Over summer break, you have months to figure out what to do and where to take your kids. That can be hard on the pocketbook, so here are some free places and events to take your kids during the summer. I threw in a few mostly free places too. You should be able to fill up at least most of the days of summer with this list.
Don't forget the list of non-free things and restaurants to bring kids in Little Rock.
Splash pads are free and are good for kids from toddler age up to pre-teen. There are splash pads at Tyndall Park in Benton, Riverfront Park (behind the Mariott), and War Memorial Park.
The public pools and water parks listed all charge an entry fee, but it's minimal at some. War Memorial also has a pool, and we have Wild River Country, which is a local water park.
There are free and discounted movies all over Central Arkansas in the summertime. Movies in the Park is a free summer movie series every Wednesday at the River Market. Cinemark at 18 Colonel Glenn Plaza is offering $1 movies on Wednesday and Thursday. Regal McCain is offering $1 movies on Tuesday and Wednesday and Chenal 9 is offering $3 movies on Tuesday and Thursday.
Rock Creek Church opens its indoor playground to the public on weekdays. This is a great way for younger children to have some air-conditioned play. The slides offer several levels for preschool age kids to probably elementary school aged. They have a separate toddler area and the church has a cafe and restrooms that are accessible. Open to the public from Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Bass Pro Free Family Summer Camp
Bass Pro has free summer camps on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from June 25 to July 24. The camps last from noon until 5 p.m. The camps don't last all day, but they have various activities during that time period including a new craft every week, several workshops and some competitive events. Topics include hunting, bird watching, hiking, archery, gardening, camping, and water safety.
If you register your child, they can get 2 free games a day, all summer long, for free at a participating center. Millennium Bowl in Maumelle and Professor Bowl in Little Rock are participating. This program is designed by bowling centers to give back to the community and provide a safe, secure, and fun way for kids to spend time this summer.
The Central Arkansas Library system has events going on almost everyday all summer. From from crafts and activities to movies and special programming, you could fill your whole summer at a local library. There are library locations all over central Arkansas. Check the linked schedule for more details.
Barnes and Noble has a fun summer reading program where kids can earn free books.
Most of our state parks have activities at least every weekend, but most have some during the week in the summer. Parks like Pinnacle Mountain State Park have summer camps during some weekdays. Most of these events are free, though some require a small fee. It can be fun to camp or hike in our parks too. Camping generally requires a small fee.
Lakes are a good way to cool off, though not as safe as a pool. Central Arkansas has a few lakes that are frequented by swimmers. Ouachita and Lake Sylvia are popular in the summer. Teach your kids to hold their nose before they jump in. Getting lake water forced up your nose can be dangerous.
It's a little hot to visit some city parks during most of the summer, but some of the local parks have splash pads and water features. During the cooler days, these parks give kids a great way to release some energy.
Hiking is a great way to stay active in the heat because usually, it's about 10 degrees lower in the woods. Some hiking trails can be strenuous, but a nice level hike is a fun and free way to spend some time outside in the summer.
Heifer International's Global Village
Heifer's Global Village is free and educational. The village teaches kids about the global hunger crisis and empowers them by showing them how they can help. This would make a fun afternoon trip. Located downtown.
Witt Stephens Nature Center
The Witt Stephens Nature Center has events off and on throughout the summer, but even when they aren't having an event, it's fun to visit and learn more about wildlife, fishing, and hunting in Arkansas. Located downtown.