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(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City offers free admission on July 24.
One Cheap Chick: Summer fun for kids made easy

To keep busy, free — and nearly free — offerings abound, from movies to music.

First Published Jun 02 2012 01:01 am • Last Updated Sep 11 2012 11:32 pm

Keeping kids entertained during the summer months doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.

In fact, a variety of free and low-cost programs are available along the Wasatch Front from June through August that can help fight boredom — to say nothing of saving caregivers’ sanity. Here are some of my favorites:

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Bowl for free • Children can get two free games a day this summer by signing up for the Kids Bowl Free program. There is a charge for shoe rental, which runs $2 to $3 per child, each time you go, but the deal still provides an inexpensive outing. Wasatch Front bowling centers in Sandy, North Salt Lake, Roy, Orem, Tooele and West Jordan are part of the program. A discounted family pass good for the summer allows parents to bowl free, too. Information is at Kidsbowlfree.com

Learn to build things • Sign up your children for free workshops on select Saturdays at Lowe’s at Lowesbuildandgrow.com. Home Depot offers free how-to workshops for children and adults. For more information, go to HomeDepot.com and click on "How To" at the top right-hand of the page and then "Workshops" on the bottom left.

See a cheap movie• Cinemark theaters along the Wasatch Front offer a summer series for children, with tickets for only $1 per person. These aren’t first-run movies — titles include "Kung Fu Panda 2," "Happy Feet 2" and "Dolphin Tale" among others — but they are shown in an air-conditioned theater. Go to bit.ly/JSy5qH to see who’s participating and the lineup at each location.

Water Gardens theaters in Spanish Fork and Pleasant Grove also are offering movies for $1 per ticket. Go to watergardenstheatres.com, click on either location and then click again on "summer kids movies."

In Orem, the SCERA Center offers movies for one buck, too. Details are at scera.org/events/view/62. And in American Fork, Towne Cinemas has a similar program with tickets running $1.50 each.

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Freebies indoors, outdoors • In the Salt Lake area, admission to the Natural History Museum of Utah is free on July 9. You’ll need to reserve a ticket as early as July 4 at nhmu.utah.edu/visit/hours.

Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City offers free admission on July 24. For details, go to redbuttegarden.org/free_garden_events.

The Utah Museum of Fine Arts offers free admission the first Wednesday of each month.

In Weber County this summer, you can get in free to a variety of attractions, such as the Treehouse Children’s Museum, the Ogden-Eccles Dinosaur Park and the Ogden Nature Center on various Saturdays. Go to co.weber.ut.us/ramp/index.htm and click on "RAMP Summer Saturdays" for a printable schedule of offers.

Also, admission to any national park is free on June 9, and members of the military can get free annual passes. Go to nps.gov for more information.

Many libraries along the Wasatch Front also offer patrons the opportunity to check out passes to state parks.

Listen to classical music• The Utah Symphony offers free outdoor summer concerts, including shows in Taylorsville June 28 and in downtown Salt Lake City July 12. For more information, go to utahsymphony.org and click on "concerts."

Attend a "star party"• The Salt Lake Astronomical Society offers free public gatherings that showcase what’s visible in the night sky. Look through high-powered telescopes or have an expert show you what you can see on your own. Go to slas.us for a list of upcoming parties.

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