Summertime on a Dime

summer enrichment

The weather’s heating up; school’s out; the season just invites you to be out having fun in the sun. As appealing as amusement parks, resort vacations, and dinner out every night may sound, it just doesn’t fit the average household’s budget. How can you make summer memories without breaking the bank? Here are just some suggestions for inexpensive, if not free, entertainment to enjoy summertime on a dime:

– Take advantage of what your city has to offer in the way of petting zoos, botanical gardens, nature centers, observatories, and museums. Often these sites offer free or reduced rates. A quick internet search will produce a wealth of options.

– Check out online hotel discounts
if you are just itchin’ to get out of Dodge. Often times deals pop up at the last minute.

– Go camping. While a hotel vacation may not fit the budget this year, sleeping under the stars may be just the ticket to rest and relaxation. Many campgrounds maintain very low rates. Borrow a tent if you don’t have one. Pack picnic meals in the cooler. Just make sure you take graham crackers, chocolate bars, marshmallows, and a few skewers to toast up a few s’mores. (Now’s the time these things go on sale!)

– If packing up the car and heading for the great outdoors still doesn’t fit the bill, pitch a tent in your own backyard. June 28th is the Great American Backyard Campout. Go here for details. Not only will you and the kids get the outdoor experience, but indoor plumbing and shelter in case of inclement weather are just a few steps away. Check out these tips from Family Fun.

– An evening run to Sonic, Dairy Queen, or ColdStone creamery can seem all too tempting after a long, hot, sticky day. But, ouch for the wallet! Instead, stock up on ice cream, sodas, syrups, whipped cream, and straws – now’s the time for sales! Make your own ice cream, slushies, root beer floats, sundaes, smoothies, or milk shakes. Sit out on the front stoop, and slurp together.

– Head to the beach, lake, or river. Make a day of it, taking suits, towels, and sunscreen, and all other daytrip essentials.

– Consider a pool pass. For a little over $100 my family has unlimited access to our local pools. While that may seem like a big chunk of change at one time, it averages to about $1 a day. Since there are seven of us, this investment really pays off. Plus, the kids sleep so much better after a few hours of splashing in the sun.

– Make your own water park at home. It doesn’t take much to entertain the kids in your own yard. Load up on water shooters and balloons. (Again, these are summer sale items!) If you’ve got a slip ‘n’ slide or baby pool, that will be so much the better. The best part will be when you get out there with the kids yourself and start bombing them with water balloons. What a memory-maker!

Got another trick up your sleeve for summer fun? Please share it with us in the comments section.

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  1. Zimms Zoo says:

    We also have 3 spraygrounds within about a 15 minute drive.The kids love it and we almost always take a picnic lunch.

    We also use the library a lot more in the summer for just hanging out and doing the summer reading program.

    We also have a pass to the local kids science museum, that the kids won in the reading program last year.

    There are also summer movie camps here too that we occasionally attend. It often has movies that we were going to see but never got around to. If you buy the package ahead of time then it is 50 cents a movie. $1 a piece for each movie the day of at the box office.

  2. Briana Almengor says:

    I’m doing the “at home” icecream sundaes” thing more this summer even though I LOVE going out for icecream w/ the kids. It’s just too expensive to do with any regularity.

    I’m trying to take my guys to a Farmer’s Market once a week to let them pick out a veggie and help me cook it at home. Today was our first day, and they chose turnips!! I’ve never had turnips. They’re boiling now..should be interesting. 🙂

    We also have a free movies in the park thing in our area..have never done it, but might try one this year now that our boys are a little older and may handle it.

    We also have dear friends who have a pool who basically extend an open invitation to come and swim, so I’m going to try to get out there more w/ the kids this summer…as much as my back will allow.

    Lately, I’ve been giving my kiddos (nearly 4,4 and 16 months) sidewalk chalk and letting them “paint” all over the deck with it. Then, I give them buckets of water and paint brushes and they “paint” again w/ the water. It has kept them occupied for quite a long time.

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