30 Free and Relatively Free Activities
by Lyn Michaud
Family Game Night
Rely on Your Library
Indulgences for the Frugal
- Fly a kite. For even more thrift, make the kites from recycled materials found around the house and have a contest with test flights.
- Volunteer at an animal shelter. Here's a warning for the susceptible: may result in bringing home a furry or otherwise new family member.
- Go window shopping and dream at the mall, at a sporting goods store or your favorite location.
- Play a board game. For even more fun, make up new rules or blend two games together.
- Find a "think tank" club, like a Socrates' cafe or public speaking venue.
- Walk, skip or run on an exercise path, along the river or on a nature trail.
- Check out books from the library on any sport or activity you may be interested in to learn if the activity is right for you. Follow some of the suggested moves or activities found in the book.
- Host or attend a pot luck dinner. Share the recipe and ask others to do the same.
- Do chores. Before you groan, make it a game and get everyone in the family involved. Offer prizes and rewards for best cleaning, most efficient use of resources, coming up with a time-saving idea, etc.
- Attend a lecture or event at the local library or college/school. Call and ask what presentations are free and open to the public.
- Find a concert. Public parks, churches and music stores might host free concerts and welcome everyone. Try a new genre. During the summer, pack a picnic for concerts at the park.
- Throw a Frisbee or try different objects found around the house as flying disks. Remember to include the family dog too.
- Watch for free days at zoos, museums and other cultural venues for state or city residents.
- Take dinner into the backyard for a candlelight picnic.
- Go bird watching. Take binoculars or cameras and a bird identification book along. Record the names of birds you find.
- Try geocaching. Go to www.geocaching.com to learn more about this activity of searching for a cache using a GPS device. Find sites in your area and follow the rules of geocaching.
- Have a scavenger hunt. Find and walk to all of your city's statures or landmarks. Cut pictures from the newspaper or get brochures from the Chamber of Commerce. If you have enough people divide into teams and see who can find all the spots first and photograph themselves at the site.
- Take a bike ride. Check out the bike trails in your area or investigate a new place while on vacation.
- Visit a resident in the nursing home or call the activities director and offer to perform. They might love to have musicians, comedians, clowns, etc. and they really love to have children visit.
- Have a movie night. The free option means checking out a movie from the local library or trading with a friend.
- Write a poem, story or ghost tale and share or read it aloud. You might want to see if your city has an open mike night or poetry slams where the public is invited to share their work and ideas.
- Try stargazing. Use a map of the sky or check out the meteor showers throughout the year, using an almanac or going online to find out when the meteor showers occur for the best viewing.
- Go to a wine or food tasting event.
- Build a snow statue or a sand castle. You might even enjoy demolishing it when you are done building.
- Write a five-minute movie script and film it. Consider sharing it by uploading it to the Internet.
- Take part in free sports clinics. Some sports stores and recreation centers offer free introductions and information about outdoor sports. Check local listings to find opportunities or check with clubs.
- Visit the arts districts and wander through the galleries. Many places host free events and serve refreshments on certain days of the month or for openings of new exhibits.
- Dress up as a literary or historical character and walk along the pedestrian mall. See how many people ask what you are doing and be prepared to tell them with a short prepared speech.
- Tour a factory. This might be limited depending on where you live, but it is worth trying while on vacation. Candy stores, breweries, greeting card companies and many other industries offer tours to showcase their products.
- Go out to the ballpark. Gather a group of friends for a friendly game for baseball, soccer, stickball, etc. If it is just two of you, try one-on-one basketball.
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