No matter which family holiday destination you choose, in most big cities there are multiple attractions providing free (or very cheap) entertainment for kids. While these might not be the stock standard tourist attractions to visit when traveling with kids, they can actually be a way to see a different part of the local culture, meet some local people and offer a surprisingly refreshing break from sightseeing. Here is the suitcases&strollers travel advisor for free activities to look out for on holidays with kids.
Public libraries. If you are in an English-speaking city (or a city where you speak the language), public libraries often hold free events to attract and entertain kids that are also educational. Even if you can’t find a reading session or specific kids activity, the library is still somewhere the kids can keep occupied for at least half an hour while mum and dad catch up on the (usually free) Internet.
Public parks. Even local, neighbourhood parks that don’t necessarily qualify as tourist attractions make good family holiday destinations with kids. They are spaces for kids to run and burn of energy and can also contain all sorts of free entertainment such as duck ponds, ice skating in the winter, playgrounds, places to ride bikes and scooters or even act as a convenient outdoor family picnic meal stop.
Local festivals. Plan ahead and see if there are any local food, musical or cultural festivals to attract local families. Festivals mean lots of street entertainment, sights and sounds that will keep kids interested and give everyone something to look at.
Public transport. Technically not free, but this is usually the cheapest way to get around a city. Even in developing countries where the buses or trains are not a comfortable way for you to actually move around the city with kids, there are often other forms of public transport (such as rickshaws, river boats or tuk tuks) that can be a fun way to move about and also double as entertainment in themselves.
Beaches. Sun, sand, fresh air and the ocean. There is no better free activity for kids. Even if you aren’t specifically on a beach holiday, if there is a beach nearby it is worth factoring in a half day so everyone can just chill from the sightseeing.
Local swimming pools. Again, technically you will likely have to pay a token entrance fee, but local swimming pools are a good alternative for burning up energy if you are traveling with kids but not close to a beach. In particular, indoor heated pools work well as a way to tire out little ones even when it’s raining or in the middle of winter.
For more travel tips on traveling on a budget with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.