Summer is the time of the year where I make an effort to be out and about, simply because my brain is wired to believe that summer + me = fun.
I am always looking for cheap or free things to do this summer since I believe in my heart that everyone should enjoy the beautiful weather, no matter their finances.
You can have a mini staycation and still have fun. Here are a few ways to enjoy the summer without breaking the bank.
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Working from home means I’m location independent, so I can pretty much go wherever I want without restrictions.
Unfortunately, my boyfriend, family, and friends don’t have that luxury. They actually have 9 to 5s that they have to put in vacation time for.
That’s too bad I hate to travel solo because I would definitely leave them behind to roam the world.
Well, that and the fact that it’s very expensive to travel for months on end.
There are many inexpensive activities and events to participate in during the summer, you just have to do a little research to find them.
I’m blessed to live so close to our nation’s capital, which is often brewing with fun, interesting and free things to do.
This doesn’t mean, however, that if you don’t live in a metropolitan area that you can’t have fun for cheap, you just have to look around for them.
Below are some of the ways I like to enjoy the summer without breaking the bank.
My child is grown, so I use these for cheap date nights or hanging out with friends. However, most if not all, are kid friendly or can be adapted for families.
Free and Cheap Places to Visit
If you are looking for something cheap and educational to do, visiting a museum should be at the top of your list. Most museums are free or have low admission fees.
No matter where you live, I’m sure you can find a museum that caters to your interests. The Smithsonian has 19 museums in Washington, DC and New York City. Thankfully for me, most of these museums are in DC or the metro area, including the National Zoo.
My other favorites are the National Air and Space Museum for their IMAX movies and the National Zoo. I missed visiting the Great Apes and Primates exhibit during my last visit. For some odd reason, this exhibit is indoors and I almost passed out from the smell.
This time, I’m planning my visit right around the time of clean up.
Side note: If the museums in your area charge admission, check to see if they have any free museum days and plan to go then.
If you love to be one with nature or otherwise appreciate the natural beauty that our landscape offers, then visiting a national park in your area is a must-to-do.
The National Park Service works to maintain our natural and cultural resources for us to enjoy. You can hike, picnic and camp at parks such as the Shenandoah in Virginia and the Yosemite in California.
Or visit San Juan National Historical Site in Puerto Rico or Edgar Allan Poe’s house in Pennsylvania. There are literally thousands of places to visit, so support your national parks.
Admission varies among locations. Some are free, whereas others charge a minimal fee for admission.
If the park you’re interested in visiting has a cost associated with it, you may consider purchasing a pass which allows admission to over 2,000 national parks. This is great if you plan to visit multiple times and/or multiple parks. A few visits make the price worth it.
Don’t want to pay?
You can also visit for free during their Free Entrance Days, which are held several times a year.
Concerts in the Park
I love live music and would go to more concerts if the ticket prices weren’t so darn expensive.
Paying $75 + a ticket gets old real fast. The next best thing in my mind is going to a concert in the park that is usually hosted by local municipalities.
These concerts may not showcase Beyonce’, but are often free and can introduce you to some really good talent.
Last year I went to a jazz concert where it seemed I was the only one not familiar with the bands on the stage, which meant I needed to get out more often.
Just bring a blanket or lawn chair and enjoy the music.
Movies in the Park
Similar to the concerts in the park, movies in the park are as close as some of us will get to the experience of a drive-in movie (though there are still a few around).
Eating popcorn and watching a movie under the stars is an ambiance you will not soon forget. I’m excited this year that I have a wide range of movies to choose from in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area.
These events are usually free and depending on the movie can be fun for the whole family. Don’t expect the same movie lineup that’s at your local theater, as most of these movies or older ones you can probably find on Netflix or at Redbox.
That’s not the point.
It’s more fun to watch a movie on your blanket or chair around other people having a great time. I mean, who can resist seeing Ferris Bueller’s Day Off for the 80th time?
More Cheap or Free Ways to Have Fun This Summer
- Visit the attractions in a major city. Purchase a City Pass and save money on entrance and admission fees.
- Do a walking tour of your city. You may find tour guides who will give you some background knowledge of historical and meaningful sites.
- Check your community calendar for free events.
- Visit your state’s department of tourism website and search for free summer events.
- Take a road trip to the nearest beach
- Go to the park and set up a picnic
- Ride a bike. Don’t have a bike? Rent one and take it out for a couple of hours.
- Exercise in the park. There are many parks that hold free or affordable exercise or yoga classes in the park.
- Go to a free music festival. Though many cost money, there are plenty that is free. Check to see what is offered in your state.
- Go for a hike. Find a trail on Trails.com that matches your experience and fitness level.
- Find a local carnival. These are usually held in smaller towns now, but if you can find one – very nostalgic.
- Host a bbq and have family and friends bring a dish.
- Go camping. Read my post here about how to go camping with no money.
- Take the kids to the playground. Don’t have kids? Borrow one from your family or friends. Time to up your auntie duties.
- Go canoeing or out for a paddle boat ride
- Take a boat ride around the city. DC Ducks offer a buy 1 get 1 free for DC residents with their homegrown pass.
- Play frisbee in the park.
- Take your dog for a walk.
- Go on a scavenger hunt. You can create your own or find free ones throughout your city.
- Visit open mic night for homegrown comedy (or poetry)
- Visit your local library
- Attend a book reading (book purchase optional)
- Treat yourself to a spa night
- Dust off your game boards and invite friends over for game night