Long summer days mean plenty of time for activities with friends and family. But sometimes it’s difficult to find ways to keep everyone entertained — especially kids — while staying on a budget.
NBC News Senior Consumer Investigative Correspondent Vicky Nguyen stopped by on the 3rd hour of TODAY to share some fun summer activities for the whole family.
Watch a movie under the stars
Sit back, relax and catch a Hollywood new release or a cult classic at the Rooftop Cinema Club, a seasonal open-air cinema in the heart of Houston, Miami, Los Angeles, San Diego, New York and Chicago .
Doors open 60 minutes before the event begins, giving you plenty of time to choose your seat, order from the full food and drink menu, and enjoy the city views.
Be sure to join their mailing list to find out about ticket launches near you, offers and special events.
Go to a drive-in movie theater
Switch on from the comfort of your car. Find a drive-in cinema near you at DriveInMovie.com.
According to the website, 330 drive-in theaters are still operating across the US – but it’s possible some locations have been permanently closed during the pandemic. However, check the website of your nearest location to make sure they are still operational.
Go to your local park
Most cities across the country have free or discounted movies showing at local parks, including Columbus, Ohio, NYC (including all five boroughs and New Jersey), and LA.
Stay home and stream your favorite shows
Enjoy endless hours of entertainment without leaving your living room. The services below make it easy to find exactly what you want, when you want it.
canopy and hoopla
Both services are free with participating library cards and offer a mix of movies, TV and audio books.
Tubi, Pluto TV, Roku and Xumo
Ad-based streaming services are becoming increasingly popular as they offer a mix of existing and original content without the need for an account.
Many of these services have channels dedicated to specific TV and movie franchises — like The Walking Dead Channel on Xumo — and also group content by genre.
Xumo also has a Telemundo Novelas Channel showing Telenovelas 24/7, 365. (Xumo was bought by Comcast, NBCUniversal’s parent company, in 2020.)
Amazon Freevee and Peacock
You must create a free account to access content on any of these platforms.
Peacock’s free tier gives you access to 40,000 hours of ad-supported movies and TV shows, but you’ll need to sign up for a paid plan to unlock all 60,000+ hours of content. (Peacock and TODAY share the same parent company, Comcast NBCUniversal.)
Same with Amazon Freevee: Stream thousands of movies, shows and Freevee originals like “Alex Rider” and “Bosch: Legacy” to compatible devices for free. Sign up for a Prime membership to see the rest of the Amazon library.
Get discounted (or free) tickets
Sony screenings, Warner Brothers tickets and See It First
Film companies sometimes organize free screenings before the film officially hits theaters. Sign up on their websites to receive an email with available screenings near you.
Reduced cinema tickets
AMC $5 Fanfaves: You do not have to be a member of the AMC Stubs program to receive this discount. AMC offers a selection of “fanfave” movies every day for $5 plus tax.
Regal Value Days: Regal Crown Club members receive discounted movie tickets and 50% off popcorn every Tuesday.
Matinee performances are always cheaper. If you can, consider going to the cinema at noon.
Find free events near you
Eventbrite lets you search for free events in your zip code. Find everything from concerts to sports games and beyond,
As a reminder, free community events should never ask for your credit card, PayPal, or Venmo details.
Refresh yourself in a nearby museum
Museums in cities across the country have free museum admission on certain days and nights of the week. For example, every Thursday night is Free Family Night at the Children’s Museum of Houston. Advance ticket reservations are required to participate.
Museums for All is an organization that provides free or discounted admission to more than 900 museums across the United States for people who receive food assistance (SNAP benefits). Prices range from free to $3. There are participating museums in all 50 states.
In addition, Bank of America customers can visit museums for free on the first full weekend of the month through the Museums On Us program. On Saturday or Sunday, simply show your Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card and photo ID and receive free entry to more than 225 museums and attractions in Miami, the rest of South Florida and other hotspots across the United States States .
Visit local street markets
Most states, including Alabama and Wisconsin, have online government resources that list all farmers’ markets, farm stands, and CSA produce statewide.