50+ Free Things to Do With Kids in Chicago This Summer

Given the high cost of raising kids these days, you might be surprised at just how much family-friendly summer fun in Chicago is totally FREE. Of course, the city's playgrounds and splash pads are always free, and there are free days at most museums and even a few restaurants. But in summertime, the no-cost fun ramps up all over Chicagoland. 

As you can see from the bursting-at-the-seams list below, there's literally something free and fun to do every single day of the summer—so there's no excuse for anybody to be bored. Outdoor movies, summer festivals and street fairs, concerts and performances, public art, cultural celebrations, picnics, and of course, fireworks await, and you can leave your wallet at home. (In theory, at least. There's always ice cream to buy.)

Looking for more? Our list of 100 Things to Do With Chicago Kids Before They Grow Up might do the trick, and of course you can always find more daily activities in our Chicago Event Calendar.

Nature Programs for NYC Toddlers and Preschoolers

When your city kid has exhausted every museumshow, and playground option in town, it’s nice to be able to get a dose of nature thanks to NYC’s array of zoos, gardens, and parks. And for nature-loving, dirt-loving, mud-loving, bug-loving city kids, the good news is there's no shortage of programming for toddlers and preschoolers in each borough. 

We've rounded up our top places in New York City where your toddler or preschooler can marvel at, learn about, and connect with nature. See our guides for even more camps and classes aimed at toddlers and preschoolers.

July 4th 2019 Fireworks on the National Mall: The Best Spots to Watch Them in DC

Nothing says "Independence Day" like watching the fireworks light up the sky above the iconic memorials and monuments of the nation's capitol. It's a sight many families are excited to check off of their summer bucket lists, and it's easy to see why. But that also means the viewing spots can get pretty crowded, and no one wants to get stuck in traffic, watching the show from their car windows either. So if you want to check out DC's Fourth of July fireworks but don't want the crowds to put a damper on your family's evening of fun, read on for the lowdown on the best places to view this spectacular summer fireworks show.

Free Summer Outdoor Movies for New Jersey Families

See your favorite movies under the stars this summer, when Jersey Shore beaches and parks throughout the state host free outdoor movies on supersized screens. Bring along a blanket or beach chair (and maybe a little bug spray), and enjoy all those big-screen family hits you may have missed during the school year—or check our some of your family's favorite flicks for a second or third time, minus the ticket fee. Some venues offer food vendors, and some provide pre-show fun.

We've also included some free, and nearly-free, indoor options for those days you feel like chilling in the AC.

Find more free fun year-round in our guide to Free Fun Things To Do with NJ Kids, and round out your summer plans with our Summer Fun Guide.

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24 Summer Camp Snacks for Kids That Aren't Boring

Packing for summer camp means gathering up the towels, swimsuits, water bottles—labeling everything!—and finally, ensuring your kid has a healthy snack to power them through an action-packed day.

After a year of making school lunches for kids, it might feel overwhelming to come up with creative summer camp snacks, especially if you have a picky eater who turns up their nose at the likes of a cheese stick or tube of yogurt. So we came up with two dozen camp snack foods to woo both kids and parents with cooling, energizing, and (mostly) healthy snacks.

We separated the list into four handy sections: high-protein snacks, fruit snacks, no-refrigeration required, and allergy-aware and nut-free snacks for kids. Some might be more suited to a post-camp nosh but most can be packed up and sent out the door to summer camp with your kid.

Weekend Fun: Whales, Kites, and a Kids' Race; June 22-23

It really feels like summer has begun here in Boston, so why not celebrate this weekend? There some special seasonal festivals: Kids can marvel at some magnificent kites (or fly their own), race their own cardboard boats, or nosh on some Portuguese food while enjoy music and face-painting.

After testing your speed and smarts at this family-friendly obstacle course race, you can plan a dip at one of these favorite local swimming pools for families, or check out this beloved YMCA's outdoor aquatic center—for free!  Enjoy ice cream with Elsa or introduce kids to some tasty vegetarian and vegan cuisine. Families can also celebrate the animals, from the tiny firefly to the largest mammal of them all

Weekend Fun: Shakespeare, Food Trucks, and Festivals ; June 22-23

Summer is in full swing all across Connecticut. Strawberry fields are open for berry business, the splash pads are running, and the Fourth of July is just around the corner.

This weekend is filled with tons of summer family fun!  There are tons of fests in New London, Hartford, and Stonington. You can have fun on the water in Stamford or Norwalk, and don’t forget to check out our Summer Fun Guide for even more ways to enjoy the season.

Weekend Fun for LA Kids: Pier 360, Discover Marina del Rey, Summer Solstice

Here it is folks: summer all legitimate and official-like—not just that the kids are home from school, but the actual sun being at its greatest distance from Earth’s celestial equator, full-on summer solstice, resulting in our longest day of the year. That's the most daylight hours to be filled by our beloved little ones, who are home from school and demanding our attention. All is good. Especially if someone has any idea what to do with the precious angels.

Oh, look at that! It's us, your pals at Mommy Poppins, here with a calendar full of ways to entertain your sweet mini-beings. We've got you covered in the summer kicking off on land and sea and space (museum). We have seals and Star Warssanitation and Shakespeare, a free fan frenzy, and Fullerton flight.

If a fork can be a toy and that guy from Grey's Anatomy can sing, then surely there is something on our calendar that will keep your kid from being "bored, Mom."  

Right? Right? (Please someone tell me I am right.)

Keep reading to find the events that will spare you and your offspring from a summer-long pit of nothing to do...

Weekend Fun for Houston Kids: Candytopia, Fairy Day, June 22-23

Hot summer days mean lots of water play, and we have some excellent things lined up for all of you water-loving families out there!

For our beach lovers, check out Texas' best beaches, or see all the great things to do in Galveston, including swimming at Surfside Beach or learning how to build sandcastles at Stewart Beach. For water park lovers, see what hot spots the Houston area has to offer. Enjoy classic thrills and water tubing at Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels or splash around at Strawberry Water Park in Pasadena.

There is also lots of free fun to be had at splash pads around the city, Houston's many free pools, and a kid favorite - Noah's Ark Pool.

Not feeling the water? This weekend is full of all sorts of fun things to do that don't involve getting wet. Let's check it out together! 

Weekend Fun: Summer Solstice, Mermaid Parade, Drums Along the Hudson

This weekend Coney Island hosts a little something called the Mermaid Parade, Drums Along the Hudson pounds a steady beat in Inwood, Randall's Island hosts a splashy Waterfront Festival, and you can stomp on the porches on Governors Island.

Summer solstice, celebrating the longest day of the year, spills over into Saturday revelries with family fun at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and free workshops at Cooper Hewitt. Two terrific Shakespeare productions—in addition to the big Delacourt Theatre offering—are up and running this weekend: Hamlet, at Castle Clinton, and Romeo and Juliet on the Smith Street Stage in Carroll Gardens. Plus, superheroes can commune with like-minded do-gooders at the NYSoM SuperHero SciFi Fest.

Our encyclopedic Free Outdoor Movie guide keeps growing. This weekend, Mary Poppins Returns to Greenwich Village, Ralph Breaks the Internet in Brooklyn on Saturday in Harry Maze Park and Sunday in Kolbert Park as well as in Queens' Astoria Park, and families can brush up on Captain America's origin story on Staten Island.

Heat getting to you? Check out our parent-tested list of great water parks for toddlers or best water playgrounds and sprinklers. And, as always, scroll through our calendar to find all the best things happening near you and around NYC.

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