7 Free summer festivals and activities around the U.S.
Pricey theme parks got you singing the summertime blues? Keep these seven free summer festivals and activities in mind if you’re traveling cross-country with the family or if you're lucky enough to live near one of these locales.
Whether you’re traveling across the country this summer or staying put, the price of family entertainment can climb like the temperatures.
SheKnows has rounded up a number of free summer festivals and activities that you and the family can enjoy on the cheap. No matter where the road takes you, keep this list on hand for some summer fun!
Free Shakespeare in the Park
June – September
San Francisco Area
The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival brings Shakespeare's greatest works to the Bay Area each summer with Free Shakespeare in the Park. Each weekend in the month of September, you can head to The Presidio’s Main Post Parade Park Lawn in San Francisco for a free 2 p.m. performance. The performances are very popular, and this is the 30th season for the free festival. There are more performance dates during the summer months around the Bay Area.
Smithsonian Folklife Festival
June 27 – July 1 and July 4-8
There is so much to see and do in Washington, D.C., but you won’t want to miss the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This festival, held outside on the National Mall, has been in existence since 1967 as a presentation of contemporary living cultural traditions. The festival generally includes daily and evening programs of music, song, dance, celebratory performance, crafts and cooking demonstrations, storytelling, illustrations of workers' culture, and narrative sessions for discussing cultural issues.
Check out what to see in Washington, D.C. >>
Colorado Dragon Boat Festival
Watch teams compete in the ancient sport of Dragon Boat Racing at Sloan’s Lake Park in Denver. This free one-day festival has grown over the years, both in the number of teams competing and the activities that take place. You’ll find Asian food, gifts and artwork surrounding the festival, along with traditional and contemporary Asian-American dancers and musicians. This Pan-Asian festival is the only one of its kind in the U.S.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
From kite festivals to boardwalk astronomy to free concerts and weekly fireworks displays, you’ll definitely find entertainment on the Virginia Beach oceanfront. The boardwalk on Atlantic Avenue is teeming with free East Coast entertainment where people of all ages and interests can find something to do, see, learn or hear.
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San Diego Free Summer Concerts
Various locations in San Diego County, California
Just about any night of the week during the summer in San Diego County, you’ll find a free concert to enjoy. How fun to chill on the beach or at a park from Balboa Park to La Jolla to Coronado, with a picnic, the great weather San Diego offers, and lively music!
Chicago Air and Water Show
This is the largest free show of its kind in the U.S. and will be sure to delight from the waves to the sky. A Chicago summertime tradition, the show’s highlights will include the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights and the U.S. Navy Leap Frogs. You’ll see an array of military and civilian acts set to thrill spectators along the lakefront on Lake Michigan, with the Chicago skyline as the background.
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Discovery Green Park
You’ll find fun and free (or inexpensive) activities every day from dawn to dusk at this 12-acre downtown park. With more than 400 events per year, there is something for everyone at Discovery Green. Discovery Green has been designed to use the latest technology in “green” building methods, energy conservation, and sustainable, environmentally friendly park operations. Most events are free and open to the public. You’ll find playgrounds, fountains, movies, kayak rentals and all sorts of other events. One event to note: the DockDogs national dog jumping competition takes place at the park from June 22-24, and is free for visitors.
No matter where your summer takes you, there will be lots of entertainment on the cheap.