Frugal Summer Fun for $5 (or Less!)

Going to see a movie, checking out a local festival or simply dining out can leave parents with a dent in their wallet. And if you have a large family, finding affordable entertainment options is even more challenging.

Cue the local Charleston County parks. With locations all around Charleston County and a host of outdoor activities, the parks are a way for families to enjoy time together and get some fresh air and exercise – without spending a small fortune.

“We have over 20 things families can do this summer at Charleston County parks for as little as $1,” says Gina Ellis-Strother, director of marketing for the Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission. “We hope that more families will come together and enjoy each other’s company without spending a lot of money.”

Sprinklers, kayaking, biking and outdoor movies all make the list for summer fun that’s budget friendly. So as you’re looking for ways to entertain the kids this summer, here are 10 ideas that are both enjoyable and economical.

1. Skateboarding

New this year to Charleston is SK8 Charleston, a 32,500-square-foot skate park with both pro and intermediate bowls. For $1, watch all the action from the viewing deck with covered seating, concessions and restrooms. Or bring your skateboard and give it a try for $3 per person.



2. Boat/Kayak Rentals

Gather the family and rent a two-seat pedal boat or kayaks at James Island County Park, Wannamaker County Park (pedal boats only) and Palmetto Islands County Park. It’s a great way to explore the park and check out the natural surroundings. Rent a boat for $4 per half hour, a single kayak for $3.50 per half hour or double kayak for $4 per half hour with $2 park admission.

3. Disc Golf

Get some practice in at the 18-hole disc golf course at James Island County Park or Wannamaker County Park Disc golf brings together two other great summer sports – golf and Frisbee – for hours of fun for the whole family. The course is open to all visitors with the price of park admission ($2 per person).



4. Wannamaker Movie Night

Throughout the summer, spread out a blanket and watch a family-friendly flick under the stars at North Charleston Wannamaker County Park. Dates are May 13 for “Moana,” June 10 for “Despicable Me 2,” July 8 for “Sing,” and Aug. 12 for a movie to be announced. Free with park admission ($2 per person).

5. Spray Play

Perfect for little ones who want to splash in the water (or even grownups who need to cool off!), the sprinkler at Wannamaker County Park is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Sept. 30. At James Island County Park, the Spray Play Fountain is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Oct. 2 (opens at noon on Wednesdays). Both are free with park admission ($2 per person).

6. Archery Range

Head to the 738-acre Johns Island County Park to practice your archery skills. Bring your own bow and arrow and pay just $1 per person to access the six-target archery range. Open sunrise to sunset, the range has targets at between 10 and 50 yards.

7. Mountain Bike Trail

Wannamaker County Park in North Charleston has a 13-mile trail designed for mountain bicyclists of all experience levels. The trail is also open to hikers, walkers and runners. Wannamaker North Trail is accessible sunrise to sunset and admission is $1 per person.

8. Big Toy Playground

Visit the playground at Palmetto Islands County Park in Mount Pleasant. It’s free with $2 park admission and you can even pack a picnic and make a day of it. The playground has swings, slides and climbing areas for big kids plus a pint-sized playground for the little ones.

9. 2017 Summer Entertainment Series for Kids

From June to August, enjoy entertainment at James Island County Park and North Charleston Wannamaker County Park, including a magic show, birds of prey demonstration, music and dancing performances, turtle education and Gullah storytelling. Cost is $4/child in advance; $5 day of (free for chaperone); daily park admission included.

10. Dog Parks

Take the family pet out to one of the three dog parks (James Island, Wannamaker and Palmetto Islands County Parks) for a doggie play date. Dog parks are free with $2 park admission per person. Or check out Yappy Hour at James Island County Park with live music and four-legged fun (May 18, Sept. 14, Oct. 12). Yappy Hour is free with $2 park admission.

General admission to most county parks is $1 - $2 per person, giving families an inexpensive way to walk or bike the trails or have a picnic. Frequent visitors might want to purchase a Gold Pass annual membership, which provides free park admission and free admission to select activities and special events. Water park passes are also available.

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