Even after budgeting for 4 years now, the Entertainment category is still a tough one. There are always more things to do than you have funds for. Always.
We try to keep in mind that we can do things! Just not everything. And we know if there is something special we want to do, we’ll have to save up for it a few weeks. Sometimes it’s hard… But it also makes those things even more significant to us.
Here are a few ideas for fun family outings that are budget friendly:
I feel like city and state parks are one widely underused amenity that most places have. For instance, we live in Clearwater, FL. I just googled Clearwater city parks and there are 107 city parks listed. Yes, One Hundred and Seven. We’ve lived here 2 years and I’ve been to 5. Granted, not all of those parks are something my 2 year old would be interested in, but they include playgrounds, tennis courts, dog parks, play areas, baseball fields, and a lawn bowl and shuffleboard complex (I don’t even know what a lawn bowl is!). Just looking at the list makes me want to go check some of these out and as a bonus, most of them are completely free. The kicker for me is that there are 2 smaller towns that we are on the border of. I wonder how many parks they have?
For our family, we’ve found that a yearly membership to one place beats out shelling out the cash for each individual trip. This year, since Max is still under age 3 and free, we did the zoo in Tampa. It was $95 for a one-year membership for 2 adults. We’ve gone at least 6 times so far and still have 2 months left. If we go twice more, that’s only $11.88 per trip! Most zoos, aquariums, and museums offer some type of yearly membership and it usually comes with extra perks, like discounted merchandise or kids camps. If you’ve got one near you, look into it! Another idea: Ask for a membership for your child’s birthday! I love this idea because it’s an experience for your child to have over and over again instead of something they may get bored of soon.
You can generally find these by going to your city’s website and checking out events. Festivals are kind of like parks. There are way more than you think and a lot of them are free! Where you live impacts a lot of the choices, whether it’s the season or type of events. But you’ll almost always be able to find something once a month. Around us a lot of the towns have “Friday” events: St. Pete does First Friday, Dunedin does 2nd Friday, Safety Harbor does 3rd Friday…etc. There is usually live music, some food trucks or other goodies to buy, and some craft and art vendors. Lots of fun and you guessed it… Free! Except for the goodies that you may need to try. 🙂
// Groupon or Living Social
Groupon and Living Social are great ways to get a deal on all kinds of random things. Last month I bought a Groupon to the aquarium near us, which allowed the family to go for about 2/3 the cost of a normal trip. Sometimes you can find deals on restaurants as well, so that’s another way to save. I’ve even gotten a discount on a 5K and a haircut/color. And on Groupon if you don’t use it before the expiration date, the voucher is still worth the actual price you paid. I’ve never used Living Social, but from what I can see, it works pretty much the same way.
// High School Events
High School events can be really fun if you know someone or have a high schooler to go watch. But even if you don’t, you can be treated to a great musical, play, or game for cheap! Bonus, if you have small kids, they probably won’t even realize those aren’t professional football or basketball players. And you’ll have great seats!
I hope some of this budget friendly entertainment works for you! What do you do for inexpensive fun???
I am a big fan of local parks. You just cannot go wrong letting kids run and play in wide open spaces. We have one park where the climbing structure is designed like a big pirate ship. It’s amazing. I think the kids would spend the night if they could.
Of course our local beach is great in the summer. Or the splash pad.
While winter means sledding.
Our local library also has limited number of free family passes for local museums. You just have to pick it up early in the morning to not miss out, but it saves a LOT of money.
Our Tim Hortons coffee chain also sponsors free swims and skates at our community centre at specific times during the week, or holidays.
Tabitha Blue says
That’s awesome! It sounds like you’ve really hit the jackpot and know how to take advantage of what your city offers!