We have become a society where happiness can be bought with money (or so we have been told by social media) and so few of us have any. So we punish ourselves with guilt thinking we are unable to provide fun for our family because we cannot afford to. Working hard all the time, and rarely taking the time to enjoy all that life has to offer.
Now is the moment to decide to move towards a simpler lifestyle, let’s replace quantity with quality, things with substance, monetary with memories, and connection with interaction. Teach our children that happiness comes from within, from the people you touch and the moments you share. Twenty years from now we won’t remember that toy or electronic gizmo, but we will remember the times we share together, let’s make more of those memories without breaking the bank. Challenge your family to participate in one free activity to do each month. At the end of the month, not only will you have more money but you will also have family memories to last a lifetime and traditions to pass down for generations.
20 Free Things to Do in Any Town or City (plus a bonus suggestion!)
1. Youth Sports Game
See the rising All-Stars in action before they hit the big league. Visit local recreation centers or check with the public schools for game times. School sports are year-round so there is always something to see, many offer concessions for an affordable snack. My favorite youth sports to watch are the 4-6 yrs old, they are so entertaining!
The personal computer era has almost made the libraries extinct, but the books are making a comeback! Libraries offer an array of free entertainment from Story time with children, book signings, DVDs, to holiday events and more. Revisit your local library or check out a new one, membership cards are free and so is the fun!
3. Garden Club Meeting (or any other organized group meeting)
I belong to a local Herb Society where we meet once a month at the library and meetings are open to the public. Each meeting we offer appetizers and have a guest speaker who presents on various subjects. Examples of past meetings are: soap making, beekeeping, aquaponics, decorating for the holidays, cooking with herbs, and many, many more. We always have guest from out of town who saw our ad in the local paper, so grab a paper of a nearby town (or one you plan to visit) and check out the local group meetings ,where you will always learn something new and exciting.
When is the last time you sat in a swing at a park? Went down a slide? Enjoyed a picnic lunch? When you just thought back trying to remember, did the memory evoke happy thoughts? A walk in the park can do more than provide you with free entertainment, it can improve your health!
According to the New York Times , volunteers who had strolled along the quiet, tree-lined paths showed slight but meaningful improvements in their mental health, according to their scores on the questionnaire. They were not dwelling on the negative aspects of their lives as much as they had been before the walk. They also had less blood flow to the subgenual prefrontal cortex. That portion of their brains were quieter. These results “strongly suggest that getting out into natural environments” could be an easy and almost immediate way to improve moods for city dwellers, Mr. Bratman said.
5. Sunday Drive- Any Day
Whether looking at the fall colors, seeing the Christmas lights or visiting a new place, load the family up in the car without an agenda, errands to run, places to be, relax and just enjoy the view (this moment will be better enjoyed if electronic devices are left at home). My mother’s favorite memories were the Sunday drives her family used to take and she has passed that tradition down to me.
6. Window Shop
When I shop, I normally find myself in two situations, 1- I have money and can’t find anything I want or 2- I don’t have money and find everything I want. Lately I have added a third situation, I shop for inspiration. I love making things myself and I am pretty crafty, but I lack in the creative department so I window shop for my inspiration for: DIY projects, future gifts, ideas to make money,and it’s all FREE.
7. Garage Sale Hunt
Everyone loves a good bargain and garage sales are the best place to find them. You never know what you can’t live without until you shop at garage sales. Many sales even have a FREE pile that you can take your pick from, especially if you go towards closing time.
8. Local Calendar of Events
Every Friday our local paper has a section of local events and most of them are free, from festivals and food samplings to hot air balloon releases. For suggestions of free events, you really don’t have to look farther than your local paper.
9. Live Music
Many restaurants, schools, hotels and pubs offer free musical entertainment. My daughters school is constantly offering free musical concerts, the youth are amazingly talented and entertaining. There are many health and cultural benefits to listening to music, so go out and try something new.
10. Youth Performance
Check with your local: Schools, YMCA, Dance Clubs, and Churches to inquire if they are offering any youth performances.
11. Art Galleries /Art in the Park/School Art Exhibits
Art is not only enjoyable to look at, it is good for your health. Viewing art can decrease stress and stimulate emotions of pleasure.
A study from the University of Westminster found that participants’ stress levels decreased after a lunchtime visit to an art gallery. Participants self-reported their stress levels before entering the gallery and then spent 35 minutes exploring the space in any way they wanted. Upon exiting, they expressed being less stressed. Furthermore, they also had lower concentrations of cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone.
12. Farmers Markets- know your farmers
Take a stroll through your local farmers markets and make time to talk to each farmer/vendor. Ask them important questions like: what food comes from their own farm, what their growing practices are, what food is in season in your area, the best varieties to eat/grow for your area.
13. Scavenger Hunt- make it fun!
Type a list of oddities and give each family member a checklist (make one with pictures for little kids) and have some type of prize for the winner at the end of the day. Make is something they would want but doesn’t cost money like they get control of the TV remote when you get back home.
There is a nationwide treasure hunt you can participate in just go to https://www.geocaching.com/play to learn more
14. Go Fishing
There is something therapeutic and rewarding about fishing. It is the one time that you are forced to just be- be patient, be in the moment, be still, and just be. The bonus is you can get rewarded with dinner if you are lucky, if you’re not lucky you still enjoyed being in the moment. I have never had a bad day of fishing, even when there wasn’t any fish to show for my efforts.
15. Bike Rides, Hiking, or walk on the Beach
You are standing on one of the easiest and best things you can do for free (and fun), your own two feet! Get out and walk, run, ride. Try this at LEAST once a week. Make it a habit of getting out and get moving one day a week no matter what else goes on in your life that week, get out once. There is a lot to be said about walking, running, and riding in the fresh air.
16. Health Seminars/Webinars/Workshops/Home Shows
I have hosted several free health events throughout the years where I have offered information on various health topics and always served refreshments for free as well as door prizes. I have also hosted several home shows; Avon, Home Interiors, Tupperware, Pampered Chef, etc. These events are always free and offer a plethora of valuable information for anyone willing to listen.
17. Summer Movies/Library Movies
Movie theaters offer free movies in the summer (some may offer different times of the year) and a park close to us offers free outdoor movies for the family. The local library also offers movies for children and game nights.
18. Kids Skate Free
Kids Skate Free is a national organization offering free roller skating for children all across the country. To find a place near you go to: http://kidsskatefree.com/ The one near us offers free roller skating every Wednesday.
Visiting our local museums is something many of us take for granted, but our local museums hold our history and offer valuable information and priceless learning experiences. Call your local museums and see if they offer a free day (some may be free all the time) and take full advantage to learn about our history.
To find a free museum near you go to:
Or visit any museum on National Museum Day, find out more here:
You don’t have to belong to a church of participate in the awesome events that they offer to the public. They won’t try to convert you or change your religion, they just want to have fellowship and family-friendly entertainment. In the past, the church we attend has offered: Sundae Day (make your own sundae), Super Bowl Party, Chili Cook-Off, Christmas Concert, Campfire Nights, 4th Picnic, Tubing down the creek, Easter Play, Music Concerts, Movies, Fall Festival, just to name a few, and that is just one church in a town with many churches.
Many churches offer FREE: Music Concerts, Plays, Picnics, Cook-Offs, Holiday Events, Holiday Concerts, Children Events and More! All FREE, all Family-Friendly Entertainment.
Bonus Suggestion: Grocery Store
Don’t laugh, and no I am not reaching for ideas with this one. A lot of grocery stores are going above and beyond to offer their customers unique experiences. Several local chains (Fresh Market, Lowes Foods, Whole Foods and several others here in SC) offer cooking demos, free recipes, tastings, contest (coloring and others for the kids), trick-or-treating, and free gifts throughout the year. Stores publish a list of events or offer emails to notify you so you can stay in the loop.
Never let money stand in your way of enjoying time with your family or getting out of the house, challenge your family to try one free activity a month and teach your children money doesn’t always buy happiness.