30 Days of Summer Fun on a Dime – 2021 Edition

30 Days of Summer Fun on a Dime
Princess Party Characters

Each year, I compile a list of both free and cheap things to do with kids this summer in Buffalo and throughout WNY.  Last year for 2020, I didn’t do one because…COVID, but this year, the list is back and better than ever!

Some of the things mentioned are totally free, while others are low cost but either way, this post will give you ideas on places to go, things to see, PLUS stuff you can do at home if you don’t want to venture out.

Cheap Things to Do with Kids This Summer in Buffalo

  1. The Flamingo Boats at Hoyt Lake – The flamingo boats are back at Hoyt Lake in Buffalo.  They are just $10 an hour for 30 minutes or $15 per hour.  Bring a picnic and make a day of it.
  2. Explore the Local Murals – Many beautiful murals have popped up throughout the city and in the suburbs.  Welcome 716 has a great list.  Take a day, drive around and find these murals, take your kid’s photo at each and create a photo collage.
  3. Green Acres Free Family Movie Night & Glow -in-th-Dark Nights. It looks like they are planning to have them this year, COVID restrictions permitting so be sure to check their calendar before heading out.
  4. Cool off in one of the local Wading Pools and Splash Pads in WNY. Many are free with a town card or low cost to enter.
  5. Visit Griffis Sculpture Park – The park features over 250 large scale sculptures spread throughout miles of hiking trails.  It’s just $5 for adults to enter.  Students and Seniors are $3.
  6. 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 2021. 
  7. Visit the Ollcott Beach and Carrousel Park.
  8. Visit Old Fort Niagara.  Children 5 and under are free.
  9. Backyard 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.
  10. Michael’s Online Classes – Normally Michael’s hosts free or low cost in person craft classes each summer.  According to their calendar, it looks like they are doing both in-person and virtual Kid’s Club classes this summer.  Here’s a link to their in-person classes.  And, here’s a link to their virtual options. 
  11. Visit Rock City Park – Located just outside of Olean, NY, Rock City Park features giant rock formations, scenic views and hiking trails.  It’s $5 for adults, kids 6-12 are $3.

Free Things to Do with Kids This Summer in Buffalo

  1. Spend the day at one of the Beaches of WNY.
  2. Get moving and take everyone on a Family Friendly Hike. 
  3. In addition to hikes, there are number of trails throughout WNY, visit this site to find trails to explore.  This site alone could keep you busy all summer!
  4. Visit Reinstein Woods and enjoy the day exploring nature.  Reinstein Woods hosts numerous family friendly free events so check their calendar for dates/times.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. Go on a nature scavenger hunt.  Here’s a link to a scavenger hunt board on our Pinterest page.
  8. Make homemade playdough.  Here’s a link to a recipe on our Pinterest page.
  9. Set up a lemonade stand, sell lemonade and donate the proceeds to charity.
  10. Make cookies and deliver them to the local firehouse or to a nursing home.
  11. Have a picnic!  Stay in the yard or go to a park.
  12. Make a homemade water slide.  Here’s some tips on making one using a tarp and your hose. 
  13. Take a bike ride and explore your neighborhood. Here’s a list of local bike paths. 
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Try squirt gun painting.  Here’s how.
  17. 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! Use your local library to make this a free activity or head to  Barnes and Nobles to view their summer reading list,  When you buy items from the list they are buy one, get one 50% off.    Here’s the details.  They also have some virtual events this summer.
  18. 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. 
  19. 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!
  20. Do the Fun 4 Kids Let’s Take a Walk Scavenger Hunt in your neighborhood.  Download it here. 

Too hot? Or just want to stay inside? Here’s some ideas for that too!

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Visit the New York Power Authority. They offer free admission and there are a number of things to see and do. For 2021, you need to make a reservation to visit.
  5. Groupon always has a number of local deals for kid-friendly places.
  6. 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 this summer in Buffalo. 

Did we miss something you love to do over the summer?  Tell us.