Local Summer Fun on a Budget :: Free, Affordable, & Splurge-Worthy

We were on day 2 of summer, and the kids were already going crazy and driving me bonkers. I knew it was time to find budget-friendly activities to occupy and entertain my three littles. Having three kids at different stages in their lives makes it challenging to entertain all at the same time. So, I came up with a list of things to do with kids this summer at different price points: free, affordable, and splurge-y. If you don’t stay within a realistic budget, it can quickly get way out of hand financially!

child in splash pad, free things to do with kids in Dallas


Free Things to Do with Kids in Collin County

Splash Pads

In my opinion, splash pads are the best free creation ever, and there are a ton of them around. You can find them in huge local parks but also in neighborhoods that are more private and not as crowded. Most all of them have parks attached and areas to picnic. So, grab your drinks and some snacks and make a day of it! A few of our faves are:

Celebration Park in Allen
Inspiration Park in McKinney
Little Elm Splash Pad in Little Elm

Check here for a splash pad near you: Splish Splash: A Guide to {Free} Spray Parks in Collin County

Local Library

If you don’t have a library card yet you should definitely get one. They are free and can provide you and your family with a variety of fun things to do, learn, and utilize. Not only do libraries have books, audio books, and DVDs, but they also have camps for kids and fun, educational opportunities to keep them learning and engaged throughout the summer. Our library offers arts and crafts classes, anime club, book clubs, toddler time, and adult programs, as well. They also provide reading lists that are suitable for each grade level. Summer slide is real. Help with the lapse in learning throughout the summer and have your kid pick up a book!

Lots more free fun ideas here: Easy, Fun-Filled Summer Planning with Kids

Affordable Things to Do with Kids in Collin County


Cinemark has great summer movie camp deal: Summer Movie Clubhouse is eight weeks of fun films for kids for just $1.50 per person, per movie. Save even more with $1 off deals on kids’ snack packs or any size popcorn and drink combo. You can purchase tickets online or at the box office. See the link for the movie line-up. Such a good deal! Related: Alamo Drafthouse has Kids Camp during the summer with $5 tickets and a wider selection of movies, classic and newer.

Little Elm Beach

Little Elm Beach is located at Little Elm Park on Lake Lewisville. Price is $10 per vehicle. Totally affordable! It is like a “beach” but not a beach. There is a playground, pavilions, grills, swim beach, sand volleyball, and picnic areas. You can fish, boat, swim, play, and eat all day.

Aquatic Centers

Apex Centre (McKinney) is one of our absolute faves! For our family of five, it is so affordable. Indoor/outdoor water fun includes lazy rivers, multiple slides, and a toddler area with mini slides for the little ones. Unlike a lot of places, you can bring your own food and drinks. No extra expenses for snacks and treats.

Old Settlers Aquatic Center (McKinney) is a great water place for little ones. It is safe with shallow water. They have restrooms, vending machines, and areas to grill. This is my kind of place!


The Perot Museum (Dallas) offers so many fun and interactive exhibits for children of all ages; it will for sure entertain and engage their beautiful minds. They also offer summer camps for grade kinder to 6th grade if that’s within your budget.

What little boy does not love planes? I know mine do! Go check out the awesome Frontiers of Flight Museum (Dallas) displaying the history of aviation, jets and rockets. All things planes!

The Dallas Museum of Art is the perfect spot for families. So much to see, so much culture. Don’t miss the gift shop and restaurant located inside. And be sure to check out the Free Family Fun options like gallery guides and activity totes to take through the museum. The DMA also offer summer camps for children ages 4–10 years where they can learn, paint, sculpt, draw, design, and invent.

Urban Air is THE place to be these days for kids of all ages. I know mine are absolutely obsessed with this place! If you pay per visit, it gets pricey, so the way to go is with a membership. For 3 kids and 1 adult, unlimited visits, unlimited attractions, stay and play all day for as low as $30 per month. This is the best deal. They have rock climbing walls, zip lining, dodgeball courts, trampolines, giant play maze, obstacle courses, basketball trampoline areas, and a café that sells snacks, drinks, and real food. This place is awesome!

Splurge-Worthy Things to Do with Kids in Collin County

Dallas World Aquarium

The Dallas World Aquarium is huge! Admission is pricey, but it’s a neat experience for the kids: animal feedings, animal cams, exhibits, restaurants. They have so many species of animals from all around the world from sloths, tropical birds, seahorses, reptiles, manatees, and amphibians just to name a few. You definitely need to check it out!

Dallas Zoo and Fort Worth Zoo

Safari Nights with live music, Dino Safari, Wild Adventures camps for kids. Everyone loves the Dallas Zoo! Grab a picnic lunch, get the family together, and go see all the amazing animals and exhibits the Dallas Zoo has to offer.

The Fort Worth Zoo is ranked the #4 zoo in the nation! They have a new ranch and petting corral plus a new stingray cove touch-and-feed pool as well. Go see all the amazing wildlife from land to sea to air. Even though they are still in the midst of a $100 million dollar renovation, I promise you will not be disappointed.

I hope you all have an amazing summer! Stay safe and take advantage of some of the super fun adventures listed above!

Hi there, I am Christina Cervantes Crafton, I am from the awesome DFW area and currently live in good ol’ Mckinney. I am married and we are blessed with 3 amazing, healthy and happy children. Our oldest is Tristan and he is 11; our middle child, our only little girl, Layla, she is 7 and our last and final baby is a wild man named Channing and is 2.5 years old. I am a stay at home and have been for a few years now. I keep busy with my toddler getting into everything you can imagine and being involved in my children’s school and their activities. Most of the time it is organized chaos (haha!) I am a graduate of the University of North Texas with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree. Go Eagles! I love hanging out with my family and making memories together. We enjoy sunshine and being outdoors enjoying fresh air and mother nature together as a family. I love to have fun with my family, laughing, playing games, trying to prank the kids, watching movies together, taking walks together ,cooking and baking. We are a close family and I love my circus and my monkeys so very much! We live a busy but blessed life. We live and teach our children to live life to it’s fullest and always remember to be appreciative and to always smile. I am totally new to the blogging world so I look forward to learning and sharing with you all, my life, my heart, my experiences, my thoughts, and ideas. I am so excited!!!!