Now that spring has sprung across most of America, the opportunities for family fun have expanded significantly. There’s nothing quite like those first beautiful days, when you can step away from your winter hibernation and enjoy the full spectrum of events available within your community. But while you can pack the kids in the car and hit the town, you’ve still got to keep a close eye on the bottom line. Everything is exponentially more expensive when you have a family, and you’ve got to make sure you save on some weekend entertainment, so you can break the bank later when something really special comes around. That means not all family activities can be trips to the water park and Broadway shows. So here are five fun and free activities the whole family should enjoy.
If the weather is on your side, there’s nothing better than a day in the park. And how you spend that day is entirely up to you. You’ll have the space to start an impromptu soccer match or game of catch with the dog. Or you can pack a fancy picnic, fill the coolers and have a barbecue in the park’s common area. Many city parks also feature basketball and tennis courts or baseball fields, if you want something a little bit more structured. And when the kids are finally tuckered out, you can always take a nap under a wide tree and watch the clouds pass by.
Another great option as the weather warms is checking out yard sales and flea markets. Not all kids will be into this, but you’ll find some of your young explorers will love imagining they’re on an archaeological expedition, uncovering relics from millennium past. The grownups can keep an eye out for classic pieces of furniture you can’t find anywhere else, and the kids can rediscover comic books, Garbage Pail Kids collections and toys they’ve never seen before. Entry to the established flea markets is always free, so you can window shop to your heart’s content and possibly not spend a dime.
When the clouds darken you’ll have to head indoors. And that’s when a trip to the library could be a great option. Hopefully reading is a part of your kids’ lives, at least right before bedtime, and your local library should have a section where children can find books appropriate for their age level. Libraries have almost become forgotten in today’s digital information age, and some kids may never have seen an encyclopedia before. So you can share stories about how you grew up, and what research for a school paper used to entail. After they roll their eyes a bit, maybe they can take part in organized book readings, or just play around on the library computers.
With bicycles on your side, the neighborhood is truly yours. Consider organizing a family bike ride, and see where the day takes you. Hopefully you have a neighborhood with streets that are quiet enough for children to ride on. If not, hang the bikes off the car and head to a park. It’s fantastic exercise, and the kids will burn off a ton of energy. But you’ll also get to take in the local sites at a leisurely pace, with the wind whipping through your hair.
If you live on the east or west coast of the country a trip to the beach is always a recipe for serious family fun. Even before the summer the beaches are beautiful, and the sun heats up just enough to make beach volleyball or sandcastle construction a ton of fun. You’ll be able to swim once the weather warms, but frisbee and walks with your feet in the wet sand can happen no matter the time of year. Don’t forget your picnic baskets”, if you plan on making a day of it.