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Budget Friendly Ways to Make Your Child’s Summer Memorable in Decatur and Morgan County.

Budget Friendly Ways to Make Your Child’s Summer Memorable in Decatur and Morgan County.

A boy in a blue plaid shirt and a girl in a pink tank top walk down a dirt trail with baskets in hand.

The kids have finally fallen asleep and you’re scrolling on social media eating the ice cream you told them you ran out of earlier today. After a couple of cute animal videos, you see THAT “Pinterest Perfect” Mom’s post, we ALL follow that woman. You decide that tomorrow you are going to step up your game. It’s only the start of summer and you’ve already watched every Ms. Rachel video and did your eight-year-old really say “Low key the vibes are off” when you handed her an afternoon snack? You are definitely not against screen time, but you need a little more hands-on experiences and a lot less TikTok. Luckily we’ve got 6 budget-friendly summer activities to enjoy in Morgan County this summer for you.

6 Budget-Friendly Summer Activities in MorCo

The key to making an activity or excursion memorable is letting your child’s imagination and curiosity take charge. Turn a boring walk into a collecting expedition, a trip to a museum into time travel and a stroll downtown into a scavenger hunt!

A young boy and girl crouch on the ground with baskets gathering things on their walk in Decatur.
Making the ordinary extraordinary is the name of the game with a budget-friendly summer planning. Photo Courtesy of Leslie Long

Go on a Gathering Walk
Pack your snacks, lace up your shoes and let’s take off! To make this outing “memorable” gather supplies from around the house or stop by Dollar Tree to pick up items for under $10. Items needed: tote bag, basket or beach bucket, magnifying glass or bug kit and bonus points for fairy, explorer or pirate costumes.

Go walking at Wheeler Wildlife Refuge or Point Mallard Trails and give your little adventurers a mission! The missions can be as easy or complex as you want. Here are a few suggestions; gather things a fairy would use in her fairy house, gather things a dinosaur would eat, gather something in every color of the rainbow, or simply gather things that interest you.

Want to take it up a notch or have older children to engage? Go Geocaching at Point Mallard Trails! Geo-caching is a modern day treasure hunt with clues and prizes! Check out this website for local clues and caches or download one of the many apps.

Remember with geocaching you need to bring a pen to sign your name and a small prize to leave behind. Check out Dollar Tree’s party favor section for a budget-friendly option. The best part is that the whole family can get involved, even the dog!

A family walks across a crosswalk as part of their budget-friendly summer activities in Decatur.
The Downtown Turtle Trail in Decatur is a turtle-y awesome way to spend the afternoon without breaking the bank. Photo Courtesy of Decatur Morgan County Tourism

Have a Turtle-y Awesome Scavenger Hunt

Nothing is more fun than a scavenger hunt! Check out Decatur’s Downtown Turtle Trail. Hunt up and down 2nd Avenue looking for little bronze turtles, find all of them and don’t forget to post photos of all ten turtles to your social media channel, including the hashtags #TurtleTrail and #DowntownDecatur! Once you’ve completed the trail and posted your photos, stop by the Cook Museum of Natural Science Museum Store or the Decatur Morgan County Tourism and show your pictures off to receive your special prize (a turtle squishy)! Find the turtle clues here.

A young girl holding a balloon animal in a pink dress excitedly meets Princess Aurora at 3rd Friday Downtown Decatur.
Slow down and take a magical stroll through historic Downtown Decatur during 3rd Fridays Downtown. Courtesy of Magical Memories AL

Have a Magical Stroll During 3rd Fridays Downtown Decatur

What’s better than fun family Friday nights? Be sure to mark your calendar for every 3rd Friday, May through October! 3rd Friday Downtown, on 2nd Avenue SE, starts at 5:30pm and last until 8:30pm. It’s filled with antique cars, live musical performances, Disney characters, face painting, vendors, balloon twisters, food trucks and more! You can make your experience as inexpensive as you like. Free performances, free door prizes, free photos with children’s characters and free antique car viewing!

A young girl stands in front of a local playground as a budget-friendly way to spend the summer.
A trip to a local playground is a simple, but guaranteed way to pass the day. Photo courtesy of Leslie Long.

Play the Summer Away at a Local Playground

One of the best parts of summer is the old fashioned approach, playing outside. Pack a family picnic and let your kids run and play to their heart’s content! There are so many wonderful parks to choose from in Decatur and Morgan County! Watching multiple children at a playground can be stressful and difficult, but thankfully we have a few fenced in options! Be sure to layer a swimsuit because Delano Park in Decatur and SNAP Park in Hartselle are both fenced in AND have FREE splashpads! Your children will be exhausted and sleepy and quiet after hours of playing. You’re welcome!

Make the day extra special by grabbing a local icy treat after a day in the sun! There are several great options, a couple are: Tess’ Place in Decatur (prices ranging from $3.50-$6.00) or Oliwa’s Shaved Ice in Hartselle (prices ranging from $4.25-$12.00)!
Another great picnic spot in Decatur is Frazier Park located on Cherry Street in southeast Decatur! With a beautiful Japanese bridge, stream and fun water elements this park offers many beautiful shady spots for a picnic. It is a more serene private option. Rhodes Ferry Park, which sits on the bank of the Tennessee River, offers a shaded pavilion and gazebo, playground equipment and a large field area for running, playing frisbee, blowing bubbles and much more!

Looking for a park with a playground, pavilions, shade AND walking trails? Sparkman Park in Hartselle offers all that and more!

A train passes by the Old Train Depot in Decatur - a popular budget-friendly summer activity for kids.
Chug on over to the Old Train Depot in Decatur to enjoy real and model trains. Photo courtesy of Decatur Morgan County Tourism.

Chug on Over to the Old Train Depot

Alabama summers are no joke! It can get pretty hot and the only thing worse than being hot is having a hot and fussy child. Pack a snack (or lunch) and head out to the Old Train Depot! With fun model trains that race around tracks and real trains chugging by, it’s a fun, free, educational (mom win) and air conditioned way to spend the day! Sit outside on the observation deck at one of the picnic tables and enjoy as trains come by feet away from you! With a safety fence and a no horn zone this is the most child friendly way to get up close and personal with a train! Be sure to check out their operating hours before planning a visit!

Still on an educational kick? Only a few blocks away is the Old State Bank (free admission)! Let your children’s imaginations take over with the huge vault inside and teller area they can pretend to be 1800’s bankers! Be sure to ask for the free pretend money and banking statement souvenirs or come prepared with some monopoly money for them to play with. The garden out back is perfect for a picnic and they have a public restroom for potty breaks! Plan your visit around their operating hours!

Don’t forget about Decatur Public Library! Not only can your child spend hours reading but they also have a packed summer schedule of fun and free events! Check out their website and subscribe to their newsletter to stay up to date on their events.

Two blurred figures walk past a piece of art in the Carnegie Visual Arts Center.
Create the perfect day at the Carnegie Visual Arts Center. Photo courtesy of Decatur Morgan County Tourism.

Wanting to stay cool with older children who might not be as interested in historical make believe? Visit the FREE Carnegie Visual Arts Center and Alabama Center For The Arts to see the latest displays! Make a game of it and have them look for specific colors, shapes or painting styles in the art work or have them pick their favorite and tell you why!

A boy in a blue plaid shirt and a girl in a pink tank top walk down a dirt trail with baskets in hand.
Those Pinterest perfect summer moments don’t have to break the bank. Photo courtesy of Leslie Long.

Keep an eye out for fun and free family events happening throughout the summer in Decatur and Morgan County. Check out Visit Decatur and River City Mom’s calendar to stay up to date on all the latest happenings.

Don’t forget to take those “Pinterest perfect” mom photos, but more importantly take the photos with ice cream all over their faces and dirt on their knees and share how memorable your child’s summer was!

*Disclaimer: This post was written by a childless 23 year old who never out grew the simple magic of her childhood in Decatur.

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