As the kids start a new school year and fall weather approaches, families begin looking for ways to keep the kids entertained in the evenings and weekends while the weather is still nice enough for most of the country to enjoy the outdoors comfortably. The good news is that you should be able to find an abundance of options available in just about every community across the country that won't break the bank.

First, you can figure out what your entertainment budget is by using Vertex42's free family budget planner. A surprising number of households do not have a budget in place, and that makes it hard to make entertainment plans. If you have limited funds available for entertainment, you can find a variety of low- and no-cost options to really stretch your family fun without overspending. Here are some great ways to keep your kids entertained for little of no money:

1. Local Library Programs

In addition to libraries having free books to borrow, many community libraries also offer a variety of reading and entertainment programs for kids. This can range from special guest speakers to rewarding reading with prizes and crafts. Check your local libraries to see what is available in your area.

2. Local Playgrounds

If you are just looking for a place for your kids to run and burn off some energy, look no further than your local playgrounds. Don't forget elementary school playgrounds, which are usually available to the public after school and on weekends. You most likely have multiple playground areas you can check out, and kids love the variety of visiting different playgrounds.

3. Local Parks

Local parks are usually free (or cost a nominal fee) and can offer numerous activities including playgrounds, hiking trails, bike trails and more. Most parks offer picnic areas, so be sure to take your lunch or dinner along. Additionally, area parks may also offer organized programs for kids at various times of the year.

4. Indoor Pools

There is something about swimming during the colder months that makes it even more fun than swimming during the summer! If your school district has an indoor pool, chances are you can get a family pass to use the pool during the fall and winter for a reasonable fee. If your own school doesn't have an indoor pool, check some of the neighboring school districts as many will allow nearby families to pay a fee to use the facilities — and the fee is often less than what you'd spend at the local YMCA.

5. Town Concerts and Other Events

Many local communities offer free concerts, outdoor evening movies, and more — all free to residents. Many times these events are family friendly, so be sure to check and see what your community has to offer.

6. National Chain Stores Offer Free Events

Check your local chain stores, like Barnes & Noble for example, as they often offer free story time each week. Some Pottery Barn Kid's stores also offer story time. Additionally, Home Depot and Lowe's sponsor free kids clinics from time to time.

7. Local Zoos and Aquariums

If you have a local zoo or aquarium in your area, see if they offer any programs that might include reduced-price admission fees for school-aged kids, or special discount days.

8. Local Farmer's Markets and Farm Festivals

Take a family field trip! Local farmer's markets often have free kids activities. As an added bonus, while you are there you can save on your shopping bill by purchasing your produce from local vendors.

9. Rainy Day Ideas

Finally, when you find yourself stuck with a rainy day and are looking for free and inexpensive ways to stay entertained, consider staying home. Having a game day or borrowing movies from your local library and having a movie marathon can both be great ways to pass a rainy day.

More Family Fun:

This post was included in The Homesteading Carnival.