Family Fun Days Out on a Budget

Are you wanting to spend some good quality time with your family, but find many of the family-oriented activities just too expensive? I have good news for you. There are many ways for you and your family to get out without blowing your budget. There are inexpensive alternatives to theme parks, and theaters, and you can beat the high cost of eating out by choosing restaurants that offer “kids eat free” days. The first step is to talk with your family and find out what they would enjoy doing. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

The Zoo. If you like animals and nature-related activities, then you might consider a visit to a nearby zoo. Take advantage of an annual membership for a modest fee, and you can visit as often as you like during the year. These memberships often include admission or discounted rates to other zoos, aquariums and museums within your state, offering an economical way to more days of fun and exploration. To further reduce your costs, plan a picnic lunch. Many facilities have picnic areas, so pack a lunch, and not only do you save money, your own food is healthier than what is usually available on site.

Parks. Most of your local parks are free, and many areas are updating their parks to offer more amenities, sheltered tables, grills, and restroom facilities. For getting active you will find things like ball fields, volley ball courts, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, and nature trails. For the smaller children, look for playgrounds with swing sets, slides, and play sets to climb on. Bring your balls, bats, rackets, kites, and frisbees; have fun and stay fit. Be sure to bring a cooler with water and sports drinks in order to stay hydrated while you play.

In addition, your state parks have much to offer. Many have hiking trails of varying distances, and endurance levels, lakes for fishing, boating or swimming, as well as picnic areas. Fees will vary from park to park, and some are free, while others have an entrance fee. Annual passes may be available for unlimited visits throughout the year.

Swimming Pools. Plan an afternoon at one of your city’s public pools. The pools usually open right after schools dismiss for the summer and close before school starts. Some may even offer free swimming lessons. This is an excellent outing for your family during the hot days of summer, and an opportunity to teach them about water safety at the same time. Remember to take sunscreen to guard against sunburn.

City Recreation Centers. Recreation centers offer a variety of activities for both children and adults such as sports, exercise and dance classes, arts and crafts, painting, computer classes, many of which are free or charge a nominal fee.

Geocaching. This is similar to an old-fashioned scavenger hunt, except that you use a GPS to locate objects. A geocache is an object whose coordinates have been posted on a website. You simply input those coordinates into your GPS, then follow the directions. Geocaches come in varying levels of difficulty, so you can choose the one that is right for your family. If you don’t have a GPS, the geocaches can also be found on a Google street map.

Science Centers. To stimulate the senses, check out the science center or science museum in your area. They have activities and exhibits just for children that develop their minds, build coordination, and peak their curiosity. Some science centers and museums work in conjunction with your annual zoo membership as well for added cost-savings.

Information and any related costs on most of these interests can be found on-line. It is also a good idea to check in advance to see if any of your preferred activities offer “free days”. Then you can plan accordingly, and take advantage of these extra savings.