120 Fun Things To Do This Summer For $5 or Less

WORDS
Beth McGee, Jessica Myers and Nicole Crites
ILLUSTRATION
Mary Dunn
PUBLISHED
June 2017 in
DallasChild, FortWorthChild, NorthTexasChild, CollinChild
UPDATED
May 22, 2017
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The best things around Dallas- Fort Worth are free (or nearly) during the summer — spray grounds, indoor play spaces, museums, bowling and more. And what’s not free is no more than a few dollars, including movies, rides and lots of other activities. Here, our favorite warm weather cheap thrills to keep kiddos entertained during the three-month school break. 

Summon some culture into the summer routine with a trip to a museum or gallery. 

1. The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth offers kid-friendly activities and projects on Tuesdays and select Saturdays. 817/332-8451

2. Visit the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth Sunday when admission is free and artists take kids through drawing techniques (on select Sundays only). 817/738-9215

3. The free Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth hosts hands-on workshops and numerous storytimes. Register online for workshops. 817/738-1933

4. Let kids examine over 100 meteorites on display, even hold some at Oscar E. Monnig Meteorite Gallery at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. 817/257-6277

5. The Sid Richardson Museum in Fort Worth provides free storytimes for kiddos age 3-8 and kid-friendly matinees. Register online. 817/332-6554

6. Make a trip to the National Scouting Museum for hands-on displays and life-size campsite replicas before it closes its doors in Irving at the end of the summer. 800/303-3047

7. Take the whole crew to River Legacy Living Science Center in Arlington on Saturday to see native wildlife, interact with exploration stations and walk the nature trails. 817/860-6752

8. The Military Museum of Fort Worth will re-open in its new location at the Stockyards on Memorial Day. Bring the kids to see relics from World Wars I and II, the Vietnam War and more. Ages 13 and older, $2; free for kids. 817/945-2680

9. Let littles play conductor, color and craft and learn about Denton County history using interactive educational panels at the Denton County Museum for free. 940/349-2850

10. The museum sits in the Historical Park of Denton County, an open green space that regularly hosts storytimes, live music and the farmers market. 940/349-2850

11. Stop, drop and roll over to the free Denton Firefighters Museum to try on a uniform, meet Denton firefighters (as long as they aren’t on a call) and tour the trucks. 940/349-8840

12. Take little fashionistas to see regal gowns at the Texas First Ladies Historic Costume Collection at Texas Woman’s University in Denton. Ogle replicas and originals worn by Laura Bush, Lady Bird Johnson and others. 940/898-3644

13. Tour the charming 19th-century one-room schoolhouse, general store and train depot at Farmers Branch Historical Park before maybe seeing an historic baseball game (check the schedule online). 972/406-0184

14. Arturo’s Nest for ages 0-4 and the Young Learners Gallery for ages 5-8 at the Dallas Museum of Art let kids explore rotating themes using age-appropriate games, hands-on activities, toys, art and books. 214/922-1200

15. Visit sheep, goats and chickens at the Heritage Farmstead Museum in Plano, where self-guided tours are $3 per person. 972/881-0140

16. Find interactive STEM exhibits and a 106-year-old railroad car at the Interurban Railway Museum in Plano. 972/941-2117

17. Target First Saturdays offer kid-centered art scavenger hunts and garden yoga at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. 214/242-5100

On days when it’s not too hot, plan an outdoor adventure.

18. Lots of green space and paths to explore at the Trailhead at Clearfork in Fort Worth makes for a fun morning with the kiddos. 817/731-7396

19. Encourage kids to learn heritage skills, even how to play Victorian games on the first Friday morning each month at the Nash Farm in Grapevine. $3 per person. 817/410-3185

20. Let kiddos spend time in June or July with cows, sheep, peacocks and more at Fritz Park Petting Farm in Irving. 972/721-2640

21. Pick sweet, juicy peaches right off the tree for $1.50 per pound at the Henrietta Creek Orchard in Roanoke. 817/439-3202

22. Catch the twice-daily Cattle Drive at the Stockyards in Fort Worth for free. 817/336-4373

23. While there, weave your way through the Cowtown Cattlepen Maze, a frequently changing wooden maze that’s over 5,400 square feet. $5 per person ages 5 and older. 817/336-4373

24. Visit a blacksmith shop, a stagecoach station, teepees and more at the Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum. $5 for adults; free for kiddos 7 and younger. 817/645-0927

25. Wander through an urban oasis in the middle of Cowtown’s bustling downtown with a trip to the Fort Worth Water Gardens. 817/392-7111

26. To get there, take the free vintage-style Molly the Trolley that runs every 10 minutes in downtown Fort Worth. 817/215-8600

27. Encourage little sluggers (who are at least 48 inches tall) to practice their swing at Putt-Putt Fun Center’s Bat Zone. $5 for 50 pitches. 

28. Discover how a garden grows at one of the many free workshops at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens for littles age 18 months-6 years. 817/392-5510

29. Delay bedtime any Friday night between Memorial and Labor days to see a weekly fireworks show (it starts at 9:30pm) over Lake Grapevine during Grapevine SummerBlast. 817/410-3185

30. Hike the trails of Coppell Nature Park at night with a North Texas Master Naturalist. Meet at the Biodiversity Education Center for a 40-minute, stroller-friendly walk (flashlights provided). The next one is June 9. Register online. 972/304-3581

31. This summer, the Keller Farmers Market is staring a Power of Produce (POP) program to teach kids about wholesome foods before setting them loose to buy their own. 682/593-3507

32. Take outdoorsy kiddos to the Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area (LLELA) to go on a guided bird or nature walk or night hike. $5 per vehicle. 972/219-3550

33. Spend a day at Lake Park on Lake Lewisville swimming, playing Frisbee golf and climbing on one of the two playgrounds. $3 per vehicle for Lewisville residents. 972/219-3550

34. Wander the many paths and bridges, see koi fish in the pond and visit the butterfly sanctuary at Grapevine Botanical Gardens at Heritage Park. 817/410-3350

35. Campion Trail, Irving’s 22-mile greenbelt along the Trinity River’s Elm Fork and West Fork provides the perfect spot for a family picnic, to throw a football or Frisbee or just walk, bike or skate. 972/721-2501

36. Kids rule the Kids Kastle playground in Highland Village. The wooden playland keeps little prince and princesses busy climbing staircases, crossing bridges and feeding ducks. 972/317-7430

37. Visit Texas Discovery Gardens in Dallas on pay-what-you-want Tuesdays. Don’t miss the butterfly release at noon. 214/428-7476

38.  Texas Horse Park in Dallas offers free pony rides the third Thursday of the month from 1-6pm. 469/804-2660

39. Visit the Children’s Garden at Trinity River Audubon Center in Dallas on the third Thursday of the month for free admission. 214/398-8722

40. Take bookworms to check out the free, interactive Storytimes at Klyde Warren Park in Dallas. 214/716-4500

41. Hop aboard the vintage M-Line Trolley to roll through historic Uptown along McKinney Avenue in Dallas. 214/855-0006

42. Indulge in $2 Tuesdays at Frisco Square, where treats such as popcorn, cake pops and cannolis cost between $2-$2.50 each. 469/633-7117

43. Head to Sandy Lake Amusement Park in Carrollton for mini golf, bumper cars, and pony rides. Admission, $2; tickets, 50 each. 972/242-7449; sandylake.com

44. Watch airplane takeoffs and landings from Founder’s Plaza at the DFW International Airport or Bachman Lake across from Love Field Airport. 

45. Run the kids ragged in the CenterPark Garden at NorthPark while you sip an iced coffee at La Duni. 214/751-3470

46. Visit the Village Depot play area at The Village at Allen where kids can wander through a Texas-shaped hedge maze or pretend in the scaled-down playhouses. 972/678-4939

47.  Toddlers and preschoolers sing and dance during the free 45-minute Irving Concert Series 4 Kids show. Come at 9am to play, craft and get a balloon. 972/721-2501

48. Dress the kids in sneakers, head out early and walk the Grapevine Public Art Trail to discover life-size bronze statues between the Cotton Belt Depot and Northwest Highway depicting the city’s history. 800/410-7572

Even if you’re staying put this summer, make a trip to see planes and trains.

49. Visit the Lone Star Hi-Railers Model Train Association in the Grapevine rail yard area to see a detailed model of historic Grapevine, working turbines and running trains. $2 for adults; $1 for kids. 214/693-0258

50. Enjoy a scenic 5-mile roundtrip on the Forest Park Miniature Railroad in Fort Worth, which rolls through Trinity Park. $5 for adults; $4 for kids. 817/336-3328

51. Board the Trinity Railway Express (TRE) and take the hourlong ride across the Trinity River to Dallas. $5 for adult day passes; $2.50 for kids. 817/215-8669

52. The Fort Worth Aviation Museum houses 26 warbirds and hosts paper airplane, Styrofoam glide and water rocket workshops. $5 for adults; $1 for kids; free for ages 6 and younger. 855/733-8627

Pack a picnic, lawn chairs (or floaties) and bug spray to spend time outdoors after dark.

53. Pay $5 per person and BYO noodles, see-through inflatables and life jackets (or borrow one for free) to Bedford Splash Family Aquatic Center’s monthly Flick N’ Float family movies. 817/952-2323

54. Spend a Hump Day evening at Movie Night in Sundance Square in Fort Worth. Free, family-friendly flicks like Aladdin and Little Giants begin around 8:45pm. 817/255-5700

55. Every Thursday in June, come to Keller Summer Nights at the Keller Town Hall Amphitheater for the free concert at 7:30pm and the family movie at 9pm. 817/743-4000

56. Bring the kids and Fido, pick a spot on the lawn and listen to live local music with hundreds of other families during Friday on the Green at Magnolia Green in Fort Worth.

57. Sing and dance along to the music at Evenings on Oak Street Concert Series in Roanoke with your kiddos. 817/491-2411

58. Delay bedtime any Friday night between Memorial and Labor days to see a weekly fireworks show (it starts at 9:30pm) over Lake Grapevine during Grapevine SummerBlast. 817/410-3185

59. Before getting down to the Sounds of Lewisville free concert at the Wayne Ferguson Plaza every Tuesday night in June and July, let littles frolic in the interactive splash pad. 972/219-3401

60.  Arrive before 7pm on Saturday to reserve a prime spot for an outdoor rock, ‘90s hits or jazz concert at the Village Green at Watters Creek in Allen. 972/747-8000

61. Watch a free Friday concert at Music in the Square in front of Frisco City Hall as the sun sets. 469/633-7117

62. Addison’s annual Sumer Series in Addison Circle features live music from a variety of genres in Beckert Park on Saturday evenings. 972/450-7031

63. The Joe Farmer Recreation Center Ampitheater in Allen hosts the Summer Sounds Concert Series the first three Mondays in June. 214/509-4700

64. Catch a sunset flick at Movies on the Square in Carrollton one Saturday a month. 972/466-3000

65. Experience Shakespeare in the Park at Samuell-Grand Amphitheatre in Dallas on a Tuesday or Wednesday for pay-what-you-wish admission. June’s lineup includes The Merry Wives of Windsor and Quixote. 214/559-2778

Beat the heat (or the rain) indoors.

66. Sign preschoolers up for the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten reading program at Southlake Public Library, then bring them to storytimes on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. 817/748-8243

67. Take littles age 2 and older to the Irving Arts Center on the first Thursday and second Sunday of each month for interactive storytimes and take-home art projects. 972/252-7558

68. Get to Monkey and Dog Books in Fort Worth before 10:30am every Wednesday and Thursday for storytime. 817/975-4260

69. The Ridgmar Mall Kids Club hosts monthly (held on the second Thursday at 11am) themed play activities, arts and crafts and more. 817/731-6691

70. Roll over to Cowtown Bowling Palace Sunday before noon for the early bird special: Play for $1.50; rent shoes for $2. 817/624-2151

71. Watch the live fish feeding at Bass Pro Shop Outdoor World in Grapevine on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 12:30pm, or let kids fish in the pond (equipment provided) out front on Saturdays from 11am-1pm. 972/724-2018

72. Permit the kids stay up late for $5 all-you-can-bowl (every night of the week) after 8pm at It’z Family Food & Fun in Euless. 817/283-3700

73. Join Bella the Begonia for preschooler storytime and learning activities on the first Saturday of each month (except in July) at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT). 817/332-4441

74. Take the kids to 10 weeks of films during Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse at the Fort Worth Alliance Town Center and Rave Ridgmar locations. Shows start at 9am Monday-Thursday. $5 for all 10 movies or $1 per show. 817/750-0560

75. Kids up to age 11 jump, slide and climb for free through the Wesley Playground at White’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Southlake. 817/481-4147

76. See billions of dollars printed and learn about the process with interactive exhibits at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Fort Worth. 817/231-4000

77. First Baptist Church Grapevine’s Paradise Pond lets kids age 2 to sixth grade bounce, toss the basketball, build with Legos, play with trains or dress up. $1 per person. 817/488-8573

78. Set little ones 5 and younger loose to climb through tunnels and explore interactive stations at the Wildcat Fun Zone at the Lake Highlands Rec Center in Dallas. $3 per tot. 214/670-7794

79. The three-story tree fort at Watermark Community Church in Dallas is open seven days a week (hours vary; check online) and features stairs, bridges and a separate area for toddlers. 214/361-2275

80. Take toddlers age 4 and younger to The Woods at Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas to play, read and pretend. 214/526-7457

81. A three-story twisty slide and obstacle course at Prestonwood Baptist Church’s free KIDZ Indoor Playground in Plano keeps kids 10 and younger busy. 972/820-5000

82. Take kiddos 3 and younger to bounce around in just-for-them inflatables at Jumpstreet in Plano. $4.99 for ages 3 and younger. 972/378-5867

83. Spend a late afternoon at the Let’s Get Crafty free craft on the first Wednesday of each month at the American Girl Store at the Galleria Dallas. 877/247-5223

84. See a Kids Camp movie as a family for a $1, $3 or $5 donation at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Dallas and Richardson. Most movies are appropriate for ages 3 and older; go online for details. 972/534-2120

85. Kids can bowl two free games each day all summer long at participating lanes in Dallas, Allen, Plano, Frisco and Rockwall. Visit kidsbowlfree.com for registration and details.

86. Build — and take home — a free Lego model at the Monthly Mini Model Build at the Lego Store in NorthPark. Reserve a spot online. 214/750-6422

87. Let kiddos make a free craft at Lakeshore Learning every Saturday from 11am-3pm. 972/934-8866

88. Catch magic shows, a cappella harmonies and more starting at noon in the Grand Court at the Shops at Willow Bend during Summer Fun Thursdays. 972/202-4900

89. Sign preschoolers up for the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten reading program at the Lewisville Public Library, which also hosts lots of storytimes, family craft nights and Friday matinees in the summer. 972/219-3570

90. Take the kids to 10 weeks of films during Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse at the Lewisville location. Shows start at 9am Monday-Thursday. $5 for all 10 movies or $1 per show. 817/750-0560

91. Let kids romp around The Ark at Grace Point Church in Coppell, sliding, climbing and jumping into a ball pit. 972/462-164

92. Make the 40-plus-mile journey from Denton to Dallas aboard the A-Train just for fun. $3 for two-hour passes. 940/243-0077

93. Get to The Colony Recreation Center early for free kids’ movies during the monthly Summer Cinema Clubhouse series on Fridays at 10am. 972/625-1756

94. Little ones learn to skate for $5 any Saturday morning at 9am at InterSkate Roller Rink in Lewisville. 972/221-4666

95.  The modest indoor play space at Cross Timbers Church in Argyle opens Monday-Thursday for free play and story and craft times. 940/240-5100

96. Take littles age 2 and older to the Irving Arts Center on the first Thursday and second Sunday of each month for interactive storytimes and take-home art projects. 972/252-7558

97. See a family-friendly movie about the stars, the moon and other astronomical wonders at the Sky Theater at the University of North Texas in Denton during the monthly Saturday children’s matinees. $3 per person. 940/369-8213

98. Lose an afternoon in The Tubes, a maze of colorful tunnels inside Irving Bible Church, for kids 36-52 inches tall. There’s also an adjacent toddler-only play space. 972/560-4600

99.  Take tiny builders to the nearby Home Depot for free Kids’ Workshops offered Saturday mornings. 972/735-9333  

Trade the sprinklers and garden hose for interactive fun at a free splash park or chill out at a float-in show at a nearby pool.

100. Besides drenching buckets, fountains and cannons, Celebration Park in Allen, which is closed on Wednesdays, is home to a duck pond, playing fields and an accessible playground perfect for air drying. 214/509-4700

101. Surrounding the steady streams of water shooting out of the ground at Frisco Commons Spray Park are restrooms, a large pavilion and other shade options. 972/292-6500

102. Multiple interactive fountains throughout Klyde Warren Park mean there’s an area for all ages, even crawlers. 214/716-4500

103. A whimsical mushroom, palm tree and a rainbow make it rain on kiddos at W. J. Thomas Splash Park in Carrollton. 972/466-3080

104. Pack a change of clothes to shop at Hillside Village in Cedar Hill and let kids splash in the vertical jets while you supervise from an umbrella-covered table or wooden rocking chair. 972/637-6301

105. The adjoining playground and spray ground at Al Ruschhaupt Park in McKinney offers shaded picnic benches for snack time. 972/547-7480

106. Harry Myers Park features a colorful modest spray ground amongst lots of trees. 972/771-7762

107. Water guns, a flower spray and water walls create wet and wild fun for kids of all ages at Splash Factory Outdoor Water Playground in Grand Prairie. $2 per person getting in the water. 972/266-5272

108. After 4 pm, kids under 48 inches enjoy a twilight swim for $4 at Surf and Swim in Garland. Ages 2 and under are free. 972/205-2000

109. Bicentennial Park’s 2,000-square-foot splash pad in Southlake features spray guns, buckets and a shaded area with benches too. 817/297-2201

110. Get your feet wet in the Trinity Trails Airfield Falls Waterfall, Fort Worth’s only natural waterfall, along the Trinity River. 817/698-0700

111. Let kids frolic beneath the colorful spray features at Parr Park in Grapevine, then air dry on the adjacent playground. 817/410-3000

112. Dress the kids for wet and wild fun in the fountains at Founder’s Plaza in Arlington before heading to the free evening concert at nearby Levitt Pavilion (check the schedule online). 817/543-4308

113. Water slides and loads of things that spray at Cimarron Family Aquatic Center in Irving keep kiddos cool. Resident rates: adults, $3; kids age 4 and older, $2. 972/721-6556

114. Visit the Old Town Aquatic Park in Lewisville at 7pm Monday-Friday when you can exhaust the kids on three spray grounds, a lazy river and water slides for just $2 per person. 972/219-3744

115 . The newly built Doubletree Ranch Park in Highland Village features a modern splash pad with over 80 drenching structures. 972/317-7430

The coolest farmers markets offer more than local produce and meats.

116. The recently opened outdoor children’s playscape at the Dallas Farmers Market encourages kids to climb, draw and splash. 214/664-9110

117. From petting zoos to bounce houses to rideable kid-size tractors, the Farmers Branch Market provides a myriad of pint-size fun. 972/919-2602

118. Find face painting and pony rides in Chestnut Square during the McKinney Farmers Market. 972/562-8790

119. Every Saturday at 10:30am, the Coppell Farmers Market hosts a free gardening class for kids. 972/304-7043

120. In addition to live music and food trucks, the Denton Community Market has crafts, learning activities and yoga for kiddos. 940/268-4326

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