Summer Fun on a Budget for Metro Detroit Families

Keep summer fun and frugal with kid-friendly activities that are $5 or less!

If you are anything like us, you start off summer super excited about the huge list of must-do fun you created to keep the kids happy – while cramming in all that family time you feel you miss the rest of the year – before they have to head back to school again.

But before you run out of ideas or get too far into your list, you realize all that fun comes with a pretty hefty price tag when you add it up. Give your debit card a little break with these often-overlooked ideas for $5 per person or less.

Fill out these frugal finds by checking in with your closest metropark, library and your own community for movies and music in the park and other low-cost or free programming. Plus make sure to schedule a chunk of playtime in Beacon Park and Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit.

Go for a strike!

Every day this summer, kids can get two games free at select locations throughout Detroit and Ann Arbor through Kids Bowl Free. Some centers might charge for shoe rental, so check in advance. Parents who don’t want to sit on the sidelines can buy an upgraded Family Pass, but it is entirely optional. Find the closest bowling alley and register in advance at

Get nature-y

Tucked into nearly 38 acres of Friendship Woods is the fabulous and free Red Oaks Nature Center in Madison Heights. After exploring the center and its live inhabitants, hit the delightful storybook trail along the sensory trail. Or, check out one of the low-cost programs, such as the all-ages National Frog Jumping Day program on May 13 that’s $5 per person (parking fees waived when paid in advance!). We also love the newly renovated Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit with all of its hands-on spots to explore, where kids get in for $3 and adults get in $5.

Do good

Join other families in volunteering to help others, which not only is free, but creates memories money can’t buy. We like D-Town Farm because there is nothing like getting your hands dirty along with learning a lesson about the food itself. Working with the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, volunteers of all ages play a role in building food security for Black residents on Saturdays and Sundays 8 a.m.-noon. In Ann Arbor, Food Gatherers holds a Family Day at least once a month where kids as young as 5 can help. 

Fill busy hands

On the first Saturday of the month, 9 a.m.-noon, head to your local Home Depot for a free Kids Workshop. Not only will the kids learn something and get to be with other kids, you might get a keepsake out of it.

Explore to your heart’s content

Although everyone knows about Belle Isle, not everyone puts it on their summer fun list. If that’s you, you are missing out. For $5 (plus the cost of a $12 recreation pass if you drive; free to walkers and bikers), you can bring Detroit’s history to life for your kids at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum along the sparkling waters of the Detroit River. Check out cool Great Lakes ship models, including the Edmund Fitzgerald, and the riverwalk, then roam unhindered and picnic through the historic park. It will surely fill a day. Giant slide anyone?

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Metro Parent Editorial Team
Metro Parent Editorial Team
Since 1986, the Metro Parent editorial team is trained to be the go-to source for metro Detroit families, offering a rich blend of expert advice, compelling stories, and the top local activities for kids. Renowned for their award-winning content, the team of editors and writers are dedicated to enriching family life by connecting parents with the finest resources and experiences our community has to offer.


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