Cheap and Cheerful: Free things to do this summer
1. Nature Trail
Have you tried the Zog trail yet? Follow the way marked trail and solve challenges along the way, spotting characters from the book. There are also activity packs available for £3 from the visitor centre. The trail is now open at the Wyre Forest near Kidderminster.
Worcester Woods Country Park, Cannock Chase, the Lickey Hills and Severn Valley Country Park are both great free places to get some fresh air. Both have open spaces - perfect for kite flying -a Visitor Centre with cafe facilities, and adventure play area. Kinver Edge, maintained by the National Trust, has a lovely natural play area hidden in the forest - follow the signs for the Adder Trail. The national trust at Clent Hills also regularly run nature trails for children. There's a Natural Playground tucked behind the cafe at Nimmings Wood where children can make dens to their heart's content! Take a picnic to Habberley Valley, and maybe treat the children to an ice cream from the newly refurbished cafe and visitor centre.
Turn your family walk into a real adventure. Geocaching is a treasure hunt for the digital generation. All you need is a smart phone (download the app) or handheld GPS and a sense of fun. The geocache that you're searching for is a small waterproof treasure box hidden outdoors. The cache could be hidden anywhere, and disguised with leaves and camouflage tape! There are loads of caches hidden across the West Midlands, in fact all over the world! For more about geocaching have a read of our online article: click here.
3. Explore your Local Museums
We are blessed to have a lot of great, family friendly museums on our doorstep, offering free entry.
- The Think Tank at Millennium Point in Birmingham offers a fantastic learning opportunity for children. Although you have to pay to go into the indoor centre, the Think Tank does open it's outdoor Science Garden for free to visitors at 3pm each day. There are lots of great things to interactive with -the giant hamster wheel is our favourite!
- The Red House Glass Cone in Stourbridge holds free themed trails for children each school holiday. Plus, the Jam Club (Run by Dudley Museums) hosts a free family craft club on Saturday afternoons, so you can leave all the mess behind!
- Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum also offers free entry. It's housed in a beautiful Victorian building in the centre of Worcester, so easy to get to by train and each school holiday they hold activities for children.
4. You can't beat Coventry Transport Museum for a fantastic free day out for all the family. Easy to get to in the centre of Coventry, it has the world's largest collection of British road transport. You can get up close to actual vehicles from some of history's most important moments. Children will come face to face with Royal cars, military vehicles, and cars that played vital parts in their drivers' life stories - including the current Land Speed Record holding vehicle, ThrustSSC, which lives at the Museum. Experience what it's like to travel through the sound barrier at over 760mph in the ThrustSSC Simulator! There's a child friendly restaurant at the museum too.
5. The Royal Air Force Museum in Cosford offers a great day out for the family. Situated next to an active airfield, this is the only place in the Midlands where you can get close to so many breath-taking aircraft for free, including all three V Bombers; the Vulcan, Victor and Valliant. The museum often runs activities during school holidays so worth checking out their website. There's a restaurant on site so you really could spend all day there! It's easy to get to by train as the station is right next to the Air Force base.
6. Child Goes Free
Rays Farm is a well loved family attraction near Bridgnorth. We have an exclusive 'child goes free' voucher for you. Click here. This summer you can see all your favourite animals, take part in the trails and play in the outdoor sandpit too There's also an onsite cafe and indoor play area, if the weather lets us down. Children also get FREE entry this summer at Arley Arboretum! Enjoy trails around the beautiful gardens and take in the views from the fort inside the hedge maze!
8. Go on a Bike Ride
The area is rich with potential routes for a family bike ride. Cycling gives us all a blast of fresh air and fitness and is free - just need to stash a packet of biscuits in your rucksack! Cannock Chase, Wyre Forest, Arrow Valley, Dudmaston Hall, Tudor Grange Park, all have bike trails. Have a read of our cycling feature for even more ideas on where to ride.
If your children have outgrown last year's bike, it's worth popping to see the Bache Brothers in Lye. They have a great range of children's bikes and can offer expert advice too. They can also give all the family's bikes a service so they're ready for summer.
9. Places to picnic: What could be better than getting together with a group of pals, setting up a picnic, enjoying a game of rounders and maybe a cheeky ice cream to help cool off? The school holidays don't have to cost the earth. Have a read of our feature on local favourite picnic spots.
10. Outdoor cinema at Brintons Park
Enjoy a film for free with the family on Saturday 27 July, 12noon - 7pm in Brinton Park, Kidderminster. 3 films will be shown throughout the day including The Greatest Showman. The event is free although donations are greatly received.
11. Free Swimming: residents of Dudley MBC can take advantage of FREE swimming for children under 16. Halesowen, Dudley and Crystal Leisure Centres are all participating in the scheme.
12. Wyre Forest Council are also offering free swimming at Wyre Forest Leisure Centre, for young residents of the area. Plus there are plenty of activities for children over the school holidays and many of them are free or heavily discounted! There's the chance to take party in a variety of sports from tennis, to cycling, or join the rangers in the local nature reserves for some orienteering and den building. Have a look at the full programme here or call 01562 732984.
13. Head to the park: many of our local parks are holding free activities this summer. Mary Stevens Park in Norton, Stourbridge has a full programme of events this summer including Volley Ball, Swing Ball and Forest Fun. Follow this link to find out more. National Play Day is 7th August and during that week you'll find free fun in your local park (in both the Dudley and Wyre Forest area).
At Himley Hall there will be series of FREE trails this summer: including 'Princesses and Pirates' on Thursday 25 July.
If you've done your local park to death, how about seeking out a new playground. Here's our go-to guide for local parks - why not try out a new park! Let me know if I've missed any off the list!
14. Free Family Courses: take up a new hobby as a family at Wordsley Learning4Life centre, who are offering free courses this autumn. There is something to suit everyone in the family: photography, pottery, learning guitar, or make a teddy.
14. BBC Public Space at the Mailbox
For something a bit different, head to the Mailbox indoor shopping centre in Birmingham. You'll find the BBC on level 7. There is free entry to the public space where children can see exhibitions about BBC TV programmes, try out virtual reality head sets and have a go a presenting the weather. You can pay to do the full BBC tour if you wish but there are age restrictions and pre-booking is advised.
15. Summer Reading Challenge: Read 6 books this summer to complete the challenge and receive rewards along the way. Your local library is offering a whole range of activities to summer the Summer reading Challenge: this year's theme is SPACE (to mark the 50 year anniversary since the Moon Landings). Starts 13th July.
16. Free Friday Fun: head to The Ryemarket Centre in Stourbridge for free fun each Friday in August, including magic workshops, balloon modelling and cup cake making sessions.
If you have ideas for free or cheap things to do with your family, please share them! Email me here.
I hope you've found this article helpful - please share it far and wide!
Sally, Editor of Raring2go!
Editor of Raring2go! Kidderminster & Stourbridge since 2008. Local font of knowledge. Mother of two and wife of one.
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