Parenting Toddlers

16 Free Places to Take Your Kids Under 5

That’s right! Fun, free entertainment for your little ones! Just in time for summer break!

We all get a little stir-crazy constantly being home with our kids. Young children thrive on routine but they also need stimulus and activity to help grow those little minds of theirs. I know that when we’ve been stuck inside for more than a day, everyone is practically begging for a reason to get out of the house.

Finding the energy and motivation can be a challenge when it comes to entertaining your kids. Purchasing a pass to your local zoo or museum can be a great way to get in a whole day of fun and education, and they usually pay for themselves after you’ve gone a few times. Now, if you’re a mom who stays home, you are probably watching your budget as well. Fortunately there are many really great places around your city that you can take your children for free!

Here are 16 free places to take your kids:

The park

You may have one in your own neighborhood, but its always a new adventure finding a different park to explore. Take a drive through the other neighborhoods surrounding your own and see what you can discover. We live in a relatively new development and there are places popping up everywhere that also have a great play area. Most of them are really close by too!

The library

The best thing about a library is it’s always free. Even if you aren’t a member, your children can enjoy the kids’ area and look through some exciting new books. Most places also have story time or other free events that target the under 5 age group.

A bookstore

Speaking of books, your local book store can be awesome as well. Every Barnes and Noble I’ve been in has an area just for kids that includes some sort of train table or story time stage. The variety of children’s book is excellent also.

The mall

Lots of shopping malls now have a play area designed for young children. It’s free and as an added bonus if you go with your spouse or a friend you can take turns watching the kids and get in a little shopping for yourself as well!

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Home Depot kids workshops

If you have a Home Depot near you, be sure to take advantage of their free kids workshops. You have to register online at the Home Depot website and space can be limited. You child will get to keep their craft and an apron plus their certificate of achievement! Right now they are having a birdhouse building event. Fun!

The firestation

Many local fire stations will host a day just for kids where they discuss fire safety and bring out all their super cool equipment and fire trucks. Check online to find an event near you!

Outdoor shopping areas

Whether its on outdoor mall or something more like a quaint small town stretch, these places can be super fun for kids to just run around and explore. We love going to Downtown Littleton, which is a historic olde town area with lots of local shops and restaurants. There is also a brand new outlet mall near us with plenty of outdoor walking paths and open areas.

A splash pad

These free areas are a great way to cool off on a hot summer day. Plus, you don’t have to worry about deep water for babies and kids who can’t swim. A quick internet search should bring up whatever is closest to you.

A pet store

We have 2 dogs and a cat so we frequent the pet supply store pretty regularly. Whether or not you have an animal friend as home though, it can be a fun way to burn off some energy wandering around and checking out all the lizards, fish or birds.

Factory tours

I live in Colorado and have yet to do the free factory tour offered at Hammond’s Candies, but it’s definitely on the list for this summer. There are also free tours offered at Celestial Seasonings and the US Mint in Denver. Many major cities have something similar that you can find as well!

Free museum or zoo days

A couple times a year there is a free day offered at many exciting places in Denver. Art, children’s and natural history museums, zoos, botanical gardens and even aquariums may offer this. You just need to look online and find what day works for you! Fair warning though, they are typically quite crowded on days with free admission.

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Open space and nature reserves

Depending on where you live, it’s likely you’ll be able to find some sort of open, natural area that your kids can explore. Go on a scavenger hunt or a short hike and see what you can find. Bonus if there is a small stream or a creek that runs though. These places are also great for a picnic!

Restaurant play areas

We’ve all done it! I don’t know why these places are such kids magnets but my little ones are always stoked about getting to play at the McDonalds’s Play Place. It never fails to gross me out a bit though, so I always have loads of hand sanitizer available.

A skate park

This would be geared towards older kids perhaps but you may have one near you that has an area meant just for younger children. Bust out those tricycles, scooters and bikes and get busy!

Craft or street fairs

Most of the time entry into these is free and they are held in a park or enclosed area of some kind. You’re not obligated to purchase anything and there are often booths with free crafts or activities for kids.

Concerts or movies in the park

Check your local resources for these fun, free events that are always super kid friendly. All young children appreciate a good jam session!

There are so many different and exciting areas in your own backyard. Just a few quick internet searches are sure to turn up a wealth of information for the area you live in. For the summer I am definitely going to get better about planning our outings. Especially now that my youngest will be nearing the two year mark and my son is now four. They are always down for a new adventure. Each week we will be discovering something different and interesting to explore and much of it will be for free! I can’t wait!

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