and under eat free from 5-9 pm. Two kids per adult. Kids 3 and under are always free.

ihopIHOP: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday—Kids 12 and under eat free from 4-8 pm. One kids’ menu item per adult entree. Drinks not included.

ikeaIKEA: Tuesdays—Kids eat free at some locations. Check with local store for qualifying ages and participation. There are also specials throughout the year. Check the store page for your local store to see current specials.

Jason's DeliJason’s Deli: Wednesdays—Kids eat free all day. One free kids’ meal per paying adult.

Jose Pepper'sJose Pepper’s: Sundays—Kids eat free all day at Jose Pepper’s.

LoneStarSteakhouseLone Star Steakhouse: Tuesdays—Kids eat free all day. One child entree with each paid adult entree. Not valid in Orlando, FL.

lubysLuby’s Cafeteria: Wednesdays—Kids eat for free after 4 pm with every adult entree purchase.

maggianosMagganio’s: Saturdays—Kids 5 and under eat free. Check with your local restaurant for participation.

Margarita's Mexican RestaurantMargarita’s Mexican Restaurant: Saturdays and Sundays—Get two complimentary kids meals (12 and under) per adult entrée purchased.

marieMarie Callender’s: Tuesdays—One free Kid’s Meal with each adult entree purchased.

moeslogoMoe’s Southwestern Grill: Tuesdays—Kids eat free all day. One free kids’ meal for each adult meal purchased. Choose from Power Wagon (hard or soft taco), Mini Masterpiece (cheese quesadilla) or Moo Moo Mr. Cow (burrito). Each kids’ meal includes a cookie and beverage.

ontheborderlogoOn the Border: Daily Kids receive a free sundae with meal purchase. Participation may vary.

perkinsPerkins: Tuesday—Kids eat free all day. Kids eat free at Ohio and Pennsylvania locations on Wednesday and Saturday from 4pm-9pm.

PicadillyPicadilly: Fridays—Kids under 6 eat free all day.

pizzahutPizza Hut: Tuesdays—Some participating locations offer an unlimited pizza buffet for just $6.99. Kids 10 and under eat free with the purchase of an adult buffet.

Planet SubPlanet Sub: Sundays—Kids eat free with adult meal purchase.

ponderosaPonderosa Steakhouse: Tuesdays—Kids eat free from 4pm to close. You can get up to 2 free kids’ meals with each adult entree purchased. Ask server for specific details.

qdobaQdoba Mexican Grill: Sundays or Wednesday—Kids eat free on Sundays or Wednesdays. Participation and day of participation varies by location.

Red RobinRed Robin: Mondays—Kids 10 and under eat free.

Rock Bottom CafeRock Bottom Cafe: Mondays and Tuesdays—Children aged 12 and under can eat free from the kid’s menu.

Ruby TuesdayRuby Tuesday: Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to close—Ruby Tuesday offers free kids meals with the purchase of an adult entree.

Salsarita's Fresh CantinaSalsarita’s Fresh Cantina: Thursdays—Kids eat free all day with a paying adult.

Shoney'sShoney’s: Fridays—Kids under 4 eat free all day with paying adult.

skylineSkyline Chili: Mondays—Kids 4 and under eat free from 4-9 pm. Check ahead for specific participating locations.

Slim ChickensSlim Chickens: Sundays—Kids aged 10 and under eat free.

SmashburgerSmashburger: Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday—Get a free kids meal with the purchase of a regular burger or salad after 4 pm. (Day various by region.)

Souper! Salad!Souper! Salad!: Sundays—Kids ages 4 and under eat for free.

steakSteak ‘n Shake: Daily—Free kid’s entrée for every $9 purchased. Participation varies by location.

TGI Friday'sTGIFriday’s: Mondays & Tuesdays—Kids eat free, though offers vary by location. Call ahead or check with server for specific details.

tonyromasTony Roma’s: Sundays—Kids 12 and under eat free with a purchase of an adult entree.

Tropical Smoothie CafeTropical Smoothie Cafe: Sundays—Kids eat free all day.

unoUno Chicago Grill: Tuesdays—Kids eat free with the purchase of an adult meal.

Kids Eat For Almost-Free

buffaloBuffalo Wild Wings: Wednesdays—Kids 12 and under can order from the Kids’ Menu for just $1.99 from 4-10 pm.

fazolisFazoli’s: Tuesdays—Get 2 kids’ meals for $0.99 each with the purchase of 1 adult entree. For children ages 12 and under. Offer valid from 5-8 pm each Tuesday at participating restaurants.

firemountainFire Mountain: Thursdays—Two kids’ buffets for $0.99 each with the purchase of an adult buffet. For children ages 11 and under. Participation varies by location.

fuddruckersFuddruckers: Mondays & Tuesdays—Kids 12 and under can order from the kids’ meal menu for $0.99 (drinks included) from 4-9 pm. Locations and participation may vary.

mcalistersMcAlister’s Deli: Daily—Kids’ meals for $0.99 all day at select locations. Call ahead for participation.

oldcountryOld Country Buffet: Thursdays—Two kids’ buffets for $1.99 each with the purchase of an adult buffet. For children ages 11 and under. Participation varies by location. Offer also available at participating HomeTown Buffet and Country Buffet locations.

ryansRyan’s: Thursdays—Two kids’ buffets for $1.99 each with the purchase of an adult buffet. For children ages 11 and under. Participation varies by location.

WhichWich-logoWhich Wich Superior Sandwiches: Mondays & Saturdays—Kidswich meals are $0.99 with the purchase of a 7″ small Wich. Kidswich meals include a Wich, treat, and drink. Valid for children ages 12 years and under at participating locations.

If you have any restaurants or details to add to this list, please leave a comment. Thanks!