Fun activities can be expensive… but they don’t have to be! For “Frugal February”, I have been brain-storming ideas for cheap and free family fun.
- State and National parks are a wonderful place to enjoy some family time! Depending on your location and the time of year, you could hike, camp, picnic, swim, play outdoor games, rock climb, sled, climb trees, bird watch, take pictures, fish and countless other things! Just being out in a natural environment makes everyday things more fun. Cook some hotdogs over an open fire and then go barefoot to search for frogs and toads in a shallow stream. It’s cheap and your kids will love it! Be creative! (Bonus: Many parks also have classes and group activities, sometimes free! Check at the info center.)
- Outdoor concerts can be found in many cities and towns. Pack a picnic and go experience something new. Bring a ball or frisbee to play with while you wait for it to start.
- Festivals and craft fairs can be fun with older children. Look for handcrafted items they like and then plan to make your own version with them on a rainy day!
- Splash parks are fun summer places! There are several free ones in our area that have fountains, but no standing water, so even little kids can play without the dangers of a pool.
- “Pick-your-own” farms and orchards can be a blast! Give the kiddos some baskets and let them pick their own berries or apples, then go home and make something delicious!
- Zoos and botanical gardens usually aren’t free, but you can often find smaller ones with discount days. Also, if you’re able to buy an annual pass, you can make it be a regular event (pack your own food and drinks, though!) and many times there will be other zoos that you can go to for half the price using the annual pass!
- County and State fairs may or may not charge an entrance fee. If they do charge, sometimes you can find discount tickets at a local grocery store or on-line. Carpool with another family and split the parking fee, if there is one.
- Metroparks/city parks usually have a good playground, picnic tables and a “nature” area for little ones to explore. Some even have group activities!
- Your own backyard can be exciting with a magnifying glass, sprinkler, jar for catching bugs, or some other “special” thing.
Indoor Fun at Home
- Family reading is something that can happen every day and still be special!
- Games of all kinds can be played by just two people, or your whole family can join in. Try tons of different kinds of card games. It doesn’t get much more frugal than a deck of cards!
- “Camp” in the living room! Move the furniture out of the way and bring in the tent and sleeping bags. Eat “camping” foods and sit around a lantern to tell stories and play games. If you’ve got nice weather, move to the back yard!
- Have an ethnic evening. Choose a culture, such as Italian, and dress the part. Listen to some Italian music, learn a few words to use and cook up some authentic foods.
- Pick something new to learn about as a family. We learned about dolphins the other day… did you know that bottle-nosed dolphins swim fast enough to hydroplane in just a few inches of water to catch fish in the shallows?? Learning can be fun!
- Pull out the craft supplies and let the kids make a mess! (Teach them how to clean it up, too! 😉 )
- Try some of the classic pretend games with your little ones, such as a stuffed animal tea party or following a treasure map to see where X marks the spot!
Indoor Fun Away From Home
- There are museums all over the world, and often they are cheap or free! Call and ask about discounts and special events to save on admission.
- Aquariums, like zoos, often have an annual pass option. It costs quite a bit up front, but if you use it a lot during the year, it isn’t very much money per visit. The big plus about aquariums is that you can go anytime, regardless of the weather!
- Community theaters are usually very cheap and can be a ton of fun for the whole family! Just be sure to find out what the content of the play will be so that you aren’t covering your children’s eyes and ears.
- Churches and community centers often have play days that moms can take their littles to. Meet a friend there and let the kids run off some of that energy while you chat!
- Libraries are full of fun! Pick a topic and find books, dvds and cds to take home.
- Book stores appeal to every age! Make sure to keep a close eye on your little ones, but let them explore a bit in the children’s section then find some comfy chairs to hang out and read. Be sure to pack your own snacks to keep it frugal!
I know that I’ve barely even scratched the surface, but I hope I’ve given you some new ideas. Now, we all just need to get started and have some fun!
What are some of your favorite frugal and fun activities?
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