Summer! It’s so close you can almost taste it.

But all too soon, it will be gone, like the sun sinking into Lake Erie.

No matter how fleeting, it’s inevitable that – without the rigors of a school schedule – the kids in your house will eventually get bored.

You can only spend so much time at the playground, the library and the pool before everyone starts getting antsy. To keep the little ones happy, here are 10 activities to add to your summer “must” list.

Live at Larkin

This is one of the most family-friendly concert series of the summer. The music is not ear-splittingly loud and families with kids of all ages come down to dance the night away to free, live, local music.

If you go: The 14-week series begins June 19 at Larkin Square at the intersection of Seneca and Swan streets every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, visit

Family Lake Exploration

Buffalo Urban Outdoor Education has geared its popular Great Lakes science program toward families with a two-hour version. For just $5 per person, you’ll board the Spirit of Buffalo sailboat and learn about the ecology of Lake Erie.

If you go: The program will run from June 24 to July 5. For reservations, call 796-8393.

Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve

The preserve has a packed calendar of free events scheduled for summer. Search for spiders, slugs and bugs during the Minibeast Adventure June 27; Grab a net and search the water for critters July 12 or look for nocturnal creatures during one of the parks’ Family Full Moon Nature Walks.

If you go: Located at 93 Honorine Drive in Depew. For more information or to register for events, call 683-5959.

Explore & More at Canalside

The children’s play museum will host free activities on the Dunbar Lawn at Canalside in downtown Buffalo every Tuesday this summer.

If you go: The program runs from June 25 to Sept. 3, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Groups of eight or more should register in advance. For more information, call 655-5131 or visit

Olcott Beach Carousel Park

With a 1934 band organ cranking in the background, let your little ones ride the vintage kiddie rides to their hearts’ content. Each ride costs just 25 cents. There is also a vintage carousel, an arcade and very reasonably priced refreshments.

The park is open today from noon to 6 p.m. In June it’s open on Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m.. In July through Labor Day, it’s open Wednesday, Thursday , Friday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 8 p.m.

If you go: 5979 Main St. in Olcott. For more information, visit

Regal Summer Movie Express

For nine weeks, select Regal theaters will screen children’s movies for just $1 per person. Titles will include “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” “Chimpanzee,” and “Ice Age: Continental Drift.”

Locally participating are Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Road in Williamsville and Regal Quaker Crossing, 3450 Amelia Drive in Orchard Park.

If you go: Movies are shown Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. beginning June 25.

For more information, visit

Tifft Nature Preserve

You can walk its five miles of trails or do some bird watching for free (donations are accepted), but this 264-acre preserve also offers a series of inexpensive family activities throughout the summer. Take a guided tour ($2), meet at twilight to learn about the night sky ($5) or spend the day exploring, playing games and doing crafts at a mini camp ($8 for parent and child, $4 each additional child).

If you go: 1200 Fuhrmann Blvd. For more information, call 825-6397.


Download a free geocaching app for your smart phone, then use its GPS to go on a scavenger hunt. Other participants have hidden trinkets all over Western New York and the geocaching app helps you find them.

If you go: Wear good walking shoes. For more information, visit

Do a fun run

There are enough charity 5K run/walk events in the summer, you could do at least one every weekend if you wanted. It’s a great way to teach your kids about giving back and get some exercise at the same time.

To get started, try the free Independent Health Foundation’s Kids Run Saturday at Delaware Park. It starts with a mini dash for kids age 5 and under, followed by a 1.8 mile run/walk for families. Afterwards, there are free refreshments, trophies for the top 3 finishers in each age category and $2 admission to the Buffalo Zoo.

If you go: Strollers are welcome. Wear sneakers. Call 635-4959 to register, or register the day of the event at the Zoofari Courtyard at the back entrance of the Buffalo Zoo. Check in at 9 a.m. to begin the warm-up at 9:30 a.m.

Buffalo Botanical Gardens

Walk through 11.4 acres of beautifully maintained exotic flowers and plants inside the historic Victorian conservatory. Time your visit from June 8 to July 7 and you’ll see the Western New York Garden Railway Society’s garden train exhibit for free. The exhibit has more than 70 feet of model railroad trains running through the garden.

The Wegmans Family Garden offers free kids programming from 10:30 to 11 a.m. and 11 to 11:30 a.m. every Saturday.

If you go: Admission is $7 for adults and $6 for seniors and students with ID. Children age 3 to 12 are $4; children younger than 3 are free. Located at 2655 South Park Ave. For more information, call 827-1584 or visit