Frugal Family Fun

101 Cheap & Free Summer Activities

by Katie on June 26, 2015

To help families find activities that are both family friendly as well as budget friendly this summer, I’m compiling a list of 101 Cheap & Free Summer Activities.  Some of the items on this list will be universal in regards to location, while others are more specific to the Cincinnati region.

You can find previous posts from this series here.

31.  Reggae Wednesdays on Fountain Square

Fountain Square is hosting free Reggae Wednesdays this summer.  The event begins at 6 p.m. each Wednesday with a fun line up of Reggae music.  You can find the full listing of bands that will be performing this summer here.

32.  Norwood Hometown Fireworks Event

The 12th annual Norwood Hometown Fireworks Event will take place on Saturday, July 4th.  This event will feature a fun kid zone, Powerhouse concert, and Rozzi’s fireworks.  Gates open at 6 p.m., and the fireworks are scheduled to start promptly at 10 p.m.

33.  Evendale’s 4th of July Celebration

The Village of Evendale is hosting their 4th of July Celebration on Saturday, July 4th.  The event will begin at 6 p.m. with inflatables, a kids’ carnival, live band, food, and refreshments.  Rozzi’s fireworks are scheduled for 10 p.m. with a rain-out date of July 5th.

34.  Free Apple Camp for Kids

Apple Retail Stores across the country are offering free Apple Camps this summer.  Kids ages 8-12 will learn how to make movies or create interactive books complete with their own illustrations and sound effects.  Each workshop ends with an Apple Camp Showcase where campers can share their finished projects.

Space is limited, and these workshops fill up very quickly, so if you have a child who is interested, I would suggest registering them as soon as possible.

35.  Pop Bottle Rockets

What do you get when you mix diet soda and mentos?  A lot of fun, and really sticky kids!  The set up for this project is a snap.  Simply remove the outer wrapper from the Mentos candy, but leave the foil wrapper intact.

Remove the cap from the diet soda bottle.  Drop the Mentos into the soda bottle, and get ready to jump out of the way!  At this point, a reaction between the soda and the Mentos causes the soda to shoot sky high, which was a blast (literally!) for our kiddos.

Now I have to warn you that while this experiment is really fun, it’s also really messy!  Of course, it didn’t help when our kids decided to pour the remaining pop over their heads just for fun.  I guess it’s a good thing that messes don’t really bother me!

You can find more free summer activities here.

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101 Cheap & Free Summer Activities

by Katie on June 24, 2015

To help families find activities that are both family friendly as well as budget friendly this summer, I’m compiling a list of 101 Cheap & Free Summer Activities.  Some of the items on this list will be universal in regards to location, while others are more specific to the Cincinnati region.

You can find previous posts from this series here.

26.  Books-A-Million Summer Reading Program

BAM is inviting kids to read 4 books from their summer reading list to receive a free Camp Half-Blood Tote Bag.  Once kids have read the books, they’ll need to record the information in their BAM journal and bring it to their local BAM store location.

27.  Red, White, & Blue Ash

Celebrate Red, White, & Blue Ash at Blue Ash Summit Park on Saturday, July 4th.  This event begins at 4 p.m. and includes music by the Doobie Brothers as well as Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks display at 10 p.m.

28.  LaRosa’s Balloon Glow

The 16th annual LaRosa’s Balloon Glow will take place at Coney Island on Friday, July 3rd.  This event will feature live music, family entertainment, and Coney’s classic rides.  The hot air balloons will “glow” from 8-10 p.m., followed by Rozzi’s famous fireworks display over the banks of Lake Como at 10 p.m.

Aside from parking, there is no fee to view the balloons and the fireworks.  Normal rates apply for the Sunlite Pool and Coney’s classic rides.

29.  Fairfield’s Red, White, & Kaboom

Fairfield’s Harbin Park will be featuring their Red, White, & Kaboom on Friday, July 3rd.  This event begins at 7:30 with music and entertainment, followed by Rozzi’s famous fireworks display at 10 p.m.

30.  Independence Day Celebration on Fountain Square

In celebration of Independence Day, Fountain Square will be featuring a spectacular fireworks display on Friday, July 3rd.  Fireworks will light up the Cincinnati skyline at 9:45 p.m. and will be shown from the rooftop of Macy’s downtown store.

You can find more free summer activities here.

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101 Cheap & Free Summer Activities

by Katie on June 18, 2015

To help families find activities that are both family friendly as well as budget friendly this summer, I’m compiling a list of 101 Cheap & Free Summer Activities.  Some of the items on this list will be universal in regards to location, while others are more specific to the Cincinnati region.

You can find previous posts from this series here.

21.  Salsa on the Square

Fountain Square is featuring free salsa dancing every Thursday from 7-10 p.m. through September 17th.  Participants will enjoy a variety of salsa bands as well as tips from instructors who will help teach basic salsa steps.

The top couple of the evening will win a $100 Macy’s Gift Card and the chance to advance to the next round of competition.  The final championship round will be held on Thursday, August 13th, when 18 couples will compete to win a cash prize of $1,000 and bragging rights!

You can find the listing of bands performing this summer here.

22.  Free LEGO Jurassic World Mini Build at Toys “R” Us

Toys “R” Us is hosting a free LEGO Jurassic World Mini Build on Saturday, June 20th.  Participants will have the opportunity to build a Jurassic World Gate.

This event will take place at participating Toys “R” Us store locations from 12-2 p.m.

23.  Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program

Children can join the Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program to earn a free book this summer.  In order to earn their free book, children need to read any 8 books this summer.

They can then bring their completed Imagination’s Destination Journal to a Barnes & Noble store location by September 7th to receive their free book.

24.  Public Library Summer Reading Program

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is once again featuring their summer reading program. This program began June 1st and runs through July 31st.

Each age level (Preschool, Kids, Teens, and Adults) has their own set of prizes they can receive. You can sign up for this program on the library’s website.

25.  TD Bank Summer Reading Program

TD Bank wants to encourage children to read this summer while also stressing the importance of saving money.  Children who read 10 books, fill out the summer reading form, and return it to their nearest TD Bank location will receive $10 in a new or existing young saver account.

This offer must be redeemed by August 31, 2015.

You can find more free summer activities here.

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Bass Pro Shops: Free Family Summer Camp

by Katie on June 11, 2015

Family Summer Camp is back at Bass Pro Shops!  Throughout June and July, Bass Pro Shops will be featuring free family activities every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Activities will include a BB range, archery range, soft foam shooting gallery, casting buckets, crafts, workshops, and more.  There will also be food demos and sampling on the weekend as well as extra activities to celebrate the 4th of July.

You can find the dates and times for these events at a Bass Pro Shop store location near you here.

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101 Cheap & Free Summer Activities

by Katie on June 10, 2015

To help families find activities that are both family friendly as well as budget friendly this summer, I’m compiling a list of 101 Cheap & Free Summer Activities.  Some of the items on this list will be universal in regards to location, while others are more specific to the Cincinnati region.

You can find previous posts from this series here.

16.  Free Bowling – Every Day!

It’s always great to find something free to do during the summer, but you can find something free every day, it’s even better!  The Kids Bowl Free Program allows kids to bowl 2 free games per day throughout the entire summer.

Each bowling center has their own specific age requirements/restrictions as well as times when the coupon is valid.  These specifications are listed on each individual bowling alley’s web page.

Adults can purchase a Family Pass which is priced at $24.95.  This pass covers up to 4 adult family members and allows each family member to bowl 2 free games per day.

Shoe rental is not covered under this program, so you’ll need to rent shoes each time you visit your participating bowling center.  As an alternative, you can also buy a pair of shoes at a second-hand athletic store such as Play It Again Sports or online for as low as $19.95 per pair.

17.  A Circus Event

The Cincinnati Circus Company is presenting their free annual Circus Day at Burnet Woodson Sunday, June 28th from 2-6 p.m.  This event transforms Burnet Woods into an outdoor circus arena with a flying trapeze, inflatable bounce houses, fire performers, stilt walkers, balloon artists, and more.

There are no tickets needed for this show – just show up and enjoy!

18.  Free Blue Ash Field Day

Blue Ash is celebrating their 4th Annual Field Day on Saturday, June 13th.  Festivities will begin at 5 p.m., and the evening will be filled with fun, festivities, and fitness.

At 7:30 p.m., the Cincinnati Circus will be presenting a professional juggling show followed by a showing of “How to Train Your Dragon” at dusk.  This event is free and open to the public.

19.  Half Price Books Summer Reading Program

Half Price Books is once again offering kids their Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program.  Children are invited to read for at least 15 minutes a day throughout June and July. Once a child has read for 300 minutes, they can turn in their completed reading log to earn a free $5 Half Price Books Bookworm Bucks reading reward for the month.

High school students are also invited to participate.  Simply read two books and write a short review on each.  Then just bring your review to your local Half Price Books location to claim your free Bookworm Bucks!

20.  Make Puffy Paint

I have to admit, I think I enjoy doing arts and crafts as much as (if not more than!) my kiddos. I like trying out new craft ideas, and I’m not daunted by projects that have the potential to make a mess (I mean, let’s be real…three of my four children are boys!).

Puffy paint is quick and easy to make, and my kids have really enjoyed working with it in the past.  For this project, you’ll need to mix together equal parts of plain white shaving cream and Elmer’s glue.  Sit the mixture until it’s well combined.

Add a packet of Kool-Aid (or the equivalent of a packet if you have a container of Kool-Aid), and continue to stir until the color is consistent throughout the paint mixture.  Now your paint is ready to create a masterpiece!

When working with puffy paint, it’s important to make sure to use the paint on some type of heavy paper (either card stock or poster board), or the paper will not be able to hold the weight of the paint. Also, the project will need to lay flat for 24 hours to completely dry before hanging it up.

You can find more free summer activities here.

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The Cincinnati Zoo is offering $1 admission on July 22nd for the Macy’s Kids, Cultures, Critters, & Crafts Festival.  This event runs from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and admission is just $1 per person.

If you park in the zoo’s parking lot, you will need to pay the parking fee of $9.  However, as an alternative, you can park a street near the zoo for free.

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The Cincinnati Circus Company is presenting their free annual Circus Day at Burnet Woods on Sunday, June 28th from 2-6 p.m.  This event transforms Burnet Woods into an outdoor circus arena with a flying trapeze, inflatable bounce houses, fire performers, stilt walkers, balloon artists, and more.

There are no tickets needed for this show – just show up and enjoy!

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101 Cheap & Free Summer Activities

by Katie on June 2, 2015

To help families find activities that are both family friendly as well as budget friendly this summer, I’m compiling a list of 101 Cheap & Free Summer Activities.  Some of the items on this list will be universal in regards to location, while others are more specific to the Cincinnati region.

You can find previous posts from this series here.

11.  Free LEGO Monthly Build Events

Our kids LOVE everything related to LEGOs.  While it doesn’t always match up with our schedules, the kids always enjoy going to the LEGO Store for their monthly build event.  From keepsake boxes to flamingos, they’ve definitely enjoyed building a variety of different models.

Each month, LEGO Stores feature a free mini build event.  The times and dates for these events vary according to store location (you can find a store near you here).  The event lasts at each store while supplies last.

12.  Free Summer Movies

Catching a movie during the summer is a fun way to beat the heat.  And if you can do it for free, it’s all the better!  Kenwood, Mariemont, & Esquire Theaters are offering free kids’ movies every Monday and Wednesday from June 8th through August 5th.

The movies that will be featured this summer include:

  • June 8th & 10th – Pirates! Band of Misfits
  • June 15th & 17th – Stuart Little
  • June 22nd & 24th – How To Train Your Dragon
  • June 29th & July 1st – Annie
  • July 6th & 8th – Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
  • July 13th & 15th – Arthur Christmas
  • July 20th & 22nd – Smurfs 2
  • July 27th & 29th – Shrek
  • August 3rd & 5th – Hotel Transylvania

The doors open at 9:45 a.m., and the movies will start promptly at 10:30 a.m.  Seating is based on a first-come, first-served basis.

13.  Springdale Cinemas Bookworm Wednesdays

While we’re on the topic of free movies….why not enjoy a few more?!  Springdale Cinemas is once again offering their Bookworm Wednesdays Program.  Children who bring a book report with them to the theater each Wednesday will receive free admittance into the movie.  The movies are scheduled every Wednesday at 10 a.m. from July 8th through July 29th.

Here are the movies that will be featured this summer:

  • July 8th – Rio 2
  • July 15th – Penguins of Madagascar
  • July 22nd – How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • July 29th – Annie

You can download a book report form from the theater website here.  Children under the age of six who accompany a participant as well as adults who accompany a participant will receive free admittance to the movie.  There is no purchase necessary in order to receive this offer.

If you’re not in the Cincinnati area, you can find the full listing of theaters that are participating in this promotion here.

14.  Movies in the Park

Would you rather enjoy a movie outdoors under the twinkling stars?  The city of Fairfield is featuring a different free movie each month through October.  The movie schedule is as follows:

  • June 5th – The LEGO Movie
  • July 10th – The Boxtrolls
  • August 7th – Penguins of Madagascar
  • September 4th – Mr. Peabody & Sherman
  • October 2nd – Free Birds

In addition to the movies, the Fairfield Fire Department will also provide pre-show fun and giveaways including chairs, blankets, and water bottles.  All movies will begin at dusk at the Village Green Park.

15.  Free YouthSpark Summer Camps at Microsoft

Microsoft is offering free YouthSpark Summer Camps this summer.  Kids ages 8 and older will have the opportunity to get hands-on experience with the latest technology as they learn how to code, create games, and use their imagination.

There will be four camps available, with two designed for beginners and two for intermediates who are ready to take their skills to the next level:

  • Smart Game Coding (Beginner, ages 8 to 11)
  • Smart Game Design (Beginner, ages 8 to 11)
  • Smart Game Coding (Intermediate, ages 11 and older)
  • Smart Game Design (Intermediate, ages 11 and older)

Each camp runs for four consecutive days and lasts for two hours per day.  While your child is in camp, parents will have a chance to learn about online safety for kids, try out a Surface 3, get a PC tune-up, and more.  It’s important to note that the parent, legal guardian, or authorized adult caregiver of every camp participant ages 18 and under must remain in the Microsoft store for the duration of the event.

You can find a participating Microsoft store near you here.

You can find more free summer activities here.

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Microsoft is offering free YouthSpark Summer Camps this summer.  Kids ages 8 and older will have the opportunity to get hands-on experience with the latest technology as they learn how to code, create games, and use their imagination.

There will be four camps available, with two designed for beginners and two for intermediates who are ready to take their skills to the next level:

  • Smart Game Coding (Beginner, ages 8 to 11)
  • Smart Game Design (Beginner, ages 8 to 11)
  • Smart Game Coding (Intermediate, ages 11 and older)
  • Smart Game Design (Intermediate, ages 11 and older)

Each camp runs for four consecutive days and lasts for two hours per day.  While your child is in camp, parents will have a chance to learn about online safety for kids, try out a Surface 3, get a PC tune-up, and more.  It’s important to note that the parent, legal guardian, or authorized adult caregiver of every camp participant ages 18 and under must remain in the Microsoft store for the duration of the event.

You can find a participating Microsoft store near you here.

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Taking Time Thursday

by Katie on May 28, 2015

Looking for something to do this weekend that won’t break the bank?  Check out these free events going on in the Tri-State this weekend:


Great American Pastime Exhibit: The Main Library is featuring a Great American Pastime Exhibit featuring baseball and the Cincinnati Reds.  Items on display include Reds’ jerseys, programs and photographs, 1894 score book, scrapbook from player on the 1919 World Series team and original newspapers. This display will be open through July 31.

Story Time at the Blue Manatee: The Blue Manatee Children’s Bookstore is featuring Story Time with Miss Sarah on Friday, May 29th at 10 a.m.  Free parking is available in the parking lot next to the store.

Queen City Baseball Exhibit: The Cincinnati Museum Center is proud to present a new exhibit called Queen City Baseball: Diamonds and Stars.  This exhibit runs through July 26th and is FREE for the general public.  Items on exhibit will include 19th century players’ contracts and payment records, autographed baseballs, bricks from Crosley Field, and baseball cards from the early 20th century.  The exhibit will be open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Masterpieces of Japanese Art: The Cincinnati Art Museum is featuring a Masterpieces of Japanese Art Display.  This exhibit includes approximately 100 Japanese masterpieces, giving viewers an understanding of Japanese art as well as a historical perspective as well.

Friday Fusion: Washington Park’s free R&B Series entitled Friday Fusion has returned this summer.  The lineup features all-new music and performers.  This event will take place on Friday, May 29th at Washington Park from 7-10 p.m.

PNC Summer Music Series: The PNC Summer Music Series is featuring the preview of the MidPoint Music Festival on Friday, May 29th from 7-11 p.m.  This event will take place on Fountain Square.

Kids Day: Grant’s Lick Baptist Church is presenting Kids Day on Saturday, May 30th from 2-6 p.m.  This event will feature games, prizes, balloon animals, hayrides, bible stories, face painting, hot dogs, chips, drinks, cotton candy, snow cones, and popcorn.

Saturday Morning Workouts: The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati is featuring Saturday Morning Workouts at Washington Park at 9 a.m.  Each week, participants will be able to sample a new workout such as Zumba, body sculpting, Yoga, kickboxing, and more.

Movie and Crafts Night in the Park: The Campbell County Public Library is featuring Movie & Crafts Night in the Park at the East Row Historic District on Saturday, May 30th from 7:30-10 p.m.  The Gold Rush, starring Charlie Chaplin will start at 8:45 p.m.  Families are encouraged to bring a blanket or lawn chair and drinks. Popcorn and crafts for the whole family will be provided.

OTR Performs: Washington Park will be featuring OTR Performs on Sunday, May 31st from 6-8 p.m.  The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park will salute the legacy of King Records with the staged concert reading of KJ Sanchez’s play, Cincinnati King.  Food trucks, beverages, music, and children’s activities will be available as well.

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