101 Free or Cheap Entertainment Ideas for Families

When our children were very young our budget was especially tight. We learned how to make do without a lot of extras and to find free or inexpensive entertainment options, and we came to appreciate the value and meaning in simple things like time spent with family. With a little creativity and imagination, you can keep busy. Below are some of our favorite ideas.

101 Free or Inexpensive Entertainment Ideas for Kids and Families:

  1. Visit a playground
  2. Go for a hike at a park or nature reserve
  3. Go for a walk in the neighborhood
  4. Go for a jog or run
  5. Do yoga
  6. Do a fitness DVD (rent one from your library)
  7. Check out books from the library
  8. Rent a movie from the library and pop some popcorn
  9. Play a video game you own, or see if your library has some
  10. Play board games or card games (see if your library has any to check out)
  11. Go to story time at the library
  12. Attend a craft time, music performance, puppet show, author event, or other activity at the library
  13. Look for events at your community center (photo opportunity with Santa, indoor trick-or-treating, etc.)
  14. Look for events hosted by your city (outdoor concerts, fall festivals, Easter egg hunts, etc.)
  15. Walk around a mall or outlet shopping center and just have fun looking without buying anything
  16. Browse at a thrift store (you can set a small budget and allow children to buy something, or not)
  17. Look for museums or other venues that have free admission (or find out if they have free admission during certain days/times)
  18. Cook a meal at home
  19. Make cookies or another treat at home
  20. Watch cartoons together
  21. Read a book together
  22. Ride bikes in the neighborhood or on a trail
  23. Pack a picnic lunch and go to a park
  24. Play soccer or catch in the yard
  25. Play tag in the yard
  26. Draw with sidewalk chalk
  27. Play hopscotch
  28. Blow bubbles
  29. Jump rope
  30. Learn how to hula hoop
  31. Color or draw together
  32. Paint together (with brushes or with finger paint)
  33. Rearrange the furniture in a child’s room or in the play room
  34. Make a blanket fort
  35. Make a fort or castle out of a large cardboard box
  36. Make a doll house out of a box
  37. Make a fort outdoors using sticks, scrap wood, and whatever you can find
  38. Plant and tend a garden
  39. Make homemade Popsicles
  40. Make a toy-filled ice block
  41. Write a letter to a relative or friend
  42. Have a tea party
  43. Play charades
  44. Make a no-sew play tent
  45. Fly a kite
  46. Make homemade play dough or salt dough
  47. Hunt for insects in the yard and collect them in a bug bottle (release them in the area where you found them later)
  48. Visit a splash park
  49. Play in the sprinkler in the yard
  50. Get out the Slip and Slide
  51. Set up a kiddie pool
  52. Wash the car
  53. Wash the dog
  54. Make s’mores at a fire pit in the back yard
  55. Set up a tent and camp in the back yard
  56. Go stargazing
  57. Catch fireflies at night
  58. Place sleeping bags in the living room and do an indoor campout
  59. Make some water balloons
  60. Play Frisbee
  61. Play tug of war
  62. Go out in the rain and stomp in puddles (umbrellas are optional)
  63. Make paper airplanes
  64. Make paper snowflakes
  65. Learn how to make origami
  66. Learn how to crochet or knit
  67. Build something with Legos
  68. Clean out the house and have a garage sale
  69. Go shop or just browse at garage sales
  70. Learn how to juggle
  71. Watch old home videos
  72. Look at old family pictures
  73. Start writing a blog
  74. Write poetry
  75. Write stories together
  76. Tell stories to each other
  77. Learn a foreign language (I like the free website/app Duolingo)
  78. Make a time capsule
  79. Pick up trash in your neighborhood or at a park
  80. Attend free concerts at local churches
  81. Attend an Easter egg hunt or trunk or treat at a local church or community center
  82. Attend free band or choral concerts or inexpensive plays and musicals at colleges or high schools
  83. Look for free family activities through your school district (fall festivals, carnivals, living history museums, art shows, etc.)
  84. Go sledding
  85. Build a snowman
  86. Build a snow fort
  87. Attend a kids’ workshop at Home Depot
  88. Listen to music together (my family likes Pandora)
  89. Learn sign language
  90. Find a movie theater showing free or discounted movies (often during the summer months)
  91. Set up a bird feeder and watch the birds
  92. Create a scavenger hunt around the house or yard
  93. Make an obstacle course in the yard
  94. Make easy freezer jam
  95. Climb a tree
  96. Play checkers or chess
  97. Do a jigsaw puzzle together (you can buy them cheap at thrift stores or yard sales, or possibly check them out from your library)
  98. Do crossword or word search puzzles
  99. Visit a farmers market
  100. Volunteer (at a homeless shelter, food pantry, soup kitchen, church outreach event, school, etc.)
  101. Invite friends or neighbors over for dinner

What are your favorite inexpensive ways to have fun with your family?

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