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Summer is here, and those of us with kids are looking around saying, “what do I do now?!” Summer vacation is a time when many parents feel the pressure of social media nowadays. Think about it, you open Facebook or Instagram, and there is Suzzie with her kids out on their billionth outing. While it’s easy for me to say don’t feed into it, let’s face it, we all want to be able to do fun things with our kids, but we don’t want to break the bank. I’ve put together a list of free summer activities for families in New England. Things on this list are for families of all varieties, so you should be able to find at least something that piques your interest! Whether you live here full time or are visiting for a New England vacation, I hope you enjoy the list. Make sure to leave your favorite activities in the comments below.
Things to do in New Hampshire
1) If you are a New Hampshire resident, did you know you could get free admission to state parks just by having the conservation license plate? While the Moose plate does have additional fees when registering your vehicle, these fees go right to conservation and preservation efforts for our beautiful state. These pay themselves if you are a family who loves to spend time outdoors as we do. Head over here to get a full list of the places you get free admission to and then check here for more information on the moose plate program.
2) Looking to take a gorgeous drive with the family? Hop in the car and take a trip on the Kancamangus Highway. This breathtaking 34.5 mile stretch of highway is best visited in the fall to see all the stunning colors New Hampshire has to offer, but that shouldn’t stop you from taking a summertime drive along this route 12 stretch of road. Settled in the White Mountains, there are pull off spots to get out and stretch your legs in the fresh air while just enjoying your families company and nature at once. If you can’t tell, this is one of my favorites.
3) Hampton Beach fireworks. Enjoy a free fireworks show every Wednesday from mid-June to the end of August. The show starts around 9:30 pm and is of course weather permitting. You can even make a day of it by packing some lunch, snacks, and beach toys and hang out at the beach all day!
4) Free summer activities continue in Hampton Beach is the Children’s Festival. This free festival runs from August 13-17 with magic shows, a parade, games, and more.
5) Once again, Hampton Beach. From July – August on Monday nights you can catch family-friendly movies on the beach. Many towns do this as well! What a great way to get out of the house and watch a family favorite with your little ones. Abbie Griffin Park in Merrimack is also continuing their free movies in the park. That movie list can be found here for the 2019 summer.
Things to do in Massachusettes
1) Take a walk through history on the Freedom Trail through Boston. This 2.5-mile trail through American history brings you to 16 different historical sites everyone should see at least once. From burial grounds to meeting houses and so much more, you’ll not only achieve your daily step goal but get to see pieces of our great country’s history for free.
2) While on the Freedom Trail in Boston make sure to stop at the USS Constitution to see the oldest commissioned warship and her museum. Being a former Navy Gunner’s Mate, I am always just so in awe of her beauty even as I’m driving past on the highway. This destination has suggestion admission donations which you can find here.
3) If you are a fan of potato chips, you and your kids will love the Cape Cod Potato Chip factory tour. They are currently remodeling, so it’s closed until July 1, 2019, but you can check back here for updates, and I’ll make sure to update this post as the company posts them.
4) Looking for more free summer activities in Massachusetts? Free Fun Fridays are back! Various sites across the state are free on different Fridays from the end of June to the end of August. There are too many for me to list here so pop over to the here to check it all out. This is a great chance to visit a wide variety of museums and fun sites for free.
Things to do in Rhode Island
1) If you find yourself in Newport, Rhode Island looking for free summer activities you will want to make sure to take a walk on the Cliff Walk. This 3.5-mile walk takes you past some of the most jaw-dropping buildings and gorgeous ocean views.
2) On listed Friday’s at the Providence Children’s Museum, your family can get in for free from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm thanks to the Metlife Foundation. Check their website for dates and more details here.
Things to do in Connecticut
1) I love when I see history offered for free. When in Connecticut and looking for a free summer activity, make sure to add the USS Nautilus to your list of things to do. This historic submarine will be something great for the kids to see! Plus besides free admission, parking is free too.
2) Whenever I talk to anyone who is a fan of Connecticut, I always hear the question, “have you gone to Mystic yet?!” This place is gorgeous and bustling with shops to see and things to do. Sure, not all of it is free, but it is worth mentioning to walk around, and even just people watch. Gather the kids and head to the park with a picnic for some more free summer activities to enjoy their free concerts in the park.
Things to do in Vermont
1) What is something most kids love? Teddy Bears!!! Am I right? Kids of all ages will love the chance to see how the Vermont Teddy Bears are made. While this isn’t free for everyone, children 12 and under are free, making it a perfect activity for families with young children. They have different hours depending on the day and time of year, so make sure to check their website for the most up to date information.
2) Grab the whole family, including the dogs for this next free summer activity. Dog Mountain is a must visit for the dog lovers in your life. Sitting on over 150 acres, there are trails and ponds to play in with wildflowers to admire everywhere. Visit the touching Dog Chapel where people have left behind pictures and words about their dearly departed four-legged friends.
3) Calling all chocolate lovers! While in Vermont, make sure to stop by the Lake Champlain Chocolates for a free factory tour. This is super popular in the summertime, so the company suggests that if you want to see the chocolatiers at work get there earlier as this is a first come first served tour.
Free Summer Activities in Maine
1) If movies are your thing and you are in the Portland area on Sunday make sure to stop over at Congress Square Park for the Portland Summer Films Series. Grab your chair or blanket and pack some tasty snacks for a fun movie night in the open air.
2) Portland has a BUNCH of art galleries, and on the first Friday of every month, the art galleries and museums stay open until 8 pm for free enjoyment for the Portland First Friday Art Walk. For a list of places to visit just head over here to their website.
3) One of my favorite Maine destinations is Fort Williams in Cape Elizabeth. Home of the Portland Headlight, this 90 acres slice of heaven is great for an oceanside day trip with a picnic. Explore the cliffside trails, play on the playground, or fly your kite in one of the open fields. This spot will become one of your favorites as well, I’m sure of it.
I hope you and your family have a happy and safe summer! I would love to know your favorite free summer activities in the comments below. If you are looking for another indoors activity and want to check out the New England Aquarium in Boston, read this first!