More (nearly) free summertime activities

Last year about this time I wrote up the Top 8 Free (or nearly!) Summertime Activities. Since summer is finally upon us—both on the calendar and by the weather—I thought I’d revisit that list and add some more.

And "saving money" seems to be a bigger theme this year. So keeping in mind that none of these are truly free—the outrageous price of gas argues against that, after all—they’re still a pretty good deal all around.

Last year’s list was:

  1. Climb Pilot Butte
  2. Float the river
  3. Munch and Music
  4. Munch and Movies
  5. Bicycling/mountain biking
  6. Go caving
  7. Take the Heritage Walk
  8. Free Summer Sundays Concerts

This year’s list pulls some things from last year’s comments, and adds a few more. A bunch of these are kid and family oriented.

  1. Regal Cinemas Free Family Film Festival: From mid-June through mid-August, Regal Cinemas at the Old Mill 16 theater shows free family movies every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10am. These are always rated G and PG movies and you can see this year’s schedule at the link.
  2. Lava Lands. South of Bend on Highway 97 rises the unmistakable extinct cinder cone volcano of Lava Butte, which marks the Lava Lands Visitor Center. From the site:

    The Lava Lands Visitor Center is the interpretive hub for Newberry National Volcanic Monument and is located just off U.S. Hwy. 97, 13 miles south of Bend. Lava Lands offers nature walks, interpretive programs, visitor information, displays on geology, volcanology and the cultural history of Central Oregon. A small book shop offers books on the Central Oregon area.

    Cost is $5 for a Forest Service Day Pass permit; trails are self-guided.

  3. Lunch & Learn. The school district is offering up free lunches for children under 18 at certain locations; the only writeup I can find is this Bulletin article. (Parents can purchase a lunch for $3.) The "Learn" part comes from the fact that at certain locations, a book reading program encourages kids to read by offering Otter Pops for every 10 books read, and a free book for every 30, as long as they read during the L&L hour. It’s a great way to get out of the house, provide lunch for the kids and enjoy some outdoor time.
  4. MAGIC in the Parks. I of course blogged about this the other day. Great program for young kids, entirely free.
  5. Head to the Library. Visiting the Deschutes Public Library is a good way to beat the heat—plus they have a ton of other things going on, like free internet access, activities and storytimes for kids, classes, art exhibits, and, you know, books. (For instance, right now you can vote on the artwork for a new roundabout.)
  6. Cheap movies at McMenamins. Okay, it’s not the free movies that something like Munch and Movies offer, but the theater at the Old St. Francis School shows second-run movies for only $3 per person—and believe me, that beats the sticker-shock out of control prices at the regular movie theaters any day! Plus you can drink beer and order decent pub food (tater tots!) while watching the movie, and many of the seats are nice and comfortable.
  7. Pine Mountain Observatory. Almost 30 miles southeast of Bend, at an elevation of 6500 feet, is an observatory that is open to the public during the summer on Friday and Saturday evenings. The Observatory is run by the University of Oregon and is the real deal. A $3 donation is encouraged, but not required, and there is a primitive campground nearby.
    Hat tip to KTVZ for this one, though their site seems to be down at the moment.

2 thoughts on “More (nearly) free summertime activities

  1. #6 is even better than you know! We have gone twice in the last week and the price is $3 for adult and only $1 per child. I don’t know what the age cut off is but …. you cannot beat it!
    FYI -Popcorn is $4.25 and soda is $1.30 with free refill.

  2. The reading program this year has been GREAT. Also don’t forget that it’s free to wander the farmers markets, and the Children’s Festival is coming up in a few weeks.

    I posted this calendar for my kiddos a few weeks ago:

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