This summer, you don’t have to break the bank or travel far to have fun with the family.
Whether you live in a big city or a small town, there’s plenty of memorable and affordable things to do in your own zip code. Here are 10 budget friendly family activities to do this summer.
Many bigger cities and suburban areas have calendars of family-friendly festivals happening throughout the year on their websites. Some have unique craft vendors, carnival rides, food trucks and performances. Check your local city calendar or stay up to date on facebook groups for events in your area. Bring some snacks and sunblock and make an afternoon out of it!
2 Water playgrounds
Now that the weather is warming up, many of us are looking forward to the pools opening up but many cities have water features and splash pads built into playgrounds for free! We have a wonderful splash pad up the street from our house that we take the kids to all summer. Some evenings, after my husband gets home from work, we pack a picnic or plan to meet family at the park to fire up a grill and let the kids wear themselves out. Check your local parks department or the parks department of neighboring cities for splash pad features.
No matter where you live, you can find a great picnic spot. Don’t feel like it has to be a lunch thing either. We love to do breakfast picnics on weekend mornings or dinner picnics on week nights. If you’re a stay at home parent with antsy little ones, plan a picnic during the week in your own back yard.
4 Tour your own town
No matter how long you’ve lived here, there are bound to be things that you’ve never seen and done. Take this summer to explore your own town and see sights. Stop at a little independently owned diner that you’ve never been to, visit some little shops or take the family to see the sights that you haven’t been to since you were a kid.
5 Ice Cream Parlor at Home
Skip the expensive ice cream outing and plan an ice cream social at home. Invite a few friends of family members and make it a big event. Buy some cones, ice cream and an assortment of favorite toppings or skip the fixings and pop in a movie rental and enjoy popcorn and floats.
6 See a Movie
We were shocked to find that a single afternoon at a movie for a family of four would cost about $40 just for tickets but there are cheaper ways to take the kids to see a movie on the big screen. Check your theater for matinee and weekend rates. Our mall’s theater has special prices on Tuesdays so we can get tickets, popcorn and soda without breaking the bank. In the fall, many theaters offer deep discounted tickets if you bring in cans for a canned food drive. Also see if your city has a dollar show or affordable tickets at a drive-in.
7 Go to a Play
We have beautiful old theaters in our city but tickets can be pricey! Instead, attend free or affordable plays in the park, at schools or community centers. Our kids love the annual Shakespeare festival in the park. Even though they’re a little young for Shakespeare, the novelty of a live performance keeps them well entertained. Families bring their own blankets, food and drinks and enjoy a play under the stars. High schools and community colleges put on plays every season.
8 Go to a Museum
I’m fortunate to live in St Louis, which is full of wonderful free museums. Not all musems are free or affordable but every city has discounted resident days or free events. Check the museum websites and local calendars for more information.
9 Beach, Lake or River Play
Take the kids to explore nature at the beach, lake or river for a splash. Our little ones love to hunt for rocks and interesting sticks and get their toes wet. Bring a few ziplock bags from home to bring home treasured finds.
The ultimate awesome, cheap activity for families is geocaching. You can do it in any city, just about any time of day, any season and it doesn’t cost a thing. All you need is a smart phone and the geocaching app. Plug in your location on the app and see where the nearest cache is. Use your phone to navigate to the location and see if you can find the treasure. A cache is usually a very small container full of non-valuable items. You can take something out of the cache if you put something else inside. Some caches have a tiny notebook or piece of paper to log who has found it and the date that it was found. Caches are hidden in public parks, parking lots of local businesses- just about anywhere. They’re all over the planet.