Saturday, October 11, 2008

Free (or cheap) Family Fun

Fun and Free

There are so many activities around us that are free (or pretty cheap) for the family. I have posted about many – there was free ice cream (with a donation to a worthy cause), free admission day to many museums, and free theater tickets in many communities.

In our area, there are a number of free events at the Metro Parks. Tonight, we attend the Family Family Outing at the Metro Park. In addition to the trails at the park and the playground, there was a hayride tour of the park, cookies, popcorn and cider, a bonfire on the beach (no marshmallows, which disappointed a certain little boy), and some animals for petting - a goat, a pony, a llama, a sheep, etc. We didn't make the hayride, as there was a wait over an hour long. We did get a golf cart ride back to our car. My son had a good time riding the golf cart, but was still disappointed we didn't make the hayride. We learned about this particular activity in our grocery ad.

Reading your local paper can clue you in to a number of activities in your community that are free or inexpensive.

The library, in addition to being a great resource for books, music and movies that you can borrow for free (as long as you return them on time), also offers a number of free or cheap programs for children, both young and old. We participate in storytime and head over occasionally for popcorn and a movie.

Over the summer, Target sponsored National Night Out, an opportunity to head downtown and see the emergency services equipment and socialize with your neighbors. It even included a free hot dog dinner. I learned about this in my local paper.

During the summer and fall, there are a lot of community festivals that are free to attend – yes, there is a cost for some of the activities, but even those are usually pretty inexpensive. Watch your newspaper in the spring for a list of local fairs and festivals. You can also go on-line to find this information on your local community websites. I know in my community that there are family events for Halloween and Easter, where the downtown merchants pass out candy and plastic eggs, respectively. The Halloween event even includes a costume contest for the different age groups with prizes. The Easter event included a low cost lunch with the Easter Bunny. A number of local restaurants and the grocery store offer breakfast with Santa in December. This is usually a pretty fun event. The first year we went, my son asked Santa for an orange and a green flower. When Santa only delivered the orange from this join request, every telling of what he got included, "but Santa forgot to bring a green flower".

During the summer, when the kids are home from school, a number of local/national movie theaters offer free or cheap movie admissions for child friendly films. Parks are another great place to head with the kids. They are free and allow the kids to expend a lot of extra energy, while they climb, slide and swing. We have a number of parks that double as awesome sledding hills in the winter. Weather a little wet, head out to Chuck E Cheese – if you eat before you go, it can be a relatively inexpensive day out of the house with plenty of entertainment.

Many restaurants offer family night, typically the kids eat free and their are other activities included. One local movie theater offers Family Night at the Movie with a discounted admission for a family.

What type of activities do you and your family do for free or nearly free? Leave a comment or post a link to your blog. Be sure to link back to this post.