Five Fun Afternoons on the Cheap

With summer time here I’m spending a lot more time outdoors with my kids, so I thought I would share some of our favourite afternoons of fun which don’t have to cost a lot.

  1. The Park – My kids are currently obsessed with going to the local school play structure so we have been going at least a few times a week.  We often just walk over take a drink and snack and spend a hour or two playing games like tag or how far can you go and not touch the ground.   Cost $0Cheap Add On: Slurpee run – walk to your local 7-11 or other store and pick up a treat/drink on the way home for $5 to $10.
  2. The Library – This is a weekly event in our house.  Often I drive over since we often do this with other errands, but sometimes we walk as well.  Beyond picking up our holds we also pick out a few movies for the kids, read a few books, take out a few books, play with the toys at the library and then play at the park located outside.  Then come home and immediately put a movie in for the kids to watch. Cost $0Cheap Add On: Pick up some ice cream from the grocery store $3 to $5 or 40 Timbits for $5.
  3. Water Fun – Now this one can be done in several grades depending on the effort/money you want to put into it.  Option a) Running around in the sprinkler at home.  Who knew watering the lawn can actually be fun? Cost $0. Option b) Hit up the local spray park and run around.  Cost $0. Option c) Hit up the local outdoor/indoor pool.  Cost $11 (at least around here).
  4. Museums/Galleries/Science Centers – Playing tourist in your own backyard can be fun and my kids love to see new things, so this makes for a great afternoon event for us.  Cost Free to $30 depending on which one you go see.
  5. The Lake – Find a friend/family member with a cabin and get a invite out for the afternoon or the weekend.  Be sure to ask to see if they need anything and be prepared to help out with chores.  We do this fairly often over the summer as my parents literally live at the lake for the summer so if we want to get a visit in we often need to go see them. Cost $40 to $100 or more (depends on gas, what you bring out: food & drinks, etc).

So what do you do for fun over the summer?  If you have an idea please share.

5 thoughts on “Five Fun Afternoons on the Cheap”

  1. We have our 7 and 5 year old boys at camps some weeks and the other weeks I’m at home with them. We are doing the first four on your list. Others are:

    Swimming ($2 parking at beach on the river and $12 at rec center)
    Bike rides ($0)
    Some McDonalds have play structures they just love playing in with other kids ($5 for ice cream and fries)
    Mini-putt ($15)
    Reading, piano and some homeschooling each day ($0)

  2. The beach. We live near the ocean so a drive to a beach with the ocean right there is only about 20 minutes away and there are plenty of places to explore.

    Camping weekend. Usually about 30 bucks a night for the tent site, plus gas to get there and some food and snacks, but you’re spending 100 bucks for a whole weekend of food, outdoor exploring, and 100% uninterrupted family time. You need gear, but if you’re not a serious camper the consumer stuff (IE, cheap) is just fine, and you can find lots of things used if you look at your favourite classifieds.

    Game and movie night. Playing video/board games with the family is fun, and then a movie and popcorn or dry snack cereal (as opposed to the regular low sugar breakfast cereal).

    Fire in the back yard. Our city will let you have a fireplace in your back yard as long as it’s not open (IE, it’s in some type of enclosure). We have an old fireplace that can’t be used in a house because it’s not CSA approved and we bought some scrap wood from someone who was clearing a lot for a house. We scored a whole quarter ton truck load full of wood for 30 bucks, and I got myself a splitting maul for another 50. That should last the whole summer (and the maul essentially forever with how much I use it), or probably 12-15 fires. Remember the hotdogs, sticks, and smores 🙂

    Walks. We regularly go for walks on different routes through our neighbourhood just to get fresh air and some exercise. Usually it’s free, but we sometimes stop for ice cream or a snack of some kind. It’s usually a couple of hours and ends up mostly free, but sometimes 10 or 20 bucks.

    Any local city event. There are usually piles of things going on around the city in the summer. Usually things are fairly cheap/free, and sometimes not so much . . . but you have to treat yourself sometimes, right?

  3. Hi, this is the first time I’ve visited (click a link from ERE).

    We don’t have friends with a close cabin, but we have 1 friend with a wave runner, and an other with a small boat. This gives us a lot of opportunities to go wake boarding, wave running, tubing & to a lesser extent water skiing.

    Many of your activities are very close to what we do!

    Hmmm, what to add… Well, we go swimming at our parent’s pool (it take 35 minutes to get there though, yuck). We use to go to the local Y equivalent at where I live, but they actually sold the building to the real YMCA… And the YMCA decided to tear down the old building and build a new facility… bummer fur us.

    During our occasional fire in the backyard, we cool pizza pies (or campfire pizza) and toast marshmallows, they are easy to make and the family loves them!!!

    We try to do special things every weekend. This weekend the we are taking the kids to caves in pittsburg, PA.

    I actually have a post at my site that I’m trying to work through for the summer. It also includes other people that have submitted ideas.

    Nice site you have here, I’m glad I visited 🙂

  4. Thanks for the ideas everyone. Now hopefully everyone can have a great summer.

    @Money Reasons,

    Glad you like the site. Thanks for stopping by!


  5. We have a baby – we entertain him on the cheap with:

    Bird seed – birds squirrels and rabbits frequent our feeders captivate him

    Trip to the pet store – I am against any pet store that sells animals (leave it to the breeders instead of the puppymills). But we do go there to view the animals and skip purchasing anything there so we don’t support them. I don’t think I would do this with him when he is older.

    Gardening: for the cost of a few seed packets you can wow any kid with radishes and carrots. Radishes are up in a very short 5 days and carrots, which are best put in the same rows, taste so wonderful straight from the garden!

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