Let’s face it, unless you’re the kind of family who has a personal planner for your kids’ activities everyday, we’re all on a budget. There’s almost always a way to save money with whatever you’re buying or doing. So why not save a little cash while also having fun with your kids?
Here are a few ideas for outdoor activities (weather permitting) that you can put in your toolbox for the next day you are stuck in the regular routine at home – little to no planning required!
1. Go for a hike. Slap on some sunscreen, fill up the water bottles, grab your hats and go! This can be an all-season activity as long as everyone is up for it. Be sure to dress appropriately with layers in the colder months, and bring snowshoes if needed. In Colorado there is an unlimited number of hikes for every level, near and far, with great scenery. In other states you may be more limited, so take a look at your town maps, do a quick search online, find any local bike or horse trails. Just make sure they also allow hikers, as some trails are designated for specific travelers only. Still at a loss? Take a walk around a different neighborhood or a new area of the city.
2. Check out the recreation center. These offer classes of all kinds, for each age range and for pretty cheap. They may even offer reduced rates based on income. It varies greatly by location, but rec centers generally have at least one pool, and the newer ones can house a play area, rock climbing gym, or even a game center.
3. Find a dairy farm. A new spin on a trip to the farm! Teach your children about where milk comes from, and the life on the farm. Call ahead for tours, visitation hours, and a store to give your kids the treat of chocolate milk!
4. Have a picnic. As easy as eating lunch at home, but packaged up for a nice afternoon outside. Use this as an opportunity to explore new scenery, or keep it simple and have a picnic in your backyard. Get as extravagant as you want with accessories and the menu.
5. Hang out at the lake. This of course varies greatly by location, but most places have some sort of body of water within driving distance. Here we have lakes and rivers, the coasts have the beach, and other landlocked or central towns have reservoirs, or maybe a view of one. There’s something about being around water that is calming and fun. Don’t forget to bring the kites!
6. Visit your local library. This is the golden ticket for cheap AND educational. For the little ones, ask about story times based on age. For the older kids, let them explore the magic of getting lost in a good book. You may need to apply for a library card if you don’t already have one, but these are free and allow you to check out books for quite a long time (ours is up to 99 days). Bonus, they can pick out a CD or movie as well! Our previous library also had a small play area, extra bonus!
7. Hit up the park. Whether it’s just a grassy area or a full on playground, there’s always something to do. Kick the ball around, teach them a new game (badminton, anyone?), or play hide-and-seek. We have a few with water features in the summer, which are free and don’t require a life jacket! Fun for all ages.
8. Go to the farm. Find a nearby farm to teach kids about the animals first-hand, the work involved, and the sweet smells! We are lucky to have a kid-friendly “farm” where you can climb up the silo, feed the goats and milk the cows.
9. Plant a garden. If you time it right, buy packets of seeds instead of plants to save money. Get a good mixture of flowers, vegetables, and herbs, and plant away! This is a great learning experience, the kids like getting dirty, and you can reap the benefits in a few short months! Who knows, maybe it’ll be the driving factor to try more veggies? Maybe that’s just wishful thinking.
Stop by the thrift shop for cheap pots. And don’t be discouraged if you have a small yard – or none at all! We live in an apartment and have 14+ pots outside, 4 inside. Hint: plant perennials for flowers that come back each year. Make sure to give them lots of love and bring them inside when temperatures dip close to freezing at night.
10. Arrange a scavenger hunt. This can be performed with very little prep work. Pinterest or google “kid-” or “nature scavenger hunt” and you’ll find plenty of templates to choose from, some with words and some with pictures. Then head outside and have a blast!
Have more ideas? Leave a comment or shoot me an email!