The start of another school year is just around the corner, but there’s still plenty of summer left. You can make the most of the remaining days, and still have cash left over for new shoes and backpacks, with this list of FREE activities and events for summer.

BeachBoyPhoto credit: Melissa Bouse

Hit the beach. Nothing says “summer” like a day at the beach. Check out some of the best spots for swimming with little ones.

2. Make a splash. If you want to get soaked, but without the sand, hit up one of these awesome splash pads.

3. Rock out! The Bay Area is home to several festivals and concert series just for kids.

little farm tilden

4. Feed the animals. The Little Farm at Tilden Park is open year-round. Bring your own celery and lettuce to feed the whole barnyard.

5. Take a hike. Tilden Park is also a great place to find a variety of hiking trails. This list includes hikes all over the Bay that are especially good for kids under 5.

6. Marvel at the redwoods. You don’t have to go far to enjoy some of the best groves. Seward Street Slides, Eureka Valley

7. Slip n’ Slide. You can find some cool, old school slides on both sides of the Bay. Grab a piece of cardboard and check out the Seward Street Slides in the city (Seward and Douglass Streets) and Corodnices Park in Berkeley.

8. Smell the roses. Just across the street from Corodnices Park is the Berkeley Rose Garden. With more than 250 varieties of roses and sweeping views of the city, it’s a great place for a picnic.

9. Go green. San Francisco residents get in free at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. 

boat_ggpPhoto: Erin Feher

10. Visit Golden Gate Park. After the Botanical Garden,  explore Golden Gate Park’s bevy of free things to do! 

11. Catch a flick. Our mild evenings provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor movies. Check out showtimes in your neck of the woods.

12. Pack a lunch. Grab a blanket and your favorite portable meals and hit one of the best picnic spots in the area.

13. Find a new park. Spice up your park rotation by adding a few of these spots into the mix.NewPark                                                                            photo credit: Melissa Bouse

14. Rule the school yard. Discover these secret school playgrounds that are open to the public, even when class isn’t in session.

15. Prepare for take-off. Small airports are a great place for your aspiring pilots to get close to the action. This one in Concord also has a fantastic, fenced-in play area.

                                                                                photo credit: Erin Feher

16. Celebrate a milestone. The Bay Area Discovery Museum is celebrating 25 years at its current location– and you can join the birthday bash for free from 5-7pm on Saturday, August 20.

17. Save on admission. Many of our local museums offer a free day once a month. Check out this list to plan your visits.

18. Discover and Go. Some of the best, local attractions partner with area libraries for the Discover and Go program to provide free and discounted passes. Check often and you just might score free admission to hot spots like The Exploratorium and the San Francisco Zoo (plus many, many more.)

19. Listen to a story. Story time at your local library is a great way to beat the heat, connect with other families, and check out some new books and music. calSailing                                                                                  photo credit: Cal Sailing

20. Sail Away. The Cal Sailing Club is a non-profit sailing club in Berkeley and once a month, they offer an open house. The public can take a ride on one of their vessels for free (kids must be older than 5, and accompanied by an adult.) Check here for upcoming dates.

21. Get a history lesson. The Presidio Officer’s Club is considered one of the most historic buildings in the city. It’s now open to the public and hosts free family events just about every weekend.

22. Rediscover the Randall Museum. This always-free museum is undergoing renovations at its permanent home, so they’ve moved some of its beloved exhibits and activities to temporary locations.

23. Build something! Imaginations can run wild at Berkeley’s Adventure Playground, with its huge selection of building materials and tools. This is a great spot for school-aged kids to get their creative juices flowing.

24. Explore caves. The East Bay’s Mt. Diablo is home to many great hikes and trails. Young spelunkers will love checking out Rock City and its impressive sandstone formations.Telegraph Hill - San Francisco, Ca                                                               photo credit: Allison Meier via Flickr

25. Find hidden gems. The city is full of secret stairways and hidden murals. Check out some of these urban treks.

What are some of your favorite free activities? Let us know in the comments below! 

–Melissa Bouse