Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tips for Family-Friendly Inexpensive Summer Activities

Written by, Bernadyn Nettles


Local Summer Activities

Summer is here and it is going to be a hot one.  I plan on staying cool (and sane) but I know that my son is looking forward to enjoying the sun.  That is why I have been brainstorming local activities to do with my family to beat the heat or for my son's sake, to bring on the heat!  I thought I am sharing them if you need any ideas, too.  Most of these are summer activities are free or inexpensive so you won't break the bank!

Cost-friendly, kids-friendly summer

Family-Friendly Activity Resources in Jacksonville,FL

First, if you haven't already discovered then go check out this family-friendly Jacksonville site.  They have events for children of all ages.  This is one of my favorite sites since becoming a mom.  It is loaded with info on events all around Jacksonville, including restaurants that offer free kids' meals on certain days, weekly storytime at places like Barnes and Noble, a list of all the summer camps with the links to the individual camp websites.  It shows specific MOSH events Pre-K days (every second Wednesday of the month 9-11 AM) and tons of other events.  They have info on places that offer parents night out, too.  Another good website to search for things to do is


Movies are an easy solution if you want to get out of the house but don't want to be outside.  Some theaters during the summer offer family friendly movies in the morning for super cheap.  Tinseltown on Tuesdays June 5 - August 7 at 9:30 AM have movies for $1 per person.  We went yesterday to see Journey 2:  The Mysterious Island.  (Brody said, "It was so cool!")  Regal at Beach and Avenues also have summer movies on Tuedays and Wednesdays.  Cinegrille at Latitude 30 is a nice theater with dining service and they have tables in the theater to sit at while watching the movie.  You can order and eat in the regular theater seats, too.  They show movies everyday at 3 and 7 PM.  The 3 PM shows are typically family friendly and ticket price is $5.  Infants under age 4 are free.  The 7 PM shows are $8 per adult and $5 for children.   

Public Libraries

I am a BIG fan of libraries and they each have their own schedule for storytime and movie showings.  Aside from books, there's CDs, DVD movies and TV shows for rent, too.  I also rent their fitness DVDs.  There's a good selection so if you're like me and can't make it to the gym, this is another option to get in some workout time.  

Free Play Areas

Play areas in the Avenues Mall, St. John's Town Center and Orange Park Mall are free and you don't have to run after your kid (most times). They offer train rides $3 per person (an adult needs to ride with kids under 5).   While you are at the St. John's Town Center, check out the Koi ponds in front of the restaurant, Maggiano's.  The kids will like it and it's a good spot to take a breather. 





Museums don't have to be costly and can be a fun place for kids and adults to explore and learn about different topics. MOSH is a good one for kids and aside from $5 Pre-K day, every Friday is $5 all day per person until 8 PM.  Cummer Museum and Gardens is a favorite of mine. Tuesdays after 4 PM is free but donate if you can when you're there.   If you appreciate beauty then you'll enjoy the garden grounds.   It's gorgeous and overlooks the river.   It's a good place to relax, reflect or meditate and would make for a nice date place, too.   It's perfect for taking pictures, whether scenic or family portraits.   There's also a children's museum inside that offers kid-friendly activities.


Local Parks 

Jacksonville is one of the few cities that has an abundance of parks.   Parks are perfect for picnics, walks, playground use, parties, pictures, flying kites, blowing bubbles, playing sports, etc.   Some of my favorite parks are Memorial Park, Riverside Park, Stinson Park, Stockton Park and Mandarin Park.   Jessie Ball DuPont Park is known for the 250 year old tree, Treaty Oak.   If you haven't seen it, check it out. There's not much to the park except the tree but it's spacious (they used to play movies there) so it's a nice place to enjoy a picnic or some quiet time.  Jacksonville Arboretum is one I haven't been to but would like to explore along with other parks.  You can find a list of all them on and search parks and recreation.    .


Beach Trips

Beach time! What is summer without visiting a beach or two?  Living in Florida we have the advantage of beaches being nearby.  Some are free and some charge a small fee to enter but are usually worth it, such as Kathyrn Abby Hanna Park where there's multiple things to do, including a water park for the kids.  Pools are a good choice if you prefer chlorine over salt water and sand.  If you don't have one or don't know anyone that does, then check out Cecil Field Aquatic Center.   Their indoor pool is open everyday (except holidays and when there's lightning outside) for $1 per person. They close for an hour a day for maintenance.



The zoo is great for all ages but costly unless you're a member so if you haven't heard: dads get in free with a coupon from the website on Father's Day and general admission is only $2 per person on June 11!  I personally want to check out Butterfly Hollow, Stingray Bay and the Happy Feet 4-D ride but these do cost extra.  There's the Splash Grounds, too, for the kids to cool off.

Double check details for everything on here yourself before going in case anything has changed.  

This morning my son said to me, "Look, Mom, I'm growing brown!"  I was confused to what he meant by "growing brown" until I saw his shirt was off and he was looking at his chest and arms.  I replied, "Oh, you mean you're getting a tan since we've been out in the sun."  He said, "whaaat?"  I explained how the sun makes us darker and repeated the dangers of too much sun and heat.  He agreed and said, "Yeah, the sun is bad."  I know he doesn't fully understand it and that he loves the sun.

Enjoy the summer and don't forget the sunscreen, especially if you don't want to burn or "grow brown!" 

What are some of your favorite summer activities?

Looking for tasty ways to cool off this summer? Click here for local refreshing desserts around town.

Have a happy summer!


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