30 Free Summer Activities, Events, and Places to Go for Budget-Savvy Fun


While we love summertime adventures, it’s no secret that the cost of outing after outing can get quite expensive. We’ve rounded up a variety of free summer activities that are sure to keep the fun going!

Visit a new park, watch an outdoor movie, check out a museum on a free admission day, and so much more. These budget-friendly summer activities will keep the fun going all the way until fall!

This article is sponsored by Yorktown Center.

Free Kids Events at Yorktown Center

Yorktown Center
Website | Facebook | Instagram

We’re ready for some summer family fun at Yorktown Center! Join us on the second Saturdays of June, July, and August from 10am – 12pm in The Park in Center Court for free kidsโ€™ events. Be one of the first 100 to attend and receive a goodie bag filled with coupons to your favorite Yorktown Center stores and giveaways!

Text “FAMILY” to 89881 to sign up for family-friendly event SMS texts, and to receive a goodie bag at the event!

June 10 – Under the Sea

  • Bubble show, 10:30am – 11:15am
  • Ocean-themed craft
  • Visit with your child’s favorite mermaid princess
  • Raffles + Giveaways

July 8 – Dance Party

  • Dance party + games, 10:30am – 11:15am
  • Craft
  • Visit with your child’s favorite characters
  • Raffles + Giveaways

August 12 – Down on the Farm

  • Miss Jamie’s Farm music show, 11:00am – 11:45am
  • Craft
  • Visit with your child’s favorite characters
  • Raffles + Giveaways

Want to plan an outing without spending any cash? Check out all of these free events, activities, and kid-friendly destinations!

Meet at the Kidlist Park Playdate Series

You won’t want to miss the Kidlist Park Playdate series this summer! We’re bringing back entertainment, snacks and giveaways for kiddos at each event.

Watch Outdoor Movies

Watch a movie in the park! Bring your own snacks from home, or purchase from the food vendors.

Enjoy Free Summer Concerts

Pack up the lawn chairs and listen to a free concert through one of the summer music series. While many towns offer nighttime outings, Naperville and Warrenville host children’s performances during the day.

Explore Nature Centers

Visit Chicagoland nature centers, which are a year-round source of free fun, and make for a great home base (with air conditioning!) for an outdoor adventure.

Roam Conservatories

The rain won’t stop you from appreciating nature, as Garfield Park Conservatory, Oak Park Conservatory, and Wilder Park Conservatory in Elmhurst are all free.

Cool Off at Splash Pads

Get some relief from the heat at these splash pads. (Many are free, while some charge a small fee.)

Play at Parks and Playgrounds

Check out a new (to you) playground using our Ultimate Guide to Parks and Playgrounds. Big, little, sand-free, full of sand, we’ve got them all.

Not sure what park to pick? Discover a new playground or visit one of our readers’ top playgrounds together. So many have opened up over the past year!

Fly a Kite

Go fly a kite or find a kite festival! There are many events throughout the suburbs that you can attend, or head to an open space and fly one with your family.

Go Fishing

Once you have the gear, fishing is usually free! Compete in a local fishing derby, or check out our list of favorite fishing spots.

Hike a Trail

Hit the trail with the best forest preserve trails for kids and parks with paved paths.

Stroll Through an Art Fair

Encourage art appreciation and support local artists by exploring these art fair and festivals.

Head to a Farmers Market

Support local farmers and businesses at a farmer’s market. We have the details on all of the french markets and farmers markets, along with a printable schedule.

Attend Vacation Bible School

Many west suburban Vacation Bible School programs have a fee, but some are free!

Visit a Local Farm

Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago and Primrose Farm in St. Charles are two of our favorite spots to see local farm animals. As an added bonus: they’re free!

Go to the Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago and Phillips Park Zoo in Aurora are always free!

Take Advantage of Museum Free Days

Adler Planetarium is free to Illinois residents on Wednesday evenings. Other local zoos and museums may offer free days, too.

Play at the Beach

Chicago Park District Beaches are free. Their site has great information about parking, restrooms, and other tips for visiting. Enjoy a beautiful summer day along the lakefront.

Enjoy the Library Children’s Areas

Libraries are free, and full of endless fun. Explore your local one, or check out one of the 10 Best Children’s Libraries, as voted by our readers. You can also find some fun new kids’ areas, such as the one at the new Helen Plum library in Lombard!

Go Bowling

With Kids Bowl Free, registered kids receive 2 free games of bowling every day all summer long. You must create a login and enter your childโ€™s month and year of birth in order to be eligible. Participating bowling alleys in this program are in Lockport, Wheaton, and Wood Dale.

Quick List of Free Places to Go

In addition to all of the free fun at local libraries, playgrounds, nature centers, and splash pads, you’ll find extra-cool free summer activities at these spots:

Free Events for Kids

Go to our events for kids page to find amazing family-friendly events, including many for free summer fun. Keep it bookmarked for easy reference.

Discounts and Inexpensive Summer Fun

Get Discounted Cougars Tickets

While not completely free, Kane County Cougars are offering a Buy One, Get One Free promotion for Kidlist readers. Use promo code: KIDLIST when purchasing tickets for a game this summer.

Check out the Museum Adventure Pass

Head to your local library and snag the Museum Adventure Pass (or reserve it online) and enjoy discounts like buy one, get one free tickets to places like Naper Settlement and Children’s Museum of Oak Lawn, and even two free passes to Brookfield Zoo. Click here for all the details.

Summer Movie Deals

Several movie theaters offer discounted tickets to kids movies throughout the summer. We outline all of the locations and prices in our summer movie deals article.

Quick List of Places with Lower Admission Prices

We’d love to hear from our readers about what free family fun is happening in your town. Please share in the comments field below! Then, find more outdoor family fun.

Join the List

Let us help you plan fun days!
Get kid-friendly updates straight to your inbox

"*" indicates required fields

When would you like to receive Kidlist emails?*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Related Articles

About the Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.

Our Amazing Sponsors
Popular Guides