Cheap Summer Fun

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Summer is the time for fun in the sun (or the shade if you live with heat like we do), but it’s tough when you have limited cash for leisurely activities. What can you do when you’re low on funds for cheap summer fun? We’ve got you made in the shade with these cool ideas for finding free or inexpensive summer activities.

Get Inspired

After vowing never to be sucked in, Andrea is officially addicted to Pinterest. It’s truly one of the most plentiful sources of ideas for DIY crafts, projects, games and activities to do on your own or with the kids. Just search for “Summer Bucket List” or “Summer Activities” and prepare to be inspired… and probably a little overwhelmed. While we can’t promise that you won’t lose many hours paging through the multitude of beautiful images, we can promise that you’ll find some great ways to spend quality family time with the kids for little or no money. In other words, cheap summer fun!

Pick a destination

Before you plan a weekend road trip, check out, a site (still in beta) dedicated to collecting reviews of things to do anywhere and everywhere. Go to and search for “Cheap Attractions Northern California” for results linking to over 1,600 places to visit and things to see. From national forests, lakes, parks and beaches to museums, shopping and more, the list is huge. The site aims to bring together reviews from across a multitude of sources, including those your “friends” have posted via Facebook, to provide a more comprehensive rating so you can navigate to the best of the best. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t make it easy to narrow down your findings.

Explore Nature

One of our family’s favorite free (except for the gas to get you there) adventures is a day on the lake. Grab your floatie and flippers for the kids, pack a picnic lunch and try to stay cool. Did you know that 264 of your 397 national parks never charge an entrance fee? For those that do, consider visiting on one of their free entrance days ( Take advantage of the upcoming Free Fishing Days in your state by navigating to California has upcoming dates July 7th and September 8th.

Check Out The Local Scene

Pretend you’re a tourist and check out the websites dedicated to getting out-of-towners to come visit your area. Shasta County activities and events are detailed at and Trip Advisor ( also hosts a “things to do” section whenever you search by city. Visitors post reviews and details so that you can explore your hometown attractions before leaving your air-conditioned living room.

Plan Ahead

If you’re in the mood for a special event, allows you to search by city to see the concerts, performances and more coming to your town and its surrounding area. While there doesn’t seem to be a way to limit results by price, you can limit the date, search for only events with tickets remaining or that are kid friendly. Select an event to see all nearby restaurants so you can add a frozen yogurt stop to your outing.

Check with the library

This is especially great if you’ve got kids, but there’s something for everyone. Go to and select “Library Programs” for a calendar of story times, puppet shows, teen activities (like Wii Games and Guitar Hero) and adult enrichment (education) programs, all offered for free. Summer reading programs often offer free goodies, like McDonald’s ice cream cones. Borrow free movies and e-books for your Kindle or Nook, or check out a movie night for a free “bigger screen” experience.

Entertain The Kiddos

Lowe’s ( and The Home Depot (, then search for “Kids Workshops”) offer free hands-on workshops designed for kids, teaching do-it-yourself skills as well as tool safety and technique. Michaels has an entire event calendar chock-full of do-it-yourself craft projects. Go to, and then click on “events” to download the calendar for the store near you. Events require a small purchase; some are for adults but most are for kids.

Still sweltering and out of ideas for cheap summer fun? Get in touch with us at for more online resources to keep yourself and the kids entertained this summer.

About The Author: Andrea Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at

Video Transcript

Ken: Summer activities for the kids without breaking the bank. Coming up, our friends from Nerds on Call are here for some cheap ways to entertain your kids this summer. Also, chances are your kids are already bouncing off the walls this summer vacation. Nerds on Call is here to give you some ideas on how to keep them entertained without spending a lot of money. 7:44 on this Monday morning. Call it summer fun on the cheap. Our resident nerdette is hanging out with Marianne, to talk about cool ideas to find for free or inexpensive summer activities for the kids. Hey, Marianne.

Marianne: Yeah, because you know kids start bouncing off the walls right in summer vacation about 48 hours in. So Andrea from Nerds on Call is here. Found some great stuff on the web to keep your kids busy this summer.

Andrea: Absolutely. There’s really great resources starting with Pinterest, which is a great one. Quite a bit of time suck unfortunately, but really inspirational. Lots of really fun things to do so you can collect pins on your board. You can also just search for summer bucket list as one of them or in this case I did summer to do and you can just see all sorts of different ideas. Things like host a lemonade stand, do a photo scavanger hunt. Lots of crafts. Things that you can do with your kids for free at home. A lot of them are things that you have materials to do and just never thought off.

Marianne: Great. Good stuff.

Andrea: Cool Whip finger painting, things like that that they’ll enjoy. If you’re looking for places to go, this one is one that I really like. This is actually called I went to cheap things to do in Sacramento and it gives you a bunch of either free or inexpensive things to do, and it collects ratings from across the web. So it’ll tell you what other people have felt about this locations, out of multiple sources. So it collects it also if you log on through Facebook.

Marianne: Lots of museums, the zoo, fun things to do. I haven’t even been to half of these places.

Andrea There you go. It’s a good place to start.

Marianne: A good place for me to go. Yeah, exactly.

Andrea: Yeah. So this is more for if you’re looking for a kind of a hey, it’s Thursday afternoon and I can’t think of anything to do this afternoon. These are places to go but if you’re looking to plan your calendar so looking to plan ahead a little bit. I really like as well.

Marianne: It’s a great website.

Andrea: Yeah, really great. I went to free events, but there’s also a kids and family section too, which is fun. So this will basically give you a bunch of different specific events, so like the Concert in the Park series, the Movie Night at the Library.

Marianne: Hot lunch, Farmer’s Market.

Andrea: So this is the collection of free events and at the bottom they go by date.

Marianne: And you can search to by kids or whatever. If you’re looking for something on a specific date, you can do that. I like that.

Andrea: Absolutely.So this is more specifically for planning your calendar. Again, if you’re looking for soemthing to do with the kids…

Marianne: A little hands on.

Andrea: Yeah. A lot of like Lowe’s and Home Depot do these different free kids clinics where they do Saturday afternoons. Luckily enough, they’re on not the same Saturday afternoons so you can schedule them every weekend.

Marianne: That was nice of them to arrange the schedules that way.

Andrea: I know. So you can build the little, you can do the special hands on build event. They did a Build an Organizer this month in June. They’re going to be builing a moving truck at Home Depot. I also really like Lakeshore Learning Centers. They do a free crafts events, also on Saturdays. They do every Saturday.

Marianne: Look at that little kid with the little paper plates. It’s a little snail.

Andrea: I know. I’m just not creative enough to do it myself.

Marianne: Chino flip flop note pads. I like that.

Andrea: So it’s great, a little inspirational stuff.

My [inaudible 00:03:40] the same so you can go to their calendar and see. They also have a section dedicated to kids that’s called the [Mac]. If you’re wanting to do something at home that’ll also give you some little walk throughs on how to do those at home.

Marianne: And then you got one more there.

Andrea: The last one is actually we’re doing an event called Kids Bowl Free, which if you go to a bowling center that’s registered, there’s a list of them here, your registered kids will receive two free games of bowling every day. So if you’re looking for a physical activity and then you get them out of the house.

Marianne: Let’s see if we have California here.

Andrea: Get your kids interested.

Marianne: Plus it’s nice and cool there. [inaudible 00:04:18] lanes.

Andrea: Who doesn’t like bowling? There’s Rocklin. Rocklin Stikes Unlimited. Vacaville.

Marianne: Right Stars, I don’t see Sacramento in there, but some of the burbs will have it. Fantastic.

Andrea: But you know what? Might be worth the trip to travel and get them the opportunity to try some bowling.

Marianne: All right. Great ideas. If you’ve got little ones at home that are looking for something to do this summer. We’re going to make sure we get all those websites linked to Just click “show info” on our home page and you’ll be good to go right up to Labor day, something to do. Thank you so much.

Andrea: You’re welcome.

Marianne: Andrea, thanks, with Nerd on Call. Ken, back to you.

Ken: You can contact Nerds on Call, obviously in Sacramento at 4315 Marconi Avenue. Or you can call that number on the screen, right there. 1-800-919- NERD. 919-NERD.