Summer Entertainment Bargains for Kids

This summer you can have fun taking your children or your grandchildren to do fun activities without breaking the bank if you take advantage of freebies and coupons. You can save big and have fun whether your family likes to bowl, play miniature golf, go to the movies, visit museums, go to theme parks or go out for ice cream.

If you have a local attraction in mind, be sure to visit their Web site to see if they offer an e-mail newsletter with coupons, any special summer discount programs, or even freebies for students who bring in good report cards. If you don't see the information on their Web site, give a call to the attraction to ask if they have any special discounts or good grade bonuses available. I did, and here is what I learned:

Many movie theaters will offer free movies as part of a summer series. For example, Regal Cinemas shows free movies two mornings a week as part of their Free Family Film Festival. You can find out more information at AMC Theaters has their free Summer Movie Camp with information at Cinemark Theaters offer a Summer Movie Clubhouse for $1 per movie or 50 cents per movie when you buy the series of 10 tickets. Find more information at

Sign up for the "Brunswick Bonus Zone" at to get a coupon for a free hour of bowling (when you rent shoes). The coupon is good for the person who signed up and up to four friends. I took my sons bowling and we bowled two games in one hour, so that offer was worth about $19.50 for the three of us. If you bowl faster you may get three games in!

If your student has good grades, cash in on freebies this summer. Some Brunswick Bowling Centers will also give one free game of bowling for every A on a report card (offers vary by area, ask your local center what their offer is). Chuck E. Cheese also gives free tokens for good grades, Blockbuster gives free video rentals for good grades, and Krispy Kreme Donuts gives free donuts for good grades. Ask your local stores about their "Good Grades" programs to see if they participate.

Summer just isn't complete with ice cream, and both kids and adults can sign up for the Dairy Queen Blizzard Fan Club to get a "buy one, get one free" coupon for their Blizzards. Learn more at If you have a summer birthday, be sure to sign up for the Birthday Club at Baskin Robbins to be e-mailed a free ice cream cone coupon at You can also get a free Coldstone Creation from Coldstone Creamery on your birthday when you register for their birthday club at If you have a favorite ice cream store, be sure to find their Web site to see if they offer coupons, freebies or birthday bonuses.

If you have younger children or grandchildren, they probably love going to Chuck E. Cheese. At you can sign up for their email newsletter to be sent coupons and special offers. Also check the grocery coupon circulars for discount coupons to Chuck E. Cheese.

If you plan to visit your local theme park or water park, be sure to look for coupon promotions from local fast food restaurants, soda cans, or call the theme park to ask where you can find a discount coupon. For example, Six Flags theme parks are giving $15 off at the gate when visitors present their gas receipts. Many grocery stores sell discounted tickets for their local theme parks, and you can usually buy and print discounted tickets from the theme park's own website.

If you plan to visit your local theme park more than once in a season, it may make sense to buy a season pass. Season passes may come with generous coupon books with "bring a free guest" or "bring a guest for $9.99" coupons. You can call the theme park sales office to find out what their coupon book discounts are before you buy the pass. It may make sense to buy one season pass for every two family members and use a coupon book discount for the other family members if you only plan to go a few times in a season.

Take advantage of free concerts, free movies and free events in your own town. Visit the Web site to take advantage of free entertainment you may not have known about. When I searched "free museum" for my city, I discovered three art museums I did not know about but had excellent reviews from other site visitors.

And when I entered the word "free" by itself, I found many businesses that offered some sort of free bonus when I mentioned that I saw them on Citysearch. For example, a very nice bakery near me will give a free muffin if I mention Citysearch. Another restaurant had a printable coupon for a free appetizer with the purchase of an entrée and another favorite local restaurant offers bottles of wine for half price on Tuesdays. Try it for your city and see what you find!

You can also get many buy one, get one free coupons for admissions to museums, attractions, activities like miniature golfing, bowling, arcades, theme parks and more with your local Entertainment book which is selling for half price (about $12.99) at this time of year at You can preview your city's offers online before you purchase a book.