Summer Fun on a Budget

Summer is a kid’s favorite season (well it could be a toss up with Christmas). School is out, the days are long and hot, and the rivers are cold. For three months, children get to just have a blast without worrying about homework or tests. But what can these children and their families do if they have no income to spare? The great thing about Hays County is that there are plenty of options!

First, you need food!

Little girl enjoying a food bank provided snack at the Boys & Girls Club in San Marcos, TX

Hays County Food Bank is here to supplement your food needs up to two times a week. If you struggle to feed your family and pay the bills, please visit our distribution so that everyone is able to eat. You can even get inventive and pack a fun picnic with items you’ve been given that you and your family can enjoy by the river.

Click here for our schedule.

Locations throughout the county also offer free breakfast and/or lunch during the summer season. Kids under 18 eat free and adults can purchase a meal for $3.

Click here for Buda/Kyle locations and here for San Marcos locations.

Next, you need a fun in the sun activity!

Esteban enjoying the faster parts of the San Marcos River in Texas.

Hays County is nestled right in the midst of the rolling hill country. There are beautiful trails to hike, swimming holes to explore, and rivers to tube or raft; you just need to know where they are! Pack a picnic and head to Five Mile Dam located on the Blanco River between San Marcos and Kyle. Jump in the water to cool off and don’t forget life jackets for weak swimmers and children. Another great swimming spot is Rio Vista Park on the San Marcos River. Rapids are present so swim at your own risk. Bring a tube or floatation device and relax in the 72° spring fed water. If you have your own tube, you can also put in at Sewell Park next to Texas State University and float down to Rio Vista. It’s just a short walk back to the parking lot.

Another fun day trip is to hike down Purgatory Creek Trail. The Texas sun is intense, so don’t forget the sunscreen and water. Spend a few hours bird watching and maybe even play nature bingo to keep the kids entertained.

You can also visit Jacob’s Well in Wimberley for the day. If you would like to swim in the springs, there is a $5 fee for Hays County residents. Children 4 and under are free. However, there is no fee for walking around and enjoying the natural setting. Bring a picnic or some snacks and eat amongst the beauty of the park. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, take a hike (218 steps) up Mount Baldy and get a bird’s eye view of the town.

What if it’s raining?!

Child reading in the library

The Texas hill country has been known to get some summer rain, but this shouldn’t dampen your spirits! Each city in the county has a library with activities to do indoors. If you’re not feeling the activity, read a book! See if you can get through 1,000 pages before the summer is over.

Now you need some fun things to do when the sun goes down!

There’s nothing better than a Texas summer night, so why spend it indoors if the weather’s nice? Do you like to watch movies? San Marcos, Kyle, and Buda all have movies showing outside throughout the summer. Bring a blanket and some popcorn and enjoy a show under the stars. San Marcos also has a free concert series that all ages can enjoy, called Summer in the Park. Check out the lineup here.

It’s the Fourth of July and you have to celebrate!

Food Bank van at the Wimberley Parade

Each city in Hays County has something special happening for Independence Day; you just have to choose where you want to go! There’s Summerfest in San Marcos; live music and fireworks in Kyle; a mini parade, kid-friendly events and a firework show in Buda; a spectacular parade in Wimberley; and the ‘Fire in the Sky Fireworks Show’ in Dripping Springs.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy the season without spending money. If you know of any others, please let us know and we can share on our social media. We hope you have a wonderful summer!

*All activities above are free unless otherwise stated.

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