The family entertainment budget is often challenged during the summer. Children may clamor for trips to pricey theme parks and ballgames. Wish lists may include cruises that have water slides, rock-climbing walls and mini-golf.
Since many summer amusements come with a hefty price tag, what’s a parent on a budget to do? First, maintain the healthy mindset that summer family fun doesn’t have to be expensive. Next, look around your own neck of the woods for activities and events that are free or low cost.
These summertime ideas encourage family fun – without a budget blow-out.
Library fun and games: Local libraries are a terrific source of free summer entertainment. The children’s section may feature age-appropriate books, CDs and DVDs, as well as puzzles, board games and computer games. Activities geared toward kids may include story time, arts and crafts, sing-alongs and puppet shows. Such programs often ramp up in summer, since children are out of school. After a fun day with your children at the library, you may be able to use your library card to take home a free or low-cost movie that the whole family can enjoy.
Picnics and more: Picnics in the park have been a summer mainstay for generations of families, and city/town parks are likely to be an entertainment destination as well. Free or low-cost activities may feature summer plays, including Shakespeare productions in some communities or movies under the stars, or other free amenities such as playgrounds, ball fields and community pools.
Street parades: Hometown parades are an ultimate source of free summer enjoyment. Often geared toward holidays such as the Fourth of July, they offer a fun and colorful way to share family time. Themed parades are common in larger cities, and promote a sense of togetherness and heritage. Although street parades may be free, one can get carried away with buying souvenirs and refreshments. To watch the budget, keep the balloons and cotton candy to a minimum.
Homegrown history: Many cities and towns have small museums celebrating local lore that are free or low cost, and that may honor statesmen, war heroes, writers, film stars, other notables, an event in local history or a specific topic, such as lighthouses or toys. Children can get a history lesson and be entertained, while parents enjoy the nostalgia or expand their community knowledge.
Bicycle expeditions: Another idea for family fun on a budget is to take a ride together along a bicycle path free of motor traffic. Whether paved, gravel or dirt, these paths offer surfaces for various kinds of bikes and other sports, they may be used by rollerbladers or folks out for a stroll, so observe the “rules of the road” and be courteous toward others.
Summer family fun doesn’t end here. Discover the many ways you can re-use a shoebox for creative family crafts.