Wednesday, June 11, 2008

First Day of Summer Vacation...Now what?

It's official, my kids are on summer vacation.

We can't afford to go out of town this summer, and the gas prices are to high to even go on a weekend vacation, so I have come up with a list of some free & inexpensive things to help pass the summer months along. Some of the items are nationwide, and some are specific to the Twin Cities area. Be sure to do a search for local tours & events in your area too!

Take a tour of the Minnesota Capitol
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
Saint Paul, MN 55155
Free guided tours of the beautiful State Capitol building are offered year-round. The last tour starts one hour before closing. No reservations are required; check for exceptions due to special events.
Occurs every day from 3/11/06 - 4/29/10
Time: Mon-Fri 9am-4pm; Sat 10am-3pm; Sun 1pm-4pm
Cost: Free

Target Center Tours
600 First Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Meet a guide in the main lobby for a free weekly tour. Groups of more than 20 people need to call ahead.
Occurs Thursdays
Time: 2pm
Cost: Free

Musical Storytime
1974 Ford Parkway
Saint Paul, MN 55116
Guitar Lady Kathleen leads kids and parents through fingerplays, stories, rhymes, and songs.
Occurs Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays
Ages: 1 to 6
Time: 10:30am
Cost: Free

Thursday Kids Hour
2803 East 38th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55406
Stop in to this friendly neighborhood coffee house for stories, music games, or craft and other activities. Offerings change each week, but expect fun!
Occurs Thursdays
Ages: 1 to 6
Time: 10:30am-11:30am
Cost: Free

Stop in for themed weekly storytimes about animals, holidays, and other kid-friendly topics.
Occurs Thursdays
Ages: 1 to 7
Time: 10:30am
Cost: Free

Preschool Storytime
Stop by for stories, rhymes, and company.
Occurs Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays
Ages: 3 to 6
Time: 11am
Cost: Free

Mill City Museum

City Hall & Courthouse
Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery
Northside Synagogues
Grain Belt Brewery

Minnesota Museum of American Art
Landmark Center
75 West Fifth St 2nd Floor
Saint Paul, Minnesota
(651) 292-4355
Admission: Free

Minneapolis Institute of Arts
free except during special exhibits
2400 3rd Ave
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Admission: Free

County Fairs

July 1 - 5 - Cannon Valley Fair

July 9 - 13 - Pennington County Fair,

July 9 - 13 - Watonwan County Fair,

July 10 - 13 - Big Stone County Fair,

July 15 - 20 - Rice County Fair,

July 15 - 19 - Fillmore County Fair

July 16 - 19 - Cass County Fair,

July 20 - 25 - Roseau County Fair,

July 23 - 27 - Isanti County Fair,

July 23 - 27 - Waseca County Free Fair,

July 24 - 27 - Redwood County Fair,

July 30 - August 3 - Washington County Fair,

Very Complete list of Free or Inexpensive Movie Tickets

Be sure to check your local library for reading programs too!

Make your own scavenger hunt. My kids do this at least once a summer. I go around on Sunday and write down all the litter and toys that are not where they are supposed to be. I then turn that list into the scavenger hunt. So not only are the kids having fun, they are cleaning up the yard for me too.

Visit the library often. We tend to go every other week. The older kids pick out a chapter book and an easy or research book. The little one picks out pictures books. We normally get a movie and a few CDs while we are there too. Check to see when they have story time for your branch. Also be sure to sign up for their Summer Reading Club. My county library will give each child a free pass to the local water park after reading just 5 books!

Free Movies. Click the link above for the complete list of free or cheap movies for this summer. I already have three movie days written on the calender for this summer.

Go Camping. We go camping a couple of times every summer. Our Minnesota State Parks have tent camping starting at just $12 a site. We already have all the equipment, so all we need to buy is food. Check out your state parks website for special events that might be going on during the weekends for more free fun. Remember you can hop the boarder if you live close to the boarder of your state. My daughter wanted to go camping on her birthday a couple of years ago. We couldn't go do to it being the first day back to school, so we pitched a tent in the backyard. Only myself and one of the two kids made it through the night, but it was fun and free.

Gardening. Plant a kids garden. Be sure to plant fast growing seeds to help the waiting. Sunflowers, radishes, lettuce, and beans/peas seem to grow pretty fast. Have them weed and water their own garden. Maybe they can create their own labels for the seeds and a small scarecrow for their garden too.

Car Wash. My kids always love helping wash the cars. They also like to wash their bikes and scooters too. Just set them up in their bathing suits, buckets of soapy water and the hose. They will be completely soaked by the time they are done, but they will have fun.

Go fishing. We are not big on fishing, but my sons best friend and his Dad take him fishing at least once a month. They just go to the local lake not to far away and fish all day. They are not fishing to bring home dinner, but are learning about fishing more than anything. My kids do also fish every time they are up at Grandma & Grandpa's cabin. Here is a web site that breaks down by state the Free Fishing Days, so on those days you don't even need a license.

Visit a new park. We have been freezing all of our old bread crusts for our trip to the parks this summer. They work great for feeding the ducks & geese. We do not have a park within walking distance, so we try to hit a new park every time we go. Some are better than others, and we just try to remember which parks the kids really enjoy, and hit those more than once.

Swimming at the beach. I try to go to the beach early in the day for two reasons. One, the sun is not as hot in the morning, and two the teenagers are usually sleeping in still. We tend to leave when the teenagers show up, do to language issues. If you have to pay to enter the beach these issues are normally better and more family friendly. One of the funnest summer memories I have is a few years back when my whole cul-de-sac went to the beach together. A few had jet-skis and one had a boat for pulling tubers. We all BBQd and had the best day together.

Visit the Zoo. Every child in the Twin Cities has been to Como Zoo more than once. We are lucky enough to have one of the last 7 free zoos in the country. Como Zoo keeps upgrading every year, and is in the process of a new Polar Bear exhibit. Como Town is right next door for inexpensive amusement park rides, and there is the conservatory for learning about plants and flowers. Don't forget they have Camp Como Day Camp for the kids, a Japanese Garden and Sparky the Seal Show too. If you aren't lucky enough to have a free zoo, be sure to check out special event days or search out coupons on admission prices.

Cooking. Check out some kids cookbooks from the library, find all the ingredients, and let them go wild. My kids like to cook, when they want to. If I ask them to help it is a different story. They enjoy going through the book and picking out dinner and desserts. We also make alot of rice krispies and cookies over the summer.

County Fairs. Not only do we visit the county fair, but we enter alot of the stuff the kids have made over the summer in the county fair. There is little monetary prizes, but the kids normally make enough to cover the whole trip to the fair. Last year my daughter and her best friend even won second place in the talent show with their dance routine! They won $60 to split between them. I often enter a quilt or two and some baked goods. The kids do much better than me, but I just like to see how I am doing on my quilting progress. I did actually finally win a first place on a mini quilt a few years back. But that was the same year my daughter made her first quilt, and won first place too, she doesn't let me forget that. You can check out some of our projects at my other blog, Michael's in my Basement here.

What are your ideas for the summer? Do you have a freebie that you do every year? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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A blog about living within your means in todays world, while being married, raising three kids, working full-time, and trying not to go crazy in the process.