Just because our budget is tight doesn't mean we can't have any fun! We have found many ways to enjoy ourselves alone, together, and with our children when they were younger that did not break our piggy bank. This is by no means a complete list, it is just a list of the things that we did (and continue to do) over and over again because we get so much enjoyment out of them.
Enjoy Your Local Parks - from town parks to county parks, to state parks, there are parks in a lot of places today. Different parks offer different things to do. We look for parks that have hiking, biking, swimming (lake or sea), camping, barbecuing, and more. The county park near us requires a park pass. The state parks charge a fee, but we buy a one-year pass rather than paying each time we go - and of course the yearly pass saves us money in the long run. Find a state park near you!
Go Hiking - No matter where you live there are places to go hiking. Here where we live there are many parks with hiking trails that are maintained so we have a lot to choose from.
Go Geocaching - this requires a handheld GPS. Most people have this in their phones. We don't so we have a handheld unit. They are not too expensive and can actually be purchased second hand for very little. The idea behind geocaching is this - you get coordinates to a hidden spot where a small notebook and maybe a prize is hidden. You usually sign the book, take a trinket if there are any, and leave a different trinket in its place. This can be a lot of fun as geocaching is worldwide. Find out more information here: https://www.geocaching.com/guide/default.aspx
Go Bike Riding - Simple, healthy, and fun for the whole family! We purchased a hitch mounted bike rack for the back of our car last year so we could take the bikes to better and safer trails to ride on. There are great trails at the local state parks we like to ride on. The roads around here are not very safe so we avoid them.
Fly a Kite - kites can run anywhere from a few dollars to hundreds. The cheaper ones work fine if you are just looking to have a little fun. You do need some wind for them to work though and be sure to watch out for electrical wires! Learn how to make your own kite!
Things having to do with water
Go to the Beach - whether it is at an ocean, a bay, or a lake there is a lot to do at the beach besides swimming. Walk along it, search for rocks, shells, beach glass, etc. Build a sandcastle or just sit and relax. But remember to always wear sunscreen!
Go Kayaking or Canoeing - near where we live we have the ocean, the bay, lakes, and many large rivers where we can go canoeing. We have our own canoe but you can easily find a company that rents them out to you. It usually costs around $30 for the day for one canoe including life jackets (and paddles!). Be sure you know how to swim and where you are going! And of course we now have our new kayaks (see the video above or check out this link to our blog) and we love them because we can use them in all the lakes and rivers in the Adirondacks where we are building our new homestead!
In the yard
Have a Backyard Movie Night - this is a lot of fun for us. Every year we have at least one movie night in our back yard. To do this we have a projector, a small portable dvd player, outdoor speakers, and a screen made of the largest plain white window shade we could find and hang on the back of the house. Everyone brings a comfy chair (and a blanket if needed!) and sets up around the back yard. We usually have a pot luck dinner and desert before the movie starts.
Blow Bubbles - we love bubbles. All kinds of bubbles. We have made bubbles within bubbles, had contests for the largest bubbles, and made bubble sculptures. Yes, no matter how old you get, bubbles are still fun! DIY GIANT BACKYARD BUBBLES
Star Gazing - we used to have a trampoline we would lay on at night to watch the stars. Now we just use lounge chairs because the kids are older and the trampoline is gone. But we still enjoy going out and laying in the backyard to enjoy the night sky. Especially in August every year when the Perseids Meteor Shower would come. It is so much fun to spot those 'shooting stars.' They can be seen every year in the Northern Hemisphere during August. Click here to learn more: http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/everything-you-need-to-know-perseid-meteor-shower
Have a Campfire - we have a backyard fire pit. When the kids were younger we would sit around it and toast marshmallows, tell ghost stories or just sing songs. One of my favorite memories as a child myself was when my uncle would play the guitar and we would all sing songs like Old McDonald Had a Farm or Bingo. Check out "HOST A BACKYARD CAMPFIRE!"
Backyard Karaoke! - It is so easy to hook up to a portable device and use You Tube to sing Karaoke. All you need to do is purchase some speakers (maybe you already have them...) and a microphone! Our favorites are "Way Back Into Love" from the movie "Music and Lyrics" and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart." Check them out below and have some fun! Here is a usb microphone(affiliate link).
Build A Snow Man or Snow Fort - seriously, get out and play in the snow. As long as it's not too cold and there are no frostbite warnings, enjoy that crisp fresh air! Check out this cool kit for a snowman(affiliate link).
When the kids were younger we tent camped. We even did it in our backyard and the kids loved it! Today my husband and I have an 18 foot travel trailer we 'camp' in. Our favorite places to camp are state parks because their prices are the best. We like a few luxuries such as running water and electricity, so we generally try to rent out those spots. However, there are dry camping spots too! We use Reserve America to book all our camping excursions. Visit Coleman for tent camping tips and advice.
Inside our 18' trailer! Perfect for a couple and one small child :-)
A look in the opposite direction (from the bed).
Choose a heading for some simple Indoor Fun Ideas!
at home using electronics
Movie and Pizza - You can order a pay per view movie, watch a movie you already own, or rent one from your local library. Same for the pizza: cook a frozen one, order from the local pizza parlor, or the healthiest choice is to make your own!
Play Video Games - we still play video games. We have all the old ones that our kids played (and still do sometimes!) set up in the corner of the basement and ready to go with the flip of a switch. We love competing against each other in Mario Cart or shooting zombies side by side in The House of the Dead.
Do Karaoke - my husband and I use YouTube to find couples karaoke songs to sing. Well, I find the songs and he goes along and does it with me. Probably because he loves me, but we do it together and that's what counts. We also have fun too! Our favorites are "Way Back Into Love" from the movie "Music and Lyrics" and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart." Check the videos out under Outdoor Fun!
at home no electric required!
Read a Book - I read every day. I need to read every day and I will read just about anything. In fact, I just finished reading my mother's THIRD book! Yes, my mom is an author of a children's series with a theme that includes castles and magic. What kid doesn't like castles and magic? If they can't read it themselves, then read it to them and start them on the wonderful journey of being a lifelong reader! There is no better gift that you can give your child. Check out her books on Amazon! My cousin Lynn has also written a book with her son Frankie - this is a heartfelt book and a MUST READ for all families! And my cousin Bill wrote a book that is awesome as well! Check out all the books at the bottom of the page. Check out this "online library:" http://www.readanybook.com
Play a Board Game - when my children were younger we had an ongoing Monopoly game. We would play for 1 or 2 hours and then we each had a plastic bag with our names on it so we would have what we owned and all our money when we came back to play the same on-going game another time.
Have a Candy Poker Game - we would use jellybeans or M & M's candies instead of money or chips!
Build a Fort - one time I remember my entire finished basement was a series of multiple forts made with all my extra sheets and blankets during one of my daughter's sleep over parties. I still have the pictures!
Pancake Art - all you need is a spatula, pancake batter, a frying pan, a squeeze bottle and a little confidence! Trust me, if we can do it so can you! The kids and grandkids will LOVE IT! Check out the two videos below to see how simple it really is :-)
go somewhere else....
Go to the Library - let the kids pick out their own books or choose a movie to borrow. The local library usually also offers free programs for children and adults. Check out what your library offers to see if anything interests you.
Go to a Museum - my husband and I like to tour old mansions, forts, and castles. Where we live there are many to choose from. Our favorite so far is Fort William Henry in Lake George:http://www.fwhmuseum.com
Go to a Matinee Movie - the prices are usually less for a matinee.
A few children's books written by my loving family....
The first three books are written by my mother and are really great for young readers. Check out her website here! She is also starting a blog and writing a children's' book on the blog for people to read along, understand an authors writing process, and comment, make suggestions, and find her mistakes as the book progresses. It should be lots of fun, as well as entertaining and educational!
Pancake art is simple and fun! Check out these videos...