Free and Low-Cost Summer Fun for Families in Pierce County, Washington

From the Tacoma Children’s Museum for younger kids, which has a donation-based entrance fee to ensure everyone can play, to the Bridge of Glass in Tacoma, which may interest more artistic older children and teens, there are hundreds of amazing things to do over the summer with kids of all ages. Visit the numerous local parks, such as Fort Steilacoom Park, which boasts 340 acres with trails, as well as a 22-acre leash-free dog park. Here are some of the best options for enjoying the Pierce County area with your kids this summer.

There Are Summer Sports for Everyone

One of the best summer events is the Pierce County Companionship Summer Sports programs. These programs host children with special needs whose ages range from 3 to 21, and are inclusive of children of all ability and skill levels. There will be soccer and baseball, as well as hiking in various area parks. These weekly events each run for four weeks and only cost $20. There are also other special events, like art programs and a Top Chef program.

If your child is more competitive, there are several organized opportunities for golf, hockey/ice skating, tennis, soccer, t-ball and baseball or softball throughout the summer.  There is usually a free for these programs though it is relatively reasonable when one considers that most programs last for about 6 weeks.

Get Outdoors and Love the Local Attractions

Your family can enjoy a number of amazing outdoor activities for little or no cost throughout the summer. Visit Kandle Park, which has an accessible playground for differently abled children and a pool with gradual, beach-like access for young children and the differently abled. Older kids will surely enjoy the skate features and basketball courts.

Harbor Wild Watch offers a variety of educational outdoor experiences for kids from kindergarten age all the way through high school. Sign your children up to explore tide pools or get a teacher’s recommendation for the Junior Naturalist’s program.

Check Out Free Movies Showing Outside

What better way to enjoy temperate summer nights than by watching a free movie, stretched out with a blanket under the sky with your family? The family-friendly, free movies include family activities starting at 7 p.m., with the films beginning at dusk.

Three of the movies will be shown at Meridian Habitat Park. On Friday, July 14th, there will be a showing of Homeward Bound 2, which will be a dog-friendly movie. Families are encouraged to bring non-aggressive dogs. Friday, July 28th will feature a screening of Sing, accompanied by a special free concert at 7 p.m. Arnold’s Happy Days food truck will also be on hand for those who want to purchase snacks. On Friday, August 25th, the movie will be Surf’s Up 2. On Friday, August 18th, the movie Storks will be shown at Sprinker Recreation center.

Cinema at the Sound will have two free movies this summer, hosted at Chambers Creek Regional Park. The movies start at dusk, with family activities running from 7-8:30 p.m. There will be food trucks for a fun dinner as well. Cinema at the Sound will be playing Pete’s Dragon on Saturday, July 22nd and Moana on Saturday, August 12th.

Don’t Forget the Summer Fairs!

Many communities and groups showcase festivals, carnivals and fairs throughout the summer months. One of the biggest, which boasts an assortment of free entertainment, is the Pierce County Fair. This year, the fair runs from August 10th through the 13th (children get in for $1.00 on Thursday!). There are paid attractions, such as games, rides, and fair food, but there are also free entertainment options such as a magic show.

On Sunday, August 5th, there will be a Kite Festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Chambers Creek Regional Park will host the event, which will feature free admission, kite demonstrations and a free kite-making workshop for the first 250 kids who arrive.

There are a number of other summer fairs, including the 48th Annual Tacoma Highland Games at Frontier Park on June 23rd and 24th.

Volunteer to Make Your Community a Better Place

There is a broad range of charities throughout Pierce County that are looking for summer volunteers. If your kids love to get outside, you may want to “adopt a trail” and pick up litter at a local park. High School students and college students could do internships with Harbor Wild Watch or volunteer at the library to help with youth literacy. Your children can help make the world a better place while staying active this summer.

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