When children are out of school, families often incur additional costs in the budget, which can include summer daycare and family vacations. To keep your budget in check, you can lower costs by taking advantage of free forms of entertainment found in cities across the country. The following ten ideas will provide free or inexpensive entertainment options this summer.
1. Free Concerts and Movies
Look for free concerts and movies sponsored by the local parks and recreation department, churches, or restaurants. The popularity of these events leads to more options each year. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and pack a picnic for an evening of free entertainment.
2. State and National Parks
Hiking, fishing, waterfalls, and swimming are within a few hours of most major cities. State and national parks offer a low-cost day trip or weekend getaway. Many sites include nature museums, junior ranger programs, and other features to involve children of all ages. You can also find affordable accommodations through campsites or cabin rentals at many parks.
Many parks and national attractions do not charge admission. For those that do, a pass is good for seven days and typically includes everyone in the vehicle. State parks typically cost no more than a few dollars in entrance fees.
3. Free City Attractions
Explore your city. Whether you spend time discovering a Greenway or local park, most cities have a long list of free attractions. Residents can also enjoy museums and other paid attractions at no charge certain days each month. For example, Bank of America customers gain free entrance to hundreds of museums the first weekend of every month. To find free museum days visit the individual museum website.
Other free events might include local or regional festivals, parades, yoga in the park, free exercise classes, and free holiday events like fourth of July firework displays.
4. Visit the Beach
Oceans and nearby lakes frequently supply public beaches for swimming and enjoyment at little or no cost. Beaches are a place adults and children of all ages can enjoy the water, make sand castles, and relax. The ocean can add the allure of finding sea shells, boogie boarding, and walks along the beach.
Public pools can also provide a day’s worth of fun with a low admission price.
5. Go Fishing
With some basic equipment, you can enjoy fishing at no cost. Each state has independent licensing requirements, which you typically renew annually. Most states do not require a license for children under the age of 16. Choose a nearby lake, river, or pond to try your luck at catching a fish.
6. Learn A New Skill
Learning new skills keep life interesting. The internet provides ample opportunity to expand your knowledge base through YouTube or websites like Udemy, offer a large selection of free courses and videos. Local community colleges, libraries, community centers, and retail stores are also good places to locate free educational classes. For example, the local sporting goods store might offer free fly fishing classes, and a fabric store might provide free sewing classes. Consider a skill you want to learn and find opportunities to get started. YouTube is a great place to learn everything from how to juggle or fly a kite, where Udemy offers a range of courses from building a website to digital marketing.
Pinterest is another resource for creative minds looking for DIY projects. It offers an abundance of ideas for everything from household decorating, gardening tips, or woodworking projects.
7. Photograph Nature
With a camera built-in to every smartphone, photography has never been easier. Whether you want to capture images in your backyard, at a local park, or on a trip, digital photography can be both fun and free.
Take time to learn the features offered on your camera and play around with things like the shutter speed, f-stop, or special modes. Try capturing a scene from different angles and see what stands out. If you get good, you might upload images to a photo stock website and start a side business.
8. Help Your Community
Serving others bring a sense of gratitude and happiness. Find a cause you support and donate your time. Nonprofits serve nearly every need in your community. Whether you love animals, children or the elderly, there is a non-profit agency, school, or community program that would love to accept your talents and time. You can volunteer for single events or on-going, depending on availability.
Community needs for volunteers are high. Consider that on any given night there are roughly 554,000 homeless people across the country. Soup kitchens provide the homeless with a warm meal, which might be the only one they receive that day. Hunger in America touches 1 in 6 people.
Picking up the trash can help clean the environment while keeping animals safe from eating or becoming tangled in the trash people improperly discard. You might also choose to visit a local nursing home or volunteer to help a Girl Scout or Boy Scout Troop complete a badge.
9. Fun at Home
Most homes have an abundance of items you can use to create free fun at home.
For example, you could grab a tarp, soap, and the hose to build a slip-and-slide. Camp out in the backyard or create a fort/camp-out in your living room. Enjoy stargazing and catch fireflies. You can use a projector to cast stars on the ceiling or draw the night sky with cut out star shapes. Shine a flashlight through the different designs, creating a personalized night sky show.
Other options might include a home spa day or tea party with your child. Downtime, listening to relaxing music can rejuvenate your spirits without leaving the house.
10. Outdoor Sports
Most parks or schools have fields open for public use. Grab a football, soccer ball, baseball, basketball, volleyball or Frisbee and spend time outside with your family. Add a cooler and drinks with your favorite snacks for a memorable day out without the high cost of structured entertainment.
Finding inexpensive ways to enjoy the warm days and additional daylight hours can create fond memories without the financial hardship of expensive entertainment.