100 Free {and almost free} Things to Do in Jacksonville this Summer

100FreeSummerActivitiesJacksonville

Ah yes, summer. My favorite time of year, the kids are out of school and we can adopt a more relaxed schedule. Jacksonville has tons of great free {or very inexpensive} things to do around town. Here are my top 100 free {and almost free} things to do this summer in Jacksonville.

Attend a Show, Movie or Concert

Theaterworks
Theaterworks of Jacksonville is offering 4 free shows this year. Call ahead to make reservations for you and your kids – 904.353.3500. Cost: Free

Every Hero Has A Story Library Shows
The Jacksonville Library has shows scheduled all summer around the theme “Every Story Has A Hero.” From the zoo, to magicians, to balloon twisting, there’s a little bit of something for everyone. Cost: Free

Regal Summer Movie Express
Starting on June 9th, Regal Theaters will offer kid movies for just $1 at 10am on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Cost: $1 per person.

Community First Night Owl Cinema at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre
Mark your calendars for seven fantastic, family-friendly movie nights at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre starting Sunday, June 14. Gates open at 7pm, show begins at 8pm. Cost: Free

Movie

Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse
Beginning June 9th, Cinemark at Tinseltown will offer kid movies for just $1 at 9am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Cost: $1 per person.

Summer Jazz Concerts at the Beach
On Sunday, July 12th you can take the kids out to the Sea Walk Pavilion and enjoy some free music. Opening acts start at 5pm. Bring your chairs, blankets and snacks. Cost: Free

Free Beach Concert in St. Augustine
The St. Augustine Beach Civic Association will present the 12th season of free Music by The Sea concerts beginning May 13 and continuing through Oct. 18. Concerts are every Wednesday beginning at 7pm. Cost: Free

Free Summer Movies in St. Augustine
Movies by the Bay will continue this summer near the St. Augustine Municipal Marina and the downtown miniature golf course, next to the Bridge of Lions — hosted by Ripley’s St. Augustine. Movies begin at 8:30 p.m. every Wednesday, from June 10th – August 5th. Cost: Free

Carmike Summer Kid Series
Carmike Cinemas, located in Yulee & Fleming Island, will offer a summer kid movie series. Every Thursday at 10am you can see a kid movie, with popcorn & coke product. Cost: $4 for the movie and concessions.

Town of Orange Park Reel Fun Night
Town Hall Park in Orange Park is tunred into a huge playground for kids. There will be balloon artists, face painters, lots of bounce houses, a bubble zone and the movie Happy Feet shown on our huge outdoor screen! Bring your own chair or blanket and they’ll supply the popcorn. August 21st, 6pm-8:30pm. Cost: Free

Take a Tour

Chick-fil-A Backstage Kitchen Tour
Chick-fil-A offers a free Backstage Kitchen Tour at all of their restaurants. Talk with the manager at your local store to arrange one for your kids. Note: some stores I spoke with said that you had to be 12 to go on the tour, but some said all ages were welcome. Cost: Free

Sally Corporation
For 30 years, Sally Corporation has hosted thousands of visitors for a free tour of their robot factory. Tours are offered on Tuesday and Thursday, hourly from 9am-1pm. Minimum age is 7. No tours during July or August so call and schedule one for June as soon as the kids are out of school. Cost: Free

SweetPetes

Sweet Pete’s Candy
If you haven’t visited the new Sweet Pete’s downtown location then you don’t know what you’re missing. Sure there are plenty of treats available for purchase, but you can also visit the 2nd floor and watch the candy being made at no charge. If you want to splurge and purchase a treat for the kids I recommend the cotton candy. For each customer they’ll start up the machine and actually spin it right in front of your eyes. Cost: Factory visit is free, cotton candy is $3.

Budweiser Tour
This self-guided tour offers visitors of all ages an in-depth look at the story of Anheuser-Busch and guests will witness all it takes to craft a King at the Jacksonville Brewery. Guests who are 21 and older will receive a complimentary sample. Cost: Free

San Sebastian Winery
Complimentary Winery Tours and Tasting are offered everyday at the San Sebastian Winery. Discover the art of winemaking and guests 21 and older will enjoy a complementary wine tasting. Cost: Free

Complete Reading Logs and Earn Rewards

Chuck E Cheese
Download a Chuck E Cheese Reading Rewards Chart and earn 10 free tokens. Cost: The Reading Rewards Chart states that a food purchase is required.

Jacksonville Public Library
Children of all ages can earn a free book just by registering online and logging the books read through the Jacksonville Public Library. After July 1, print out the book log on the registration site or bring in your paper log and show it to a librarian to pick out a free book. Limit one book per child, while supplies last. Cost: Free

Library Superhero Activity Card
In addition to a reading log, the Jacksonville Public Library is also encouraging kids to complete a Superhero Activity Card. The Superhero Activity Card is a collection of 12 literacy-related activities. Children of all ages can earn a special prize by completing 8 of the 12 activities on their Superhero Activity Card.  Prizes are available after July 1st, while supplies last. You can download a Superhero Activity Card for Children Birth-12, and Teens. Cost: Free

ReadingLogs
Barnes and Noble
Kids can earn a free book when they read 8 books and record them on their Barnes and Noble Reading Log. Cost: Free

TD Bank
Kids in grades K-5 can earn a $10 deposit into their accounts if they bank at TD Bank. Just read 10 books and log it on their form, then take it to your local branch. Cost: Free, but you must have a TD Bank account to participate.

Books A Million
Kids can earn a free Percy Jackson 10th anniversary Camp Half-Blood tote bag this summer with the Books-A-Million Summer Quest reading program. Simply read 4 books on their list, fill out a journal form to show which ones they read, and return it to any Books-A-Million store. Cost: Free

Jacksonville Suns Free Bike Contest
In a partnership with the Jacksonville Public Library, the Jacksonville Suns will be giving away free bikes at the baseball game on Sunday, August 2nd. Simply fill in the reading log with 5 books you’ve read over the summer and turn it in at the Baseball Grounds. You must be present at the August 2nd game to win. Cost: Free

Attend a Story Time

Barnes and Noble
Barnes and Noble locations offer a free, weekly story time. Many of the events include a craft that coordinates with the weekly story. Enter your zip code in the store locator to find your nearest store and story times. Cost: Free

Pottery Barn Kids
The Pottery Barn Kids store, located at the St. Johns Town Center offers a story time on Tuesdays from 11-11:30am. Cost: Free

The Library
Visit your local Jacksonville Public Library or St. Johns County Library for a story time that the kids are sure to enjoy. Cost: Free

Traveling Tales Kit
The Duval County Library offers Traveling Tales Kits available for check out from the Main Library in downtown Jacksonville. The kits include books, puppets, songs, craft ideas, snack recipes, a music CD, a DVD, and a flannel board story all related to a theme. You must visit the Main Library to check out the kits, but they can be returned to any Duval County Library. Cost: Free

Get Some Free (or cheap) Food

Free Slurpee Day
My favorite freebie for July is Free Slurpee Day on July 11th. Stop in at your local 7-11 gas station for a free treat to keep you cool. Cost: Free

Cow Appreciation Day
Celebrate Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A on July 14th. Visit any Chick-fil-A dressed as a cow and you’ll receive a free meal. You’ll get a free entrée for partial cow attire. Cost: Free, but the free meal doesn’t include a drink for adults.

Kids Eat Free
Take the kids out to eat… for free. Check out our Jacksonville Moms Blog Directory for a complete list of where and when your kids can eat free around town. Cost: Kids are free, but typically an adult meal purchase is required.

Mini-Mania Monday
Celebrate Mini-Mania-Monday at Sweet By Holly at the St. John Town Center. All day on Mondays their delicious mini cupcakes are just $1. Cost: $1 per mini cupcake.

NationalDoughnutDay

National Doughnut Day
Friday, June 5th is National Doughnut Day. You can get a free doughnut of any variety at Krispy Kreme. Cost: Free

National Flip Flop Day
This year on June 19th, Tropical Smoothie Café will celebrate our 9th annual National Flip Flop Day. Come by one of our cafes wearing flip flops on June 19th between 2-7 pm for a FREE 24 oz. Jetty Punch Smoothie. Cost: Free

Dreamette
The Dreamette has been an institution in Jacksonville since the 1950s. It’s a great place to take the kids for a cool treat this summer. Cost: Kid cones & cups start at just $1.65.

BlueberrySeason

Go Pick Blueberries
It’s blueberry season in Jacksonville and at most farms prices start at $3 a pound for u-pick berries. Blueberry picking can be a fun morning out with the kids while they pick some healthy snacks. Cost: Varies by farm, but most are around $3 a pound for u-pick.

Baskin-Robbins $1.31 Scoops
On August 31st you can enjoy a scoop of your favorite Baskin-Robbins ice cream for just $1.31. Cost: $1.31 per scoop.

Learn Something New

Lowes Build and Grow Clinic
Kids can use a real hammer and build something great at one of the various Build and Grow Clinics at Lowes this summer. Registration opens a few weeks before each clinic’s date. Cost: Free

Home Depot Kid Workshops
Visit Home Depot the first Saturday of each month between 9 and 12 and kids can complete their own building project. Cost: Free

ScienceExperiments

Get Messy with some Science
Summer is the perfect time to get the kids engaged with some fun science experiments. Check out this post for 5 fun experiments for younger kids and this post for 6 great experiments for older kids. Cost: Minimal cost for science materials.

Drop In Art at the Cummer Museum
Each Tuesday in June, July, and August, children ages 5 to 10 will have the opportunity to explore the Galleries or Gardens and experiment with different art processes. No pre-registration required. Sign-up starts at 4 p.m. and closes at 5:05 p.m. Class size is limited and filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Cost: $5 per child for the class, your museum entrance is free on Tuesdays from 4-9pm.

Children’s Garden Workshops
The children’s gardening program is held in a revitalized 2,000 foot section of the Beaches Organic Community Garden in Neptune Beach. There is a sensory garden, raised vegetable garden beds, herbs, flowers, fruit trees and vines, and a shade structure. Classes held from 9-10am on Saturdays. Cost: Free

JuniorChef

Junior Chef Cooking Class
Wiliams-Sonama at the St. Johns Town Center offers Junior Chef classes for kids for free. Sign up early because the classes fill up fast. Cost: Free

Michaels Kids Club
Kids can enjoy some in-store crafting fun at Michaels locations this summer. During their Kids Club craft events they are offering art classes for just $2. Designed for ages 5-12 years old. Cost: $2 per class.

Gander Mountain
Gander Mountain stores in St. Augustine and Jacksonville will be offering kid classes for both Father’s Day (June 20th) as well as on the 4th of July. The events will be held from 10am-2pm and will include a craft, activity, giveaways and more. Cost: Free

Become a JEA Energy Detective
Kids can check out a Home Energy & Water Evaluation Backpack Kit that can show you how to make your home more comfortable and lower your monthly utility costs. It’s fun, easy to use, and available for checkout free of charge to anyone with a Public Library Card in Jacksonville, Nassau County, and the Bartram Trail and Ponte Vedra locations of St. Johns County. Cost: Free

SuperGrom

Learn to Surf
Kids under the age of 10 can participate in the Annual Super Grom Surf Fest at Jacksonville Beach. In addition to learning to surf, each participate receives lunch, a t-shirt, a medal and a goody bag. Cost: $10

Little Learners at MOSH
Bring your little ones to MOSH the second Wednesday of every month for exclusive programming for preschool aged children and their caregivers. Cost: $5 per person, under 2 free.

Explore the Outdoors

Florida State Parks
The Florida State Park system has lots to offer families this summer. Jacksonville has several parks right here in town, and there are many just a short drive away. Be sure to ask about the free Junior Ranger Program for kids. Cost: Entrance to the parks ranges from $4-$8 per vehicle, the Junior Ranger Program is free.

Georgia State Parks
You may think a trip to Georgia would take all day, but Georgia State Parks like Crooked River and Stephen C Foster are just a short hour drive from Jacksonville. Cost: $5 per car.

Free National Park Pass for Active Duty Military
Current US military members and their dependents in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, as well as most members of the US Reserves and National Guard qualify for a free National Park Pass. Proper military ID is required. Jacksonville’s closest National Park that charges admission is Castillo De San Marcos in St. Augustine Cost: Free

Free National Park Day
Celebrate the National Park Service Birthday with free entrance to all National Parks. Jacksonville’s closest National Park that charges admission is Castillo De San Marcos in St. Augustine. Cost: Free

Great Birding Trail
Break out the binoculars because kids of all ages will love to visit one of the over 500 Great Birding Trail locations. Download the free interactive app so kids can easily identify the birds they see. Cost: Free

GeoCashing
Geocaching is a cross-curricular activity that educators, leaders and facilitators are incorporating into their programs with great success. Geocaching combines outdoor play with team-building, problem-solving and other valuable educational outcomes. There are lots of great places to go GeoCashing in Jacksonville. Cost: Free

Guana

Family Classes at the Guana Research Reserve
Every Saturday the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Reasearch Reserve offers free classes for families. With everything from hiking, to beach exploration and seining there’s something nature lovers will all enjoy. Cost: Free

Beat the Florida Heat

Hanna Park Beach & Splash Park
Hanna Park is one of my most favorite places to take the kids in the summer. We hit the beach in the morning then head over to the splash park area for a shaded picnic lunch and splash park time. Cost: $5 per car.

Hit the Beach
A trip to the beach is always on our summer bucket list. Don’t forget to read up on Jax Moms Blog :: Beach Bound with Babies tips. Cost: Free

SplashPad

Sunshine Playground & Splash Pad at South Beach Park
Kids can play on the playground until they get hot and then cool off on the splash pad. There are plenty of picnic tables so you can pack a lunch. Cost: Free

Jacksonville Zoo Splash Ground
If you have a zoo membership then why not head over for a few hours and let the kids splash around and cool off. Cost: Zoo admission is required to use the splash ground, but it’s free with membership.

St. Augustine Pier Splash Pad
Head on down to the St. Augustine Pier where kids can splash in the water at the splash pad and also enjoy a sandy playground directly connected to it. If you head there on Wednesday morning you can also enjoy the weekly Farmer’s Market. Cost: Free

Murray Hill Playground Splash Pad
The Murray Hill Playground boasts a water feature splash pad that is sure to keep kids cool after they have fun on the playground equipment. Cost: Free

Free Kid Events

Orange Park Kids’ Fest
The Town of Orange Park hosts their award winning Kids Fest and promises it will be filled with creative and interactive activities, storytelling, hands-on workshops and educational displays, cultural experiences, arts and crafts, costumed characters, and more. June 5th & 6th, 11am-5pm. Cost: Admission is free, here will be a mixture of free and minimal charge activities available at the event.

Oh the Places You’ll Go Story Time
On Saturday, June 6th at 11am Barnes & Noble Stores will be hosting a special story time to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Oh the Places You’ll Go! Cost: Free

Hooked On Fishing Not Drugs
Head out to Huguenot Park on June 6th from 9am-1pm for fishing (children aged 15 and under), photos taken with your catch, free food & beverages, pony rides, games, displays, Dunk the Cop, and drawings for prizes & gifts. Cost: Free 

ParkHops

Jacksonville Moms Blog Park Hops
When school is out it’s time to head to the park. The Community First Credit Union and Jacksonville Moms Blog presents the 2nd annual Summer Park Hop Series. Kicking off June 9th at Sunshine Park in Jacksonville Beach from 9-11am, the Park Hops are free and will take place every week at a different park in Jacksonville. Bring the kids and meet other moms from your neighborhood as you explore all of the great outdoor spaces that Jacksonville has to offer. Cost: Free

Disney Store Play Date
Join the Jacksonville Moms Blog team every 3rd Thursday of the month at the Disney Store at the St. Johns Town Center for a fun themed playdate. Cost: Free

Disney Store Birthday Party
Is your little one celebrating a birthday this summer? The Disney Store at the St. Johns Town Center hosts a Disney Store Birthday Party the First Wednesday of the month. Cost: Free

Pirate & Princess Night at Chick-fil-A
Chick-fil-A on Southside Blvd at the Avenues is hosting a Pirate & Princess night on Friday, June 12th from 5:30-8:30pm. There will be games, crafts, face painting, a balloon twister, a magician, and a bounce house, as well as special appearances from your favorite Disney Princesses. Cost: Free

Free Online Summer Learning Programs

Book-It Summer Online Reading Program
Kids who participate in the Book It! Pizza Hut’s Spark Your Greatness Summer Reading Challenge will be able to enjoy fun activities, play games, and have the chance to win some prizes. Cost: Free

Sylvan Book Adventure Reading Club
Sylvan Learning’s Book Adventure program is more than just a summer reading program because it goes on all year long. It’s a great way to motivate kids to read by earning prizes. Cost: Free

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge
Scholastic has a summer reading challenge where kids read and then go online to record the minutes they’ve read this summer. They’ll also be able to take weekly challenges to earn rewards. Cost: Free

Maker Camp
Maker Camp is a free virtual summer camp that runs July 6th–August 14th, 2015. Join young inventors and artists from around the world in our Maker Camp Google Community to make awesome projects, go on epic virtual “field trips,” and meet the world’s coolest makers. Cost: Free

TenMarks Math
TenMarks is offering a free summer math program for kids (formerly $39.95). Help their brains stay sharp all summer long and combat the average 2-3 months of math comprehension that most kids lose over the summer. Cost: Free

Free Activities Around Jacksonville

Riverside Arts Market
RAM is open every Saturday from 10am-4pm. There is live music, tasty local treats, and activities for the kids. Visit on June 6th for Kids’ Day when there’s sure to be even more fun than usual for the little ones. Cost: Free

Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens
Explore the nature of Jacksonville and take a stroll through the trails of the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens. The Arboretum boasts a 120 acres of natural preserve, trails, and a pavilion. Cost: Free

KidsBowl

Bowl for Free
Sign up for free bowling and your kids can enjoy 2 free games of bowling per day at specific bowling alleys. You must register ahead of time to get the free games. Cost: Bowling is free, but you have to pay for the shoe rental.

Art Walks
The Jacksonville Area is home to 3 different Art Walks. The Jax Beach Art Walk takes place on the second Tuesday of each month from 5-9pm. The Downtown Art Walk is the first Wednesday of every month from 5-9pm. The North Beaches Art Walk is the third Thursday of every month from 5-9pm. Cost: Free

Check Out the Pier
Both the Jacksonville Beach Pier, as well as the St. Augustine Pier offer spectator passes for just $1 per person. You can hang out and watch the fisherman reel in their catches. Cost: $1 per person for spectating, kids under 6 are free at both locations.

Jaxons Night Market
Jaxsons Night Market occurs the third Thursday of every month in the heart of downtown. There is food, music, arts and lots of fun for the whole family. Cost: Free

Explore A Museum

Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville
Explore MOCA for free on Wednesdays from 5-9pm and also on the first Saturday and Sunday of the month. Cost: Free on days listed.

The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens
Visit the Cummer Museum for free on Tuesdays from 4-9pm and also on the first Saturday of the month. Cost: Free on days listed.

Kingsley Plantation
You can visit the Kingsley Plantation for free seven days a week from 9am-5pm. You can explore the grounds at Kingsley Plantation, which include the slave quarters, barn, waterfront, plantation house, kitchen house, and interpretive garden. Cost: Free

Museum of Science and History
Although MOSH doesn’t offer any freebie hours, you can take advantage of their $5 Friday promotion and visit at a discounted rate. Cost: $5 per person on Fridays, kids under 3 are free.

Jacksonville Fire Museum
If your kids love fire trucks and firemen then this museum is worth a visit. Located in Metropolitan Park this small museum offers visitors lots of information about the history of fire service in Jacksonville and in Florida. Cost: Free

Other Freebie Activities

Ride the Skyway Express
You can take a free ride around Downtown Jacksonville on the Skyway Express.  The Skyway runs Monday-Friday from 6am-9pm and on the weekends only during special events. Cost: Free

Visit a Garden Center
There are lots of Garden Centers around Jacksonville that have wonderful plants, chickens and fish for kids to look at and sometimes even feed. My personal favorite is Earth Works Garden Center. Take the kids for stroll through Earth Works and you can see lots of plants but also some beautiful waterfalls. Check out the collection of fairy gardens inside and ask them for a handful of fish food and you can feed the giant gold fish in their pond. Other great Garden Centers include: Trad’s Garden Center, Rockaway Gardens, Fireflies Gardens and Flowers. Cost: Free

Chamblin Bookmine
Chamblin’s has been selling new, used and rare books in Jacksonville since 1976. They have the largest warehouse of books I’ve ever seen and an impressive collection of books for the whole family, including kids. The best part about Chamblin’s is that they will give you store credit for your used books. Recently we cleaned out some of our picture books and took them to their location on the west side where I was able to trade them in and get some chapter books for my son. Cost: Depends on what you have to trade and what you’re looking to buy. I received $25 worth of credit and picked out $30 worth of chapter books for my son.

DowntownLibrary

Jacksonville Downtown Library
For most of us who live in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas the Main Library, located in the heart of downtown, is a great opportunity to check out the biggest library in North East Florida. If you haven’t visited the main library then you are really missing out. The children’s section has playful and fun furniture. There is also a courtyard with a fountain that is perfect for a picnic lunch. Cost: Free

Hit the Mall Playground
When it’s just too hot to play outside consider heading to one of our local mall play areas to let the kids burn off some energy. The Avenues Mall and Orange Park Mall both have indoor, play areas where the kids can enjoy some free time. The St. John’s Town Center also has a play area (directly in front of Dick’s Sporting Goods) but it is outdoors and not air-conditioned. Cost: Free

Redeem Some Coupons
Summer is the perfect time to dig out all of those coupons for free ice cream, discounted mini-golf, left over gift cards that have been accumulating all year long. You can even make it a challenge to try to spend all of them before school starts. Cost: It depends on what coupons you have hiding in your junk drawer.

Attend a Suns Baseball Game
Twice during the summer kids can get a free ticket to a Suns Baseball game. June 26th – Report Card Night – All kids get free admission when you show your Report Card at the Suns Box Office. August 2nd – Kids can bring their library card to the ticket windows for special admission to the game. Cost: Kid tickets are free, but parents will have to pay for admission.

Visit the Pet Store
If you’re looking to kill some time with the kids in air conditioning then head to your nearest pet store. My kids would spend hours wandering around the pet store looking at all the different animals and watching them through the glass. Cost: Free

Garden

Go Get Some Zoo Poo & Plant a Garden
One of my kids’ favorite summertime activities is planting a garden. Seed packets can be picked up at various stores for just few dollars and you can get free composted zoo poo from the Jacksonville Zoo. Cost: Just a few dollars for seeds.

Get a Free SeaWorld & Busch Preschool Pass
If you’re planning a trip to Sea World Orlando or Busch Gardens Tampa this is a great deal for Florida Residents, all kids 5 and under can get in free with a Pre-School Pass. Cost: Preschoolers are free, but everyone else is regular price.

Thanks for reading 100 Free {and almost free} Things to Do in Jacksonville!

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