Fun, Low-Cost Outdoor Pursuits

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It’s summer time, and the living is easy. While a European vacation might be nice, this is the best time of the year to play close to home without breaking the bank. These ideas for cheap, outdoor fun for kids of all ages may inspire you:

Grab some culture

Cities nationwide offer low-cost concerts and plays in local parks. San Francisco, for example, has free outdoor summer theater, live bands, and even symphony in the park. Check your local paper to see what your town offers.

Arrange a bike parade

How about encouraging neighborhood kids to decorate their bikes with streamers, flags, or flowers, and let them cruise along a safe, local trail or road while parents watch and applaud? Cap it off with lemonade and finger sandwiches on someone’s lawn afterwards!

Make a splash

While built-in pools are cost prohibitive for many families, inflatable versions are comparatively cheap. Setting one up makes summer entertaining a breeze! Kids can splash and frolic while adults chat, wine taste, nibble on hors d’oeuvres, play guitars, etc.

Catch a film

Many parks across the country sponsor free outdoor family movie nights on the weekends. Pack up a light spread, some cold drinks and a blanket, and enjoy! Visit your parks department website to find screenings near you.

Host a potluck picnic

Parks are wonderful spots for socializing. Why not invite friends for a “park potluck” with everyone bringing a dish or picnic item? Suddenly, you’ve got a festive, open air party, with no one family bearing the expense of hosting it.

Visit a local petting zoo

Virtually all kids enjoy baby animals, so a visit to a petting zoo or farm is a surefire hit. Teaching love and compassion for animals is priceless too. Find everything from pony rides, to farm tours, to “traveling zoos” in your area at

Climb a tree

Tree Climbers International® (TCI) is a worldwide organization of people who love to climb trees, emphasizing safely and care for the trees along the way. TCI even offers classes for recreational climbers of all ages and abilities:
These ideas may spark others. The trick is being creative and having fun. You don’t need a fortune to make this the summer of your dreams!

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