20 Fun Ways to Get Outdoors as a Family for Cheap
Outdoor activities can breathe a little fresh air into family life, as well as become the stuff of priceless memories. Simple pleasures are often the most rewarding -- and the most affordable. These 20 activities range from light-hearted and laid-back to exciting and ambitious.
Related: 13 Cheap Family Summer Vacations
Take advantage of U-pick days at a local fruit farm. Not only is it a fun way to pass the time, it can be cheaper than buying the same fruit at the supermarket. If you can't find a local fruit farm, head to a farmers market and stroll through, tasting samples and picking out what you like.
Instead of picking fresh produce, how about growing your own? Get everyone in the family involved in the planning, planting, and upkeep of a garden. Kids will delight in seeing their labor pay off in fresh produce. Don't have space for a garden? Many communities have garden plots that can be rented cheaply for the entire growing season.
Warm weather warrants a summer favorite: ice cream. If an ice cream shop is close by, walk there and back -- you'll burn some of the extra calories on the trip. If you must drive, sit outside and enjoy your treat before you hop back in the car and head home.
A visit to a national park can be a memorable family experience, and admission is free at many parks. At the ones that do charge, entrance fees range from $3 to $30 a vehicle. Several times each year, the National Park Service has fee-free dates, such as Aug. 25, which marks the birthday of the Park Service.
Hiking is a great way to get out and get moving as a family -- and take in one of those national parks. If you aren't near a park, many towns and neighborhoods have walking trails that can be enjoyed for free.
A family bike ride is another exhilarating way to enjoy a nice day. Take a bike path or cycle through town, stopping to window shop or have a bite to eat. If the kids are younger, stop at a park along the way so they can play for a while.
Reach out to another family or two and set up a game of baseball or flag football. It's easy to arrange and a fun way to spend an afternoon outside together.
This activity is perfect for the beach, but a beach isn't necessary. Plenty of local parks have ample sand. If you have a sandbox, you don't even need to go anywhere.
Set up a dodgeball game or a jump-rope contest, or dig out the old badminton set and cornhole boards and make a day of playing games -- call it the Backyard Olympics. A quick search on Pinterest can help spur some ideas of other games you can set up with things you already have on hand.
Okay, so running through sprinklers is definitely more kid-oriented, but it may bring out the kid in you, too. And the whole family can get caught up in a water balloon fight. Make your own rules and have at it.
If it's too hot to go outside until evening, find a clearing (preferably away from city lights) and try stargazing. A library book or mobile app can help identify the stars and constellations. Challenge your family to pick them out.
Catching lightning bugs is another fun nighttime activity. All you need is a jar with a lid. Just remember to poke holes in the lid so the bugs can breathe and be sure to let them go at the end of the evening. You can make a game of it and see who can catch the most.
Instead of spending money, how about earning some? Everyone has things to get rid of. Have everyone in the family contribute a few items, spread them out on the lawn, and price them low. Hang a few signs to advertise, make some lemonade -- fresh baked goods wouldn't hurt either -- and you've got a nice setup for bringing in some extra cash.
Find some open water and toss your line. Unwind and enjoy each other's company. Pack some snacks and make a day of it.
Enjoying the great American pastime is a memorable way to spend time outside with the family. Many cities have minor league teams whose games are much cheaper to attend than major league games. And many ballparks offer more than just baseball, such as contests and other entertainment between innings, as well as play areas for kids.