Our List of Cheap and Free Activities in Collin County and Where to Find Them

One thing that is certain about kids: They love to be busy! How do we keep them occupied and not break the bank? Check out these resources for cheap and free activities for kids in Collin County.

>> RECOMMENDED RESOURCE :: Community Calendar of Local Events <<

Free Attractions in Collin County

  • Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano is a nice place to enjoy a nature walk with the kiddos. Be sure to bring lots of water and snacks.
  • Concerts by the Creek :: Also in Watters Creek in Allen, concerts by the creek show every Saturday evening from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Enjoy jazz, 80s, indie rock, and more —  check the schedule to see when your favorite genre or cover band plays.
  • Music in the Square in Downtown Frisco :: Every Friday in June starting at 8:00 p.m., grab a pizza or pack a picnic dinner, and bring the kids for a musical family night out. Best part is, it’s totally FREE!
  • Collin County Farm Museum in McKinney is open Wednesdays for free. See tractors, barns, collections, and artifacts from Collin County’s rural heritage in the early 1960s.
  • The Shops at Willow Bend in Plano :: Beat the heat at this free, indoor play area. Nearly 2,000 square feet, it features a firetruck, merry-go-round, and more.
  • Visit your local firehouse :: Firefighters love to get visitors and enjoy giving kids a tour of the house. Make some cookies and bring them a special “Thank You For Your Service” homemade treat.
  • Collin County is filled with parks and splash pads that make for a fun day out in the sun and water. Pack the towels and have a free outing that will keep the kids busy for hours. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
>> RECOMMENDED RESOURCE :: Pools, Splash Pads, and Water Parks in Collin County <<
  • Interurban Railway Museum :: This free museum in Plano showcases the history of Plano and the Texas Electric Railway. Tour a real-life, retired U.S. Mail Railway Post Office train car! Exhibits include an interactive electricity room and model train. A preschool-age story time is offered Fridays at 11:00 a.m.

Libraries

Collin County has some amazing libraries. Each library has a children’s section where you and your kids can play and read, and many libraries offer story times and free events for children and families. My kids and I have made crafts, seen zookeeper talks (with live animals!), and even enjoyed food trucks and balloon animals, all courtesy of your local library’s free programming.

Check out the children’s programming at these local libraries:

>> RELATED READ :: Live Your Best Book Life in Collin County <<

Parks and Recreation

A great place to check out free events and resources is your local parks and recreation website and/or Facebook page. You will find information on local parks, playgrounds, trails, swimming pools, splash pads, gyms, aquatic centers, and local (usually free!) events in your town.

Allen Parks and Rec :: Allen Events Calendar

  • Celebration Park: This expansive playground is one of the largest in DFW. Colorful metal structures interconnect for tons of play. The spray ground (water + playground) is another huge draw of this park along with the soccer field, bike trail, open space, and yes, restrooms!
  • Bethany Lakes Park: This playground has a musical theme, with large instruments to drum and play. We love this playground because the structures are low and the ground is made of rubber turf — great for little ones!

Celina Parks and Rec :: Celina Events Calendar

  • Old Celina Park: This park features a playground, catch-and-release fishing pond, open space, and restrooms.
  • Pickleball: Pickleball is a fan favorite in Celina. Courts at Founders Station Park have lots of open (free!) play time and free beginner lessons on Wednesday evenings.

Fairview Parks and Rec :: Fairview Events Calendar

  • Beaver Run Park: This park includes a playground, horseshoe pits, and a nature trail.
  • Fairview Town Center: Take a stroll around this shopping center, park, and fountain, where kids 12 years old and younger can play in the splash pad.

Frisco Parks and Rec :: Frisco Events Calendar

  • Hope Park: Hope Park is part of Frisco Commons, 63 acres that include a fishing pond, splash pad, and (you guessed it) restrooms. This expansive playground includes a picnic alley, big kid lot, and tot lot. Don’t miss the adorable building facades like a frozen custard store and baseball ticket booth!
>> RELATED READ :: Fun & Fresh :: A Roundup of Farmers Markets in Collin County <<

McKinney Parks and Rec :: McKinney Events Calendar

  • Finch Park: There’s something for everyone at a park that includes a large splash pad (with a giant bucket that pours water!), walking trails, pavilions, a basketball court, a sand volleyball court, and playground equipment. Bonus: there are restrooms!

Murphy Parks and Rec :: Murphy Events Calendar

  • Murphy Central Park: This area includes a community amphitheater for performances, a playground, a splash pad, open space, and restrooms.

Plano Parks and Rec :: Plano Events Calendar

  • Chisholm Trail: This multi-use trail is 5.5 miles long and runs parallel to Spring Creek. Bike, jog, rollerblade, walk, push a stroller, and stop for restrooms and playgrounds along the way.
  • Liberty Playground: This 20,000-square-foot playground is designed for accessible play. There is also a splash pad for water play. Liberty Playground is part of Windhaven Meadows Park, which includes trails, a dog park, and restrooms.

Princeton Parks and Rec :: City of Princeton Community Events Facebook page

Prosper Parks and Rec :: Prosper Events Calendar

  • Frontier Park: This park includes an adorable wooden-structure playground (Windmill Playground) with a water tower, storefront, and tracker to spark imaginations. Keep the fun going on the hiking and biking trails, at the catch-and-release pond, splash pad, and restrooms.

Sachse Parks and Rec

  • Firefighters Park: This park showcases a bright red and yellow firetruck-themed playground, a walking trail, and restrooms.

Wylie Parks and Rec :: Wylie Events

  • Founders Park: This park has a wooden-structure playground that is pirate-themed. It also includes sand volleyball courts, a trail, and restrooms.

On-The-Cheap in Collin County

There are many budget-friendly destinations in Collin County. Here are several that are $10 or less for kids. Don’t miss out!

  • Frisco Discovery Center :: This unique center contains three experiences: The Sci-Tech Discovery Center is a place for hands-on STEAM activities like an Air Pressure Zone and bubble tables; the National Videogame Museum includes interactive exhibits and the history of gaming; and TrainTopia houses an impressive miniature train collection and an outdoor one-mile walking tour of some of the museum’s life-size trains and equipment. (Note, the walking tour and the miniature train collection are separate experiences.) Tickets for each of these experiences range from six to 12 dollars, and children under three years old are free.
  • Heritage Farmstead Museum :: Visit an elaborate 1890s farmhouse and acreage in Plano celebrating the Texas backland prairie region. Roam the walking path to view historic buildings and farm animals. Museum entrance is five dollars per person. You can also purchase wagon rides for two dollars per person, and scratch to feed the chickens for one dollar per bag. Check out the museum’s special preschool event Little Farmer Fridays.
  • Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary :: Check out the Heard’s expansive offerings in McKinney, including nature trails, a butterfly garden, fossil exhibits, and more. General admission is 12 dollars per adult, nine dollars per child (ages three through 12), and children ages two and under are free.
  • Urban Air Indoor Trampoline Park & Pump It Up :: Both in Frisco, these indoor parks are great places to get those wiggles out, and feature steep discounts for the summer. Urban Air’s summersational pass gets you daily admission for just $45.
  • Breakfast with the ducks ::  I am a big fan of Frogg Coffee Bar & Creperie at Watters Creek in Allen for its food, espresso drinks, and misted patio overlooking the ducks and treehouse.
  • Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse :: Enjoy $1.75 movies and discounted popcorn combos for the whole family from June to August. Check theaters in Allen, Frisco, McKinney, and Plano for clubhouse showtimes.
  • Downtown McKinney :: Downtown McKinney is another great place to walk around, grab a bite to eat, and splurge on a treat, like a bag of popcorn at Mom & Pop Popcorn Shop.
>> RELATED READ :: Easy, Fun, Free Summer Activities for Kids <<

Time to Stay Home

For the days you can’t pack another bag or fill another water bottle, here are free and cheap activities to keep the fun going from the comfort of your patio.

  • Water balloon fights paired with sidewalk chalk masterpieces are free and refreshing in this hot North Texas weather.
  • Go on a rock hunt around your house and neighborhood, and bring them home for the littles to paint.
  • Have a baking party. Bake cookies, brownies, cake, etc. — mine loves to use his own whisk or spoon to mix whatever is in the bowl.
  • Set up a sprinkler in your backyard. Let the kiddos run through the sprinklers, play tag, and chase each other — this is an easy deal for under $20 that will last you all summer long.

While there are SO MANY activities in and around Collin County, these are just a handful that stood out to me. If you have other great ideas to share, please do so in the comments.

Heather Jones
Heather is a born and raised Southern California girl gone Texas, who has a strong love for her family, friends, coffee, wine, food, amazing smelling candles, and sunshine. Although she always thought she would live in California forever, close to everyone and everything she knew, Heather took a leap of faith when her husband since 2010, Sean, informed her that his company was relocating to Allen, Texas. Heather and Sean moved to McKinney in January 2016 with their curly-haired, spirited, Lightning McQueen-obsessed, toddler son, Luc (joined the world in October 2014) and their obnoxious, Puggle, Teemu. She is enjoying every moment of her experience in North Texas and building friendships that she believes will last forever. A former advertising professional, Heather is now a stay-at-home, work-from-home (part time) mom, wife, friend, and follower of Christ, growing her faith each and everyday. She recently started studying to get her real estate license and is very ambitious to begin a new career that allows her the freedom to build her own business, while enjoying all of the little things that everyday motherhood and life have to offer. She loves to eat and has a passion for cooking, but believes that there is always a little “something” to add to any recipe she finds to make it her own. She loves fitness and living an all-around healthy lifestyle. When everyone in the house goes to bed, you will find her with a glass of wine or a cup of coffee (decaf of course, that late at night) in her hand, editing her daily iPhone photographs for her family in California, Instagram, and Facebook, while “pinning” the night away. You can find Heather at Happy & Healthy Mama and follow her on Instagram @happyandhealthymama.