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7 Summer Activities on a Dime

The Locke family at Sparks Marina's playground.
The Locke family at Sparks Marina’s playground.

While finally being able to stay at home with my kiddos is a dream come true, it puts us in a spot where we have to be very deliberate and frugal with our finances.   Here’s the hard part…it’s summer and we still like to have fun!  Fortunately, though, there are plenty of fun things to do in Reno while still keeping your money in your pocket!

1.  Libraries.  Most of our Reno area libraries offer story time and toddler time for kiddos.  The best part?  They’re totally free and you can get out of the heat!   Visit www.washoecountylibrary.us to find the closest libraries, and to download a monthly calendar  I’m sure your children will fall in love with a librarian like mine have.  Also, be sure to check the calendar for free family movie times (usually offered on a Saturday).

2.  Sparks Marina.  The Sparks Marina has so much to offer that it will not grow old even with many visits!  Parking is plentiful and free.  There are two fantastic play structures with a looping sidewalk for kids to ride their bikes or scooters within view while you relax on a bench (wait, can moms “relax” at the park?).   Older kids might want to join you on a two-mile walk or ride around the marina.  The big grassy hills are perfect for rolling down, and are a favorite for my kiddos.  Dig in the sand, lay on the beach, or dare to jump in the water!  You can even have a picnic under one of the many big shade trees.  This totally free option is one of our family favorites.

3.  Movie Theaters.  Cinemark theaters are offering “Summer Movie Clubhouse,” with movies rated “G” and “PG” for just $1 per person!  The Summit Sierra and Park Lane theaters are both participating.  There will be one movie per week for 10 weeks.  My kids have never been to a movie theater (because it would cost us and arm and a leg and I’m pretty sure they’d only last for half the movie), but at $1 per person, I will be introducing them to the wonderful world of movie theaters this summer without feeling bad if they all fall apart and we have to leave early.  It’s a win-win.  Visit www.cinemark.com/summer-movie-clubhouse for more details on movie showings and show times.

 4.  Bowling.  There are two different free kids bowling programs happening this summer.  High Sierra Lanes and AMF Starlite Lanes in Reno, as well as Carson Lanes in Carson City are all participating in one of the two programs.  Each child can receive two free games of bowling EVERY day throughout the summer.  You still have to rent bowling shoes, but this is still a great deal!  Head to www.kidsbowlfree.com or www.freebowling.amf.com to register your children and find more details.

5.  Sierra Safari Zoo.  While the Sierra Safari Zoo does have an entrance fee of $7, show up with your kids on the first Monday of any month (unless it’s a holiday) and you’ll find yourselves walking in without paying a dime!  You can look around at lions, hyenas, tigers, ligers (who knew?), monkeys and more!  Visit www.sierrasafarizoo.org for more info on this zoo.

6.  Swimming.  Is it odd to anyone else that swimming can be so expensive?  Maybe it’s just that I have a handful of kids, but swimming seems to be pricey.  If you’re looking for a wet place to cool off without spending a lot of money (besides the backyard kiddie pool), be sure to check out Deer Park Pool in Sparks on Prater Way.  It’s an outdoor heated pool and they offer $1 Fridays!  It’s a perfect way to cool off at the end of the week.  View the Activity Guide for more info at www.sparksrec.com.

7.  Lazy 5 Water Play Park.  Although you have to take a little drive out Pyramid Highway, the Lazy 5 water play park is well worth it, especially for little ones.  There are no standing pools of water, only various spouting water features and overhead buckets that fill and dump water, which gives parents of young ones peace of mind.  It is enclosed with a fence, and has its own bathrooms, covered tables to eat and rest, and grassy areas in case you want to lie in the sun.  I have brought my children as young as 1 year old to Lazy 5 park with no problems or worry of too much water in their faces.  Entrance is $3 per person, and children under 3 years old are free!   They have varying open days during the summer, so you’ll want to call first to confirm which days and hours they are open (775-424-1866).  Besides the water play area, Lazy 5 park also has a library, large grassy areas to play, picnic tables and more.

What are some of your favorite places for summer fun while still sticking to a budget? Share yours in the comments, and be sure to bookmark Reno Moms Blog’s “Things To Do” page! Check back often as we build up this list.

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About Jessica Locke

Jessica Locke
Jessica is a wife and homeschooling mom to four kiddos, three pups, and six chickens. She enjoys chocolate, chai tea, mixed martial arts, teaching, and writing about her crazy life. She believes that if you know something, you should share it, and so she blogs about her homeschooling journey and other parenting related topics on her blog at motheringwithcreativity.com. In her "spare time" she teaches cardio kickboxing and can usually be found at the gym training or watching her kiddos enjoy their own training.

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