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Sizzling Summertime Freebies

Sometimes you can't put a price on fun. Check out these 12 free options

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Start a garden for free this summer. — iStockphoto

En español | Hot fun in the summertime? Sure, there's plenty to do, but the price of all that fun can add up fast, draining your bank account. Don't sweat it. There are several ways to have a blast this summer for free (or almost free).

1. Free plants and seeds

With the growing popularity of backyard gardening, swap meets for gardening enthusiasts are sprouting up all across the country and even online. You can trade excess plants and seeds with other gardeners rather than spend big bucks to buy them at the nursery. Then come home and have fun with the family planting away. Find nationwide listings of plant swaps on this website and trade seeds online.

2. Free national park admission

Although two-thirds of all National Park Service sites are always free, admission to the remaining parks will be free as well on Aug. 25 to celebrate the National Park Service's birthday. If you're 62 years of age or older, any day of the year for only $10 you can buy a Senior Pass good for the rest of your life at more than 2,000 sites managed by the National Park Service and four other federal agencies. That's a purchase that pays for itself several times over.

3. Free movies

Hitbliss is an online service that allows you to earn credits by watching selected commercials so you can watch on-demand movies from its website. You'll need to download the program to a desktop or laptop computer (no mobile availability at this time). If you'd rather take the kids to the movies, Regal theaters across the country are offering selected children's movies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the summer for just $1 a ticket, with a portion of that going to charity.

4. Free fly-fishing lessons

Fly fishing is as fun as it is artful. As with mastering any art form, it takes practice and training. On selected dates in May and June, Orvis stores and dealers across the country offer free fly-fishing classes. When you complete one, you also receive a complimentary membership to Trout Unlimited — a $35 value.

5. Free fishing days

Speaking of fishing, if you haven't done it since you were a kid or maybe never tried it at all, you can wet your line without needing to buy a fishing license in most states on their annual Free Fishing Day. In many states, that day this year is June 7, but check online for a complete listing of all participating states and their Free Fishing Days.

Next page: Learn about free summer camps and kids' programs. »

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