I work from home part time, which allows me to spend most of my days with my kids. While we spend an occasional day just playing with toys or in the backyard, I typically take them somewhere for at least part of every day. Since they don’t attend daycare, I think it’s important for them to interact with other kids. They love exploring new places. And as I’ve mentioned before on the blog, when we’re not home, they’re not making a mess in the house! And we’re truly all happier when we’re going places. That being said, I don’t like to spend a lot of money on our outings!
Here’s a list of cheap (or FREE) things to do in the Bucks County area this spring and summer!
Indoor Play Spaces at Local Fast Food Restaurants
This spring, we finally have some options for indoor playgrounds that are free! (My kids love places like Playpad, but I feel obligated to spend a few hours there after paying for admission.)
So far, the ones I know of that are open include:
McDonald’s in Penndel (shown above)
Burger King in Feasterville
Burger King in Souderton
Chick-fil-A in Bensalem (Street Road)
Chick-fil-A in Warrington
Chick-fil-A in Warminster
I’ve heard that some restaurants are only opening the play areas for limited hours (typically lunch), so you might want to call to confirm.
Free Museum Passes
Bucks County Free Libraries do NOT offer free museum passes. HOWEVER, many of the District Libraries do! (They’re different – I know, it’s confusing.) Visit THIS link to see what the different library locations are. Then use the online catalog to search for “Museum Pass.” It’ll tell you the different passes available, and which library offers a pass. The library has a Membership to many local spaces, and you’re able to borrow the pass for a day of admission and then return it when you’re finished! Elmwood Park Zoo, Pearl S. Buck International Museum, and Pennsbury Manor are just a few of the locations you can visit with one of the library passes. Headsup though, I have found that museum passes can be reserved a month or more ahead of time, so you probably won’t be able to use this for spur of the moment outings.
While obviously not free, you might also consider buying a Membership to a local spot that you and your children love. Most Memberships tend to “pay for themselves” after a few visits. Having a Membership will definitely motivate you to get out of the house because you’ll want to get your money’s worth. Plus, you won’t feel bad if you only go for an hour or two. We currently have Memberships to Sesame Place, Grounds for Sculpture, Morris Arboretum, Legoland Discovery Center and Adventure Aquarium. And we have Summer Season passes to Shady Brook Farm. Plus, I signed the kids up for the Dorney Park Passes (more on that below). Our Bucks County Children’s Museum Membership just expired.
And if you’re looking for FREE passes, I know of two options that you’ll want to keep an eye out for! Dorney Park is currently offering their FREE Pre-K passes. Your child just needs to be 5 or under when you register. And registration ends in September. Adventure Aquarium also offers FREE pre-K passes, but you need to watch for when that begins. They’re not offering it right now, but last year it started in August I believe.
We did the Kids Bowl Free program last year, and it was a great very low cost activity when it was rainy or TOO hot to be outside! What’s great about this one is that is starts early and runs late. Penndel started their Kids Bowl Free on April 15 and it goes until mid September! Kids can bowl free by registering HERE. Each child registered can get two free games of bowling per day. You just need to pay for shoe rental, which is typically around $3. When you go to the website, just check for bowling alleys which participate in your area. Penndel and Limerick are a few participating. (TIP: Times vary by location! I suggest checking the times before registering because you can only register at one lane. You might decide to drive a few minutes further if the times work better for your schedule.) They also offer discounted passes for adults if you want to bowl with your child. Download the app to your phone before you head to the bowling alley. When you sign in, they’ll check for a code on your app to give you the discount.
Altitude Junior Jump
This one isn’t free and isn’t just for summer, but I thought it was a good enough deal to make this list! Altitude is a trampoline park in Feasterville, and they offer Junior Jump every day except Sunday (and select dates so check the online calendar to make sure) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Junior Jump is for kids 6 and under and is only $10 per child and $2 for adults. It’s a really great deal for the amount of time, and it WEARS the kids out!
Check Out Your Local Library
EXCITING NEWS!!! As of April 20, Penn’s Little Village (Langhorne) and Career Corner (Yardley) are reopen for play! These are adorable and totally free indoor play areas with kid-size “town” areas for imaginative play. I have a post ALL About the different play areas inside the libraries as well as storytime events and nearby playgrounds HERE!
And if you just want a great spot to enjoy the outdoors with a book, be sure to visit the garden spaces at the Doylestown, Langhorne, Perkasie and Yardley branches. Grundy Library in Bristol is beautiful, too!
Between storytime events (yes, they’re back!), the play areas, and picking out new books, DVDs and videogames, we can spend an entire FREE day at the library and then enjoying what we picked out!
Visit a Local Farm
There are quite a few farms in Bucks and neighboring Montgomery County that allow families to visit to see the animals or pick-your-own produce. Here are a few:
Terhune Orchards offers pick-your-own events as well as Read & Pick events, which is really great for younger kids. We recently went to the Strawberry Read & Pick. For $12, the kids listened to a few stories and learned about strawberries and then filled a container with berries they picked themselves. They then also got to see animals, ride trikes, and climb and play in the tractor playground.
None Such Farms in Buckingham offers pick-your-own crops such as strawberries. You only pay for what you pick. No admission fee, and no reservations needed. It’s offered Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
At Snipes Farm in Morrisville, families can visit with the animals and playground and then shop the weekly farm market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Ryerss Farm in Pottstown is a unique experience for any horse enthusiast. The country’s oldest non-profit organization of its kind, it provides a comfortable retirement for horses. Visiting the horses is free, though donations are appreciated. You can also purchase treats to feed the horses. No reservations are needed. Current hours posted are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
And at Tanner Brothers Dairy Farm in Ivyland and Merrymead Farm in Lansdale, you can visit the animals outside and then stop in the market for ice cream! (NOTE: As of March 2022, the ice cream counter is still closed at Tanner Brothers, but you can purchase half gallons to take home.)
Shady Brook Farm offers many pick-your-own events. While it isn’t free, it’s relatively inexpensive for a day out. Plus, Shady Brook has a very cute playground area by the Market and Uncle Dave’s Ice Cream, which you do not need to pay to play on.
Henry and Charlotte’s first experience in a real movie theater was during Summer Movie Express at Regal Cinemas last year. It was a great low-cost way to test it out. The movies aren’t new, but that actually made the experience less stressful since we chose movies I knew they liked/thought they’d be okay sitting through. This year, maybe we’ll try some new (to them) options! This year, tickets increased from $1 to $2, but that’s still pretty cheap compared to normal prices. These movies are shown on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Summer Express times vary, but it’s typically 11 or noon. They start June 21. Here’s a LINK with more details.
Regal at Oxford Valley also offers $6.50 NEW movies on Tuesdays for anyone signed up for Regal Crown Club (which is free!) This saves around $4 per ticket! You also get 50% off popcorn on Tuesdays.
I also just learned that The Newtown Theatre offers a FREE movie series! These are first come, first serve. Doors open 1 hours before show time. There’s a standard showing at 10 a.m. and then a sensory friendly (lights are up a bit, sound in down a bit) at 1 p.m. Free summer movies start Wednesday, July 6. Each movie will start at 10 a.m., with a special sensory-friendly screening at 1 p.m.
This year’s summer lineup includes:
“Madagascar” on July 6
“Kung Fu Panda” on July 20
“Happy Feet” on July 27
“Paddington 2” on Aug. 3
“Hugo” on Aug. 10
“How to Train Your Dragon” on Aug. 17
Outdoor Movie Nights
If you’d rather watch a movie while sprawled on blankets or in lawn chairs, there are outdoor options in Bucks County! Some are completely free, and the others are very reasonable when you consider you won’t be dropping big bucks on movie theater concessions.
Here are a few to check out: Upper Southampton Parks & Rec’s Movies in the Park, Warwick Township Movies in the Park, Mid Atlantic Event Group Drive In Movie Nights.
Visit a Local Nature Center
If you and your kids love to explore the outdoors, consider visiting a local nature center! We like to visit Silver Lake Nature Center in Bristol because we can take a nice shady walk, stop by the playground and then visit the turtles inside the Visitor Center on the way out. We also enjoyed the Churchville Nature Center last summer.
Go For a Walk Someplace Different
Getting outside for a walk isn’t limited to just parks or your neighborhood. If you’re not feeling particularly “naturey” but still want to take the kids somewhere, consider visiting a location like downtown New Hope, Lambertville or Peddler’s Village. You can get outside in the fresh air, do some window shopping, and grab an ice cream. There’s plenty to look at that you can kill an hour or two without spending a lot of money. Peddler’s Village has really impressive sand sculptures right now and (weather permitting I’m assuming) they’re supposed to last until the end of summer.
TIP: If you visit Peddler’s Village or live in that area, be sure to check out the grounds at Best of France Antiques off 202! It’s completely free to walk around outside, and my kids had so much fun checking out the sculptures – especially the dinosaurs!
Summer Concerts & Music Events
Several places in Bucks County offer free (or cheap) outdoor concerts throughout the summer. These events are completely family-friendly, so bring the kids, some blankets and snacks, and enjoy music in the fresh air. If you’re looking for concerts near you, your Township’s Facebook page is usually a good place to start.
Here are a few Summer 2022 schedules/details.
Penn Community Ampitheater, Bensalem: Concerts are Wednesdays and tickets are $5 for residents/seniors, $10 for non-residents.
Langhorne Summer Concerts are held every other Wednesday, and they’re free to the public.
Falls Township Community Park, Levittown: Free concerts by the soccer fields on Sunday nights
Peddler’s Village offers free live entertainment during many summer weekends. In June, they have their Summer Block Party, July is Bluegrass & Blueberries Month in July and Peach Festival in August.
Shady Brook Farm has live music every weekend! You can buy tickets for their Summer unWINEd shows on the Festival Field Friday nights, which includes access to the big playground, bounce pillows, go-carts and more. Or, you can opt to visit The Stone’s Throw Pub for live music during their Patio Parties Friday through Sunday. Music on the patio is free, and kids can play on the small playground right next to the stage.
Parks & Playgrounds
There’s no way I could make this list without including our favorite pastime – visiting local parks and playgrounds! The kids and I probably visit a playground at least once a week. If you’re getting tired of the same ol’ slides and swings, make it a point to try out some NEW (to you) parks and playgrounds this summer! Take a look at this Playground Guide that I’m constantly updating for some ideas. TIP: Go for a two-fer and visit a playground that ALSO has a spray pad! Or, an event like the one below! The Bristol Township Municipal Park hosts Fire Truck Fridays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
If you want to go beyond playgrounds, hike Ringing Rocks (with a hammer in hand), picnic waterfront at Nockamixon State Park or the Bristol Waterfront, or bike the many local trails like those in Tyler State Park.
There are plenty of things to do this summer without breaking the bank!