At the beginning of August, the kids and I were looking at a full month of empty week day schedules.  I had envisioned trips to the pool, a tour of all the area playgrounds, maybe a few morning runs with the jog stroller.  And then the real live Arkansas summer reared it’s ugly three digit temperatures and all my plans were dashed.  In the meantime, we’ve found a few new summer pastimes that come free and complete with climate control.  If you’re not in Little Rock, maybe this list will help you get ideas when researching things to do in your town. Click the links for location and hours.

Indoor Playgrounds: Two area churches have indoor playgrounds that are open to the public.  Both of these locations also have a cafe so you can catch lunch or at least a snack after a long play session (the cafes are not free).

  • The Church at Rock Creek‘s playground is a beast, boasting four levels of climbing, tunneling, sliding adventure.  There is also a less intimidating space for the under two set.  As best I know this playground is open every day except Friday and Sunday.
  • Little Rock’s First Baptist Church Family Recreation Center has a small indoor playground that is great for preschool aged kids and younger.  It is two levels with a slide, and it’s very easy to see the kiddos at all times.  There is also an adjacent outdoor playground here. Open Monday thru Friday starting at 5:45am

Storytimes: Normally the Central Arkansas Library system is ripe with  storytimes throughout the week, but for some reason several branches take the month of August off.  We’ve found a couple great storytime events to keep us afloat, though.  Both of these storytimes are scheduled to continue through the fall.

  • Storytime at McMath Library is every Wednesday at 10am.  Miss Julie is a wonderfully energetic storytime librarian, and the library itself is beautiful, clean, and easy to get to.  Storytime includes 3-4 books, 2-3 songs, and an art/craft activity.
  • Storytime at Whole Foods is every Friday at 10am.  “Farmer Kaylea” (complete with overalls) takes time out from her farm to share some stories and a yummy snack.  Storytime includes 2-3 books, 1-2 songs, a healthy (usually fruit) snack, and coloring sheets.  The kids and I usually stay and play in the kids’ play area (blocks, puzzles, books) for an hour or so.

Open Gym: There are a couple opportunities for open gym play that I know of. (These are not drop-offs.)

  • Unity Martial Arts offers a free open gym every Friday from 9am-11am.  Sometimes a wide open padded space is all a kid needs.  The huge bouncy balls and a game of bean-bag toss are just icing on the cake.
  • The Little Gym is offering a free open house this Friday, August 13 from 2:30-4:30pm.  Instructors will be on-hand to facilitate free play, themed games, prize drawings, face painting, and more.  If you decide to sign up for classes while you are there, mention that you heard about the open house event from me (Fawn) and they will waive the yearly membership fee for you.

If you know of any other free “beat the heat” activities or events, please post them in the comments section. We still have a month til school starts!

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