First, become a member. Paying for annual membership at zoos, aquariums and museums is a great investment. You can recoup the fee in as little as one visit, with extras like free parking and access to special exhibits. Joining the Philadelphia Zoo gets you free or discounted admission to more than 100 zoos around the country.
Do your best to seek out freebies. There are tons of free summer concerts, movies and theater performances. Washington DC offers free Shakespeare in the Park, while Santa Cruz has well-known bands like the Gin Blossoms performing on its boardwalk every week. Every Tuesday and Wednesday, Regal theatres shows free family movies like Charlotte's Web and Hairspray.
Or, buy tickets online. Six Flags theme parks cut their prices by about $10 this year to encourage cash strapped consumers to come to the parks. That's a great start, but you'll save even more at these parks and others by buying tickets online before you leave home. Savings can be as much as 25%.
Try joining free rewards or loyalty clubs - they can have amazing perks. Kids who join the White Sox Kids Club get two free vouchers redeemable for upper deck reserve seats. Sign up for AMC Theatres' MovieWatcher club, and you get weekly coupons for free popcorn, and earn points toward free tickets.
If at all possible, package your trip. While you're on vacation, check with your hotel about special deals on everything from Broadway shows to amusement parks. Connections properties have with ticket brokers can yield discounts of up to 50%.
For more fun activities on a budget, click here to visit www.SmartMoney.com.
By Kelli Grant