30+ Free {or nearly free} Things To Do With Your Kids This Summer!


It’s Summer!!  Oh wait, it’s Summer!  Which means the kids are at home.  All. Day. Long.  And while I love the occasional trip to Disneyland, we don’t have passes and it can get pricey.  I’m always on the lookout for a less expensive day out.  So, here is the Orange County Moms Contributor Collaborative list of 30 free {or nearly free} Things to do this Summer!free things to do with kids in orange county

  1. Dollar MoviesThe Regal Summer Movie Express is an easy way to stay cool and enjoy a late run movie with the kids.  Aside from being $1.00, the great part about bringing your kiddos is that the entire theater is packed with them.  No worrying about too much noise or bothering other attendees for bathroom breaks.
  2. Local Zoos – If you want to get your steps in, check out these local zoos.  The Santa Ana Zoo has free parking and is half price after 2pm.  It’s open from 10am to 4pm.  The Orange County Zoo is located in Irvine Park.  The parking isn’t free, but entrance into the park is only $2.00, which children under two being free!  Check out the railroad for an extra fun day!
  3. Parks & Splash Pads – Check out our guide to our favorite OC parks!  Yorba Linda Regional Park has multiple playgrounds and fantastic walking path. Parking can be free, but it is limited on weekends.  Put on a swimsuit and check out a splash pad near you!
  4. Kids Bowl Free – Take your kids bowling!
  5. South Coast Plaza Day – Make a day at the mall and keep cool by riding the carousel.  Tickets are $1 and the stub usually includes a restaurant coupon.  The Disney store has free daily activities and the Lego store has different lego sets that can be played with for free. Read more here about how you can make it a Disney day without actually going to Disney!
  6. Home Depot – There are free kid’s workshops in Home Depots all over Orange County.
  7. Library Time Stories, Book programs and more!
  8. Kids Eat Free– Local restaurants that offer Kids Eat Free menus are the best!  Check out Norms, Ihop and El Torito – let us know some that you love!
  9. Lowe’s Build & Grow – Similar to the kid’s workshops at Home Depot.
  10. The Beach – This is pretty obvious, but there are always hacks to make the Beach even more fun! Get an Annual Huntington Beach parking pass.
  11. Shipley Nature Center – Open from 9am to 1pm every day except for Sunday.  Take your kids along the many trails and enjoy nature together!  There’s also a parent and me time which costs $3.00.  So many fun things to do!
  12. Oak Canyon Nature Center – There are Day Camps, trails, places for picnics and even group tours.  Please be sure to read all of their guidelines as pets are not allowed.
  13. The Orange Circle – The Orange Circle offers so many fun restaurants, ice cream shops, antique shopping and of course the fountain!  Take the kids to the fountain and do a little shopping as you stroll along the Orange Circle.
  14. Carbon Canyon – If you need a little small town in your city life head over to Carbon Canyon Park.  Take the kids for a picnic and don’t forget to bring your fishing poles!
  15. VBS – Sometimes dropping the kids off can be the best of both worlds for summer vacation.
  16. Chick-Fil-A – The play place is fantastic and there’s free wifi.  Sometimes a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.
  17. Flying Kites – Everyone loves to fly a kite!  You’ll feel like a kid again too!
  18. Indoor PlaygroundsSeascape, Skyzone, and BounceU to name a few.  Get out of the hot summer sun and into an air-conditioned fun zone!
  19. Concerts in the Park  – Food Trucks, music, and family fun! Check out our June events guide for specific info on free concerts in Orange County this summer!
  20. Art in the Park – It’s free and is a fun way to get your kids’ creative juices flowing!
  21. Set up a Lemonade Stand – Let the kids make signs and set up a little stand outside your door.  Not only can you teach them a little bit about business, but you can also enjoy the lemonade and sunshine.
  22. Visit a “Farm” – We may live in SoCal but that doesn’t mean it’s all city.  Take your kids on a tour at Manaserro Farms or strawberry picking at Tanaka Farms.
  23. Enjoy a Farmer’s Market – Try the locally grown and sourced produce as well as other great treats!
  24. Crank up the AC and have a “Frozen” Party– Pretend it’s winter – or as winter as it gets here in sunny California.  Bundle up and make some hot cocoa with marshmallows.  Put in a winter-themed movie and make memories.
  25. Have a campout in the backyard – Put up the tents and lay under the stars.  Use outdoor camping gear for your meal.  {The best part is you can still go to the bathroom inside!}
  26. Have a water balloon fight – Everyone loves a good water balloon fight!
  27. Put on a play – Give your kids a chance to wow you and use their imaginations to put on a neighborhood play!  Use their dress-up clothes, give them a theme and watch as their tale takes off!
  28. Sidewalk Art Show – Be the judge of your sidewalk art show!  Have the kids create their very best designs and give prizes to all of the winners!
  29. Visit a museum– There are so many fantastic museums in and around Orange County!  Take a trip up north to Noah’s Ark at the Skirball Center.  And while you’re there head East and go to LACMA.
  30. IKEA – With a very inexpensive breakfast and lunch menu, kids club, as well as decorating ideas for days – Ikea can be a fun indoor activity!
  31. Create the summer Olympics in your own backyard!
  32. Go on a hike! – Orange County has many family-friendly hike destinations.
  33. Volunteer for a cause – There are so many children who are in need, use the free time during the summer to show your children how important it is to give back!  Whether it’s selling lemonade or donating toys – having a purpose behind their efforts benefits everyone involved!

And for a few other BIG day ideas

  1. Disneyland
  2. Knotts Berry Farm
  3. Angels Game
  4. Go Ice Skating
  5. Discovery Science Center
  6. The Aquarium of the Pacific
  7. Candytopia


Check out our guide on fun things to in Orange County for even more BIG ideas!


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