Big summertime fun, little price tag

July 1, 2013 

I’ll admit it: I’m a cheapskate. I love freebies, bargains, thrift shops, coupons and all things that save money.

I’m the woman in front of you in the grocery line, sorting out manufacturer coupons that can be used with store coupons and rewards vouchers, while munching on free samples of deli cheese and drinking a free birthday latte.

I read ads in the Sunday paper, compare products’ prices by weight, and buy store brands whenever it’s cheaper.

I dig through clearance racks like a kid sorting presents on Christmas morning.

Speaking of Christmas, I recently scored several boxes of holiday blend coffees for an unbelievable price. They’re not stale or anything, but I have to admit that it was kind of strange to drink cinnamon- and pumpkinflavored coffee when it was nice and sunny outside.

Looking at our family’s expenses, I know there are still lots of places I can trim costs. Entertainment is a big one. Here are some of my favorite free or cheap summertime activities:

• Movies on the big screen: The Regal Summer Movie Express offers $1 movies for families. Start times are 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays for nine weeks. The movies include “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” “Rio,” “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” and “Coraline.”

South Sound participating theaters include Regal Martin Village Stadium 16 in Lacey, Regal Lakewood Stadium 15 in Lakewood, Regal Longston Place Stadium 14 in Puyallup, and Regal Auburn Stadium 17 in Auburn. For details, go to  movies/summer-movie-express .

Meanwhile, Cinemark is offering its Summer Movie Clubhouse. Tickets are $1 a show at the box office, or $5 for all 10 screenings if purchased in advance. Movies include “Horton Hears a Who,” “Happy Feet” and “Alvin & the Chipmunks .” Participating locations include Century Theaters Capital Mall in Olympia and Century Federal Way. For more information, go to  / summer-movie-clubhouse.

• Free library shows: Public libraries are a great place to check out books and DVDs for free. But they’re also a good place to make crafts, watch concerts, see magicians and take in other free events during the summertime.

• Timberland Regional Library has a full line-up of free activities for families this summer, including performances by magician Jeff Evans and comedian-juggler-oneman-band Eric Haines. For details, go to

• The Pierce County Library system is offering family movie nights at several locations, presentations on rock hounding, and puppet shows. For more information, go to

• Free museums and art: Most museums and art galleries in the Puget Sound area open their doors to the public for no charge at least once a month.

In Seattle and Tacoma, several galleries and museums offer free admission on select Thursday evenings every month as well.

In Olympia, the Hands On Children’s Museum offers free admission from 5 to 9 p.m. on the first Friday of every month.

And the Children’s Museum of Tacoma offers “pay as you will” (admission by donation) all the time. It’s also offering free admission for active-duty military personnel and their families through Labor Day as part of the Blue Star Museums program.

Get more information about free admission events from your favorite museum’s website. Also, know that some library systems, including the Pierce County Library and Tacoma Public Library, offer museum passes that members can check out and use for free.

• Free outdoor concerts: Several South Sound parks and recreation departments offer free music in the park programs.

For example, the city of Lacey is sponsoring concerts at noon every Wednesday through Aug. 7 and at 7 p.m. Saturdays from July 13- Aug. 10.

The city of Puyallup offers Noon Tunes at Pioneer Park on Tuesdays in July and August, and family concerts at 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays at Bradley Lake Park and at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays at Pioneer Park during July and August.

Most municipalities post the dates and times of their summer events on their websites.

Staff writer Lisa Pemberton is one busy mama with three young children. Reach her at 360-754-5433 or .

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