It isn't always easy to curb in summer spending, but here are some great ideas for activities to beat the heat without breaking your budget. This is part two of 10 family activities for less than $10:
Cool off at a sprinkler park: A great way to cool off on a hot day is the sprinkler pad at Forest Park in Springfield, Mass. There is a $5 fee per car for out-of-state cars ($3 for in-state) to get into the park, but then the sprinkler park is free and there is a public pool. There also are playgrounds in the park, and plenty of places to have a picnic lunch. Inside the park, there also is the Forest Park Zoo and a train ride, but those do have extra fees. Check local libraries for discount passes to the zoo.
Enjoy a free concert at Evergreen Walk: On Thursday nights through Aug. 16, The Promenade Shops at Evergreen Walk in South Windsor offers free summer concerts. There are family activities starting at 6 p.m., including a pre-concert family bike ride. There is family entertainment at 6:30 p.m., followed by the concert, from 7-9 p.m. Upcoming acts include rhythm and blues music from Latanya Farrell & the Bookman Styles Band on July 26, and Changes in Latitude, a Jimmy Buffet cover band, on Aug. 16. The concert series, presented by South Windsor Parks and recreation, is sponsored by Rockville Bank.
Learn about animals: Check out the Lutz Children’s Museum in Manchester for exhibits about animals and art. There also is an interactive exhibit about Main Street, circa 1943 that teaches children about the past. Designed for children ages 2 to 10, the museum offers many opportunities for learning. Admission is $5 for adults and children, but passes for families are available at local libraries for free admission. 247 South Main St., Manchester, 860-643-0949.
Catch up on your summer reading: Enjoy a morning or afternoon browsing books at Broad Brook Books & Stuff, 100 Main St. The used bookstore offers more than 30,000 quality used books, as well as an assortment of locally made crafts and original art. You can bring in books for store credit, which can be used for a portion of your purchase. So not only can you find a book to read, you can get rid of some of your clutter if you have books you no longer want. They do have a children’s section, and for parents of Broad Brook School children, visiting the bookstore was one of the activities on the summer calendar. Hours: Monday and Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Sundays.
Flying high: If you pick up a pass from your local library, you can visit the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks for a reduced price, $5 each for two adults and two free children, ages 4-11. Younger children are always free. You can check out planes from different eras and learn more about other types of flight too, such as hot air balloons. 36 Perimeter Road, Windsor Locks, 860-623-3305.
Let us know your favorite free or low-cost summer activities.