By Phie Bannister

There’s a month left of the summer holidays, and most of us are feeling the increase in cost of living. So here are some ideas for free and cheap days out this summer holiday.



Most cinemas offer much cheaper screenings, usually early in the mornings. Sometimes they’re also ‘relaxed screenings’ suitable for toddlers and children with SEND, which are not as loud or dark. If you’re willing to see a slightly older film, you can find tickets for a couple of pounds per person.  Have a look at your local cinema’s website to find out more.


Garden Centre

There’s loads to look at in garden centres. As well as all of the different flowers, herbs and fruit trees, some have fish, pets, play areas and little walking routes. They also often have a good selection of toys, books, food and furniture (think sheds and Wendy houses at bigger sites) for browsing. Check out your local garden centre’s website or social media, as some of them also put on craft sessions, kid’s planting workshops and other themed events.



A new playground can be just about the most exciting thing for children of all ages. Here is a link to another one of our articles rounding up our favourites across the county:


Follow That Duck!

Lots of giant (5 foot) and little rubber ducks have been hidden between Bexhill and Hastings Old Town this summer. You can find them nestled in streets, gardens, parks and beaches, all decorated with beautiful, colourful designs. Take a walk around and see how many you can find! You can download the app to help you along the route.



Did you know that there are lots of free museums and galleries in East Sussex? Here is a link to another article which lists some of them:


Charity shop challenge

A small amount of money can go a long way in a charity shop, and it supports a good cause, so it’s win, win! Either just give your child an amount of money to spend as they like, or make it fun with a theme or challenge. For example, find a full outfit, find the perfect present for a friend, buy something of every colour of the rainbow, choose the silliest hat, buy something educational and something just for fun etc.



You don’t have to travel to go camping. If you have a tent, set it up in your garden for a night (or even for a day if it’s too cold or daunting to actually sleep in it). No tent? No problem. ‘Camp’ indoors by putting all your sofa cushions/air beds/mattresses onto the living room floor for a night.

Animal sanctuary

There are so many free and reasonably-priced days out for animal lovers, so we’ve created a whole article just on those!

Days out for animal lovers – Your East Sussex by East Sussex County Council



Explore a new leisure centre, outdoor pool or beach for a spot of swimming. Just be sure to go where there is a lifeguard, if possible, and stay safe if you are doing wild swimming with children.



The library is a great place to spend a morning with little ones. There are shelves full of books, comics, games and DVDs to be explored. If you time it right, you can also attend one of the free Rhymetime, Storytime, craft or activity sessions. Check the times for your local library here. 

The summer reading challenge is running all holiday, and is a great way to encourage reading. Your child will be given stickers, prizes and certificates for reading six books over the summer.


Holiday, Food and Fun

All holiday, families receiving benefit-related free school meals can make the most of the Holiday, Food and Fun programme (HaF) free of charge. There are a range of activities and meals on offer. Get more information here.



Wherever you go, remember to pack a picnic for your trip, to avoid spending lots on food and drinks. A picnic alone can be a day out, if you find somewhere new and exciting. Why not take some teddies and honey sandwiches to the Hundred Acre wood (Ashdown Forest) and play Pooh Sticks? Or head for a clifftop walk and lunch with a view, but definitely stay well away from cliff edges and bases.

Share your top tips for budget-friendly family days out. We’d love to know what we’ve missed.