Free and discounted things to do to keep your kids busy this summer

Bethany Bauer, mom of five, says she’s on a tight budget and relies heavily on free and low cost activities.

“Not that expensive for one or two, turns into $100 plus day when you multiply it times five kids,” Bauer says.

To help her stay organized, she keeps a color-coded calendar with all the events.

Every week, the family heads to library activities like movies, arts and crafts, chess and more.

Maria Palacio, a district manager with the Lee County Library System, says staff starts planning summer activities a year in advance.

“All of our programs are free to attend and participate in, so we want them taking advantage of that,” Palacio says.

The Lee County Library also rents out family passes to places like the Gulf Coast Symphony, Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium, and Pure Florida Sightseeing Cruises

If families are looking to learn about their roots without the DNA kit, the Fort Myers Library offers a genealogy room. Trained staff is there to help people explore their origins with things like immigration records and census data.

With the national Kids Bowl Free program, kids get two free games everyday, all summer long at participating bowling alleys. Registration is required.

Kids Skate Free offers a similar program. On weekends during the summer, kids can skate for free at Spinz in South Fort Myers. Registration is required.

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Regal Cinemas offers $1 admission for certain movies.

Marquee Cinemas in Cape Coral has its free movies sprinkled throughout the summer.

The Home Depot offers free, hands-on workshops for kids ages 5-12 the first Saturday of each month. A company representative tells WINK online registration is encouraged. Michael’s offers a similar program, but costs $3 per child.

Naples Botanical Garden is offering military service members and their families free admission between May 18 and September 2 with qualifying identification. Households with Collier County Library cards will also receive free admission June 11- June 16, and August 31 –September 2.

On the first Saturday of every month, Collier County residents receive free admission to the Naples Zoo all day long.

IMAG is also offering military service members and their families free admission between May 18 and September 2 with qualifying identification.

Through Museums for All, those receiving food assistance (SNAP benefits) can gain free or reduced admission to IMAG.

Reporter:Allison Gormly
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