Whether you’re saving up for your July vacation or pinching pennies to help cover the cost of summer childcare, chances are every family could use some ideas for FREE and fun activities to do with the kids over the summer. That’s why we’ve found 5 ideas for you!

Hear a Story (and More!) at Your Local Library

By far the most popular response among parents and grandparents when looking for free, educational, and entertaining activities is the local library. Many libraries offer great summer reading programs, a full calendar of programs that appeal to all ages, and come with a great summer perk: air conditioning.
The Austin Public Library system and the San Antonio Public Library system feature online calendars so you don’t miss a great opportunity to learn and explore this summer.

Break Out the Sidewalk Chalk

Let kids color themselves happy–and sneak a little learning in, too. Sidewalk chalk is a pleaser for all ages, and by choosing games that capitalize on spelling and math skills, you can reinforce those gains your kids made in school this year. When finished decorating the drive, turn on the water hose for a cool down and a wash down. By tomorrow you’ll have a fresh, dry canvas to decorate.

Get Wet at a Local Splash Pad

Nothing makes a hot kid happier than a little splash of water, and nothing wears a kid out faster than swimming, so it’s a perk for nap time, too! Austin boasts 11 free splash pads operated through the city’s recreation department. For information and calendars check out Free Fun in Austin. Over in the San Antonio area, lots of splash pads have popped up in the last few years. Check out San Antonio Mom Blogs for details about where to get wet this summer.
If you’re not hanging around under the blazing Texas sky, check out your local Parks and Recreation Department for city operated splash pads. Also check with city or state parks for more free opportunities to have a little water fun. Even malls and municipal centers have gotten in on the fun of splashing around on hot days, so check those places as well.

#OptOutside at a City Park or Nature Reserve

No matter how many times you’ve visited your favorite local park, chances are there’s always something new to see–especially when you pack a picnic and make it a day. Download a summer scavenger hunt, wade in a creek, or bring along bikes for a simple afternoon of family fun. Popular parks and reserves in the Austin and San Antonio areas can be found at AustinTexas.gov and SanAntonio.gov.

See the Stars with Family Movie Nights

Plenty of local theaters offer free or deeply discounted movie showings during the summer days, but nothing beats the summer fun of a picnic blanket under the stars with a movie screening outdoors. Check out the free showings in Travis Park or the San Antonio Museum of Art. In the Austin area, don’t miss the Alamo Drafthouse showings, or check out this comprehensive guide from Thrillist on all the best places to catch outdoor showings this summer.
What are your favorite FREE family-fun ideas?