Okay, calm down. I’m obviously not advocating you should literally get rid of your kid (although I am an extremely literal person and my husband makes fun of me for it).

I am, however, advocating that you get your kids out doing stuff this summer while they’re taking a break from the classroom. I remember being a kid and summer was about exploration, playing, discovery, and FUN! I would go to a program at my school several days a week where we had hula hoop contests, jumped rope, and got to just be a kid. I also spent time notching off as many books as I could on the local library’s summer reading list.


So, strip away that digital device for a bit and get your kids back to basics with the good ole’ long, summer days. #DigitalFreeSummer, am I right?

With that said, I’ve compiled a list of FREE things to do as well as those that cost money.


  1. Go to your local library! (Most still do the summer reading challenges–hopefully with real books!) They also offer free classes/events such as juggling, coding, etc…
  2. Find a splash pad near you.  In the Valley:
    • 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Tuesdays, June 7-July 26. Desert Ridge Marketplace, Loop 101 and Tatum Boulevard in Phoenix.  shopdesertridge.com/summer.
    • 6-7:30 p.m. Thursdays, June 2-30. Tempe Marketplace, Loop 202 and McClintock Drive. tempemarketplace.com/summer.  (They also get to meet and take a photo with cool superheroes and others like Elsa and a Storm Trooper).
  3. Most first Friday’s at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix are free and June 3rd is one of them: 5 p.m.-9 p.m. (215 N. Seventh St., Phoenix)  602-253-0501, childrensmuseumofphoenix.org.
  4. Have your children volunteer somewhere.  It will keep them busy (provide you free time!), help build social skills, and create lasting impressions upon them.  There are plenty of animal shelters, nursing homes, food banks, or other organizations that would love the help.  You can usually just call your desired organization and ask what the volunteer requirements are.
  5. Take a scenic drive, go on a hike, and bring a picnic.  There are tons of spots where you can pull over to the side of the road and enjoy a picnic.  Oak Creek Canyon is a great spot (and if you feel like paying, stay and go to Slide Rock State Park to cool off!)
  6. See if your city offers free movies in the park, such as Tempe’s program.
  7. Encourage them to ride bikes and get dirty (you know, to be a kid.)
  8. Drop them off at a skate/bike park…and provide them with helmets.
  9. Have them get started with geocaching.  It’s apparently a huge thing in the desert.
  10. Drop them off at a city park that has the setup for frisbee golf.  This is usually free (all they need is a frisbee) and I know there are locations in Show Low, Flagstaff, Phoenix, Fountain Hills, and more.



  1. Summer camp or Day camp. If you’re in Phoenix, here’s a handy website to see a list of tons of camps available. You can also search by city on this website for camps throughout AZ.  Alternatively, you can also send them to a Martial Arts Summer Camp.  I highly recommend this one if you’re in Phoenix.  USA Martial Arts is top notch.
  2. Take your kids camping.  This one doesn’t provide you extra free time but it does provide you memories with your favorite little folks.  It’s not free but if you do it right, it doesn’t have to cost a ton, either.  In AZ, we are fortunate to be able to either find a campground or find a dispersed camp site.  Just be careful with your fires and make sure you put them out (and have them) responsibly so no wildfires pop up. Great teaching moment for your kids, as well.
  3. Take them to Harkins Theatres.  Weekdays from May 30-August 5th at 9:45am they’ll play 10 family friendly movies.  Adults must accompany children. Tickets are available at theaters only. For $7, purchase the series; at the door each movie is $2.  harkinstheatres.com/smf.
  4. Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale, AZ.  Tickets are less than $20 and it’s quite the experience.
  5. Obviously, if old enough, send them to a water park.  There are several to choose from!
  6. Send them to your local skating rink.  They still exist, right? Those were the days…maybe I’ll chaperone.  Or maybe I’ll just meet you there…
  7. Find a public swim team and join it.
  8. Send your kid off on the already planned Boy Scout or Girl Scout trips if they’re in a troop.
  9. Sign them up for cooking/swim/golf/tennis/soccer/etc… lessons.
  10. Take a trip to an AZ State Park you’ve been meaning to visit.
  11. Take a trip to a National Park or Monument you’ve been planning to go to for forever now.  (Lucky for you, I’ve got a list of 57 state and National spots in AZ already written about for you!  Click here for that.)
  12. Find a museum and go learn some history.  For fun, create a quiz later and make your kids think they’ll be grounded if they fail it.  Drink wine & laugh at their reactions.  (Please note: I have no children. But I do have wine.)
  13. It’s not just a cheesy Pauly Shore movie– go visit the Biosphere (2).
  14. On May 28th, attend the Cave Creek Hot Air Balloon Festival. Details here.
  15. Go see an exhibit at the Arizona Science Center.
  16. June 4th – July 30th (10am-Noon): For $5, kids from pre-kindergarten to Grade 4 can listen as an AZ author reads their book, make a craft, and enjoy a light snack. 4619 E. Washington St. pueblogrande.com.
  17. Visit the Old Tucson Studios.
  18. Go to the Phoenix Zoo, Reid Park Zoo, Wildlife World Zoo, or Bearizona.
  19. Visit an amusement park or mini golf: Castles & Coasters, The Fun Factory, Funtasticks, or Golfland.
  20. If your kids are a little older, have them go to the Phoenix Puzzle Room, a live escape experience.
  21. Go to Half Price Books and Purchase The Dangerous Book for Boys (roughly $8).  There are nearly 300 pages of projects/wisdom for boys.

As an added bonus, I previously wrote about 15 things to do in Phoenix for free (this list included stuff for adults).  If you missed it, click here to read that next.

If you have ideas I’ve missed, please throw ’em down in the comments section so others can benefit from your awesome ideas as well.  I hope this list is a helpful idea starter and you don’t have to hear your kids say “I’m bored” all that often this summer.  Make it a #DigitalFreeSummer that your kids will remember fondly when they’re grown and can sit around reminiscing someday.

In the somewhat altered words of Marky Mark in The Other Guys; your kids are a peacock, you gotta let ’em fly.

Take care and make it an awesome week!




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