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NewsBest 3 summer activities for families on a budget
27 July 2016
Best 3 summer activities for families on a budget

The school summer break is here. While that’s great news for kids, holiday time can be tough for parents. Five or six weeks is a long time to keep them entertained, especially if money is tight.

Fear not, because we’ve come up with our three favourite things for local families to do this summer. They’re all low-priced or free, and there’s enough variety here to keep kids interested all summer long.

1. Bargain big days out

You don’t have to splash out to have a big day out. Many of Bristol and Bath's best attractions are offering family fun at low cost this summer.

Morph (c) Aardman Animations Ltd 2015

M Shed

Don’t miss M Shed’s Summer of Childhood! The museum is celebrating all things colourful and kid-like, with their big Story of Children’s Television exhibition. Your kids can snap selfies with the Teletubbies, hop on the ‘Playbus’ or dress up as TV characters – while you get nostalgic with the Why Bird and Gordon the Gopher! Entry is just £5 for adults and under 16s get in free.

Top money saving tip: Travel there by First Bus and show your ticket at reception to get 50% off your exhibition entry (only valid on 24, 36, 50, 51, 53, 54, 75, 76 and 90 bus routes). 

Bristol Museums

Another great option for days out are the Bristol Museums Holiday Family Fun days, held at Bristol Museum and Art GalleryBlaise Castle House Museum and M Shed. You and your kids can explore museum exhibits through creative activities, and you pay what you think for the experience. The days run on selected dates throughout the summer – check the links above for details. 

Holburne Museum

When it comes to cheap, child-friendly days out in Bath, The Holburne Museum gets our five-star rating. Entry is free and the museum has gone the extra mile to keep kids interested, with lots of hands-on activities and displays. Spot the fake objects in the activity drawers, get arty in the Sackler Discovery Centre, or follow the animal trail through the exhibits for just 50p.  

Tiny tours 

Need more ideas? Why not download the new Tiny Tours app, which can point you to free family adventures in and around Bristol. It even tells you which activities are close enough together to be combined into one big day out.

2. Outdoor adventures

The outdoors is full of things kids love: birds and bugs, places to hide, and space to stretch their legs. Summer is a great time to explore Bristol and Bath’s many parks and green spaces with your kids, and it needn’t cost you a penny.

Image. Patrick N, Willsbridge Valley Sculpture trail 

Willsbridge Valley

Our top pick for outdoor adventure near Bristol and Bath is a day trip to Avon Wildlife Trust’s Willsbridge Valley. There’s so much for your kids to enjoy here for free, from walking the sculpture trail and making brass rubbings, to hunting for frogs by the pond.   

As a bonus, Avon Valley Railway’s Bitton Station is a stone’s throw away, where you can go for a walk alongside the track and watch the steam trains chug past.

Top money-saving tip: Grab your voucher for 2 for 1 tickets to Avon Valley Railway, and take a ride on a real steam train for less (valid until 25th August 2016).

Exploring new parks

Want outdoor adventures a bit closer to home? Download the free Bristol Parkhive app to discover new local parks and fun things to do there.

3. Get crafty on the cheap

Let’s face it: we’d be lucky to get through a British summer without rain. But whatever the weather, your kids can have fantastic fun with crafts. You don’t need expensive materials – you’d be surprised what you can make with stuff you already have at home, or with everyday items from your local shops.

For inspiration, visit the Colourful Minds blog. Run by Bristol mum and crafty genius Laura, it’s packed with cheap and simple activities your kids are sure to love.

Rainy day crafts

Out of the projects you can do for pennies, we love Shaving Foam Marbling. Other great options for rainy days are Paper Plate Patterns and Homemade Play Dough.

Laura’s top money-saving tip: “A basics/essentials can of shaving foam costs about 50p and you can marble paper with it, cover a window and do mark-making (it’s even great fun washing it off!), or fill up a washing-up bowl and let your kids’ toys play in the foam. All great sensory fun.”

Laura is also running craft workshops for children over the summer holidays – the ones at Craftisan on Wells Road are a real bargain at just £5 per child.

What low-cost activities are you planning to do with your kids this summer? Share your ideas with us on Twitter using the hashtag #LowCostSummer.

Need help financing your holiday fun? Our Everyday Loans let you borrow as little as £100, and pay it back in affordable chunks. Find out more

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