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Free and Frugal Summer Activities for Kids in Reno

RMB summer fun 2015

It’s almost summer time!  Anyone else excited?!?!?  I love that our regular homeschool routine gets a little shake-up in the summer months.  As a (mostly) stay at home, homeschooling mom, our budget can be a bit limited sometimes.  I’m always on the look out for free and frugal activities to do with my children (as I’m sure many of you are as well!).  Summer is great because there are SO many options in Reno for inexpensive fun for the kiddos.  Without further ado, here’s the 2015 guide to free and frugal fun in Reno!

1.  Free Bowling– High Sierra Lanes is again participating in the Kids Bowl Free program.  Kids get 2 free games per day (Monday through Friday, 12:00-4:00) all summer long.  Normal shoe rentals do apply, and if you have lots of kids like me, this can certainly add up 🙂  But, it’s still MUCH cheaper than usual, and a great way to introduce kids to bowling.

2. Dollar Movies at Cinemark Theaters– We love going to the movie theaters during the summer.  There are 3 participating theaters in Reno/Sparks (see them all here).  They show 10 different movies (one per week), and they are just $1 each.  OR, if you know you’ll be dropping in for most of the movies, you can prepay and get all 10 movies for just $5!!!

3. Home Depot Kids Workshops-  Home Depot offers free kids workshops on the first Saturday of the month.  My kids love these!  The next one is June 6th, and they will be making a “Load N Go Truck.”

4.  Discovery Museum– In case you haven’t already got yourself a Discovery Museum pass, go get one now!  While this place is a little pricey for a one day trip, a year long family pass is only $85, which is really reasonable, especially if you use it a bunch on those hot summer afternoons where you need some indoor fun to beat the heat.

5. $1 Fridays at Deer Park Pool- Every Friday from 1:00-4:30, Deer Park Pool offers $1 admission.  The pool is open from June 13th- August 9th.  Find more details in the Sparks Rec Guide.

6.  Sierra Water Gardens- This place looks beautiful!  They have koi, ponds, and plants.  Children must be supervised and cannot throw rocks in the gardens or touch without asking…probably not a place for me to take all 4 kids alone, to be honest, because someone’s always a little crazy in my group 🙂  BUT, I think this would be a wonderful place to take a little bit older children!  And it’s free to go check out!

7.  Mid Town Art Walk Free Admission at Nevada Museum of Art– Thursday, July 24th from 4-9pm there is free admission to the Nevada Museum of Art as part of the Mid Town Art Walk.

8.  Art Town-  There are LOTS of great, free events happening this year.  Check out the schedule HERE.

9.  Splash pads- There are a couple great splash pads in town.  One is at Legends Mall in Sparks (my kids love this one), and one is in Victorian Square in Sparks just outside the movie theater there.  Both are free, and provide some “cool off” time from the summer heat!

10.  Lazy 5 Regional Park & Water Park– Lazy 5 is out Pyramid Way.  There’s a beautiful library, large park and grass area, and the beloved water splash park.  I’m having a hard time finding a direct link to their opening dates.  Last year, I believe it was $3 per person to get in.  This is great for younger children as there are not standing pools of water.

11.  Nevada Bugs & Butterflies– This butterfly house and science center is a free educational, community asset.  It will open for the 2015 season on Thursday, June 18th, and will be open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 10-3pm until September 19th.

12. Stewart Indian School Father’s Day Powwow.   This event is taking place from June 19-21st at Carson City’s Stewart Indian School.  Free admission, but many raffles to enter to help support the school.  Watch an American Indian dancing competition (this sounds SO fun to watch), dine at the Indian Taco Vendors, and explore the many vendors with arts & crafts.  For more info and a schedule of events, click HERE.

13.  Washoe County Library Story Times– Just about all of our libraries offer free toddler time & free story time events each week.  You’ll also find Family Game Nights and Movie Nights on the schedule of events for various libraries.

14.  Washoe County Library Summer Reading Program-  Track your child’s reading and earn point, prizes, raffle tickets and more.  This is a great way to encourage reading throughout the summer!  And of course, it’s totally free!

15.  Michael’s Kids Craft Events– Michael’s Craft Stores host kids craft events for just $2 per child.  Sign up on their website for a Saturday morning class and let your kiddos create something fun!

16.  Farmer’s Markets–  While not necessarily an “activity,” Farmer’s Markets can be a lot of fun!  And they can be free, so long as you abstain from all the delicious offerings 🙂  But really, the produce at the local farmers markets are always so delicious, and my kids enjoy picking out a fresh picked peach or plum to eat while walking around.  You can find a full list of Nevada markets HERE.

17.  Urban Roots– Urban Roots is a favorite place for my children, and they love their farm school classes there during the school year.  You can get a free farm tour on Wednesdays from 1-3 pm or on Saturdays 9 AM- Noon.  I highly recommend stopping in to check out this place!

18. Local Parks- We have a bunch of great parks in the area, which means free fun!  Find a full list of Reno Parks HERE, and Sparks Parks HERE.  My favorites are Pah Rah Park in Sparks and Callahan Park up near Galena.

19. Hike the Trails-  I love this interactive trails map for trails in Reno.  I’d love to try some of these trails with my kiddos this summer.

20.  Free Fishing Day– The Nevada Department of Wildlife’s Free Fishing Day is on Saturday, June 13th.  During free fishing day, you may fish in any public water in the state without needing a fishing license or trout stamp.  All limits and other regulations still apply.  Click HERE for more info.

21.  Sierra Safari Zoo– Sierra Safari Zoo offers half off admission on the first Monday of the month (excluding holidays), plus children 2 & under are free.

22.  Scheel’s Kids Klub– Scheel’s in Sparks offers free Kids Klub activities/classes.  The next one is on June 8th at 6pm, and kids will be making a craft just for dad, and then take a free ride on the ferris wheel. These are geared for kids ages 4-12.

The one on June 22nd is a bike rodeo!  Bring your bike for a 6pm start.  Receive a free safety tune up, ride through the obstacle course on your bike, win a prize, and ride the ferris wheel for free.

23.  Summer Concerts & Watermelon on the Quad @ UNR– Voted one of Reno Gazette Journal’s “Best Family Outings”, enjoy free concerts at UNR on Wednesdays from 6-8.  And Don’t miss Whitney Myer for the August 12th one!  Bring a blanket and relax a little with the kids.

24.  Fleischmann Planetarium & Science Center– Spend some time exploring the free main floor hands on interactive displays at the Planetarium.  Exhibits are free and open daily.

25.  Reno Street Food-Skip the cooking and enjoy the food trucks at Idlewild park.  This takes place every Friday evening from May 22-Oct 2, 5-9pm.  The kids can play on the playground at the park, get their faces painted, and you can listen to live music.  It’s a fun and easy (and not too expensive) evening for the whole family.

26.  Kimmie Candy Company Tours– Kimmie Candy is a candy factory here in Reno.  They make some of the most delicious candies (Dark chocolate covered espresso beans?!?!  Chocolate covered pistachios-YUM!).  Gather a few friends together and call for a free tour.  My kids (and I!) thought it was so interesting to see and hear just how they make their candies.

Do you know of any other frugal or free activities to do with the kids this summer?  Leave a note in the comments!


About Jessica Locke

Jessica Locke
Jessica is a wife and homeschooling mom to four kiddos, two pups, and five chickens. She enjoys mixed martial arts, Spartan races, and teaching/coaching fitness, self defense, and martial arts. She currently writes at motheringwithcreativity.com for all things mom-ing and homeschooling, and at Debt Free, Reno, NV on FB and IG for all things money-matters.


  1. Discovery room at Rancho San Rafael. Usually Wednesday- Friday and they usually pass out a schedule with the summers theme.

  2. PS great list. Oh and the Monday fany series durning art town is always amazing too.

  3. PS great list. Oh and the Monday family series durning art town is always amazing too.

  4. North Valleys Splash Park in Sky Vista Blvd Lemmon Valley/Stead. Same price as Lazy 5, but much larger.

  5. Great list. Thanks!

  6. On number 7 it says event is on Thursday July 24th. There is no July 24th on Thursday. There’s the 23rd on a Thursday, so do you know which one it’d be?

    • Jessica Locke

      Good question! That’s what they have on their website and I just copied and pasted without thinking about it! I’ll try and give them a call soon and update 🙂 But my guess is that the “Thursday” is probably correct and they mistyped the date.

  7. Sue- Paws for Love member

    Washoe County libraries all have a Paws2Read program once a month. The program allows children to read aloud to a therapy dog. Each child that reads to a dog, goes home with a free book! The children love the dogs & the dogs love the children.
    It is held on the 2nd Saturday of each month with the exception of Spanish Springs Library. Spanish Springs library is the 2nd Sunday of each month . Times may vary for each library so check yours for the correct time.

  8. Lazy 5 on Wednesdays has a farmers market and a free concert. At least they did last summer.

  9. I love this list! I just added a bunch of these to my calendar. 🙂

  10. Hello. I’m from Southern California, my family will be spending the summer there, in Truckee! Do you know if there are any activities in Truckee?? If not is it an easy drive to Reno! Or is it windy dangerous drive?? Because I want to attend some of the events you listed

  11. Thanks for the information. I can do some of them with my granddaughter. She is 4 yrs old. Do you know of any places that might be teaching kids how to swim?

    • Jessica Locke

      The rec centers all have group and private lessons available. You can look on both the Reno Rec online and the Sparks rec online for options. I know there are lessons at Idlewild, Alf Sorensen, Evelyn Mount, and probably Traner and Northwest.

  12. There are free family friendly movies shown at the downtown library every other~ish Sunday at 2. The next one is June 14.

  13. OTW fest in Yerington June 13th… Check out the website!!! OTWFEST.COM… there’s something for all ages and it’s all FREE

  14. I tried to find the $1 movies, but couldn’t .

  15. Is there one of these for las Vegas, nevada

  16. Lowes also offers free kids clinics, usually the second Saturday of the month. We love going to Home Depot and Lowes to build fun stuff!

  17. A great list of activities for kids. Will definitely try some of these activities this summer with the kids

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