Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Free Fun Stuff To Do

These days it takes our whole entertainment budget just to drive to where the fun is. Granted, we live about 50 miles from the nearest city... but I think everyone is suffering the crunch these days. When you have to shell out $89.00 for three bags of groceries and a box of diapers like I did last night, you know you have to cut corners. Unfortunately, entertainment is the first to go. Or, um, well, it should be.
Here are some ways to help shave that budget to almost nothing, but still have a good time:
Every city and state has a "free stuff" directory. Just google it. "Free stuff to do in ________." Our Colorado directory lists everything from the Coors brewery tour in Golden to the Frozen Dead Guy Days in Nederland. As a bonus, it tips us off to where we can get free beer, mead, watermelon, and ~ CHOCOLATE!
This Denver directory lists out the free days at the area museums, botanical garden, and zoo, as well as some off-the-beaten-track, quirky, fun places that are free of charge. Every city of any size has like lists.
You can also take advantage of:
Free movie rentals
If you haven't already discovered this gold mine, you need to know that the library is not just about books anymore! Our tiny town library takes great pride in keeping up with the latest releases, and we take advantage!
Kid Days: Magicians, Jugglers, Animal Exhibitions
We live in a tiny town, but our local library provides a parade of special events for the children, including game nights, computer classes, and such. The library truly is one of the greatest resources around. You might be amazed at all they have to offer! And it's always free!
Free outdoor movies and concerts
Many cities and even smaller towns have open air movie nights at parks, as well as free concerts. Check out your local parks and recreations websites. Or ask at the library; they always know these things. (Librarians Rock!)
Take a hike, ride a bike
If you take a picnic along, especially, these simple, healthful pastimes become events. But what makes them extra special is finding out new trails to follow. Whether you live in the city or the country, there are always "roads less traveled" to explore. Look online for trail guides for your area, or inquire at your parks and recreation for city trails.
Organize a family treasure hunt
Except for the gasoline involved, this requires little more than time, imagination, and an inexpensive "grand prize" of some kind. And some advance planning ~ which I actually think is the fun part. Think "scavenger hunt" with a twist. Make maps, leave clues that lead to clues. Encompass your house, your neighborhood, or your city.
* Take several stages to lead up to a newly borrowed library movie and a box of popcorn in your home.
*Lead the kids around the neighborhood or yard, clue by clue, to an invitation for a family "pool party" in your wading pool, with smoothies, and a picnic.
* Leave a bag of jolly ranchers at one destination, and a coupon for drinks at McDonalds at another to liven up the hunt for a wide ranging expedition. End up at the park with a picnic and frisbees.
Include whatever your family likes to do best. You're only limited by your imagination.
A tight budget does not mean you can't have a memorable summer with your family! Get out there and have some fun!
For tons of fun ~ tips and ideas ~ run over to Shannon's place!


Heart of Wisdom said...

Great post. We are all going to have to cut serious corners now that gas is so high.

Thanks for sharing

Wani said...

Great ideas. Thanks for sharing!

Laura said...

And some of these ideas translate into grown up fun...actually- I'm often thinking like a 12 year I'd be game for all of it.
Another good set of suggestions.

Bia said...

Thanks for the google tip . . . it really worked!

Also, to expand on the free museum idea: I like to visit our local art museum and have the kids pick a favorite artwork, and then either copy it or interpret it on canvas once we return home. It makes it an all day activity: art museum in the morning, painting in the afternoon.

Marlo said...

Did you say free chocolate? I'm in. :)

Toni said...

Great tip! I just googled my city and found there is a lot more to do around here than I thought.

eileen said...

Though I will only be in Denver for 4 days (a work convention) with hubby and eldest son I dearly wanted to *see* something other than the hotel lobby/conference rooms! Thank you for some great ideas (free).

Cannot wait to see the beautiful Rocky Mountains!!

ahorne said...

Great ideas - and practical, too! I am always on the lookout for ways to keep son #3 busy during the summer.

Everychapter said...

Great, great ideas! Thank you so much. I grew up on treasure hunts and they are the best memory makers!