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Summer 2024: 11 Free things to do with kids in Thunder Bay


Free stuff and families are a great mix. Check out our list of the top fun and FREE summer outings and activities for families in Thunder Bay in summer 2024.


1. Go to a Border Cats game Become part of the Junior Cats Club, where kids 12 and under get in free to Sunday afternoon home games at Port Arthur Stadium. Hit the concession stand and cheer on the Cats!


2.  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.)


3. “Fly” a plane

Visit the Northwestern Ontario Aviation Centre to see artifacts and exhibits about the region’s flying history, and try your hand at the amazingly realistic flight simulator, created by two local aviation enthusiasts. Open Wednesdays and Sundays from 1-4 pm or by appointment. The Centre is also hosting two events with cool restored historic planes this summer, on July 5-7 and August 10-11 so check their website event page for details.


4. 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 7:30 am-1 pm, starting August 1, closed when it’s raining. (Donations welcome too!)

5. Visit the animals

Take a little country drive to see the friendly alpacas, geese, ducks, pigs and more at the animal farm at Vanderwees (note that there is a nearby mini-putt course on site, which has a fee).

6. Catch an outdoor movie

The Movie Nights in the Parks series takes place in several different parks around town in August. Concessions are available, and bring your own blanket, lawn chairs and some cozy clothes if the nights are chilly. Check the City website for updated information.


7. Groove to the music, live and outside

Live on the Waterfront is a concert series that runs on Wednesday nights from July 17 to August 29, 6-9 pm. You can also check out free concerts at Crossroad Music at Fort William First Nation on Saturday afternoons from 11 am-5 pm and at Chippewa Park Sunday afternoons starting June 30 and going until September 1.


8. Experience art Take your bikes and enjoy your art outside with the self-guided Def Sup graffiti art tour that shows off the city’s mural artists. The Ahnisnabae Art Gallery has art for sale, but you can still pop in with the kids to see incredible examples of Indigenous art. Kids 12 and under get into the Thunder Bay Art Gallery for free, and it’s free admission for all on Wednesdays (and just $5 for adults other days). The work of several different local artists is on display this summer, including vibrant paintings of birds by Norval Morrisseau and pop-art Woodland Style work by Jim Oskineegish.

9. Get a blast from the past 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). There are three floors to explore with recreated old shops, costumes to try on, beautiful beadwork and a short Jane Goodall film aimed at inspiring kids to make a difference in the world around them. Top kid attractions, according to museum staffers are the real jail cell and the wigwam. Just down Hwy 61 there’s the Oliver Paipoonge Heritage Park, a fun recreated village where families can check out an old-time schoolhouse, vintage garage and cars, model trains, general store and more—stop at the train station first to pick up a map. Admission is free for children 12 and under, and adults pay $5, and the hours are Friday to Sunday from noon to 4:30 (also open Thursdays starting July 4). The Park also hosts a number of special events throughout the summer.

10. Love the library

The Thunder Bay Public Library offers all kinds of family-friendly activities in summer 2024. Visit their events page to get all the listings of all the events. There’s everything from panning for “gold” and firefighter and big truck visits to crafts, storytime with puppies, window painting, Science North shows, gardening and more. Plus, new for 2024, if you are a TBay resident with a library card, you can also sign out family passes for free day trips to Ontario Parks, Fort William Historical Park, Thunder Bay Art Gallery and Thunder Bay Museum.


11. Splash around

Shriek, giggle, spray: splash pads are always a winner. Why not take a tour of the city’s five splash pads to figure out which one is your family’s fave?


Don’t miss out on the fun! Like us on Facebook to see posts from throughout the month, featuring a variety of paid and free events for families in Thunder Bay.

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