Your Ultimate Guide to New England Summer Fun on a Budget


Turn Your Vacation Into a Staycation (1)I love saving money. I mean, doesn’t everyone?! I love it even more when saving money directly helps my family. I am no coupon Jedi Master whatsoever, but I do know some about how to shop around, be smart, and get the most out of an experience without having to break the bank. I have learned quickly the best option for our family come summer is to “staycation-it” as we work to save money.

The following is an ultimate guide for your own family if you too are thinking, how can we have fun and still save money this summer?

The Deals and Steals This Summer

squam lake science center
Squam Lakes Science Center
storyland 2015

1.) The Fun Pass. Snag the most savings and unlock so many possibilities with Breathe New Hampshire’s Fun Pass. This $32 purchase is going to save you over $1,800 to more than 100 popular attractions all over New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts! The discounts are amazing and in most cases either get one child 12 and under in for FREE or at a deep discount when accompanied by a paying adult. This purchase will most likely guide your staycation plans as to where you would like to explore, and in some cases, might introduce you to places you have not been before! One of them might be the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, which was a huge hit last year with my boys. I was very impressed with how much there was to see and do for all ages, the cleanliness, and how BIG the place is!

2.) Library Pass Programs. Be sure to check your local libraries for more passes and discounts (several of which are also part of Breathe NH) to many of the places mentioned below.

3.) Museums. There are SO many museum options across New England to explore. Some of them are covered at a discount with your Breathe NH Fun Pass, but there are even MORE cost savings beyond that. Additionally, know that museums often have reciprocal agreements with other museums and science centers that could also lead to free family admissions depending on which facility you are looking at. Explore more at either Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) or Association of Science Technology Centers (ASTC).

Children’s Museum of NH can be found in the Breathe NH discounts and also offers $3 off after 3 p.m. on the first Friday of each month. Children under one are free and there are lots ongoing drop-in programming all year that is free with price of admission. Currier Museum of Art can also give you lots of options for FREE fun! All children 13 and under are free and every Saturday from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., ALL admissions are free! Currier also offers a unique creative studio on the second Saturday of each month, which includes art (see 2016 summer programs schedule here) and a family tour! While in Manchester at the Currier, you could even check out the SEE Science Center where children three and under are free. If willing to travel to Massachusetts, they have their Free Fun Fridays 2016 schedule available to take advantage of, too. Keep in mind that with these fabulous opportunities comes a crowd, so if you’re not in the mood to conquer the masses, you might pick and choose which ones you are willing to fight the chaos for.

4.) Educational/Petting Farms. What better activity to do in New England than go visit a farm! These are just a sampling of our NH farms and activities:

Emery Farm, Durham, NH – A Seacoast favorite, what doesn’t Emery have?! Marketplace, handmade goods, and a petting farm. From Emery Farm, hop in your car and drive just up the street to Wagon Hill Farm for even more fun!

Jenness Farm, Nottingham, NH – Love goats?! This is your place. Whether to visit with the goats, or purchase goat produced products on-site, Jenness has a quality reputation in the area.

New Hampshire Farm Museum, Milton, NH – I might be a little biased because they are in my town, but this farm museum is a destination you have to check out. There is so much educational programming going on all summer long.

Beech Hill Farm and Ice Cream Barn, Hopkinton, NH – What’s not to love in that title?! Featuring Blake’s and Richardson’s ice cream, Beech Hill Farm has a variety of animals to interact with, gardener’s barn and potting shed, a giant sand pile, and a corn maze come fall.

Prescott Farm Environmental Education Center, Laconia, NH – Prescott has gained attention this year for building the first all-natural playscape! Just opened in May, the space was created only from wood and natural pieces on the property. This farm has a plethora of educational activities ongoing all year long.

Carriage Shack Farm, Derry, NH – A petting farm, pony rides, and educational programming farm, there is tons to do at Carriage Shack!

Powder Mill Fish Hatchery, New Durham, NH – Fish hatcheries in general are such a fun activity with little ones!

5.) More Than Just a Beach. Here in New England we could go on and on about this topic of destination during the summer months. I love the beaches that offer more than just the water, but also land exploration with structures onsite and scenic views.

Odiorne State Park in Rye and Pawtuckaway State Park both offer more than just the beautiful water scenes that surround them. Odiorne has on-site access to a playground, walking paths, picnic areas, and restrooms. Pawtuckaway is truly a fun place to explore beyond the beach with hiking trails and caves!

Fort Stark in NH and Fort Foster in Maine both offer history, exploration, and fun for all ages.

Prescott Park Arts Festival must be mentioned of course, too. Check out the theater event calendar, including Disney’s The Little Mermaid!

albee beach
Albee Beach, Wolfeboro, NH

Albee Beach, Wolfeboro, NH is a hidden gem because you really get the feel of a “private” beach. Wide open views scan Lake Wentworth and the mountains while the water depth stays low very far out, perfect for shorter legs. Plenty of walking and biking trails free parking, and outdoor shower access provide a super pleasant experience.

6.) Hike It. Around here there is ALWAYS hiking to be had. Laurie has you covered!

7.) Rainy days? Don’t forget about movie deals like the very reasonably priced O’Neil Cinemas in Epping or the new Starlite Cinemas in Rochester, often offering free movies for the littles!

onei deals

Paint for Fun in Dover, NH is also an affordable, fun place to head on a dreary summer day. Starting at $3.99 for a magnet or a mini ceramic, kids can paint alongside mom, dad, and siblings for a fun activity. Also check out ARTtastic Art Studio and Playplace in Hampton Falls.

It would be ill-conceived of me not to also mention the ongoing deals that can be found on Groupon for attractions. Whether you want to take some of these experiences and turn them into a couple long weekends of fun, sprinkle them in on a weekday with your mommy playgroups, or truly turn your vacation into a staycation, it can be done. Your kids will love it and you will love saving money while making lifelong memories!

Also check out June’s Moms Guide to the Seacoast for even more fun happenings!