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Raising kids = paying for diapers, then paying for braces, then paying for college. The end.
Seriously though, kids are the best thing you’ll ever spend money on, so why not catch a break when you can with a free activity or class or cookie?
From one mom to another, here’s the list — you’re welcome!
1. Kids-eat-free restaurants
There are so many restaurants where kids can eat free based on the day of the week, or based on the purchase of one adult meal, that I can’t even list them all right here.
Some of my favorites from the list are:
- Texas Roadhouse
- Pizza Hut
- Cafe Rio
2. Free LEGO build once a month
There’s a limited number of participants for this one, so sign up as early as you can! Kids can build a free LEGO model at any local LEGO Shop. Kids must stay to build the project and can take it home when they are done!
3. Free reading program rewards
Kids in grades K-6th can earn a free ticket to a Six Flags theme park. To get the ticket, kids must read recreationally for a certain amount of hours, based on age. Best part? Your kids can earn this ticket even if you don’t live anywhere near a Six Flags! Read more about how to save at Six Flags.
Kids read for a certain amount of hours and earn stickers over the course of six months. At the end of six months, if they’ve read enough, they get a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut.
Local Public Library
Most libraries offer a prize like a free book or a chance to win a gift card when kids participate and complete summer reading programs. Our library offers a free book once kids complete five activities like reading books, writing stories or drawing pictures. Any further activities they complete gets them one entry per activity into a grand prize drawing for a gift card to many popular places.
4. Free computer classes at Apple or Microsoft
Kids ages 8-12 can take 90-minute lessons for three days to learn coding, songwriting or storytelling using Apple technologies at a local Apple store. Check with your local Apple store to browse offerings.
Kids ages 6 and up learn new Microsoft technologies and do things like coding, making a movie and STEM projects.
5. Free DIY and craft classes at Home Depot and Michaels
Home Depot offers free children’s classes on select Saturdays. Kids make a free project and, while working on it, learn skills and tool safety concepts. Check your local Home Depot for an upcoming workshop schedule.
Kids can participate in a Michaels “Make Break” where they do an easy crafty project like decorating a T-shirt.
6. Free National Park Pass for fourth graders
The Every Kid in a Park program offers kids a free entrance for the whole family into any National Park from the summer before fourth grade through the summer after. The pass is good that entire year.
7. Free activities during the summer
You can check out all free summer activities for kids, but here are a few of our favorites:
When you register your kids for Kids Bowl Free, they get two free bowling games every day the program runs during the summer. Estimated value is $500 per kid!
Sign up for the Kids Skate Free program and your kids can skate for free on certain days at participating roller rinks.
Okay, this one isn’t totally free. But for just one dollar, your kids can go to a Regal Cinema on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Two movies are offered, and both movies play on both days.
8. Free museum pass one weekend per month
If you have a bank account with Bank of America or Merrill Lynch, you can join the Museums on Us program where kids can get a free pass one weekend a month to visit participating museums.
9. Free online activities
This category is really huge, so check out all the best free online activities for kids. A lot of these serve as good alternatives to video games, because kids still get to use a device, but the programs are more educational. Sometimes I think my kids just want to tap an iPad and they don’t care if they’re learning French or playing Minion Rush.
10. Free snacks at grocery stores
Kids can get a free cookie at Albertsons, Winco, Publix and Harris-Teeter. And they can get a free piece of fruit at Whole Foods and Kroger.
11. Free cakes at the grocery store for one-year-olds
You can pick up a free “smash cake” for your one-year-old at stores like Albertsons, Harris-Teeter and Walmart. These are the small cakes that babies get all to themselves. Note that Walmart requires a $15 bakery purchase in order to get the free cake. The others don’t.
12. Free childcare at stores
You can leave your children to play with a trained employee at both Kroger and IKEA.
Kroger stores don’t have a limit on length of time, but at IKEA, you can only leave them for one hour (you’ll get an extra 30 minutes if you sign up for IKEA FAMILY, IKEA’s free loyalty program). Learn about more IKEA perks and ways to save.
13. Free “1st visit” pins at theme parks
Snatch up a free “1st visit” pin at both Disney locations and LEGOLAND when you visit for the first time with your kids. You can find them at guest relations or at many of the stores inside Disneyland or Disney World. Learn all the secrets to saving money when you visit Disney.
14. Free games and wifi for your kids on Southwest Airlines
Speaking of travel freebies, your kids can get 18 channels like the Disney channel or play games like Sudoku and crossword puzzles for free. Check out all Southwest Airlines Hacks!