Summer vacation doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun! Each year, I compile a list of cheap things to do with kids this summer in Buffalo and throughout WNY. Some are totally free!
The suggestions will give you at LEAST 30 days of summer fun on a dime!
This year’s list is broken down into three parts; cheap or free things to do in WNY that are outside, things to do at home and a list of indoor activities in case you need a break from the heat!
Cheap Things to Do with Kids This Summer in Buffalo That Will Get You Outside
- Free Summer Wednesdays at Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum where admission is free and rides are just $.50 (Kiddieland is outdoors). Visit their Facebook page for details.
- FREE – Visit Old Falls Street in Niagara Falls on Saturdays throughout the summer for free special, events, live music, lawn games, activities and more. The schedule of special events, music and more is here.
- Green Acres Free Family Movie Night & Glow -in-th-Dark Nights
- FREE – Check out one of the many Parks and Playgrounds of WNY.
- Cool off in one of the local Wading Pools and Splash Pads in WNY.
- Stock up on locally grown produce and get the kids to help at U-Pick place in WNY. Our list was last updated in May 2019!
- FREE – Get moving and take everyone on a Family Friendly Hike.
- Visit Reinstein Woods and enjoy the day exploring nature. Reinstein Woods hosts numerous family friendly free events so check their calendar for dates/times.
- FREE – Canalside has free games, a beach and playground that is available daily. They also host a number of events, many that are free, throughout the summer.
- FREE – Head to Lewiston for Free Family Saturdays at Artpark! While you’re there, take a walk down Center Street. If you take it all the way to the end you’ll end up at the water and might catch the Jet Boat coming in or out, but you’ll definitely be able to see some boats and fishing.
- FREE – Visit the Buffalo Bill’s training camp and watch the players in action. Here’s a link to their 2019 schedule.
- FREE – Visit Buffalo Olmstead Park’s site for a list of parks that host free family movie nights. You can find information for summer 2019 on this page on their site.
- Spend the day at one of the Beaches of WNY.
- Visit the Ollcott Beach and Carrousel Park.
- FREE – Watch the fireworks at Niagara Falls. Fireworks displays happen nightly in the summer. Click here for the full schedule.
- Visit Old Fort Niagara. Children 5 and under are free.
- FREE – There are free fitness classes happening throughout WNY at various parks. This year there is only one class that notes it is specifically geared toward kids and/or families BUT it does say the classes are open to anyone unless otherwise noted so if you have older kids that could keep up with adults, you may have more class options. Here’s a list!
- FREE – The plaza on Niagara Falls Boulevard where Target, Old Navy, Lowe’s, etc. are in host a number of free events throughout the year. They have a train, music and several other things throughout the year. Check their Facebook page for details.
- Several of the Wegman’s locations offer kid or family-friendly programming including fitness, music and movies. Unfortunately the only time I’ve seen information about these events is by seeing it in the store. It’s usually in their Market Cafe area or on signage near the entrance. Several locations offer Kids Eat Free days too!
- FREE – Take a ride on The Eastgate Express! June through October the Eastgate Plaza in Williamsville has a Farmer’s Market every Wednesday. During the Farmer’s Market kids can ride the Eastgate Express for free and Michael’s Craft Store usually has a free or low cost craft workshop going on in the same plaza. Here’s a link to info about the train.
Free or cheap things to do at home or in your neighborhood with kids this summer
- Have a water war. Water blasters are usually $1 at Dollar Tree and you can reuse them throughout the summer. You can also get balloons from the dollar store to use in the water war. Have the kids help you fill them and then pick them up.
- Set up a tent and go camping in the backyard. You could make a whole day/night out of this one by making your meals on the grill, having a campfire and actually sleeping out in the tent over night.
- Host a sidewalk chalk art competition with your neighbors. Buy some sidewalk chalk from the dollar store and have your kids and their neighborhood friends make their best artwork, everyone wins a prize!
- Go on a nature scavenger hunt. Here’s a link to a scavenger hunt board on our Pinterest page.
- Make homemade playdough. Here’s a link to a recipe on our Pinterest page.
- Set up a lemonade stand.
- Make cookies and deliver them to the local firehouse or to a nursing home.
- Have a picnic! Stay in the yard or go to a park.
- Make a homemade water slide. Here’s some tips on making one using a tarp and your hose.
- Take a bike ride and explore your neighborhood.
- Make slime – It’s all the rage and it’s pretty easy to make with this simple recipe. You can find more recipes on my Pinterest page.
- Make an American Ninja Warrior style course in your yard. Here’s some ideas on how to do it. You don’t have to get as elaborate as this blogger did but instead you could focus on using items you already have or things that are really low cost like pool noodles, rope, etc.
- Try squirt gun painting. Here’s how.
- Do a summer reading challenge. This may not be a favorite for everyone but if you have a book worm, this is a great idea! Plus, Barnes and Nobles has a summer reading program that allows kids in grades 1 -6 to earn a free book. Here’s the details.
- Try Geocaching. Geocaching is considered a giant treasure hunt. You can download an app to guide you. Here’s a site to help you learn more.
- Make a fort! You make it out of blankets and chairs or out of a box. It may sound crazy but my kids watch YouTubers make box forts regularly so give your kids a big box and challenge them to make and design their own box fort!
- For Lego lovers, Lego offers a free mini build program where they can download building instructions to create models at home. It’s totally free and they can try to make the models using the Legos they already have. Here’s the details.
Too hot? Or just want to stay inside? Here’s some ideas for that too!
- Check out a $1 movie at the Regal Cinema. Not all Regal’s participate in this promotion so check the site for details and the movie line up.
- Attend a Home Depot Workshop. Visit their site and enter your zip code to see the schedule of workshops for kids near you.
- Michael’s Craft Store hosts Camp Creativity throughout the year. They have free or low cost crafts that are appropriate for most ages. Classes options, dates and times vary by location. Please visit their site to find information about your specific Michael’s store. The Transit Road store posts their classes to our calendar a lot.
- On Tuesdays, the Four Season in Niagara Falls has $3 movies. Here’s a link to their site with details.
- There are a number of bowling alleys throughout WNY that participate in kids bowl free. Click here to search by state and get a list of all participating sites in NYS.
- Visit your local library and take advantage of their free programming. Most of the libraries in the Buffalo & Erie County system offer free activities daily.
- Just Fun Family Entertainment Center in Hamburg has daily specials. Some of them are buy one, get one free deals so check their site for details.
- Visit the New York Power Authority. They offer free admission and there are a number of things to see and do.
- Groupon always has a number of local deals for kid-friendly places. We’re keeping an eye on them and posting them here. You don’t have to search Groupon anymore cause we’re doing it for you!
- Go out for dinner to one of these restaurants that offer kids eat free on specific days.
As always watch our calendar! We are always posting events that are free or cheap things to do with kids.
Did we miss something you love to do over the summer? Tell us.