Day out with the kids: 20+ cheap or free things to do near me

At weekends or in the school holidays, most parents of young children will be wondering ‘Are there any cheap or free things to do with kids near me?’ Entertaining the little ones without spending lots of money is a real challenge for many families, so we’ve put together a quick guide for you. 

Free family days out
Are you wondering ‘Are there any free family places to go near me this weekend?’ Look no further for some great free fun days out

The seaside -the most classic of all free days out

A day at the beach is the BEST idea when it comes to finding things to do on a sunny day with no money. If you’re lucky enough to live in a seaside town then you won’t even need the petrol money to get there!

Dig out the plastic buckets, spades and fishing nets from the back of the shed (or borrow a neighbour’s!) and head to the sea and sand for a day building castles, paddling and exploring rock pools. 

A walk in the countryside – free days out with the kids who enjoy nature

Free things to do with children don’t come much better than a nature trail in the fields, hills or woods. My kids loved collecting leaves, twigs, fallen flowers and pretty stones. Once home they would make chunky collages with their treasure and lashings of PVA glue. 

A picnic – free days out with kids who love to cook

Most young children love to eat. Empty your cupboards and let them use their imagination to plan the picnic of their dreams. You might just end up with baked bean sandwiches and orange squash but when it’s spread out on a picnic blanket at a local beauty spot it will taste delicious! 

The garden centre -free days out for kids with green fingers

Local garden centres are HUGE! The range of plants and flowers will fascinate small people if you chat to them about the different colours and textures. 

If you’re lucky you might just find small animals, reptiles, birds and tropical fish for sale, a freebie mini zoo! 

The Park – great free days out with toddlers and older kids

Parks come in all styles and sizes. From large green spaces with Japanese water gardens to fantastic adventure playgrounds. Make the most of the parks near you to keep both toddlers and teenagers happy. Take a football, a picnic, sun cream and a bat and ball to make the fun last all day. 

Cheap family days out near me – ideas to do with kids on a budget

Looking for cheap things to do with kids under 6? A big day out full of laughter and memory making doesn’t have to cost the earth. You have two options, either Google ‘cheap family days out near me’ or have a read of our inspirational list. 

Boats on the river

Rowing down the river crashing into grassy banks and laughing till your sides hurt is the quintessential British day out. You don’t need to be a sailor to enjoy messing about on the water. Just make sure that you have life jackets, sun cream, snacks and a collective sense of adventure.

A local museum

When you’re wondering what to do with kids who are bored, look to your local museums for exhibitions aimed at children. Dinosaurs, space, a history of toys and nature are just some of the themes that will engage the young. 

An animal farm

Girl feeds the goat at the zoo

The fun things for kids to do near me include a fabulous animal farm that costs around £25 for a family of four. Watching a chick hatch, cuddling a lamb and learning about where their bedtime milk comes from would make a fun and educational day out. 

The National Trust and English Heritage Properties

Your list of things to do with kids near me should include some of these beautiful old properties and areas of historic interest. The grounds of many of them are free to enter and provide adventure playgrounds, wide open spaces to run around in and ‘fun days’ during the school holidays. 

The Art Gallery
A search for ‘Fun activities for kids near me’ might surprise you. Art galleries love welcoming children and encouraging the next generation of creatives. Craft activities, kid friendly talks by artists and painting lessons will delight children who love to draw and paint. 

Fun events for kids near me  

Free activities for children in your local area might include some of these great ideas. 

Events at your local library

Fun things for kids near me will absolutely include events organised by your local library. It’s so important to use the facilities on offer at libraries and story time, reading challenges and poetry workshops are perfect for kids who love to read. 

School fairs 

Free things to do with children are often organised by their playgroup or primary school. During the summer holidays and at Christmas the school fair is a wonderful place to be. 

It might cost you a fiver in tombola tickets, lucky dips and ice cream but it’s worth it to help your kids feel part of their community along with their school chums.

A Village Show – free kid’s activities near me that take place at the end of summer

Your village show is a classic on the list of free things to do with kids over the summer holiday. Contact the show committee for a list of the prize categories and enthuse your small people will a little competitive spirit. 

Dog, pet shows and open days at rescue centres

The parent of a child who adores animals should find lots of options for things to do with the kids near me. 

Cat’s Protection and the RSPCA both have annual summer open days with educational talks, competitions and exciting games.

Dog shows are plentiful in a nation of dog lovers. Encourage your children to bathe, groom and beautify your furry friend and see if you can win ‘Prettiest Pooch’.

How to find out about things to do with the kids
So, how do you find out about the things to do for free with kids in your area? 

  • Join local Facebook groups – receive relevant notifications and reminder of free activities for kids near me.
  • Search engines – a search for ‘Things to do with kids in Reading’ will help the local in that area to find free and cheap days out.
  • Read local news and media. Read your local newspaper, the newsletters which pop through your letterbox and the local link magazine. The answers to your questions of ‘the things to do near me with kids’ will definitely be in there. 
  • Adverts. Watch out for posters and leaflets in the window of your newsagents and post office. 

Sunny days at home – things to do with kids for free

Paddling pool

Fill it with bubble bath one day and ‘bath slime’ the next. Watch your kids as they are playing for peace of mind and hours of splashy fun. 

Messy play

Do you hate Play-Doh? Ohhh, me too! Finding the sticky stuff from hell in your carpet is a nightmare. Let your tiny sculptors loose on a plastic sheet covered patio, drive or lawn for lots of glorious mess for the tiny tots with less stress for you.

Sand play

Bring the seaside home with a sandpit full of buckets, spades, dumper trucks and collection of the seashells you collected on holiday. Make sure your sandpit has some form of lid to protect the sand from cats!

Gardening

Planting up tubs with pretty flowers is a lovely thing to do with kids on a sunny day. Let them dig in the fresh compost, smell the blooms and pick their favourite colour combinations. 

‘Painting’ the fence

Top of my list of things to do outside when bored toddlers are driving you crazy is THIS! Give them a big fluffy paint brush and a bucket of water and let them ‘paint’ your fence. It sounds crazy but watching the posts change colour as they ‘helped’ around the garden kept mine occupied and happy for hours.

Rainy days at home – ideas for fun with the kids when the weather is bad

Drama – things to do today with kids who are budding actors

Raid your wardrobe for glitz, bring out the dressing up box, drape your living room in tablecloths for stage curtains and provide an old white sheet to design the background scene. 

Spark their imaginations with character ideas and story possibilities and watch as your tiny theatre actors create a show fit for the Edinburgh fringe. 

Puzzles and games – free activities for kids can be found on educational websites. 

  • Classic board games such as Junior Scrabble and Snakes and Ladders. 
  • Simple maths puzzles and word games.
  • Boxed games like Connect 4 and Balloon Lagoon. 

Baking

Looking for things to do when you have nothing to do? Bake! Biscuits, buns and traybakes are all easy to make for toddlers and young children. 

Cooking is perfect. You’ll have fun with the kids and provide a delicious, healthy pudding for the rest of the family. 

Drawing and craft – things to do today with kids who enjoy creating art

What you will need:

  • Flattened out cardboard boxes, scrap paper or a giant roll of brown paper bought for £2 from the Post Office.
  • The biggest box of felt tips you can afford. 
  • Items from around the house to draw around such as cookie cutters and ornaments. 
  • Potatoes, your cutting skills and a tray of poster paint for printing. 
  • Imagination from the child. 
  • Patience and enthusiasm from you. 

Ways to make days out free or cheaper

Memberships/subscriptions to organisations such as ‘Historic Houses’ or The National Trust

Finding fun things to do with your kids can be expensive, especially for a large family. Invest in a membership or subscription and you can then visit your favourite places as often as you want for free. 

A ‘Local Resident’ discount card

Listings from local authorities entitled ‘Things for kids to do near me’ will often mention residents discounts. Have a look at your local council’s website and see if and how you can register. 

Often having ‘proof’ that you live in the area will entitle you to family days out for free or at a lower price than tourists. 

Pay once and then get entry free 

Paying once at a museum, gallery or attraction may mean your next visit or visits there will be a free day out. Look carefully at the ticket to see if this is the case for your favourite place. 

Repeat visits to much loved places are great for very small children who enjoy the familiarity. Free things to do with toddlers are like treasure when their most used word is ‘again!’.

Groupon or TravelZoo

Useful websites to look at when searching for new things to do for kids near me are Groupon and Travelzoo. They often have fantastic deals on family days out. You won’t find free things to do with the kids, but you WILL find discounts on special days such as trips to a theme park or safari park. 

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