kids on a budget

As the summer approaches, finding things to do with your kids can be a challenge, especially if you are looking for things to do on a budget. 

If you are like me, you want to keep your kids busy during the summer doing fun activities, so they aren’t always on their electronic devices. My girls are now teenagers at 13 and 14 years old. They love hanging out with their friends, and this summer they will be busy playing softball. But on days they aren’t at the fields, I wanted some go-to activities I could entertain them with. I have been doing several of these activities with my kids since they were toddlers, and each year there are a few more things to choose from. 

It’s great to have more options. Here are a few of my favorites.

Since my girls are getting older, they can now go to the gym and workout. We are fortunate to live in the city of Seminole and have a free gym at the Seminole Recreation Center. You have to be 12 years old to go with an adult, so they can both go with me. Be sure to check and see if your city’s recreation center offers free memberships to their residents. If you don’t have a free gym, you are still in luck. This year, Planet Fitness is offering free workouts for teens between the ages of 15-18 all summer long from May 15 to Sept. 1. You can find out more by going to their website at

If your kids like going to the movies, several of the theaters offer discounts on movies for kids during the summer. Cobb theaters offer Free Kids Summer Movie escape with free movies for kids starting June 11, and will continue every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 10 a.m. through Aug. 1. Some of the movies include “Smallfoot,” “Smurfs,” “Curious George,” and more. 

There are several Cobb theaters in the area where you can find out more information by going to their website at

AMC theaters is offering a $4 special for kids and it includes a movie ticket and kids pack including a drink and popcorn. It is every Wednesday and the movies include “Trolls,” “Lego Movie 2,” “Teen Titans Go” and more. Here’s a link for more information

Studio Movie Grill offers movies for $5 on Tuesdays all year long and you can see any movie for $5. 

If your kids like to fish, the Kiwanis Club of Seminole Breakfast has several free fishing days for kids ages 14 years and younger. Mark your calendar for Saturday, June 1, and Aug. 3, from 8 to 11 a.m. The fishing takes place at Taylor Park, located at 1100 Eighth Ave. SW in Largo. The club will provide the bait and the fishing poles. 

On Aug. 10, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Angler Armory will host a back-to-school free fishing day at Madeira Beach Recreation Center, 200 Rex Place, Madeira Beach. There will be bounce houses, raffles, food, prizes and more. Kids age 15 years and younger will get a free membership to Angler Armory. For more information go to their website at Gates open at 8 a.m. that day to register.

If it’s too hot to be outdoors — maybe it’s raining and you want to get the kids out of the house — there are quite a few deals to go to museums for free this summer. If your child is a fourth-grader, they can get a voucher to go to museums for free this summer. The program is called Every Kid in a Park. Kids can get free admission by visiting the website

There is also a program called Museums on Us if you are a Bank of America, Merrill Lynch or U.S Trust cardholder. You can get a free ticket on the first full weekend of every month at over 225 participating museums, including The Florida Aquarium, Tampa Museum of Art, Florida Holocaust Museum and Museum of Fine Arts. You can find out more at

Don’t forget Glazer Children’s Museum always offers the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County free Tuesdays the first Tuesday of the month from noon to 6 p.m. They are located at 110 W. Gasparilla Plaza in Tampa. The museum is great for kids from newborn age to 10 years old. 

I know bowling and roller skating is fun to do with the kids. Did you know you can do it for free all summer long? The Kids Bowl Free program offers two games a day of bowling all summer long. All you have to do is pay for the shoes. If you have shoes you don’t have to pay a thing. You must register at Locally, we have some great bowling alleys all over Pinellas County participating in this program, including Seminole Lanes in Seminole, Liberty Lanes in Largo, Sunrise and Ten Pin Lanes in St. Petersburg, Maple Lanes Countryside in Clearwater and Dunedin Lanes in Dunedin. Go to the website for other participating bowling alleys. Kids must be between ages 2-14 to register. 

I discovered that Astro Skate in Pinellas Park, 10001 66th St. N., offers free skating for kids 12 years and younger. Skating passes are good for Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. You can find out other participating locations on the website and register at

It’s important for kids to read this summer, and if they read, they can get a free book at Barnes and Noble. Kids grades first through sixth can earn a free book. Go to to register your child and start reading. My girls have done this the past several years and it does seem to motivate them to read. You print out the reading log and when finished turn it in for a free book. 

I found a few other ideas for the summer with Microsoft and Apple. The companies offer free workshops and camps for kids. Apple hosts Apple camp for children aged 8 to 12. It is free and is at area Apple stores. The workshops are 90-minute sessions and include coding and robotics, moviemaking or musical storytelling. To find out more go to All campers must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian during the camp. 

Microsoft has a free camp at International Plaza. Most of the camps are for children aged 8 and older. To find out more go to their website and look for events for students. 

Younger kids can take part in the free Home Depot workshops for kids. The workshops are offered all year-long, the first Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to noon. On June 1, the craft for the month is building a tabletop putting green. I know my kids loved going to Home Depot on Saturdays with their grandpa to make all sorts of wood items. Now they have outgrown it, but my sister and brother’s kids still go. It’s a great place to learn basic skills of carpentry. Kids get to build their item and either paint or put stickers on their craft. Kids receive a certificate and a workshop apron and commemorative pin.

I hope you are able to use at least one of these ideas. You can find more fun things to do with your kids on my blog at

Enjoy the summer!