Feeling Free this Summer

There’s so much to do in the summer that the bank account can get drained fast. But there’s plenty to do in RI during the summer that’s free — or very, very cheap — and none of it involves heading to the bathroom when the check comes. Take a look at our list and get in touch with us on Facebook to add your own!

Movies: You should see Wonder Woman in the theater with full surround sound and a large popcorn. But not all movies need to be seen in the theater. You could pile into your clown car and head to Rustic Tri-View for a less expensive alternative, but if even that is too rich for your blood, check out Movies on the Block. There’s a big screen on a brick wall at the corner of Union and Westminster Streets. There, people gather every Thursday night in the summer to watch a free movie (moviesontheblock.com). Vying for your Thursday night attention is Movies in the Park, where kid-friendly flicks are shown in front of the lawn at Rocky Point Park. Bring a blanket and arrive hungry, because you’ll always find a line of food trucks waiting (facebook.com/movienightri).

Parks and Beaches: The RI landscape is gorgeous — there has to be some reason none of us ever leave, right? Get out there and take advantage of all the beaches, parks and hiking trails our little state has to offer (see page XX for some hikes to try). For a full day of fun, go to Slater Park. Wander the park trails, visit the animals at their little zoo, let your dog run around the dog park and dig the change out of your car to take a ride on the carousel (that’s really all it costs!). If you found a few bucks in the pocket of your summer shorts, across the street from the carousel you can take an inexpensive paddleboat trek. The dragon boats are the best.

Museums: Of course you want to be outside during the summer, but rain will happen and so will those horribly hot days that will drive you to seek out a little AC. Those are perfect museum days. Most museums have free days, so if money is tight, that’s the perfect time to go. The RISD museum offers free admission on Sundays and the third Thursday evening of the month. The Natural History Museum in Roger Williams Park is free to Providence residents on the first Saturday of the month, but if your ID doesn’t say you’re from PVD, admission is about the cost of a cup of coffee. The Roger Williams Park Zoo also offers free admission to Providence residents on the first Saturday of the month. If you’re a frequent museum-goer, there’s something to be said for purchasing a membership. The up-front cost can be steep, but can easily pay for itself after a few family visits. Many museum memberships come with reciprocity at other museums. So if you buy a membership to one, you can get into their partner museums for free. Most museums also offer discounts to service members, and it’s also a good idea to contact your local library before planning a museum trip. They often have a few museum passes to offer on a first-come, first-served basis.

Music: Free music practically spills from every corner in the summer. On Tuesday nights, the Kingstown Town Beach offers a free summer concert series. On Wednesday nights, you can find music at the gazebo in Cranston’s Garden City. On Thursday nights, Burnside Park turns into a beer garden and outdoor music venue. The beer isn’t free, but the music and kids entertainment is (Legos and bubbles FTW!). In Narragansett, you can find free music at the gazebo near Town Beach on Friday nights. And competing for your attention is the Waterplace Park concert series, which takes place downtown, also on Friday nights. You should also pay attention to the concerts that take place at the Botanical Center in Roger Williams Park. They aren’t free, but they aren’t expensive, and the grounds alone are worth a visit. Now nearly your whole week is planned. (Ed. Check out The Roots Report on page XX for more free music.)

Free for Kids: If your little ones are climbing the walls with boredom, there’s plenty to keep them (and you) entertained. On Thursday mornings in the summer, head to Burnside Park and lounge on a giant beanbag while people read stories to you, after which kids are lead through a related craft. You can find free storytimes at just about every bookstore and library in the state. The storytimes at The Athanaeum are particularly fun, and on Thursdays in the summer, the librarian takes her show on the road and reads to the kiddos playing on Humboldt Park near Wayland Square. When the temperatures really heat up, Providence cools kids down by turning on the water at various splash pads around the city. The Children’s Museum is another fun place for kids to ease their summer boredom. It offers free admission on occasional Friday evenings, and it’s always free to EBT cardholders. Side note: If you get frustrated when your kid knocks over your awesome Magnet Tile tower, the museum offers adults-only nights when kids can’t interrupt your fun. You can find the same offering at the Roger Williams Park Zoo playground, which is seriously fun. And of course, it wouldn’t be summer without taking your kids to a WaterFire or two (see page XX). They’ll eat too much sugar and stay up too late, but they’ll have awesome memories and you’ll get to smell their smoky campfire hair when you carry your sleeping cherub from the car to bed at the end of the night.

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