Cheap summer fun

Pool memberships, theme park passes, museum tickets — keeping up with Hampton Roads' best attractions can get expensive. Here are some frugal ways to fill the days this summer.

See a movie

The Hampton family movie series has moved to Mill Point Park this year. It will begin its free outdoor movie series on June 18. Entertainment begins at 7 p.m., with the movie starting at sunset. You can find a schedule at Hampton.gov.

In August, City Center in Newport News offers a free outdoor movie series for families and children. And check out jamescitycountyva.gov/recreation/programs/activities-brochure.html for information about a free movie series at Chickahominy Riverfront Park in James City County.

Also starting June 18, Regal movie theaters in Hampton Roads will begin a Summer Express program, which features two children's movies at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for $1. The program lasts nine weeks and includes movies such as "Rio," "ParaNorman," "Yogi Bear" and "African Cats."

Check out the movies at Regal Kiln Creek Stadium 20 in Newport News, Regal Harbour View Grande Stadium 16 in Suffolk and Regal New Town Stadium 12 in Williamsburg. There are also participating Regal theaters in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.

You can find the movie schedule at regmovies.com/Movies/Summer-Movie-Express.

Cinemark theaters in Norfolk and Chesapeake offer a similar program, although show-goers can purchaser 10 movie tickets for $5 in advance, or $1 at the door. The program starts on June 18. Find more information at cinemark.com/summer-movie-clubhouse.

AMC Theaters hosted a similar program in past years, but the program was discontinued in 2010.

Parks and rec adventures

City parks and recreation departments offer a variety of fun activities throughout the summer, and many are free or inexpensive.

In Newport News, every Friday through Aug. 30, children can meet with a park naturalist for a nature walk and hands-on activities. There are a number of other park-related weekly activities on other days of the week, as well.

Call 886-7916 for weekly topic and location. You can also refer to the "Seasonal tabloid" at nngov.com/parks-and-recreation to find other programs.

At 11 a.m. on Fridays starting June 11, Bluebird Gap Farm in Hampton will host a Storytelling in the Park series featuring performers like the Rainbow Puppets and C. Shells. You can find more information at Hampton.gov.

In James City County, sing away the summer blues during Karoake in the Park on Saturdays at Chickahominy Riverfront Park. Find more information at jamescitycountyva.gov.

Free bowling

AMF bowling centers offer two free games of bowling every day for kids throughout the summer.

This year, parents do not need to print out a coupon to participate, but you must register at freebowling.amf.com. The free bowling program will last through Sept. 2.

Parents can purchase a summer pass for $34.95, which offers two games a day for the pass holder and three guests.

Shoe rental is not included in the kids' pass or the adult pass.

Participating bowling alleys on the Peninsula include Williamsburg Lanes located at 5544 Olde Towne Road and York Lanes located at 4200 George Washington Memorial Highway. There also are locations in Chesapeake, Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

Free crafts

Lowes offers a free Build and Grow program on various weekends in June where kids can build a wooden project to take home. They also receive a free apron, goggles and achievement patch. You can find the schedule, with a description of the projects, at lowesbuildandgrow.com. Registration is required, and classes fill up quickly.

Home Depot offers a similar program. The next workshop is scheduled for July 6. Find more information and register at workshops.homedepot.com.

Every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, Bass Pro Shops locations offer family workshops about the outdoors. Topics include animal identification, bird watching and fishing. The workshop program runs from May 30 through July 5. Find more information at basspro.com.

Michaels offers Kids Club workshops on a weekly basis. The cost is $2 per child, which includes materials. The themes often revolve around holidays. Joann's Fabrics offer more in-depth workshops for older kids. The activities, which last about three hours, cost between $35 and $45, depending on the activity. Find more information at joann.com/kidscamp.

Free museums

Those with a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card can get free admission into a number of museums through the Museums on Us program.

The free admission offer is available during the first full weekend of every month. Participating museums include the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art and Dewitt Wallace Decorative Arts museums in Colonial Williamsburg and the Children's Museum of Virginia in Portsmouth.

The Peninsula Fine Arts Center in Newport News offers free admission during the first full weekend of every month and during a monthly Community Day. The next free admission weekend takes place on June 1-2, and the next Community Day is scheduled for June 15.

Free music

The Peninsula is rife with summer concert series, and most of them are free. Check out the Hampton Block Party on Saturday nights in downtown Hampton, which celebrates its 20th season this year.

Fort Monroe's Music by the Bay series will begin June 13 and continue on Thursday evenings through Aug. 30. The Mariners' Museum also will offer a free concert series on Thursdays starting June 6.

City Center in Newport News has begun its Fridays at the Fountain summer concert series. On May 31, Peace of Zion will play a free concert.

You can find all the news about free summer music at hrticket.com.

Many of the activities listed above, particularly those sponsored by parks and recreation departments, take place in most of the localities in Hampton Roads. If you don't see any activity near your home, be sure to contact your local parks and recreation department, or keep up with weekly news about things to do at hrticket.com and in Friday's Ticket section in the Daily Press.

Paitsel can be reached at 247-4737 or npaitsel@dailypress.com.

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