For those of us who have had to weather the full brunt of winter for the past three to five months, summer is like a…well, summer breeze. Finally free of the frigid temperature, overcast skies and painfully short daylight, it’s hard not to feel the urge to make the most of these precious few warm months.
But between getting to the most popular of summer destinations and shelling out cash for tickets to outdoor concerts or fun fairs, you may find your warm-weather enthusiasm can get pretty costly. Luckily, there are quite a few options for wringing the most out of these long summer days without spending a lot of money. Below are just a few you may want to consider before the autumn chill sets in.
Celebrate Locally, For Free
Local street fairs and parades can be a great place to meet up with friends, hang out, and enjoy amateur exhibitions. And entry to many of these events are completely free. Well, mostly free. There are of course plenty of chances available to spend money on knick knacks or elephant ears the size of your head, but packing your own food and some hydration can help you avoid spending a single penny without having to miss out on the gathering completely.
Get Out In Nature
There’s no price tag on nature. Usually. Your neighborhood park is a great place to set up a pickup b-ball game or do an outdoor activity (flying a kite, throwing a frisbee, anything) together with the family at little or no expense.
While state and national parks (if you’re lucky enough to live close to one) do come with entry fees, it may pay to get an annual pass for around $50-$60 per person. These parks are usually large enough where you won’t be able to see it all in one day. The $80 America The Beautiful annual pass gives you access to 2,000 recreation site across the country, and 100% of the proceeds to towards improving federal land.
And you may not know it, but many counties have some pretty elaborate and well-maintained trail systems weaving through some of the less trodden paths of your town. Ask your local bike enthusiast or distance runner, or throw in a quick google search for the public trails near you. Then just strap on some binoculars for a nice nature walk or get everyone on their bikes for a ride.
Go To the Beach
A corollary to your park expedition, visiting a local beach (or lake, as the case may be) is an ideal way to cool off as the summer sun turns from refreshing to overbearing. All you really need to bring is some towels, a cooler, and your preferred form of sun protection. Pro tip: if you can, avoid the beaches that charge entry fees or require membership badges.
Organize A Hometown Scavenger Hunt
While a bit more labor intensive, organizing a photo scavenger hunt around your neighborhood among your friends or family provides a great way to get out of the house and turn your local neighborhood into a game. Aside from getting the competitive juices flowing, it’ll give people a memory involving ordinarily mundane things in your area.
Have A Field Day
It doesn’t take much to replicate a grade school field day for your social of familial group of choice. Get a few burlap sacks or some twine from the cheap at a local supplies store, then all you need is a regulation playground ball, a stopwatch and some event management skills to get an elaborate test of everyone’s kickball, bag-hopping and three-legged-racing skills. Other fun field games for all ages include bocce ball, scoop ball, badminton, and bean bag toss.
Water Balloon Fight
If the heat is too much for an expedition beyond your own backyard, consider busting out the garden hose or sprinkler, stockpiling a cheap-o bag of latex balloons, and organizing a neighborhood water balloon fight. It may not be the most elaborate choice for summer fun, but sometimes you can’t beat the classics.
Have A Garage Sale
This one can actually make you money. Use this summer as a chance to declutter your house and get rid of all the stuff you don’t really need. And if you don’t have enough for a sale of your own, team up with some friends or neighbors to make a larger, more enticing sale.