The Best FREE (and almost free) Activities in Jax

It’s summertime and your kids are out of school. If your child is not in daycare or summer camps, your options are to swim, stay home in the cool air conditioning, or do lots of different activities out of the house. A lot of those activities can be costly, so I am here to offer you a few “practically free” things to do during those long summer months. The money you are saving can go towards your child’s future education (or let’s be honest…a new pair of shoes 🙂 ).

Trad's Garden Center1.  Trad’s Garden Center – Trad’s is located on San Jose Blvd, and is primarily a garden store. However, they also have a chicken coup, grow their own vegetables, and have small little trails you can walk around. There are flowers, plants, herbs, and more to explore. Trad’s also has special events throughout the year. Just make sure to watch out for those chickens…I told my son to not stick your fingers through the wire, but he didn’t listen. He learned his lesson though, as those chickens definitely got his fingers! 

Also check out some other local garden centers like Rockaway Garden Center in Jax Beach and Fireflies Gardens off San Jose.

Evelyn at the movies
“I wish this was Alladin”

2. Dollar Movies – All around Northeast Florida, movie theaters thoughtfully play movies throughout the summer for only a $1!! Some theaters even do 10 movies for $5, what a steal!! Usually these occur on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays in the morning. I’m hoping to take advantage of this a couple of times this summer, although we took my daughter Evelyn to her first movie this weekend (the movie Epic), and the whole time she just kept saying, “I don’t like movies, I want to watch Alladin.”  But by the end of the summer, hopefully she will love the movie theater!! Below is a list of movie theaters and their schedules throughout Northeast Florida.

  • Cinemark Tinseltown
  • Regal movie theaters (Beach Blvd and the Avenues).
  • Carmike movie theater (Amelia Island) Thursdays – This is $4, but includes a kid’s tray with popcorn, drink, and a snack.  

3.  Lowe’s and Home Depot – Both of these stores have free kids workshops occasionally on the weekend. I have yet to do this, but it sounds super fun. What a great activity to do INDOORS!!

  • Lowe’s upcoming schedule can be found here.
  • Home Depot offers the workshops the first Saturday of every month from 9-12.  Click here for more info.

4. Kids Bowl Free – You can go to to register to bowl two free games per child every day over the summer at participating locations. What kid doesn’t love to bowl???

5. Riverside Arts Market (RAM)RAM occurs every Saturday from 10-4 and is FREE!  Although you may end up with a lighter wallet when you leave because of all the cute homemade goodies for sale. The best part about RAM is that even though it is outside (under the Fuller Warren bridge on Riverside Avenue), it is right on the river, mostly shaded, and very breezy. Definitely a fun Saturday family activity…you can even bring your dog too!

Evelyn at the Cummer Museum
Evelyn at the Cummer Museum

6. Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens –  The Cummer offers free admission on Tuesdays from 4-9 pm and the first Saturday of every month. The Cummer has a great kids area where they can learn all about art, and of course there are the beautiful gardens right on the river.  This is a nice way to get a little bit of culture for your kids.

7. Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)MOCA is also a fun cultural activity for our kids. And it’s, you guessed it, FREE on Sundays for families. Take advantage of this and explore the children’s area. And make sure you go to Café Nola, one of my favorite lunch spots. The rolls are absolutely amazing!!!



8. Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier (if this link isn’t working just google!) – This is a fun activity that I have yet to do with my children. Take the kids down to the pier, and if your children are under the age of 6, they can fish for FREE! Over age 6 and for adults, it is $4 per fisherman. To just be a spectator, it is a mere $1 per person and free for children under 6. I bet my kids would love this!

9. Jacksonville Public Libraries – There are so many libraries around town that are always offering FREE events! From Story Time to Movie Day, check out your local library’s calendar to get the scoop!

10. Art Walks! Jacksonville officially has three art walks running all year. What a great way to get out and see some of Jacksonville’s local culture!

  • Downtown Art Walk – First Wednesday of every month from 5pm-9pm. Live music and street performers and over 40 galleries!
  • Jacksonville Beach Art Walk – New to the scene, but a lot if fun for the family! Live music, local performers and businesses! Second Tuesday of every month from 5pm-9pm.
  • North Beach Art Walk – Located on Atlantic where Neptune and Atlantic Beach meet. Great artists and great food. Stop at Al’s for a slice and then Happy Cup for dessert! Third Thursday every month!

11. Community First Saturdays – Located on the Northbank Riverwalk, this event is what family fun is all about! A Jax Chamber initiative, Community First Saturdays has everything from crafts, scavenger hunts, fitness classes, bike tours and food trucks! Come explore Downtown every first Saturday beginning in September!

12. Children’s Garden Workshops – Getting children in the garden is one of the most important things we can do, both for them and for ourselves. The children’s gardening program is held in a revitalized 2,000 foot section of the Beaches Organic Community Garden in Neptune Beach, with a sensory garden, raised vegetable garden beds, herbs, flowers, fruit trees and vines, and a shade structure where we they engaging activities. Check it out on Saturdays from 9am-10am!

Do you have any “cool” free or practically free fun summer activities??  Please share, I (and my wallet) would love to know!


Cheryl Leddy is both a mom and a C.P.A. in her native Jacksonville, FL. Upon graduating from the University of Florida, her love for Jacksonville brought her back to the First Coast where she began her career and her family. She and her husband have three curly-haired children, Nate, Evelyn, and Whit, whom she adores, but who constantly keep her on her toes! Cheryl is fortunate to be able to work as a C.P.A. at Farmand, Farmand, and Farmand, LLP while also being home with her children (except during the dreaded “tax season”!). Her favorite parts about living in Jacksonville are the great family and kid-friendly activities, the proximity to the beach, as well as the short drive to Gainesville, where she can keep up with the Florida Gators (her first true love)! She is excited to share some tax and financial tips that can benefit all moms and growing families…hope you enjoy!


  1. These are great! Thanks Cheryl! Similar to Trad’s Garden Center is Earthworks on Beach Blvd. close to the San Pablo library. They have little paths, fountains and koi fish ponds that the kids loved. Lots of things for them to look at! And I would do a little shopping too. There is also a resident cat that sits at the register.

  2. This is great!! Thanks, Cheryl! I would also note that Rockaway Garden Center in Jax Beach is similar to Trad’s, except they have a bunny!

  3. We love to ride the skyway. It’s free, got A/C and my kids love it! We live close to there so I think we may be riding it white often!

  4. Fort Matanzas has a boat ride and cool fort. I loved the history tour and the boys loved the boat ride and climbing the ladder to the top of the fort.

  5. Come to Fireflies Gardens and Flowers for a fun, FREE time! We have lots of beautiful flowers and plants, and we also have CHICKENS!! Our girls have been hand held since they were babies, and you too can let your little ones hold a beautiful chicken!! Bring your camera and some lunch!!! 5121 San Jose Blvd (Between the Antique Mall and the Consignment Barn). Free Friday Popcorn!!! Limited summer hours! 904-536-7239

  6. I’m a nanny to 5-year-old triplet boys, and some of our fave summer spots on the cheap are:
    -Hannah Park. $3 gate fee, awesome splash park, playgrounds, fields, lakes, camp sites, and amazing beach access!
    -Fire Truck museum. Small, but free, and great for fire truck obsessed kiddos.
    -I love the Kids Bowl program you mentioned, if you plan to bowl at least twice a week, you can pick up a pair of bowling shoes for around $25 on amazon…you still have to pay the shoe rental fee each time you bowl which is $3. Batt’s is awesome, very friendly staff and you can play unlimited arcade games(but not for tickets) for $5 an hour in the afternoons during the week.
    -When we ride the sky tram we always park at the San Marco Station, free, always spots and easy access to the rail. We like to ride to the Landing to wander around or play in the fountain. The water taxi is fun to ride round trip, but can get spendy if you have a lot of kids. If you are friendly to the driver he may offer to let you ride around a second time, and may even let your kiddo “drive” for a bit.
    -Story time at the main library is fun for little ones! Just keep a close eye, we’ve seen some interesting people roaming the aisles of the children’s section…hold hands with your kiddos there!

    Happy summer!


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