When summer gets into high gear, most of us prefer outdoor leisure activities to indoor ones. But a lot of the time, it seems like outdoor activities cost money: going out to eat at an al fresco restaurant, going to water parks or amusement parts, visiting fairs and even going to state parks or botanical gardens all cost a pretty penny. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some free activities at your disposal.
Here are a few of our favorite ideas for spending time outside, all of which are completely free.
We all know the image of an old man playing chess at a table in the park. Whatever happened to that notion? Even if your local park doesn’t have a chess table, you can simply bring your own. And it doesn’t even have to be chess… Any favorite board game will do.
For a fun family or friend group activity, create your own scavenger hunt around your town or city. This one takes lots of planning and organization, which makes it even better for occupying your time. If you’re the scavenger hunt designer, you can even make your hunt digital, asking every competitor to post a photo of themselves on social media as they find each item in the hunt (for example: Take a photo of yourself with a mailman. Take a photo of yourself next to a river.) This way, everyone — even the designer — can play!
This is actually an indoor-outdoor activity. Grab a friend or significant other and set out on a walk around town, stopping by various open houses to take a look at nearby properties.
Farmer’s markets are generally free, and often have live music, food stalls and other affordable fun. But you don’t need to buy food to hang out at the market. Just bring yourself, a picnic blanket and perhaps a book.
Speaking of picnic blankets, make a gourmet picnic and take it to a nearby park to enjoy with friends or your significant other. Bonus points for enjoying a bottle of organic wine while you’re there.
Yes, it’s true that many pool facilities charge a fee for entry. But if you want something free to do this summer, make a one-time purchase that’s going to bring you a great return on your investment: A kiddie pool! These shallow pools are cheap and easy to fill up. Whenever you have a lazy summer day, fill up your pool, grab a tropical drink and read a book while enjoying the sunshine.
Bird watching is completely free, mildly meditative and a gorgeous way to spend your day. Rent a guide to bird watching from your local library and head to a park to see what you can find. No binoculars required!