Summer Family Fun on a Budget

Looking for Summer activities within a reasonable price point?  Here are some great tips to help you maximize entertainment while minimizing costs:

(1) Payment Plan Seasons Passes

We heard a great tip from savvy saver Aimee Geroux (an extreme couponing mom);: many amusement parks now offer easy, no interest, payment plans for season passes.  Our family purchases passes for Canada’s Wonderland because it’s within driving distance from our house (so we can maximize use).  We buy the passes at the end of the previous year (for the following year) because there’s always a great deal.

Aimee mentioned another great way to afford it though:

I bought my family season passes to our local amusement park on a monthly payment plan. My initial payment was the monthly amount plus all the taxes for passes upfront ($91.03). The remaining 5 months I paid just the monthly amount of $46.64. This took away the sting of the full pass cost upfront at once with an affordable monthly cost. – Aimee Geroux, Extreme Couponing

(2) Free bowling!

We’ve mentioned this before in other posts, but during the summer months, your kids can bowl free at participating alleys in your area.  It’s a way for communities to thank patrons and provide a safe, fun place for kids to play indoors.  Simply register on for two free games of bowling, every day, all summer long. This is over $500 in savings and is perfect for rainy days.

If everyone in the family is interested in bowling, there’s room for even more savings.  There’s an option of adding on a family pass (for up to four adults) for $25 for two free games.  Its’ all done online and extra savings just might pop up on the screen, so check it out.

(3) Weekday Travel

If your family has the luxury of traveling during the week – do it!  Most of the resorts we spoke with said they offer the most savings between Monday night and Thursday morning.  Not only will you get better rates, but its’ also quieter at resorts and hotels which means shorter line-ups, more room selection (for suites etc) and more flexibility.  We’ve negotiated entertainment type packages at resorts, on the spot, when traveling during quieter times.

(4) Sign-up for Savings

As summer approaches, track down all of your family-favourite attractions and activities and sign-up for their newsletters.  You’ll be the first to know about special savings and often times, signing up for the newsletters means you’ll get a discount off ticket prices.  We’ve done this with our favorite resorts (like Great Wold Lodge,  Wet n’ Wild and Canada’s Wonderland) as well as local attractions.  This also works well with transportation like trains and planes.

(5) Cheap Movie Days

 For the rainy days, check out your local theaters for family-friendly movie days.  Often times, in the summer, theaters offer tickets for less than $4 per person.  Bring along your own treats (or stop at the bulk barn in advance of the movie) and you’re set!

(6) DIY Drive-In

Love the movies but don’t want to take the brood to the theater?  You can always set up a cute mini-drive-in in your own back yard or driveway.  We’ve taken cardboard boxes and let the kids decorate their own ‘cars.’  Toss a few pillows in each box for comfort and they’ve all got their own  seat.  This is a great activity to get the neighbourhood involved in too.  Some people can provide popcorn, someone can provide their yard and so on.  This could cost less to nothing and the kids love it!

(7) Festivals

Festivals have always been a summer mainstay in all cities but this year we’re seeing an increasing number targeted to families with young children.  Many of them take part in parks, and are free, or at an affordable admission price.  Grab your fold-up chair, a cooler, sunblock…and you’re all ready to go.

Toronto Festivals

(8) Free courses & activities

Many communities and popular retailers (like Home Depot and Lowes) offer free summer activities for kids.  Local community centers open their doors for free swim, table tennis, dances and more.  Getting involved in your community and keeping your finger on the pulse of it all will help you save money.  Check out local drop-in centers, YMCAs and more.

(9) Group Deal websites

Many parents are avid online shoppers so use this to your advantage when it comes to summer savings. Many websites like Groupon offer reduced cost passes to popular attraction.s  If you’re traveling to a new city, change your parameters so you can access deals in other places. You can find great summer fun discounts on daily & group buy deal sites.

Also, websites like offer great discounts and coupons! You can find deals on your favourite places to visitand then use the savings to explore some new ones too!


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