Over summer break, there are a ton of things to do in Little Rock, Arkansas with kids and many of them are free like the children's bowling program, outdoor movies, summer camps, and library programs. There are also low-cost activities and family outings where there is a nominal charge, too.
Whether your kids are active and want to hit the splash pads or settle back with a book or a fun movie, you'll have a full range of cool things to carry you through the summer.
See Movies for Free (and Cheap)
There are free and discounted movies all over Central Arkansas in the summertime. It's fun to bring a blanket and watch flicks like Wonder Woman or Star Wars at Movies in the Park every Wednesday in June and early July at the River Market.
For budget-friendly indoor movies almost any weekday, Cinemark at 18 Colonel Glenn Plaza usually offers $1 movies on Wednesday and Thursday, Regal McCain has the same on Tuesday and Wednesday, and AMC Chenal 9 has $3 movies on Tuesday and Thursday.
Splash pads are free and are ideal for kids from toddler age up to pre-teen. You'll find these watery playgrounds at Tyndall Park in Benton, Riverfront Park (behind the Marriott), and War Memorial Park.
The public pools and water parks on this list all charge an entry fee, but in some cases it's minimal. War Memorial has a pool, and, for a price, you can swim and play at Wild River Country, a local water park that's the largest in Arkansas.
Rock Creek Church opens its indoor playground to the public on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. This is a great way for younger children to have some air-conditioned play. The slides offer several levels of difficulty for preschool-age kids through elementary school aged with a separate toddler area. After playing, have a snack at the church cafe.
If the tubes are closed for maintenance or if there is a funeral at the church, the closure will be listed on the website.
Bass Pro Shop has free summer camps on selected dates each year. The camps last from noon until 5 p.m and have activities including a new outdoors-related craft every week, 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 two free games of bowling a day, all summer long at a participating center. Usually, Millennium Bowl in Maumelle and Professor Bowl in Little Rock participate. 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 every day all summer. From crafts and activities to movies and special programming, you can fill your whole summer calendar at a local city library.
Barnes and Noble offers the #BookYourSummer reading program where kids can earn free books.
Most of the state parks have activities at least every weekend, but many have kid-friendly things to do during the week in the summer too. Parks like Pinnacle Mountain State Park have summer camps and kids can enjoy camping or hiking in the parks along with their families, too, making for a memorable summer.
Most of these events are free, though some require a small fee. Each park's website will provide information on activities and events.
Central Arkansas has a few lakes that are frequented by swimmers like Ouachita and Lake Sylvia. Lake swimming is a bit different than the predictable lanes at the pool so monitor the kids as they head into deeper water and help them watch out for rocks and underwater obstacles when they jump in or explore under the water. They're likely to spot a fish or two and maybe even see a few frogs as they swim along the lakeshore.
It's a little hot to go to the park during most of the summer, but some of the local parks have cooling splash pads and water features. During the cooler days, and early morning and evening, Little Rock parks give kids a great way to release some energy, whether it's biking, playing mini-golf or enjoying a shaded walk along the river.
Hiking is a great way to stay active in the heat; usually, it's about 10 degrees lower in the shade of the woods. Some hiking trails can be strenuous, but a nice level hike is an exciting and free way to spend some time outside in the summer.
The Burns Park Scout Hiking Trail is a popular hiking trail and has a short, 1.8-mile option. You can walk along the paved Arkansas River Trail and catch the picturesque views at Two Rivers Park and the Two Rivers Bridge.
Visit 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 an interesting afternoon trip for the whole family and is located in downtown Little Rock.
Get in Touch With Nature
The Witt Stephens Nature Center, located in downtown Little Rock, has events off and on throughout the summer, but even when they aren't having an event, it's a great place to visit and learn more about wildlife, fishing, and hunting in Arkansas.
The 16,232 square-foot building is situated on 3.4 acres overlooking the Arkansas River and is part of the Julius Breckling Riverfront Park.