skip to Main Content

Have Summer Fun without Going Broke

Summer entertainment for the whole the family can get pretty pricey. Adults and youngsters can have summer fun on the cheap. In fact, for every high-dollar activity—like a trip to a big amusement park or the beach—there are many other free or cheap things to do that won’t break the bank, and create memories without the travel expense.

Here are some ideas to get your wheels turning and your calendar filled up in no time:

Check what’s localWhat’s going on close to home that you can do with the family? Are any chili-cook-offs or craft or art festivals going on in your area? What about music events like blues or jazz festivals? The best way to find out about events is to check out local websites and newspapers. Many have special weekend editions about “what’s going on” in the town. Don’t miss out!

Carnivals and County Fairs—Many of these showcases support the local economy as well as civic organizations, like the local fire department, for example. Typically running about a week to two weeks in length, they usually provide a fun time for all. Carnival prices can get steep, but sometimes discount wristbands are offered on certain nights or during the day. Be sure to snag them for the kids, eat at home before you go, and grab dessert at the carnival. Fun plus cost-contained! Wrap up your night with free fireworks and you’ve created some great family time.

Check out the local library—Are there any special events going on this summer, like character meet-and-greets, book signings or story hours? Especially good for the youngsters, why not make the library a stop each week to keep them reading all summer? Click here for more great summertime fun ideas!

Experience history—Do you live near a historic town? Simply strolling around the quaint waterfront streets of Annapolis, old-town Alexandria, the lakes of Columbia, Ellicott City and even downtown Frederick, MD can be an adventure all its own. If you don’t live in the metro area, there are many charming towns across our great nation to explore and enjoy – like New Castle, Delaware or Jim Thorpe, PA. There’s usually something for everyone: restaurants, antique stores, ice cream shops and fun places for the kids. Top it off with some entertainment in the local park, and you’ve made a great day for the family!

Explore the Great Outdoors—Many parks and recreational areas are designed to provide peace, tranquility, and an opportunity to exercise. You can pack a picnic lunch, walk your dog, rent a canoe, hike and more. Maybe the family would enjoy a hike in the woods or even biking.

Bicycling—Join the ride, for the fun and the exercise. If you’re already a cyclist or want to be one, check out the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, which might be a great start to some fun year-long activities. Their mission is to promote bicycling and safety throughout the region, while sponsoring rides and events for the whole family. Consider renting bikes and ride from Rock Creek Park in Maryland to Georgetown in D.C. It’s a wonderful day, and not as hard as it sounds 3 miles down, 3 miles back. Fun in between plus some Georgetown Cupcakes to keep your energy up for the ride home. Put it on your bucket list; you won’t be sorry.

Factory tours—Did you know that within a two hour drive from the D.C. metro area there are some cool factories to tour? If you like pretzels and chips, head north to Hanover, PA where Snyders and Utz offer tours of their facilities, samples and all. Also, York County, PA promotes its county-wide “Made In America Event” highlighting factory and farm tours, interactive demonstrations and educational presentations with the makers of violins, Harley Davidsons, stained glass and much more. There are even brewery and winery tours for those aged 16 years and up. Details here. Maryland and DC also have some great factory tours for the kiddoes.

Museums—With history right in our backyard, there are so many things to do in the nation’s capital and surrounding area. If you want the capitol experience, start your day with an inexpensive Metro ride and go wherever you like. Just walk around and enjoy the monuments if you’d like, and don’t forget to wear comfy shoes; D.C. is bigger in real life than on the map. All Smithsonian museums are free to the public, with eateries, restrooms and air conditioning. It doesn’t have to be an expensive day; you can pack lunch in a cooler and eat on the steps of one of the monuments. Or, give one of the many food trucks a tryBueno! In addition to the local museums, check out the best museums to visit nationwide.

Check out the events and activities at the following websites; many of them are free or cheap:

Visit Maryland
Washington D.C. National Parks
Virginia State Parks
Things to Do in Pennsylvania
Free Things to Do with the Kids This Summer

Resources: Redtricycle.com; NPS.gov, Travel and Leisure.com, Yorkpa.org, Washington.org, Travel Channel