50 Free & Cheap Things to do with the Kids in the Summer Holidays
It feels like there's a continual succession of inset days and half-terms - one ends and in the blink of an eye there's another, and it's no secret that it can be extremely expensive to keep the kids entertained, particularly during the summer holidays which are a whopping 6 weeks long.
So we have put together this amazing list of free (or very low-cost) fun activities you can try out throughout the summer break to keep the kids entertained - which won't break the bank!
1 - Go to the Beach
Everyone loves a day at the beach all you need is plenty of sun cream, a bucket and spade and a blanket.
2 - Visit a Splash Pad
Councils are installing new splash-pads throughout the UK every year. These are such a fun, safe way to spend the day and you don't have to spend a penny!
3 - Picnic at the Park
Get a group of friends together and all meet up at your local park for a picnic day. You can take a bluetooth speaker for a bit of music and even a portable BBQ or simply opt for a traditional picnic on a blanket. Check out 'Green Flag awards' website to find your nearest award-winning free park.
4 - Visit your local Museum
Museums are a great day out and absolutely free. You will probably have to pay for parking though as they're usually in city centers. Check out their website for a list of free events before you plan your trip as there's often daily activities to choose from that are completely free.
5 - Go for a Walk
In my local area we have so many beautiful places to go for walks, I often print out a treasure list for the kids to tick off the things as they come across them, it keeps them occupied and they have a treat for ticking everything off.
6 - Find a Local Nature Trail
There are plenty of beautiful nature trails to explore throughout the UK that are suitable for families. You can find child friendly routes on the National Trust website.
7 - Geocaching
Join the worlds largest treasure hunt, for free! You can download the app from the Geocaching website, find out how many treasures are in your local area and get started straight away. Remember to take some treasure with you to replace the treasure that you find.
8 - Stay in a Bothy
Stay in a bothy in a remote part of Scotland or Wales - there's no need to book and it's completely free. Bothies and bothying are basically stone tents! It saves having to pitch your tent and you can use things in a bothy that have no place in a tent, such as candles or a line for drying clothes from. Find your nearest Bothy here
9 - Blackberry Picking
I used to absolutely love doing this as a kid, especially being able to help with making (and eating) the pie after.
10 - Music Festivals
Most councils put on a music festival in each area, it probably won't be well advertised, so again keep an eye out on social media and get in on all the local groups so you don't miss out.
11 - Free Swimming
Council run leisure centres now offer free swimming sessions to under 16s throughout the holidays, ring your local for the free session times.
12 - Rock Pooling
Another firm favourite of my kids, all you need is a net and bucket and you have the tools to keep the kids happy for hours. My lot love finding sea creatures to "rescue" and pop back in to the ocean
13 - Go to a Farm
Many farms are charity run and are free to the public, a quick google will turn up all the available ones in your local area. Most have parks and outdoor eating areas available so you can make a day of it.
14 - Visit Heritage Houses
There's loads of Grand houses and Castles throughout England, Scotland and Wales that are open to the public, and many host free events during the half terms to keep the whole family entertained. Visit the Heritage England, Historic Scotland or Visit Wales to find your local hidden treasures.
15. Go for a Bike Ride
There are plenty of cycling routes throughout the UK that are suitable for families. You can find safe cycling routes on the National Trust website.
16 - A Day at the Waterfalls
Waterfalls are a stunning location for a family picnic, you often need to get there on foot so it's a great opportunity to work up an appetite. You can find a list of all the UK waterfalls over on wikipedia.
17 - RAF Museums
Admission to RAF Museums are free of charge, although they do charge a small fee for parking.
18 - Plane Spotting
Go to your local airport viewing area, take picnic and watch the planes taking off and landing.
19 - Library Workshops
You local library will put on free workshops and special events throughout the half term - simply check your local library's website for up-to-date event information.
20 - Nature Activities
Woodland Trust offers over 100 free activities on its website for outdoor and indoor fun with nature. Activities include downloadable guides for making bird feeders, nature detective hunts, colouring sheets and more.
21 - Group Sports Day
When’s the last time you enjoyed a game of Frisbee? Rounders? Football? Rally together a team or friends, family and school friends and take what gear you might have and head to your local field.
22 - Camp in your Garden
You don’t have to trek to a far-off wilderness location to have any fun in nature. Use your own garden to pitch a tent, grab your torch and some books and games and snuggle down for the night.
23 - Go on a Treasure Hunt
You can find loads of treasure hunt ideas online - or you can print off your own. Grab some friends, set up some prizes and spend an afternoon seeing which group of friends’ hunting skills are the strongest.
24 - Summer Holiday Clubs
Community centres usually offer summer holidays clubs and activities that are either free or heavily subsidised.
25 - Collect Pine Cones
We always grab a bag of lovely pine cones in the summer when they start to fall, ready to turn in to Christmas decorations as part of our free christmas activities.
26 - Join the Great Butterfly Hunt
The big butterfly count is a nationwide survey aimed at helping assess the health of our environment. It takes place yearly between mid July to mid August. You can download an identification chart to help you work out which butterflies you have seen, then record them on the free app.
27 - Photography Challenge
This is a great one for kids of all ages. List down 10 items for them to find and photograph at your chosen location (beach, park, castle etc)....then choose the best shot from each, award 3 points for best 2 for 2nd place and 1 for third (you can tinker with the scores depending on amount of children) - the child with the most points wins.
28 - Printable Activities
A quick search online will pull up hundreds of websites that offer free printable colouring sheets, activities and more for children. This is a great way to keep them entertained on a rainy day.
29 - Craft Day
Set up a table out the garden and let the kids get creative. Check out Pinterest for hundreds of craft ideas for kids.
30 - Build a Den
I miss the old days and the way we used to play, kids always seem to be stuck in front of a computer these days. Get them to go old school and build a den in their bedroom, you can have hours of fun!
31 - Junior Bake Off
Kids love baking cakes, why not make it in to a little competition with yourself, siblings or friends. Get someone to judge - print off and award a certificate to the winner.
32 - Kids Come Dine With Me
How about letting the kids cook tea tonight? You can make it a competition between other friends kids and go round to each others houses to taste the children's delights – see this BBC guide for ideas on what kids can cook at different ages.
33 - Swim Safe Courses
Get children aged 7–14 ready for safe swimming in open water with Swim England and the RNLI’s free water safety sessions. Choose from inland and coastal sites throughout the UK. Sign up to Swim Safe.
34 - Cycling Festivals
British Cycling in partnership with HSBC are closing the roads to traffic in 14 city centres throughout Britain again this summer and throwing cycling festivals for everyone. It's totally free to take part, you get to see your city from the saddle and it's a fun, active day out for the whole family! Think stunt shows, street food and endless family-friendly activities. Sign Up
35 - Pet Workshop
Pets at Home offers free workshops for kids – Great for children with pets or who are thinking of getting one. There's activities, animal petting and you get a goody bag to come home with.
36 - National Play Day
August 1st is 'National Play Day'. There's hundreds of community events throughout the UK for families to join in, from adventures in woodlands to street parties and community treasure hunts. Find your local events at playday.org.uk
37 - Free Tennis
Charity organisation 'Tennis For Free' offers children aged 3+ a free two-hour coaching session. There's currently 38 locations in England, Wales and Scotland every week. Visit tennisforfree.com.
38 - Bring Books to Life
Reading charity Bookstart hosts thousands of free literary events for little ones in libraries and community spaces around the country. See what's on offer in your area at bookstart.org.uk .
39 - Painted Rocks
Have you heard of the new craze sweeping the UK? Paint a rock, hide it and make a stranger smile. It’s easy and its fun! You can search for your local painted rocks group on Facebook to find the best areas to check.
40 - Rock Collecting
We always collect a rock when we're out on our adventures, each child has their own collection that we use to decorate their area in the garden. I use a free Rock/Mineral identifier app on my phone with them which makes it easy to figure out what exactly you’ve found.
41 - Tour Your Local Fire Station
The Fire Service is very community based these days, and by having young visitors to the station, demonstrates the importance of fire safety and the dangers of fire. Simply phone your local station to arrange a suitable time to visit.
42 - Home Cinema Day
Keep your PJs on, grab a bowl of popcorn and your quilts and spend an entire day on the sofa watching movies - perfect!
43 - Bug Hunt
You can easily build a simple bug box out of stuff that’s sitting around your house. Once you have that, it’s easy to find and collect insects for the box, even from your own garden. Get the children to write down the bugs they found and teach them an interesting fact about each one.
44 - Spa Day
The girls love this one! I buy some cheap face-masks from home bargains, I give them massages, paint their nails, let them have a bath bomb, plait their hair and let them drink non-alcoholic wine - this is one of their favourite days in.
45 - Obstical Course
The course possibilities are endless with all the objects you have around the house and you can change it around each round, becoming more challenging as the players improve their skills.
46 - Feed the Ducks
Take a trip to your local park, river or lake, and feed the ducks, swans and usually in my experience....the seagulls!
47 - Go Fishing
Fishing can be a great activity for kids, but you might be better off getting them nets which are ideal for catching crabs in rock pools, tadpoles in lakes, little fish in rivers - and are a lot easier too!
48 - Flower Pressing
Pick some flowers when you're next out on a walk and place them between 2 sheets of paper in the middle of a big book. Put some more heavy books on top of it and leave for a few days. You can frame them and hang them up in the children's bedroom or play house.
49 - Sand Dunes
There's lots of beautiful sand dunes positioned around the UKs coastline for you to discover. Make sure you take a sled or a baking tray to ride them!
50 - Hobbycraft Workshops
There's a fantastic free kids club at Hobbycraft, there's activities to do such as card making, slime making, scrapbook making etc. Events are suitable for ages 4 and over. Check out what's on
51 - Free Community Events
Check out your local church, library or children’s centre. All these types of organisations offer free activities. You can also ask around in local Facebook groups for free local activities.
Most of these activities are free or very cheap, but it's always the eating out that seems to cost the most, so remember to take drinks, snacks and treats if you plan to eat out to scale down the cost - or a picnic can be done as cheaply as you like.
As always, if you know of any other great free activities or days out that can be added to our list, please let us know in the comments below...
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