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Recent economic uncertainties have many of us watching our budgets carefully. However, if you’re ready to get your family out for a budget-friendly trip or set of experiences, there are many things you can all do together to have fun family activities without overspending.
Take a Class
Check out your local hardware stores and look for free classes for kids. Plan a special stop at a park on the way for a picnic lunch. You can easily make a day of these classes and enjoy the chance to sleep in your own bed. Adults can have the same amount of fun as the kids. Sign up for a stained glass or a glass-blowing class. Take a painting class or learn to quilt or crochet. Check with local senior centers for textile classes. The folks with the ability to make many of these crafts are still with us. Talk with local coordinators at your nearest senior center to see if someone could help you learn a new skill or an old art.
Take a Camping Trip
If you’ve never camped before, you can still find great VA state park campsites that don’t cost much. You can find rental tents that will allow you to enjoy the great outdoors without having to spend a great deal of money on gear that you may or may not need again. Borrowing gear can be questionable and buying gear may turn out to be a spending mistake if you end up not using it again. Instead, by renting a tent, you can enjoy top of the line products without having to buy the best gear.
You can also try camping at home. If you have sleeping bags and a pop-up tent, let your kids sleep in the living room. Grill out on the patio and learn to cook simple foods, such as baked potatoes, in a solar oven.
Go to a Museum
You can typically find fun and interesting museums in most major cities. If you are traveling, do some research beforehand to find excellent museum options in the area you will be. Make sure that your kids are old enough for some museums. Kids can be bored easily if they don’t have things they can interact with. Keep in mind that you will need to bring a stroller if they are young and will get tired. This will save you from a cranky child who is tired of walking. Museums are typically quite large so make sure everyone is wearing great shoes.
Visit Some State Parks
Depending on your location, you can find great outdoor state parks to visit. Your family could even try doing a state park roadtrip and camping to see some of the most popular state parks in nearby states. Typically, you will need to purchase a park pass to enter each park. Ask ahead of time to see if they offer deals on buying in bulk. This can save you a lot of time and money in the end. Just a tip, bring a camera or fully charged smartphone so you can take tons of photos of your family. You will want to keep these memories as keepsakes when you get older. Your kids will love to look back at these types of trips as well.
Go to a Farmer’s Market
You and your family can start to go to a farmer’s market on the weekends. This will be a huge step in everyone in your household eating healthier. You can find locally grown food at a farmer’s market in your area. These are also great because it allows your community to support the local small businesses. This means less money goes to big corporations.
Plan a Picnic
Have your kids put together a list of easy food dishes to have on a picnic. For example, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips, crackers, apple slices, oranges, grapes, bananas, juice boxes, etc. You can even have them help put these together, put into baggies, and packed away. Decide on a close hike or park to walk to. Then bring a blanket and lay it out for everyone to sit on. Everyone can enjoy their lunch meal under the sun and in nature. This makes lunch a fun activity and very cheap. After or before everyone eats, you can have some playtime for the kids as well.
If your kids have old clothes, you can consider having a tie-dye party. There are many articles or youtube videos online that teach you how to achieve this. It is typically very easy and doesn’t take too long. You can even have your kids invite a friend or two over to participate. Have them bring their own shirt or article of clothing they would like to tie-dye. After choosing the colors and dipping the clothing in, all you have to do is wait a day. It will then be complete and your kids will have their own article of tie-dye clothing that they created.
Puzzles for Family Activities
Investing in some puzzles is a great way to keep your kids busy while increasing their problem-solving skills. Kids are much more likely to enjoy a puzzle that is of something that they love. For this reason, you can have them pick out their own puzzle to complete. Make sure it won’t be too difficult for them or they might not enjoy puzzles in the future. Puzzles will help them with their critical thinking skills which will aid them through adulthood. This is a great option for family activities that is cheap and can be done as a family. If you want, you can pick out one larger puzzle for the whole family to complete together. At the same time, each kid can pick out their own puzzle that they can complete whenever they want.
Study Local Facilities
Call up the nearest art or history museum and check their hours. Find out what the admission fee is, or see if you can go on the free museum days. Get your kids in on the act. If your local art museum has a free day and a children’s area, they will likely have the chance to bring home some art or something they’ve made. Visit nearby thrift stores and look for large framed art that you can take apart. Once the frame is empty, let your child pick a spray paint color, lay the frame down on a piece of cardboard and create a custom frame for your child’s artwork.
Explore Your Town for Family Activities
How many parks are in your town? How many of them have a picnic shelter? How many of them have a pool? Where can you go, right in your city, to enjoy a picnic under a bench or to grill out on the community cooking tools. Pack a kite, your bubble blowing tools, all the swimsuits and toys for playing in the sand. If you choose to stay at home, invest in easy to prepare picnic foods. Enjoy sandwiches, chips and ice cream bars one meal a day. Pretend it’s a summer camp. Stock up on family movies and allow everyone to pick a favorite every night for something different and fun.
Learn a New Craft or Skill for Family Activities
It’s said that anyone who can read can cook, but if you’ve run out of time to try new recipes, put your staycation time to work and do a little baking with your family. Younger children can help you read off the ingredients while older children help with the measuring. Fractions are easier to understand when you have a tactile learning process at your disposal. Put older children to work measuring out 1/2 cups of flours. Allow younger children to gently blend dry ingredients as you mix up brownies, cookies or cake.
Visit local thrift stores and look for old cookbooks, preferably those from old church fundraisers and community organizations. Not only do these cookbooks offer the best tried and true recipes, but you will usually have the ingredients necessary for many recipes on hand.
Learn a New Game
Your kids will love to learn a new game that they can have fun with. Your family can enjoy this family activity together and take it out during family times. Pick out a game that everyone seems interested in for an increased likelihood of more family members choosing to play. This can be a board game, card game, online game, puzzle, etc. The point is to spend quality time together so try to let the kids decide so they can be more interested in this bonding time.
Conclusion for Family Activities
Vacations can be joyous and memorable without being expensive. It would be lovely to go to another state or a famous amusement park, but it’s simply not always possible. Look online for some great options that will be perfect for your family. Whether that is traveling elsewhere or staying at home, either option is great. A great staycation will allow your children to learn more about their region and enjoy time with family.