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Free or Cheap Summer Kids Activities

Keep your little ones entertained without breaking the bank!


You don't have to take an elaborate vacation or leave the city to treat your kids to a fun-filled summer. These activities will keep your kids busy for free or at very minimal expense.

Discounted Summer Movie Programs

Summer Movie Express Program
Get out of the heat and into a theater without spending a ton. Regal Cinemas, United Artists, and Edwards Theatres will provide inexpensive movies this summer as part of their Summer Movie Express program. The theatres will offer selected G or PG rated movies for only $1 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. Start dates for each theater, so check their website for more information.

Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse
Another movie option is the Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse. Cinemark is offering G or PG rated summer movies for only $0.50 each if you purchase 10 tickets in advance for a total of $5. Otherwise, the movies will be $1 each at the door. Dates and times vary by theater.

Goodrich Quality Theater Summer Movies
Hamilton 16 IMAX is offering a PG movie every Monday through Friday morning at 10 a.m. now through August 10. Tickets are $1 for all ages. The theatre will also offer kids combo specials at the concession stand for $3.50.

Kids Bowl Free

If you are looking for a cool summer activity that will take the fun inside, consider bowling. Kids Bowl Free is a great summer program that allows children to bowl up to two free games each day at a local participating bowling centers.

Simply go to the Bowl Free website and register your children. Each location determines the dates the program begins and ends, daily availability and age restrictions. Simply click on the listed venues to get their specific program details. For each bowling alley, the bowling is free but shoe rental fees are not included.

If you anticipate that your family will spend a lot of time bowling this summer, you can also purchase a family pass. For $24.95, the family pass allows for two free games of bowling each day for up to four adults. This will allow your entire family to bowl free throughout the summer. And if you own your own bowling shoes, this would be an even greater deal! Once you purchase the pass, you will also receive a free $25 gift card to be used on restaurants.com.

In the Indianapolis area, participating bowling alleys include Coopers Sports Bowl in Anderson; Expo Bowl, Western Bowl and Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis; Coopers Stardust Bowl in Noblesville; Southern Bowl in Greenwood and Pinheads Entertainment Center in Fishers.

Reading Programs

Barnes & Noble "Imagination Destination" Summer Reading Program
Barnes & Noble wants to reward your children for reading! Their Summer Reading Program is for children in Grades 1 - 6 for reading any 8 books of their choice. Record them in the Reading Journal and take it completed to your local store before September 2, 2014. Your children can then select from a free title from Barnes & Noble's free book list.

Half Price Books "Feed Your Brain" Summer Reading Program
Children 14 and under can earn $5 in Half Price Books "Back to School Bucks" when they join the Half Price Books "Feed Your Brain" Summer Reading Program! They will need to read for at least 15 minutes each day for 30 days, or have a grown up read to them. Download the Reading Log to record your child’s progress. Then turn it in to receive Half Price Book Bookworm Bucks.

Indianapolis Marion County Public Libraries

Indianapolis Marion County Public Libraries has 22 branches throughout the city and each branch offers a variety of free programs during the summer. Not only are they offering summer reading programs, but there are also creative events such as a pack and hike event where kids make their own trail mix before setting out on a hike. Other events include animal workshops, craft projects and story times for all ages. Check out their website for all event information.

Fun at the Park

Summer isn't complete without spending time outdoors. Pack a picnic and take the entire family to an Indianapolis area park this summer. Take your kids to play on the playgrounds, swim or enjoy one of the free summer concerts taking place all summer. In addition, the parks offer a ton of great programs for kids in the summer.

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