Five budget-friendly things to do with kids this summer in Chattanooga

20th Century Fox / A scene from "Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie."

Parents home with the kids this summer have more options than sending them into the yard to play or planting them in front of a screen for hours. Summer camps will entertain them, but the cost can add up. Same goes for a trip to a water park or theme park. Here are five places to consider that won't break the bank.

(READ MORE: Weekend events in the Chattanooga area celebrate music, cows, honeybees, hot-air balloons)


More than 1,500 bowling centers around the globe participate in Kids Bowl Free, a summer program that has served more than 35 million young bowlers since starting in 2007, according to its website.

Once children are registered, they're eligible for two free games of bowling each day. A couple of caveats: Bowling centers set hours and age limits, and the kids will need to rent bowling shoes if they don't have their own.

Sign up at and select a bowling center. Local participants are Spare Time Chattanooga, 5518 Brainerd Road; Spare Time Hixson, 5530 Hixson Pike; and Splitz Alley, 6241 Perimeter Drive.

Other participating centers in the region include LT Bowling in Cleveland, Tennessee; Victory Lanes in Scottsboro, Alabama; and Calhoun Bowling Center in Calhoun, Georgia.


Most kids take home a summer reading list when school's out. Not only can local libraries supply the books, but summer reading programs will actually reward kids for completing them.

At the Chattanooga Public Library, the summer program Make Play Read Learn is not just about reading -- it integrates other ways of learning into activities.

You can sign up through July 29 at and log your reading and other activities. You can keep track of upcoming events at

(READ MORE: Chattanooga Public Library has evolved to meet changing demands)


The arts and crafts store, which has several locations in the area, will run its Camp Creatology for ages 6 and older June 19-July 14. In-store hours are 10 a.m.-noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week, or you can attend a live session online at 2 p.m. CDT the same dates or on demand anytime.

You can buy a boxed supply kit for about $15, and each comes with enough supplies for three projects. Each week has a different theme: One of a Kind, Wild One, Have Fun and Hello Summer. Projects range from a tissue paper suncatcher to a beaded keychain.

Sign up at

  photo  Michaels Stores Inc. / Michaels' Camp Creatology kits come with all the supplies necessary to make three projects each week.


This one-on-one "brain training" center is sponsoring a Read & Chill summer reading program. Kids will need to pick up a bingo card at 2040 Hamilton Place Blvd., or download the form and print it at home.

Each bingo (five squares in a row in any direction) wins a free ice cream cone, cookie or other small prize. Participants who fill the entire bingo card will receive bigger reward, and all blackout bingos will go into a drawing for a basket of prizes. The promotion runs through Aug. 4.

A Facebook post says the business is on a mission to make reading cool this summer.

"We are doing this campaign to increase literacy in the Chattanooga area, increase excitement and engagement around reading and encourage and remind kids to grab a book this summer more often than they grab that game controller, remote, phone or tablet," the post says.

Learn more at


You have two options for budget-friendly, family-friendly movies this summer.

Regal Summer Movie Express offers summer movies for kids for $2 every Tuesday and Wednesday. If you join the Regal Crown Club, you can save 50% off popcorn every Tuesday as well. Nationally, the promotion runs through Sept. 6, but individual theaters participate only in the weeks that align with the local school system's summer break schedule. The first day back for students in Hamilton County Schools is Aug. 9.

Here's the rest of the schedule:

› June 6-7: "Puss in Boots" and "Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie"

› June 13-14: "Sing," "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water"

› June 20-21: "Minions: The Rise of Gru," "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie"

› June 27-28: "Sonic the Hedgehog," Dora and the Lost City of Gold"

› July 4-5: "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish," "Clifford the Big Red Dog"

› July 11-12: "Sonic the Hedgehog 2," "Paw Patrol: The Movie"

› July 18-19: "The Bad Guys," "Playing With Fire"

› July 25-26: "Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank," "Sing 2"

› Aug. 1-2: "The Boss Baby: Family Business," "Dolittle"

Meanwhile, AMC Summer Movie Camp will show classics for $3 on Wednesdays and $5 on Saturdays.

› June 3-7: "DC League of Super-Pets"

› June 10-14: "Minions" The Rise of Gru"

› June 17-21: "Paw Patrol: The Movie"

› June 24-28: "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish"

› June 30-July 5: "Kung Fu Panda"

› July 8-15: "Trolls World Tour"

› July 15-19: "Mummies"

› July 22-26: "The Secret Life of Pets"

› July 29-Aug. 2: "Boss Baby: The Family Business"

› Aug. 5-9: "Shrek 2"

› Aug. 11-16: "Sing 2"

› Aug. 18-23: "The Croods: A New Age"

› Aug. 26-30: "Sonic the Hedgehog 2"

Contact Lisa Denton at or 423-757-6281.