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Stars' favorite — free! — family activities

For every Hollywood tot that plays on a private playground, there are countless others who are entertained for free by their A-list parents at beaches, parks and pools.
/ Source: Us Weekly

For every Hollywood tot that plays on a private playground (we're talking to you, Suri Cruise), there are countless others who are entertained for free by their A-list parents at beaches, parks and pools. "Your kids just want to be with doesn't matter where you are!" says "Hot Mom Handbook" series author Jessica Denay (who has planned baby showers for Charlie Sheen, Jenny McCarthy and Mariska Hargitay). Below, her ideas for affordable family fun:Go hiking"It gets you and your kids out into nature and the fresh air. They can discover and collect pine cones or rocks. My son takes them home and we paint them!" Denay tells Us. For younger kids, you can entertain them by "counting how many dogs or animals you see." Nicole Richie and Harlow and Jerry O'Connell and his twin girls Dolly and Charlie often spend time together on the trails.

Photo gallery: Hollywood's cutest kids
Grow a garden
"Kids love to see the transformation from seeds to fruits and veggies they can pick and eat. It gives them a sense of pride and excitement," says Denay. (This is one of Biggest Loser host Alison Sweeney's fave activities to do with her son, Ben.) Bonus: "You are more likely to get them to eat their veggies if they grow them themselves!" Too cold outside to garden? "Create an indoor picnic no matter what time of year," suggests Denay. "Place a blanket in the living room and set it up. Somehow just taking it from the table makes the meal more fun. It breaks the routine."

Photo gallery: My baby looks like a celebrity!

Hit the beach"Camila Alves and Matthew McConaughey, Brooke Burke, Gwen Stefani and Kate Hudson are just a few of the celebs who have been photographed at the beach with their kids," says Denay. And why not? Most are free. Save a few bucks by bringing a picnic. If you don't live near water, go for a stroll at your local farmers market. "Jennifer Garner, Heidi Klum, Busy Philipps and Lisa Rinna are frequent their local farmers market with their kids."Ask for a discount at the aquarium or zooThere is often wiggle room in the price of admission. "Call and ask about special rates and discounts," recommends Denay. "Some places even offer free days." Halle Berry likes to take Nahla to the L.A. Zoo and "Trista and Ryan Sutter took their kids to the aquarium this summer and they loved it!" says Denay. "It's perfect for kids of any age." Plus, you may spark a new passion for your brood. "Naomi Watts recently said her son is obsessed with animals," says Denay.Check out the firehouse"If you can't afford the aquarium or zoo, make an appointment to take your kids to visit the local fire station, where Liev Schreiber and his son were recently photographed petting a Dalmatian," says Denay. Speaking of pooches, another free option: the dog park! "It's fun for your pet and kids will love to see the other dogs," says Denay.

Photo gallery: Who's due next?Play in the Park"You can never go wrong with the park no matter how fabulous your backyard," says Denay. "It's always fun to bring kids out to a social setting like a playground." And who knows: they may run into Jessica Alba and Honor, Denise Richards and her daughters or Minnie Driver and her son, Henry, to name a few.Host a movie nght"Get the kids in your bed, put on a family-friendly movie or play cards and all fall asleep together!" says Denay. "Once in a while, this is a treat that can be fun and exciting for your family. Angelina Jolie and her brood often have 'group sleeps.'"For 15 pages of Hollywood moms' must-have accessories, parenting tips and exclusive photos, pick up the new issue of Us Weekly, on stands now. Denay's newest tome, The Hot Mom to Be Handbook, hit stores in paperback last March.