Summer is here — the kids are out of school, the days are long, and the weather is warm. But in the last few months, we’ve seen inflation hit our country hard and prices are skyrocketing. Road trips, expensive theme parks, and summer camps may be out of the question for many families this year. So how can you keep your kids occupied without breaking the bank? Luckily, DFW is filled with low-cost, family-friendly experiences that everyone can enjoy.
Kids Bowl Free
Kids Bowl Free is an awesome program with a mission to provide a fun, safe, and secure way for kids to spend their time during the summer months. Participating bowling locations will give kids a few free games each day.
Parents can purchase a pass to bowl with their children, but it’s not required.
Check out this list to find a location near you—there are several across DFW—then fill out the registration form. Each location has specific times set aside for free bowling. Shoe rental may or may not be included. Additionally, each location has different age restrictions. Be sure to verify the details with your preferred establishment.
KIDZPlay Indoor Playground
Prestonwood Baptist Church has an outstanding indoor playground for kids ages 10 and under in the Plano community.
And even better, it’s free. All you have to do is check in at the front desk.
No food and drinks are allowed to be brought in, but they do have a café in the building with kid-friendly options.
With one location in Fort Worth and one in Plano, KidMania is a great place to take your family on the cheap.
It’s an indoor facility with an arcade and a playground area.
They even have an “adults only” section where parents can relax yet still keep an eye on their little ones.
Kids of any age can join in on the fun, and admission is very affordable. But if you’re looking to save even more, check out their monthly calendar where they post daily specials and discounts.
Located in Denton, the Explorium Children’s Museum is perfect for kids 12 and under, and admission is only $5 per person.
There is a climbing structure, painting/bubble stations, lego walls, giant blocks, and many more activities that allow kids to explore and develop their skills.
The Heard Museum
An excellent place for nature lovers of all ages, the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary is located in McKinney and general admission is low-cost.
If you visit the Heard, you’ll find lots of walking trails (they even offer night hikes), wildlife encounters, a butterfly exhibit, a ropes course, and much more.
Guided tours are available by reservation, otherwise, you’re free to explore the grounds on your own. They recommend wearing comfortable clothing and shoes as most exhibits are outdoors.
And if you want to bring your lunch, there are picnic areas available for your convenience.
Pipe & Palette
Art studio in Plano, Pipe & Palette, offers a myriad of painting and pottery classes to locals.
They have a set time a few days a week dedicated to classes for kids and they’re fairly priced. Paint & Playdate is tailored to children of all ages. Kids may want to try a watercolor or pottery class, and they have bracelet-making classes as well.
Check out their website for up-to-date hours and costs.
Nasher Sculpture Center
Every first Saturday of the month, the Nasher in Dallas hosts a free event for families from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
There’s a rotating schedule of arts and crafts, sweet treats to eat, and many things to see and explore.
It only happens once a month, so don’t miss out.
The Texas Pool
For ten bucks per person, you can spend all day swimming in a historic Texas-shaped pool.
The Texas Pool is located in Plano and has all the amenities you need for a hot summer day.
Kids will love the two waterslides and the diving board in the deep end. For little ones, there’s a shallow wading pool for safe splashing. And if you’re feeling up for some friendly competition, one section of the pool has a volleyball net.
Free life jackets are provided for those who need them. As for food and drinks, you’re allowed to bring in your own, and they have BBQ grills available for guests to use as well.
Fourth of July
Both Dallas and Fort Worth have free Fourth of July events that are family-friendly and a great way to spend the holiday.
The Fair Park Fourth in Dallas will be full of vendors, food trucks, concession stands, live music, and kids' activities. The night will end with a spectacular fireworks show.
Fort Worth’s Fourth along the Trinity River will also have many different vendors serving food, sweets, and beverages. There will be live music and an airshow, with a 301st Fighter Wing and an F-16 flyover. And of course, a fireworks display will end the evening.
When the afternoons become too hot, or for those slow days when parents are still at work, sign the kids up for some online activities to curb their boredom.
Michael’s craft store has free virtual classes for any age —all you have to do is register. Painting, beading, creating with clay, sensory bins— the options are endless and there’s something for everyone.
Home Depot also has free virtual field trips and online workshops designed just for kids. Parents can provide the supplies and let the workshops do the rest. Children will be guided through making various engaging DIY projects.
Another exciting activity from Home Depot is the monthly Workshop Kit. On the first Saturday of every month, you can pick up a free Workshop Kit from your local Home Depot that corresponds with that month’s DIY project.
Home Depot also provides a variety of STEM-related activities that can be done as a family right at home.