50+ Free Things To Do In The Summer + Printable Activity List

Summer doesn’t have to break the bank! We know the best fun and free things to do with kids all summer long. If you’re looking to play in the Hamilton, Burlington and Oakville areas this summer break, we know what free kids activities are near you! Active Parents has your Guide to 60+ things to do in the summer that won’t break the bank. Share this list of cheap and free summer fun with everyone you know and be the SUMMER SUPERSTAR!

50+ Ways to Have Summer Fun on a Budget Near Hamilton, Burlington and Ontario

If your wallet is feeling a little lighter than usual these days, you’re not alone! Oftentimes, summer vacation can be the most expensive time of year, even if your kids aren’t in summer camps. But that doesn’t have to be the case for you this year because you’ve discovered our massive list of fun, free things to do in the summer near Oakville, Burlington and Hamilton! Let’s get to it!

1. Read Books and Win Prizes! Join the Summer Reading Program at your local library. All branches of the Hamilton, Burlington and Oakville public libraries are hosting a summer reading challenge for kids where you can have the chance of winning great prizes for reading over the summer!

2. Take in a Free Movie in the Park – All summer long Burlington is hosting free movies under the stars. Just add popcorn!

3. Happy Rolph’s is Free To Visit – families with young kids will love visiting this free animal sanctuary.

4. Gage Park Greenhouse – this free greenhouse gladly accepts donations and is home to a plethora of plant life, fish, turtles, and more!

5. Cherry Hill Gate is part of the Royal Botanical Gardens family. It’s located on the border of Hamilton and Burlington and it’s home to a great trail, a boardwalk over a marshy expanse and so much wildlife.

6. Visit the New and Improved Gage Park – Gage Park is home to ample greenspace in Hamilton and it’s always a full day of entertainment thanks to it’s cool playground, the greenhouse and a splash pad!

7. Listen to an Outdoor ConcertThe Rocca Sisters and the City of Burlington are hosting twice-weekly outdoor concerts in various locations throughout the summer. Find the schedule here.

8. Attend one of Burlington’s Children Festivals – This year there are 3 separate events happening simultaneously to bring the Children’s Festival to more people! Learn about them here.

9. Cath Some Canada Day Fireworks – see some beautiful fireworks light up the night sky on July 1.

10. Bike The Waterfront Trail – there are plenty of places to start and stop on the trail, and so much to see on your ride!

11. Keep cool in one of these great Burlington Splash Pads

More Free Things To Do…

12. Beat The Forecast – This free indoor play structure at Tansley Woods is great for little kids.

13. Skate Parks are the coolest place to hang out this summer! Bring your safety gear, your skateboard and a water bottle to one of these local parks in Hamilton, Burlington and Oakville.

14. Waterdown Park has something for everyone! Wheel around the paved path, splash at the spray pad, and explore the playground. Plus the epic skate park has just been repainted and looks awesome!

bronte waterfront park oakville playground

15. Geocaching is like a treasure hunt! Use your phone’s GPS and track down a “cache” that could have a special surprise inside! Read our newbies guide here.

16. Discover New Playgrounds – Use our Playground Guide to find the best park for you! Lots of photos to help you choose, and one of the easier ideas on our list of free things to do in the summer.

17. Chase Waterfalls – Hamilton is home to some of the best waterfalls you’ll find, and they’re almost all free to visit and explore!

18. Chedoke Trail – This stroller-friendly trail is shaded and offers stunning views of the city. Perfect for the whole family.

19. Shop The Farmer’s Market – fresh kettle popcorn, sweet strawberries, baked goods and more await you at these local farmers’ markets.

20. Stroll the Japanese Garden at Tansley Woods and enjoy the peaceful gardens and beautiful plants.

21. All Aboard The Tugboat Playground and Splash Pad for an afternoon of fun and imagination. Take a video tour of it here.

22. Send Postcards InternationallyPostcrossing is one of our favourite activities! You sign up for a free account and you send postcards around the world and receive postcards from around the world!

23. Snap a Selfie with Theodore Tugboat – He makes his home at the Pier in Hamilton near a great playground, splash pad and biking paths.

Theodore Tugboat

Still…More Free Things To Do In The Summer

24. Library Free Passes – Did you know that you can borrow family passes to great destinations like Ontario Parks, Royal Botanical Gardens, Halton and Hamilton Conservation Areas and more with your library card? You can, read all about it here.

25. Tuesdays at the AGH – Access to the 2nd floor (my favourite, and the most kid-friendly) of the Art Gallery of Hamilton is free every day! Visit on a Tuesday and the entire gallery is free admission.

26. Have a Picnic at Gairloch Gardens This Oakville garden is stunning all summer long so make sure to check it out. And why not have a picnic, too?

27. Visit The Majestic Trumpeter Swans – They live at one of Burlington’s best parks and are one of our must-see free things to do in the summer.

28. Borrow Play Equipment For Free – Hamilton, Oakville and Burlington each have free equipment lending services. Everything from balls to life jackets can be borrowed for free!

29. Go Fishing! No one needs to be great at fishing to enjoy it. Find some great fishing spots here.

30. Leave a Book, Take a Book – Little free libraries are where all of our books go once we’ve read them and are ready to pass them on. Here is a list of some of the local little free libraries we’ve been to. We’ve also included a link to the master map so you can find one in your neighbourhood.

31. Spend The Day At The Beach – we put together a list of the very best local beaches that our community of parents recommend. Find it here.

Lakeside Park Beach
photo courtesy of trip advisor

Save Your Pennies – These Ideas Are Free, Too!

32. Free Library Fun – there is always something great happening at your local library. Use our calendar to see what’s happening today.

33. Trainspotting Around Town – Here are some great spots to see trains locally – choo-choo!

34. How About Bridges and Big Boats? You can see them both in action down at the lift bridge.

35. Ride The Dirt Jumps at Nelson – Free and well-maintained dirt jumps are just what your daredevil on two wheels is looking for! This is one of my 12-year-old’s favourite free things to do in the summer.

36. Creek Walking is such a great way to keep cool while exploring water creatures up close. Here are our favourite places to creek walk.

37. Explore a Natural Playground – We have so many natural playgrounds that are just a short drive away. Which one will you visit first?

38. Lowville Park is a Must-See Park because it has everything! Picnic space, great playground, lots of fields and a trail. Plus, Bronte Creek runs through it!

39. Find a Restaurant Where Kids Eat Free – we have an ever-growing list, and keep watching as summer deals pop up and are added.

40. Walk The Labyrinth – Did you know that Burlington has a labyrinth? It’s true!

41. Volunteer With Your Kids – volunteering is free but it pays out in multiples, and when your kids are involved, they benefit too.

Inexpensive Things To Do With Kids This Summer

In addition to those 40+ free things to do in the summer, we have some inexpensive ideas for you too! It’s true that the best things in life are free, but sometimes a few bucks can really amp up the fun. These inexpensive things to do with kids in and around Burlington, Hamilton and Oakville are some of our faves. We try to do as many as possible every year.

42. Outdoor Swimming Pools are open and I couldn’t be happier! Find them here.

43. Indoor Swimming Pools are less busy in the summer and the perfect way to ensure you don’t get a sunburn.

44. Beat Your Kids At Mini Golf – we have some unique and creative mini-putt courses, find one and beat the pants off your kids while you still can!

Cheap Things To Do With The Family This Summer

45. Kids Bowl For Only $2.99 at Splitsville Burlington – learn more about their Summer Kids Club here.

46. What Is Footgolf? It’s part golf and part soccer…and all fun! Find out where you can play here.

47. Explore The Karsts – a Karst is a cave-like opening in the earth and Eramosa Karst Conservation Area is the coolest place to see them.

48. Walk The Gnome Trail at Bronte Creek with your little ones and their imaginations will run wild.

49. Eat Your Way Around The City – we know the best places to get ice cream, the top-rated donut shops and the french fries you crave. Read them all here.

50. Go To The Drive-In with the kids, prices are reasonable when you have a carfull, and you can’t beat the memories you’ll make.

51. Take a City Tour when you ride the bus around town. We did it a few years ago and my kids loved it! Some ages even ride for free, making this one of the easy, air-conditioned and free things to do in the summer.

52. Visit a Sunflower Farm at the end of the summer and you’ll be spellbound by the glowing fields of gold as far as the eye can see.

Printable Summer Bucket List of Free Things To Do In The Summer

Wow! That was a big list of free things to do in the summer! You can count on Active Parents for 60+ inexpensive summer activities that are ideal for families. Free fun like visiting the beach or splash pad. Frugal fun like having a BBQ or getting some ice cream together. Most of these activities require very little planning and are almost entirely free. We cover it all, and we hope this keeps boredom off your trail all summer long!

Click here to download a printable PDF version for your fridge!

Summer Bucket List 2021

Click here to download a printable PDF version for your fridge!

And please remember us when you’re sharing your fun on Facebook and Instagram. Especially if you try one of these free things to do in the summer We love being tagged and living vicariously through your adventures!

More Ideas For Family Fun

We have visited hundreds of places and written about them to help you find the very best destination for your next day trip or outing. We love sharing indoor play places, playgrounds that go above and beyond, and more! Here are a few of our latest blogs to help you have a great weekend.

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