Puro Summer: Free and Cheap for Kids

Catherine, BarbacoApparel wholesale guru and supermom, shares some fun and affordable ways to keep your kids entertained this summer!

I have a lot of kids . . . like, A LOT. If your kids are anything like mine, it’s nothing but “I’m hungry” and “I’m bored” 5 minutes into summer break. So when school’s out and mama’s in charge, there’s only one way for us to do summer: FREE AND CHEAP.

Catherine and her Family

As a native San Antonian who loves finding things on the cheap, I’m excited to sacrifice my insider tips for the BarbacoApparel family. Check out my list of FREE and CHEAP activities for your kids to have a puro happy summer!

Y’all, get your Groupon on—for real! From food to activities, there’s something for everyone. I have found great deals on bowling, roller-skating, and even staycation options. Right now, you can book a Schlitterbahn resort package for a steal. And Groupon offers great coupon codes that you can use to get even more off your final purchase.

Food Crawl
My kids LOVE a food crawl. Choose a treat, make a map, and load up the car! We’ve done this with donuts, paletas, tacos, and french fries. It’s super affordable because you’re only purchasing one or two items at each place and dividing it up for everyone to try. Give each kid a scorecard, and let each one judge his or her favorites. Trust me: your kids will love this.

Donut CrawlHere are a few donuts we picked up from Duck Donuts during our "Donut Crawl."


Stars and Stripes Drive-In
Bring back the old-school vibes and take the kids to the drive-in! It’s a little bit of a drive out to New Braunfels, but it’s well worth the memories and fun. Also, you can pack your own meals, which saves money on those expensive movie-theater snacks.

Catherine at Stars and Stripes Drive-In Theatre
Settling in for a flick with the fam!

Yanaguana Garden
This is our very favorite park and splash pad. We love playing under the shadow of the Tower of Americas, while cooling off in the water and sand. Did I mention all the great places to eat and snack at in Hemisfair)? You can park across the street at the SAISD parking lot for only $5, which is a steal downtown. Run in the splash pad, visit the chicken coops, and build a sandcastle.

Yanaguana Splash Pad
Enjoying a day at the Yanaguana Splash Pad


San Antonio Public Library
Did you know you can check out up to 50 books at the public library? Totally free. You can also get movies and magazines on loan. My kids love perusing the aisles and choosing books about everything. Applying for a library card is free, and you might even get 10 minutes of peace while the kids read their books and watch movies. Score.

Visit to SAPL
Checking out books from our local SAPL branch


Heritage Duck Pond
Located on the city’s Westside, the Heritage Duck Pond is full of free activities for the kids. The pond is bustling with little duck families, and there are several duck food dispensers located around the perimeter. There’s a huge skate park, basketball courts, and a playscape for the kiddos; if you’re lucky, you can catch the local ice-cream truck selling mangonadas, ice cream, and puro snacks. Pack a picnic lunch, and spend the day with the ducks, y’all.

Heritage Duck Pond

Having a blast with the ducks at Heritage Duck Pond


Have a Public Art Day
There’s so much amazing public art in San Antonio, right now. Make a totally instagrammable day of it, and check it all out. My kids don’t have phones to take pictures, but you can still buy old-school disposable cameras at most stores. Let them be the photographers for the day. You can find a list of the city’s public art installations here, or read about some of our favorite spots here!


Market Square
My favorite childhood memories are centered around Historic Market Square. You can spend an entire day here. Start by eating under twinkle lights and papel picado at Mi Tierra, and get a bag of pan dulce to go. Then take your kiddos into the mercado to choose handcrafted toys. My kids love the Jacob’s Ladder or the funny little marionettes. Also, flower crowns are not just for Fiesta, y’all. My girls will rock one all year long. If you’re lucky, you can catch a mini festival going on and a glimpse of Mexican Elvis.

Day at Historic Market SquarePlaying with toys at Historic Market Square


Beach Camping in Port Aransas
Are we crazy? Yes, for sure and most definitely. But think about how lucky we are to live within driving distance of the beach! My kids love a beach camping trip, and we love to take them. Pack the car with tents, pillows, and a few practical groceries you can fit in a cooler. The kids will love eating tortilla-wrapped sausages over a campfire and making s’mores. Hunt for shells for a beachy DIY craft. The best part? Exhausted kids and golden skin. Win-win.

Port AransasCamping with the Kids on the Beach 

What are your favorite free and cheap activities? Let us know in the comments!



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