25 {Free} Summer Activities

1. Tour a fire station. Call ahead to arrange a tour for you and your family or a group of friends. Tours generally include a tour of firefighter facilities, explanation of tools on the firetruck, test page (to hear what they hear when a call comes in) and photo ops! (Our friend Amy set this up for us and it was so neat!)

2. Go to story time at your local library. Some require registration, but ours is simply a drop-in story time welcome to the entire community. Activities usually include a few books, songs, bean bags and bubbles!

3. Run in the sprinkler. Need to water the grass? Run through it while you do! Moms: don't forget to join the fun!

4. Visit Bass Pro Shop for free summer activities, such as fishing, archery, wildlife exploration and bird watching workshops. They also offer free crafts!

5. Make popsicles. Our homemade ones taste 100% better than store bought. If you don't have popsicle molds, make them in an ice cube tray with a toothpick as the stick.

6. Play with chalk. The possibilities are ENDLESS! Make a giant board game, town, road, hopscotch, counting game or simply draw.

7. Go to a Farmer's Market. Check out your local farmer's market or visit one while traveling. The Des Moines Downtown Farmer's Market has free live music and kids' activities as well.

8. Host a messy playdate! Most of the items can be made with stuff you already have in your pantry!

9. Create a bubble bucket. Fill a bucket or tub with water and bubbles, add a few utensils or toys and watch the fun! (pic at the top).

10. Mini Olympics! Swim, run, bike, do gymnastics, or play soccer, basketball or volleyball as a family. Do one activity per day or lump several in one day for your own mini Olympics. Make homemade ribbons for the winner in each category.

11. Go the Des Moines Art Festival (or find a local one!). The Des Moines Art Fest has free kids' activities, live music and tons of great art!

12. Explore ice. Use paint or food coloring for colored ice for a fun time in the baby pool. Or freeze plastic toys in ice and explore all the different ways to free the toy from the ice (melting, hammering, salt).

13. Watch a parade. Find out if your area (or one nearby) has a July 4th parade and head over for an hour of fun watching floats and marching bands.

14. Explore a new playground or nature reserve. It's even better if it's near a lake or body of water! Big Creek State Park in Polk City is our new favorite!

15. Collect trash. Head to a park or do it in your own neighborhood. Wear gloves and bring a garbage bag to collect any garbage or debris you see in nature.

16. Have a game night OUTSIDE! Bring your board games outdoors for a new twist on an old favorite.

17. Go on a scavenger hunt: I especially love this chalk scavenger hunt from NurtureStore!

18. Bake. Try a new cookie recipe or simply make a favorite. Eat the cookies outside on a blanket.

19. Make a bird feeder, then watch the birds.

20. Listen to a free outdoor concert. Check your local area for free concerts. Yankee Doodle Pops is a local favorite with fireworks at the end!

21. Make mud pies!
22. Sign up for your libary's Summer Reading Challenge to inspire your children to read more both alone and with you. Many have fun prizes after a certain number of hours spent reading.

23. DIY playdough! Involve your kids in the making of the playdough (supervised of course!). Try stove top and no-cook versions!

24. Play at a splash park! There are several in Des Moines that are free to the public. Try Ashby wading pool (free all the time) and the Ankeny splash park (free from 10-12pm on weekdays).

25. Create a special outdoor place to read. Find a nice piece of shade and take out blankets, pillows and piles of books. A tent would be great too! Read with and to your kids while breathing in the outdoors! (Don't have a backyard? Take blankets to a park!)

For summer fun ideas check out our 2012 Summer Bucket List and our Summer Fun board on Pinterest!