5 Places to take Your Toddler–for FREE

Hailey and I like to keep ourselves busy. A day or two at home is fine, but more than that and we’re both clawing at the walls in need of  change of scenery.  Whether it’s play dates or walks, I need something to do for my sanity and her stimulation.

We love children’s museum play dates. Discovery Place Kids in Huntersville is one of our favorites and yesterday we tried out the Children’s Museum in Rock Hill, which was great!

rock hill childrens museum

However, unless you get a membership, $16 here and $10 there can add up quickly. So while we enjoy these outings occasionally, we also make use of all the free fun there is to be had outside the house!

Library Story Time – Our library has a couple of story times through out the week. There are story times for kids 0-2 and for kids 2-3 and 4-5. We’ve been to all of them. Hailey loved to participate in her age group (clapping to songs, shaking the egg shakers) and was fascinated watching the bigger kids in the other groups.

Barnes and Noble – Our Barnes and Noble has a large kid section. I’ll let Hailey crawl around and we’ll read whatever book she pulls off the shelf. Sometimes I’ll grab a magazine while she plays at the train table they have set up. Often times there are other moms there, too, so the kids play together. They also offer free story time, so check out your local Barnes and Noble to see what they offer.

Playgrounds (different ones) – We love our local playground. They have a separate toddler area with Astroturf, which is perfect for Hailey. However, sometimes we both like to shake things up and try out new spots. It’s funny how just going to a different playground can make things so much more exciting for both of us.  Use Playground Mapper to find all the playgrounds close to you.

playground toddler

Pet Store – For a toddler, it’s like a free zoo! I discovered this one by accident when Hailey and I were picking up food for Koda. I pushed the cart pass the ferrets and the fish tanks and Hailey lit up, pointing and emphatically saying Dah! Dah! (that). I’m working on teaching her FISH. Right now it sounds like Dah! Winking smile

Farmers Market or Plant Nursery – Our local farmers market always has so much to look at. This fall they had pumpkins and mums set up, perfect for Hailey to crawl through and explore. I plan on going back when there are Christmas trees and playing hide and seek! If you don’t have a similar spot near you, try Lowe’s or Home Depot’s plant section. Looking at all the different colors, smells and textures is sure to entertain your toddler for a while.

Josh's Farmers Market- fall

What did I miss?

Where is your favorite free play date?



  1. Cindi says

    Have you been to Toys and Co. in Charlotte? Depending on the day, they have free music by Mr. Nigel, which Molly loves! And they don’t mind that the kids play with the toys there, it’s great!

  2. Hanna says

    We love going to the fire station when my husband is on duty. My daughter runs around the bay and plays in the trucks. She loves it!

  3. says

    Good tips! Question for you: Do you find the children’s museums and such to be a petri dish germ fest? We were contemplating getting a membership at a local interactive museum and a friend said every time they went their kiddo got really sick.

    Now that it’s getting colder and Joanna doesn’t stroll the baby through the park all the time, they’re looking for alternatives. Thanks for the tips!
    Mike @ Midwestern Bite recently posted..Stuck in Husband’s Head – Porcupine RacetrackMy Profile

    • says

      The ones I’ve been to are pretty good about cleanliness. I felt really uncomfortable at first, but now that Hailey is 13 months, I’m a but more ok exposing her to germs. Since there is a separate toddler area, I feel I can keep a good eye on her too :) So far, so good!

  4. Rachel Starr says

    These are all great suggestions! We especially like the plant nursery around Christmas. Lots of sparkle & lights to look at :) I’ve definitely been known to loiter around B&N drinking a latte while my kiddo plays!

    Another tip I’ll pass along, is to have family members (grandparents or aunts & uncles) buy memberships for Christmas presents. They’re typically not much more than what would be spent on toys.

    We got a zoo membership last year & it was awesome! I think this year we’ll ask for a membership to the Children’s Museum :)

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