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Free—or Just Really Cheap—Fun for the Kids

Fun for the kids—frugally

Looking for things to do with the kids?

There are different places around our area—and those that are national—that have things going on all the time for kids. Let's take a quick peek!

Giant Eagle or Market District: A trip to either one of these is like a slice of heaven if you have a child under 9! I check mine into Eagle's Nest. It is a GODSEND. I can concentrate when I grocery shop, and I sometimes grab a coffee. If I am Market District, I stop and grab a bite to eat while my child is being watched! It's five minutes for me before I begin my shopping.

A nice bonus at the Giant Eagle and the Market District are the crafts the children make, which we send them to Gramma. There are often contests going on, including coloring contests,and we actually won at the Market District in Pine Township. My son colored a picture and he won an Angry Birds magnet! Wow, was he excited!

Friday nights at the Eagle or Market District often offer a free movie for the kids in the Eagle's Nest. Sometimes, you need to pre-register, which is no big deal. When movie night is at the Market District, I hang out and enjoy a glass of wine with my gal pals! The kids are entertained for free!

Ikea: One of my children's favorite stop is Ikea. We have a Family Rewards card, which gets me a free coffee or tea. In addition, there are great activities in the store's restaurant on weekdays and weekends! If you attended the store's Princess/Prince party, then you know how great the activities are! With your family rewards card, the Prince/Princess party was free to you.

Dinner was provided, including pasta and dessert! The kids had a full meal of mini- foods and recieved treats and crafts to take home. This is the norm on all the activities hosted by Ikea.

Kids have so much fun there, and they also love Smaland. I don't know what it is, but they love it! I shop peacefully and longer than most because I have the family rewards card, which gives additional time for my kids in Smaland. If you need to feed the kids, the hot dogs in the checkout area are super cheap and super good! I've never heard a complaint yet!

Barnes and Noble Booksellers: Barnes and Noble offers great story times for kids. It is a plain and simple story time where kids get to enjoy a book—and parents get a bit of a break while the kids listen.

Home Depot Monthly: I love that my kids are learning how to hammer, nail and glue while creating a project! They love that their aprons are full of pins from projects completed! Each time I look around the house, I see something we made. That hour we spend together once a month on a Saturday is not definable! We just love it.

Lowe's Bi-Monthly: The same is true for the kids with the Lowe's Build 'N Grow workshop. I have seen a transformation in my kids' abilities to use the hammer, the nails and the glue. I used to have to really work hard to help them. Now, I just kind of read the directions and stand back. If they ask for help, I help, but they are really building and growing through all the projects they have craft! This is such a nice program. Make sure to register online ahead of time in order to participate in it.

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Your Local Libraries: I am first and foremost an advocate of educating my children. I love that libraries provide story times, crafts and many other ways for children to be entertained—free! A love of a good book is a great start to each child's future. We participate in many activities at the library. We have met Ronald McDonald, built crafts, done summer reading programs, attended story times, WII game times and so much more. I think the kids like it best when we visit the Carnegie Library in Oakland and walk on the opaque floors and look at the dinosaurs through the upstairs windows into the museum. Free, fun and fabulous.

Joann Fabrics & Michael's: These are not so much free as they are fabulous and good learning for the kids. If you don't want to craft at home, but you want an outing, you can sign up for one of their events at your local store. The events differ store to store as do the hours, but the same amount fun is contained at each store.

The fees are small—we have not paid more than $5 to attend one—and the crafts are magnificent! My older two kids like the independence, and I like the shopping time I have to browse and purchase items! It is a great way to introduce your kids to crafting, frugally.

Recreation Departments: Our recreation departments do a lot for the kids from low-cost programs to fun fairs. Make sure to check with your recreation department because they are your main source of local information!  

The Big Mac Museum in North Huntingdon: I had a lot of fun there. You can learn the history of the Big Mac while your kids play in the free indoor play area! You can also enjoy your lunch and feed the kidsl

Spray Parks: The season coming soon. Considering the free price tag, you can't beat this. We pack a lunch and they spend a few hours running in and out of the spray! Frugal, fun, free and spread all around our Pittsburgh area.

The Big Blue Slide: If you have not been yet, you have to go, and take a box with you! This is one of our favorite places to go, provided the weather is nice. Kids congregate here from all over—and they all have fun. It is old school playtime with a bunch of kids you may never see again, but you sure will have fun with while you are there!

Bruster's Ice Cream of Ingomar: Did you know that Bruster's of Ingomar often has a story time? There also area free kiddie cones and doggie sundaes.

Favorite Sampling Locations: I am up and down with this. If your child has any kind of allergies, this is not an option for you, If you do not have a membership, this is also not an option. If you do have a membership—and no allergies—this is a blast! Saturdays at Costco and Sam's Club it is like sample heaven! I hate shopping on those days, but because my kids love the samples we get, I load up on what I have to do and they eat their way through the store, trying new stuff we will eventually purchase! In addition, the low-cost snack bars make lunch a breeze!

KIDGITs: A $5 fee gets you a whole lot from the Simon Malls. There are a lot of activities that happen month to month in each different mall, so make sure to join and get those kids active! A small investment equals large fun.

Cabellas: If you just want to get away, head to Cabellas with the kids. From the animal displays to the aquarium, it will serve as a few hours of entertainment. If you get hungry, head over to Cheddars and grab a bite! It is a magnificent family day—and sure to thrill everyone in your family. The shooting gallery is fun and the deer walk is great as well. Plus, it's free. 

DISCLAIMER: all activities are subject to change and are not affiliated with Pittsburgh Frugal Mom in any way. These are just places we have been, go to or take part in and they make great outings—frugally. PFM is not responsible for any of the times, events or things posted on various sites. These are only recommendations.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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