Ask anyone with kids and they will tell you – going out with the family can be expensive! Think about it – every activity you might do yourself is multiplied by the number of people in your family. Going to the zoo by yourself could cost you $10, for example, but for a family of five that could be $50 just to walk in.
But there are ways to find cheap, fun family activities! Here are six places to look:
1. Local Library – I was surprised to find out that many local libraries offer up discounts, and sometimes free passes to local attractions like museums. Check for at your library and make sure you know the requirements. I’ve found that you may have to sign up early as there are limited amounts for some passes. We’ve used library passes to go to a children’s science museum near us which saved us about $10 per person/child.
2. Check With Your Company/HR Department – Many large corporations sponsor local attractions and offer free days or steep discounts. Some require only proof like a company ID while other discounts may require signing up or purchasing discounts tickets before-hand. Some companies also take part in ticket-selling programs that offer discounts. All that may be required is to sign up and ordering your tickets before going. We’ve taken advantage of offers like this many times, saving up to $16 per person.
3. Local Magazines/Periodicals/News – Most local free (and inexpensive) events are listed in local newspapers and magazines; even on local TV channels. Just skimming through them once in a while can find you cheap activities! You may be surprised to find all sorts of festivals, puppet shows, story times, and all sorts of outdoor activities. We’re always looking through local papers to see what we can take advantage of on the weekend.
4. Parks Department – Events are happening at local parks all the time. I’ve seen everything from movies on the lawn to fireworks to Shakespeare to orchestra performances offered free at the park. One of the best fireworks shows I’ve seen was after a New York Philharmonic performance at Cunningham park in Queens, NY. Where we sat was practically where they launched the fireworks which exploded almost right above us! Another event was watching all sorts of planes on Memorial Day at Jones Beach. It was incredible watching these planes do their stunts and such at what seemed like arm’s reach.
Your parks department may offer discount passes to things like the pool and the beach as well (and many other activities). We look forward to buying our New York Empire Passport every year so we can get free admission to state parks.
5. Bank Credit/Debit Cards – Many banks offer discounts and free days at local museums and attractions (like the aquarium and zoo). Check with your bank to see what’s offered. Every month we check out the days for Bank of America’s Museums on Us to see if we can make any of the free attractions. Places we’ve seen free from BofA – NY Aquarium, Bronx Zoo, and the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum (Intrepid tickets are $22 for adults!).
6. Sites Like Groupon – I’ve seen some great offers for local attractions on Groupon like half-off admissions. Keep an eye out and you can save a bundle!
Yes, family activities can be expensive. But as you can see, there are places to find fun, cheap activities for the family!
Everyday Tips says
Some of the grocery stores here offer discounts to amusement parks.
I would also scour the internet!
Yes, I’ve seen offers like that! Sometimes the offer is listed on the amusements park’s site so you know where to get the coupon.
Don’t forget the books, movies, music, classes at your local Libraries. The family and I take advantage of these often.
The library is so awesome it could be its own article!
Also, your local TV station (online) should have a community calendar. Great place to find fun stuff locally.
Libraries make a great trip for kids. Also farmer’s markets are often fun too. A lot of times, there is a little something for the kids to do.
I need to check out more Farmer’s Markets in my area.
David Leonhardt says
In addition to the books, movies, music and classes at the local library, sometimes they have special events. Our local library featured a book reading for kinds by a local author one day, and another time they brought in a juggler (whom I subsequently hired for my daughter’s birthday).
I’m constantly amazed at what the library has to offer.
Great tips. Thanks. Yes, it’s amazing how much more expensive outings are when you have to buy four tickets.
Were wondering if we’ll ever take a plane trip again because tickets will be so expensive for us all!
Danny @ Frugal Quack says
One site lets you and your family dine on the cheap. It’s called “My Kids Eat Free” and it’s exactly as the name implies.