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Fun summer activities that the whole family will enjoy

From museums to free movies, these ideas will keep everyone entertained all season long.

Long summer days mean lots of time for activities with friends and family. But sometimes it's hard to find ways to keep everyone entertained — kids, especially — while sticking to a budget.

NBC News Senior Consumer Investigative Correspondent, Vicky Nguyen, stopped by the 3rd Hour of TODAY to share some fun summer activities for the whole family.

Watch a movie under the stars

Sit back, relax and watch one of Hollywood's new releases or cult classics at Rooftop Cinema Club, a seasonal open-air movie theater set in the heart of Houston, Miami, Los Angeles, San Diego, New York and Chicago.

Doors open 60 minutes before the feature begins, giving you plenty of time to pick your seat, order from the full food and drink menu, and take in the city views.

Make sure to join their mailing list to hear about ticket launches in your area, deals and special events.

Go to a drive-in movie theater

Tune in from the comfort of your car. Find a drive-in theater near you at DriveInMovie.com.

According to the website, there are 330 drive-in movie theaters still operating in the U.S. — but it's possible that some locations have permanently closed amid the pandemic. That said, check your nearest location's website to confirm that they're still up and running.

Head to your local park

Most cities around the country have free or discounted movies showing at local parks, including Columbus, Ohio, NYC (includes all five boroughs and New Jersey) and LA

Stay home and stream your favorite TV shows

Enjoy endless hours of entertainment without even leaving your living room. The following services make it easy to find exactly what you want, when you want it.

Kanopy and Hoopla

Both of these services are free with participating library cards and offer a mix of movies, TV and audiobooks.

Tubi, Pluto TV, Roku and Xumo

Ad-based streaming services are becoming increasingly popular, as they offer a mix of existing and original content, with no account necessary.

Many of these services have channels dedicated to specific TV and film franchises — like The Walking Dead Channel on Xumo — and also group content by genre.

Xumo also has a Telemundo Novelas Channel, which shows telenovelas 24/7, 365.(Xumo was purchased by Comcast, NBCUniversal's parent company, in 2020.)

Amazon Freevee and Peacock

You must create a free account to access the content on either of these platforms.

Peacock's free tier gives you access to 40,000 hours of ad-supported movies and TV shows, but you'll have to sign up for a paid plan to unlock all 60,000+ hours of content. (Peacock and TODAY share the same parent company, Comcast NBCUniversal.)

Same goes for Amazon Freevee: Stream thousands of movies, shows and Freevee originals like "Alex Rider" and "Bosch: Legacy" for free on compatible devices. Sign up for a Prime membership to check out the rest of Amazon's library. 

Score discounted (or free) tickets

Sony Screenings, Warner Brothers Tickets and See It First

Movie companies will sometimes set up free screenings before the movie officially hits theaters. Sign up on their sites to receive an email with available screenings in your area.

Discounted movie tickets

AMC $5 Fan Faves: No need to join the AMC Stubs program to get this discount. AMC offers a selection of “fan fave” movies every day for $5 plus tax. 

Regal Value Days: Regal Crown Club members get discounted movie tickets and 50% off popcorn every Tuesday.

Matinee screenings are always cheaper. If you’re able, consider going to a midday movie.

Find free events in your area

Eventbrite allows you to search free events in your zip code. Find everything from concerts to sports games and beyond,

As a reminder, free community events should never ask for your credit card , PayPal or Venmo details.

Cool off at a nearby museum

Museums in cities across the country have free museum admissions on certain days & nights of the week. For example, every Thursday night is Free Family Night at the Children’s Museum of Houston. Advanced ticket reservations are required to enter. 

Museums for All is an organization that gives free or reduced admission to more than 900 museums throughout the U.S. to folks receiving food assistance (SNAP benefits). Prices range from free to $3. There are participating museums in all 50 states. 

Additionally, Bank of America customers can visit museums free of charge on the first full weekend of the month through the Museums On Us program. Just show your Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card and a photo ID on Saturday or Sunday, and you will get free admission to more than 225 museums and attractions in Miami, the rest of South Florida and other hotspots across the United States. 

Visit local street markets

Most states, including Alabama and Wisconsin, have online government resources listing all farmers markets, farm stands and CSA produce across the state.