All right -- I know it's been a rainy, cooler spring and summer in Central Minnesota. But when the heat comes -- and it WILL come -- be ready for it with some affordable ways to keep you and the kids cool this summer.

  • D'Arcy Norman, Flickr
    D'Arcy Norman, Flickr

    Marcus Theatre's Parkwood 18

    1533 Frontage Road North, Waite Park

    Here's a great way to keep the kids cool and entertained. Marcus Theatres' Parkwood 18 air conditioned complex in Waite Park this summer is offering their Kids Rule kids summer film series. You can take the kids to a recent family-friendly movie for just $2 each at 10 a.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Too early in the day for a movie? Take the kids to a matinee on Tuesdays and enjoy $2 Tuesdays where popcorn and fountain drinks are only $2 each.

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    Skatin' Place

    3302 Southway Drive, St. Cloud

    This isn't a place where you can take the kids every day, but if they need to blow off some steam and still keep cool, the Skatin' Place will do the trick on a hot summer day in St. Cloud. And it won't break the bank, either. Open skate and Family Skate Day admission is $5 a person. And you can rent skates there, too.

  • samantha celera, Flickr
    samantha celera, Flickr

    Cold Stone Creamery

    3959 2nd St. S. Suite 305, St. Cloud

    Again, this isn't a place you want to take 3 or 4 kids very often, but it sure is a delicious, special treat. Your expert ice cream mixologist will make your ice cream to order on a cold stone slab. Get one for yourself in "Like It", "Love It" or "Gotta Have It" sizes. There's also a kids' size that starts at $1.79 for ice cream -- a little more for each mix-in. Give the ice cream experts a tip and they'll sing for your kids. (Do yourself a favor and try the cake batter ice cream with mini chocolate chips.)  A delicious oasis during the dog days of summer!

  • Scott Clark, Flickr
    Scott Clark, Flickr

    Your Own Backyard

    • Keep cool in your own backyard where the fun is cheaper and you can keep an eye on the kids. Yes, the Pop Bottle Sprinkler is a little redneck, but who cares? Pull out the garden hose, attach a 2 liter bottle with holes punched in it and let the water rip! It's a great toy for he kids to play with on a hot summer day.

    • Keeping with the slight redneck theme, why not build your own homemade slip and slide in the yard?  Just get some plastic table clothes, baby shampoo, a hose and some duct tape. Keep your camera nearby to catch those memories.

  • rdeetz, Flickr
    rdeetz, Flickr

    Your Own Kitchen

    • Whipping up great summer treats doesn't have to be difficult. Try making some easy Banana Ice Cream made with frozen bananas, a little peanut butter and honey. Give the kids a plastic butter knife and have them help cut up the bananas!

    • You could give the kids those store-bought frozen pop treats, but why when you can make your own Paper Cup Pops for much less? Get some paper cups, puree some fruit or use your favorite soft drink mix, buy some sticks or straws and freeze your own. Have the kids help and make it a family event.

    • Hot days can take a lot out of moms and dads. When the kids are tucked safely in bed, break out the Boozy Lemon Snowcones made with Limoncello. Serve them in the paper cups left over from the kids' pops. I'd make an extra pan of this if I were you.

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