Summer fun, on the cheap! Here’s TBaywithkids.ca's list of the best free stuff for families in Thunder Bay, all summer long.
1. Visit a fire station
Big red trucks, big rubber boots, big fun: To visit a Thunder Bay fire station, all you have to do is fill out a request form and set a date. The firefighters will take you and the kids on a tour of the station, including seeing the equipment and asking them questions about their job. Kids must be of school age.
More info www.thunderbay.ca
2. Go bowling
Ok, who can score a turkey? Galaxy Lanes is offering free bowling, including shoe rental, for kids in July and August, Monday through Saturday, before 5pm. Just register and you’ll get a weekly access code. Want to bowl with the kids? Adults can buy a family pass for $30.
More info www.galaxylanes.ca
3. See wild birds up close
At the McKellar Island Bird Observatory, kids can help be citizen scientists and monitor migratory bird trends. Visit researchers John and Maureen Woodcock, who carefully capture birds using special mist netting, then weigh, band and release them. Open approximately 7:30am-1pm, starting August 1, closed when it’s raining. Donations welcome too!
More info McKellar Island Bird Observatory on Facebook
4. Catch movies and music
The Movie Nights on the Waterfront series at Marina Park features family movies on Fridays and Saturdays, August 18 to September 1, starting around 8:30pm. A locally made short film kicks off each evening, followed by Hollywood flicks (titles available closer to showing date). Bring your own blanket, lawn chairs and some cozy clothes if the lake breezes are cool. Live on the Waterfront is a concert series that runs on Wednesday nights from July 12 to August 30, 6-9pm. Check out homegrown artists like Rag Maple, Nadjiwan, The Honest Heart Collective and more.
5. Try old-school toys
Take your playground trip up a notch by borrowing some toys in Playboxes at 15 different parks and community centres in the city. Created by Healthy Kids Community Challenge: Thunder Bay and their community partners, the brightly painted boxes hold fun stuff like jump ropes, balls, chalk and hula hoops. Just put ‘em back before you head home.
More info www.healthykidstbay.com
6. Experience art and history
At the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, admission is “pay what you can” and Wednesdays are specifically set aside as a free admission day. This summer, the exhibit “The Perspective from Here: 150 Artists From the North” showcases the work of northern Ontario artists from June 22 to September 24. Or, take your bikes and enjoy your art outside with the self-guided Definitely Superior graffiti art tour that shows off the city’s mural artists. Tuesdays are free admission days at the Thunder Bay Museum, and the rest of the time, adult admission is $3, kids 6-12 are $1.50 and kids under six are free. Top three kid attractions, according to staffers: the real jail cell, the wigwam and Albert the Albertosaurus.
7. Love the library
Family Fun Days is just one of the programs offered at the Thunder Bay Public Library this summer. It runs four days a week at 2:30pm, all through July and August. (Mondays: County Park, Tuesdays: Waverly, Wednesdays: Brodie, Thursdays: Mary J. L. Black). Check out magicians, puppet shows, crafts, hip hop dance classes, live music, a campfire party and more. As well, cardholders can borrow fishing gear or gardening equipment plus, you know, books, magazines, DVDs, graphic novels ….
More info www.tbpl.ca
8. Splash around
Shriek, giggle, spray: splash pads are always a winner. Why not take a tour of the city’s four splash pads to figure out which one is your family’s fave? The new splash pad at North End Recreation Centre is scheduled to open July 1.
More info www.thunderbay.ca