Summer just started and fun in the sun doesn’t have to be costly. There are plenty of events in Thurston County that are free and perfect for keeping the whole family entertained.

4th of July Events

The 4th of July starts early with Lacey Fireworks Spectacular on July 3, from 4:00 to 11:00 p.m. at Rainier Vista Community Park now in 3-D! Hear live music, and keep the kids busy with a Kidzone featuring a giant slide, obstacle course, bounce houses and more. Grab a ride to the park for free from Intercity Transit. Just tell the driver, “I am going to the fireworks.”

On July 4 from 4:00 until 7:00 p.m. is Free Kids Paint and Art Booth at Delphi Farmers Market. Let the kids get creative for free at the Konnex kids pop-up paint booth. RSVP is requested but not required.

Thunder Valley Fireworks Show
For the biggest fireworks show in the area, don’t miss the City of Tumwater’s Thunder Valley Fireworks Show. Photo credit: City of Tumwater

Celebrate July 4 with the City of Tumwater’s Annual Independence Day Parade starting at 11:00 a.m. Continue the fun with The Artesian Family Festival and Thunder Valley Fireworks Show at Tumwater Valley Golf Course. The festival begins at 6:00 p.m. with the fireworks show at 10:15 p.m. The entry is free with parking for $10.

Extend the Independence celebrations with Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce’s Nisqually Valley Barbecue Rally July 6 from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Yelm City Park. Find fun for the family live music and performances, fun for the kids with bounce houses, games and the playground, and of course food. Check out the barbecue competition and pie eating contest. Browse vendors with fun giveaways and drawings.

Other Fun Events

WET Science Center is always free with events all summer. July 13 is Pollinator Day, July 20 is Let’s Go Fly a Kite, and July 27 is Protect Puget Sound. August 3 is Life of a Dragonfly, August 10 is Pond Life, and August 17 is Design and Build. Don’t miss Coastal Wolves: Story of Resilience on August 24 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. With wolf activities all day and a presentation by Wolf Haven International at 2:00 p.m., learn about wolves from around the world.

Olympia Lakefair
Lakefair is an annual tradition in Olympia. The Grand Finale Fireworks display takes place over Capitol Lake and is visible from Heritage Park, Deschutes Parkway, or the Capitol Campus. Photo credit: Jeff Groebner

Capital Lakefair is the pinnacle of summer fun in Olympia. The five days of activities take place from July 17 to 21 at Heritage Park and surrounding areas in Olympia. Daily activities include carnival rides and games, food and vendor concessions, and entertainment. Catch other special events like a car show, basketball and volleyball tournaments, marathons and races, and a battle of the bands.

Meet this year’s royalty court at Royalty Night on July 18 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Bring the whole family for kids’ day on July 20 from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and stay for the parade from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. On July 21, don’t miss the grand finale fireworks over Capitol Lake at 10:00 p.m.

Have an adventure with the family at Darlin Creek Preserve for a special nighttime Family Night Hike with Olympia Mountaineers on July 17 at 8:00 p.m. Explore the forest, learn from the experts about hiking ethics, reading trail maps, hiking with kids, and more. Register for this event and hiking backpacks and maps will be provided.

Lacey Police Departments Kids, Cars, and Cops
Lacey Police Department hosts Cops, Cars, N’ Kids. Visit with officers and detectives, see a police boat and SWAT gear, and grab a free hot dog lunch. Photo credit: Lacey Police Department

Enjoy food, games, a car show, displays, and demonstrations at Lacey Police Department’s Cops, Cars N’ Kids on July 27 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Get free prizes, child ID kits, snow cones, hot dogs and drinks. Kids will love the bounce houses and Home Depot kid’s clinic.

First Friday Nights are free at Hands on Children’s Museum from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The first two guests are free with each additional guest just $2. July 5 is Mega Mess with mud, paint splatter, and goop. August 2 meet a mermaid and more at Ship to Shore. September 6 is STEAMtember with hydraulic fun, mazes, and beaver dams.

Get access to the area’s best parks without a Discover Pass on Washington State Parks free days. Celebrate National Park Service’s birthday on August 25 and on September 28 for National Public Lands Day.

Learn about estuary plants and animals from beach naturalists at Meet the Beach events presented by Puget Sound Estuarium. Hit the beach at low tide at some of the best parks in the area including Burfoot, Frye Cove, Woodard Bay, Priest Point, and Tolmie State Park. With weekend dates all summer, find specific times and locations online. Just look for the green vests and hats labeled Beach Naturalist.

There is so much to do all summer long locally at family-friendly free events. Mark your calendars with these fantastic local events to make the most of the warm weather before it is gone.

Thrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County. The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community. If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and the surrounding area, visit our complete events calendar.

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