Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Check out Go Ask Mom's Summer Fun Guide ... take one

Posted May 20, 2012
Updated May 21, 2012

I'll be on WRAL-TV's morning news on Fox 50 at around 6:10 a.m. Monday morning to talk about free and cheap summer fun.

I'll have a full Go Ask Mom Summer Guide later this week. So look for more ideas and expanded information. But here are some of the things that I'll be talking about with Kelcey Carlson on Monday morning.

So here's a preview. Stay tuned for more!

1. Free and cheap movies: Movie theaters across the region offer free and cheap movies on some weekday mornings when school is out. Tickets are usually no more than $2 a piece. And, in some cases, adults are admitted for free. You usually get a good deal on concessions too. I've updated our free and cheap movie database for the 2012 season, though some of the theaters have not posted their movie schedules. So stay tuned for continuing updates.

2. Public pools: For those of us without a pool membership, public pools are a great and cheap way to cool off in the summer. Most charge only a few bucks per person to swim. Some include spraygrounds, which dump and spray water on kids and are great fun. For a list of public pools, which do not require a membership to swim, check out our public pools database.

And stay tuned for more information about Buffaloe Road Aquatics Center, which is scheduled to open this summer in east Raleigh. The 6,000-square-foot indoor recreational leisure pool will include a giant water slide, vortex, lazy river, lap lanes, zero depth entry, tot-sized play features, volleyball net, basketball hoops and concession stand when it opens. Go Ask Mom about summer fun Go Ask Mom about summer fun

3. Historic sites and other family destinations: North Carolina has more than two dozen historic sites and many of them are within driving distance of the Triangle. While your kids' eyes may glaze over at the mention of visiting an old plantation house, never fear. You'll also find, in many cases, plenty of open space for kids to roam and explore nature too. My favorite recent experience at a local historic site was at Historic Stagville in Durham where a group of chickens came over to our picnic table while we were having lunch. Check out Go Ask Mom's gallery of posts on Triangle family destinations to learn more about some of the historic sites in our region and other great and usually free or cheap destinations for families.

4. Summer reading programs at local libraries. I'll have a post on this in the next week or so, but these are great opportunities to keep your kids reading during the summer. Libraries typically offer free weekly activities to encourage kids to read. Once kids have finished the program and read a certain number of books or pages, they often get a free book, coupons to local restaurants and more. You can check Go Ask Mom's library resources page for links to local libraries. And stay tuned for a post specifically on summer reading programs.

5. Free bowling: Some bowling alleys offer free bowling to kids during the summer. Click here for information about a program that offers free bowling at alleys in Clayton, Sanford, Wilson and Fayetteville, among other places. Click here for information about free summer programs at AMF alleys.

6. Nature centers: The region is peppered with nature centers, which typically offer hands-on activities and more for kids and families, along with open spaces, forests and trails to run around and explore. A new favorite of mine is White Deer Park in Garner. In north Raleigh, there's the new Annie Louise Wilkerson MD Nature Preserve too. 

7. Playgrounds: You could easily spend the entire summer exploring new playgrounds. I've reviewed dozens in the last couple of years. Click here for our parks database. And check this post that I wrote for's Out & About section on my favorite five big parks in the Triangle.

8. Museums: We're lucky to have three major state museums that all are free. It costs nothing to spend the day at the N.C. Museum of History, which unveiled its new Story of North Carolina exhibit last year; the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, which opened its new and massive Nature Research Center in April; and the N.C. Museum of Art, which offers all kinds of very inexpensive programs for kids. If you've been a regular at any of these museums, perhaps the summer is the time to explore some of their daily or weekly programs. Favorites of mine include the weekend family tours at the art museum and storytimes at the natural sciences museum.  And stay tuned for more information about a free Wednesday movie series for kids that the art museum is planning this summer.

If regular trip to Marbles Kids Museum, the Museum of Life and Science, the N.C. Zoo, Kidzu Children's Museum and other places that charge admission are among your summer plans, an annual membership, which usually allows free admission to the museums, may be a great option. Read my earlier post for details on museum memberships. (Reminder: Kidzu Children's Museum is free on Sundays).

9. Vacation Bible School: Local churches across the region offer free or nearly free Vacation Bible Schools for kids as young as 3, in some cases. Read my earlier post for details.

I'll have more ideas by the end of this week. Happy summer!


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