40+ Fun Family Activities
Date Night with the Kids
The popular thing to do with kids – in my circle anyway – is to take each of your children on “dates” occasionally. I don’t know about you, but my husband and I barely have enough money to do cheap date nights for ourselves, much less do date nights with the kids. Fortunately there are plenty of entertaining activities that are affordable, if not free, that our kids LOVE doing with us.
- Bass Pro Shop: I could end the list after writing this one. There are so many things to do here, that a child could be occupied until he or she is no longer a child.
- PetSmart: I guess I’ll admit that we really do this with our kids. They love watching the fish, birds, and cats. And weirdly enough, they really love looking at the pet dress up clothes. And it’s free. And it is about half a mile from our house.
- Barnes and Noble: Ours has a great kids area with a huge lego table, and lots of kid-sized tables for reading books. I have to drag the kids out of there every time we go. It’s free, but sometimes we do splurge and get a hot chocolate from the café.
- Outdoor concert or ethnic festivals. Invite a couple of friends to go with you to the concert. At the festivals, eat something new and see how many new customs you can observe.
- The Library: Check out a craft book or cookbook or a book on making paper airplanes and pick a project to do the next week. Our library also has story hours, guest speakers, dress up days, and other fun activities for kids.
- Parties: Not crazy drinking parties, but parties like Pampered Chef, Scentsy, cookie exchanges, Mary Kay, and 31. My 4-year-old daughter loves these things and thinks it is so fun to act grown up.
- Garage Sale: You could check out local garage sales as a family. We love to do a family garage sale every spring. Hooray for moving junk out of my house!
- Bowling: Shoe rentals are $1 and it is $1 per game for the kids at our bowling alley. That’s a lot of exercise for $2. Also, you can sign up at kidsbowlfree.com and receive 2 free kid games of bowling each day for the entire summer. Only participating bowling alleys will accept the coupons, but there is a great selection of places all over the US that are participating.
- Local Park: Why does sliding down a slide never get old? My kids could do it all day every day.
- Volunteer: for a non-profit. Our local Children's Home has activities throughout the year. You can put together backpacks with essentials or cut and tie fleece blankets. Organizations like Feed My Starving Children allow children over 5 to help pack rice and vegetable packets for undernourished children across the world.
- Sing, play Bingo, and read stories at a nursing home.
- Daddy-Daughter Dances: The official purity balls cost money. I’m sure those are fantastic too. But throughout the year, radio stations and churches often sponsor their own Daddy-Daughter dance. My daughter talks about this event all year long.
- Take Crazy 8s or Old Maid to Dairy Queen (or some restaurant that is not going to be too crowded) and play games all evening. Have ice cream for dinner?
- Wildlife Park: In some areas, these have admission prices. Maybe check out their websites for free days.
- Zoo: This is a given during childhood, right? Check the newspapers or websites for free days if your zoo has an admission price.
- Children’s Museums: It is worth it for our family to pay for these museums. Going on the free days ends up being overly crowded.
- Have a picnic.
- Wash the car.
- Play mini-golf.
- Go rollerblading, ice-skating, or go-carting.
- Secret Mission: Pick flowers from the garden or bake some brownies and drop them off secretly at random friends’ houses. Single friends or elderly friends are the best! Or give them small store bought gifts: a flower, book, chocolate chip cookies, gift card to Starbucks, etc. Since most of this date will be spent in the car, my husband would load up his phone with iTunes songs so the child would also get to listen to his/her favorite music in the car.
- Go to the County fair. Enter something in it. Seriously. It will be fun to see it displayed even if it doesn’t win. Need ideas? You could do a baking project or a framed photo or a dried flower arrangement. Watch the tractor and truck pulls, eat a funnel cake, tour the animals, and go on the Ferris wheel.
- Visit a farm. Feed the chickens, pet a horse, ride a tractor, moo at the cows, and give the farmer a hug!
- Throw bread to the ducks at a pond.
- Take a bike ride or hike on a trail.
- Visit a Caterpillar dealer. (My husband made me put this one in, but really, the kids love going there and climbing on the machines.)
- Go swimming or fishing.
What are your favorite family activities from childhood?
- Chick-Fil-A or McDonald’s: On "date nights", we get an apple juice and play on the playground. Approx cost $1.20.
- The Mall: I have a 2 year old who gets way too excited about spending an entire evening going up and down the escalators at the mall. The escalators are about all that our mall can offer. However, many malls have little trains or other play areas where children can be entertained. Or you could always teach your child the art of people watching :)
- See a family friendly matinee. Check your local library before checking your theaters. Ours have free morning movies two or three Saturdays every month.
- Attend a high school play. You will probably have to purchase tickets for these. Ours are around $10 per person. A few years ago one of our local schools put on a cute musical based on Cinderella. Maybe this wasn't such a fun evening for the dads who went, but the little girls who got to dress up as princesses and watch the cool high school kids had a blast. The latest play was The Wizard of Oz, complete with a live Toto!
- Go to a sporting event: football, softball, volleyball, soccer, baseball, swimming, track meet, etc. Park district games are free. High school games are affordable, if not free. And minor league teams often have kids' discount evenings.
Holiday/Seasonal Date Ideas
- Drive around (or walk around) to see Christmas lights.
- Go to a Christmas tree farm and pick out a tree.
- Go to a St. Patricks Day or Thanksgiving Day parade.
- Let kids pick out chocolate for Mom’s Valentines Day or Mother’s Day present.
- See the fireworks.
- Do Easter egg hunts.
- Attend a sunrise church service.
- Go to a pumpkin patch and pick out a pumpkin for the family jack-o-lantern.
- Go sledding.
- Make a snowman or snow angels or just have a snow ball fight.