Note: This is an older post that I’ve made updates to. Enjoy!
We are on a tight budget this summer, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun!
You can spend tons of money on entertainment if you want, but there are so many free things to do if you keep your eyes open for them.
I think it’s really good to keep a big list (like this one) on the fridge or someplace visible so that when you’re bored or about to spend money on entertainment, you can see all of the free options available!
The Most Important Tip:
There have been so many times that we have headed out for a fun activity where we didn’t plan on spending money. You know what happened? We got hungry or forgot something important and then ended up spending money on food or sunscreen.
If you’re heading out, try to anticipate your needs.
We almost always bring along snacks and water bottles when we go somewhere. Think of all of the things you might need and try to plan ahead. Bottles of water, bug spray, sunglasses, a small flashlight…
It takes 10 minutes to pull together and can keep you from spending extra money you weren’t planning on.
1. The Library
People totally underestimate the library! While I love reading, I also know that the library offers SO much more than just books.
- Books: Never a bad way to spend your time 🙂
- Movies: Many libraries have a huge selection of movies that you can rent for free.
- Audiobooks & Magazines: You can check out books on CD or tape. They’ll have audiobooks for kids, teens, and adults. Our library’s website offers access to free audiobooks and ebooks that you can download right to your phone or computer. We use this all the time. We also have access to a free app through our library that lets us look at magazines on our phone or tablet.
- Passes: See if your library offers passes to museums, state parks, area attractions, and campgrounds. We’ve gotten free passes to local museums, state and national parks!
- Events: Reading clubs, movie nights, story time, educational talks… Most libraries have a ton going on. For free!
We usually do a few puzzles a year while listening to an audiobook that we’re both in to.
We have a few puzzles that we own and have borrowed puzzles from family members so I count this as a free activity.
3. Yard Games
We have a bocce ball set and we have family members who live close by that own many different yard games. Playing yard games is a fun and relaxing way to spend more time outside.
Going to the beach is free! Our smaller, local beaches are easy to get to and don’t cost a thing. When we go to Lake Michigan, we can usually find free parking which makes that free too.
Remember to bring a picnic, sunscreen, and water toys and you won’t have to pay for anything.
Update: Now that we live in Colorado, the beaches aren’t quite as plentiful, but we have access to a river nearby and some lakes within one of our state parks.
There is endless summer fun at a pool. If you own one or know someone who will let you come over to go swimming, go for it! Bring some snacks and lots of sunscreen.
6. Card Games & Board Games
We have so many things in our homes that we hardly ever use, right? I bet you own a few board games and a deck of cards or two.
These are our favorites:
We played charades for my mother-in-law’s birthday one year and it was hysterical!
All I did was search online for charades topics, write them down on small pieces of paper and throw them in a bucket. We divided into two teams and took turns guessing. It was so much fun and totally free.
8. Bike Ride/Rollerblade
Again, use what you already own! Go for a bike ride or go roller blading. If you want to go for a long ride, pack a picnic in a backpack.
We’ve attempted to take Mozzie with us riding in a bike basket, but he has yet to enjoy it. I’m hoping to get one of those kid trailers for him to ride in.
9. Fun at the Park
I bet if you look into the parks nearby, you’ll find all kinds of free things to do.
In our small town there are trails to walk and a full frisbee golf course. A few weeks ago I was visiting my brother in Madison and we took my niece to a park with a huge splash pad to play in!
10. Video Games
If you already have a video game system, you might have some really fun games to play together.
11. City Events
Even small cities usually have a lot of free events going on. Our tiny town has free summer concerts, parades, festivals, and more!
Bigger cities nearby have days that you can get into the zoo or museums for free, swing dancing nights, and other awesome activities.
Simply do a Google search for “Free Events Near Me” and see what pops up. You may be surprised!
Still need more ideas? Here are a bunch:
- Make up a dance routine and record it
- Do a lip-syncing video
- Camp in your backyard
- Take nature photos
- Pack snacks and go for an extra long walk
- Rearrange furniture and decor in your house
- Do at-home manicures
- Teach your dog a new trick
You can also read my post on how to not spend money.