Summer is quickly approaching with just a few weeks left until school is out. Time for lazy summer days of sleeping in and relaxing, right? Wrong!
At my house, “What are we going to do today?” is the first question that rolls off my kids’ tongues. Without a plan for the day, things can go downhill fast. Bored children dissolve into sibling arguments rather quickly and arguing children make Momma feel a little crazy.
Unfortunately, outings with kids can often be expensive, especially for a large family like mine. As a budget-conscious, stay-at-home mom of four, I’m always on the lookout for free or inexpensive options for family fun.
Here are a few ideas for some free activities to drive away the boredom blues this summer.
- Locust Summer Concert Series. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy live music in the backyard of Locust City Hall. The free summer concerts are held at 6 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month, April through September. This year’s lineup includes A Deeper Shade of Blue (May 20), Island Time Band (June 17), Arts Fishing Club (July 15), Silk Groove (August 19) and Fantastic Shakers (September 16). The September concert finale is always followed by a fireworks show. For more info, call 704-888-5260 or visit locustnc.com.
- Stanly County Library Summer Reading Program. Just because it’s summertime, doesn’t mean learning should stop. The summer reading program at the library can be a great way to motivate the kids to keep reading all summer long. Registration begins on June 1 at any library branch. Kids can earn points and prizes for books they read or have read to them this summer. The program kickoff event will be held Monday, June 19 at 10:30 a.m. at the Agri-Civic Center featuring Number Drummer Live. Other fun, free events will be held at each library branch throughout the summer. A schedule of events is available online. For more info, visit www.stanlycountylibrary.org or call your local branch.
- Free Summer Bowling. Register the kids for a free summer bowling program. Several Charlotte area locations offer free games for kids during the summer months. Check out bowlsummergames.com or kidsbowlfree.com for more information.
- Free Summer Movies. Several local theaters offer free or almost free ($1) movies during the summer months. Check out your local theater for their summer offerings. The City of Locust will offer a free, outdoor showing of Zootopia on Saturday, September 30 at sundown in the backyard of city hall.
- ImaginOn. Explore ImaginOn in uptown Charlotte. Part library and part children’s theater, ImaginOn provides interactive experiences for all ages. Admission is free. The library offers a full calendar of free activities as well. Tickets must be purchased for Children’s Theatre productions. For more info, visit www.imaginon.org.
- Morrow Mountain State Park. Many of the state parks in North Carolina offer free entrance and a variety of free activities to enjoy. Morrow Mountain State Park is close by and offers plenty of adventures for the whole family. The park offers more than 15 miles of hiking trails to explore. Pack a picnic and eat lunch on the shores of Lake Tillery while watching boats float by. The park does have a few activities with modest fees, such as boat rental, swimming and camping. Visit www.ncparks.gov for more information about North Carolina State Parks.
- Concord Mills. On a rainy summer day, Concord Mills can be a fun place to visit. Although you may not think of a mall as a place for free fun, there are plenty of free activities at Concord Mills to entertain little ones. Build at the Lego store, play on the hospital themed playground or read a book at Books-A-Million. On Toddler Tuesdays, the Sea Life Aquarium located inside the mall offers one free child’s admission with the purchase of an adult ticket. If you’re willing to spend some money, there are plenty of other activities inside the mall as well including the AMC movie theater and the Speedpark.
- Reed Gold Mine. Reed Gold Mine in Midland, the site of the first documented gold discovery in the United States, offers free admission and plenty to explore. Visitors can tour the mine, hike a trail and visit the stamp mill. There is a $3 cost if you choose to pan for gold. The site is closed Sundays and Mondays. The visitor’s center is currently in the process of renovation and will be closed through July; however, the site, including the mine, panning and stamp mill, remains open. For more info, call 704-721-4653 or visit nchistoricsites.org/reed.