When thinking of things to do, we tend to dream of far-off destinations or go to places that require us to pull out our wallets. It doesn't have to be that way. There are awesome places to explore in your own backyard and free things to do in your community. You just need to know where to look. Here are some great resources that you can use to find something awesome to do this weekend.
How To Find Free Things To Do In Your City
Our cities are literally filled with free things to do, but actually finding them is the tough part. Ok, it really isn't that tough. When you know what resources to use to find what's available–new experiences, activities, and entertainment are waiting for you.
The Local Newspaper
Newspapers may be a dying breed, but they are filled with very valuable information. I'm probably the last of my generation that actually subscribes to the physical version of the newspaper, but I'm glad that I do.
My local paper has a lady whose whole column revolves around free and cheap things to do in town.
Smaller, niche newspapers and magazines also offer free things to do in my city. Instead of reporting about the greater metropolitan area, they focus on a smaller area and promote local events.
The library has way more to offer than just a place to borrow a book. The next time you visit the library, take a look at the bulletin boards and brochures at the front desk. Event promoters know that the library is a community center that reaches a diverse crowd, so they post their event information here.
The library will often host these events, such as movie nights, speeches, club meetings, concerts, and other free things to do.
Community and Charity Organizations
Community and charity organizations often have free activities that support your local area. They usually have updated calendars on their websites sharing the latest fun things to do.
Don't forget that there's a Facebook group for just about every interest. In both cities that I've lived recently, they had hyper-local Facebook groups where people shared activities and community events.
Local colleges and universities are part of the community as well. College sports, plays, musicals, recitals, and presentations are often free or nominally priced. Take a look at the college's calendar of events to find something free to do while also supporting the students.
State and local governments have dedicated teams to drive interest in tourism. These resources are focused on out-of-town tourists, however, nothing says that locals can't benefit as well. Search for your state, city, or county visitor's bureau to find their website.
Some cities have special promotions just for local residents, to help promote community and connection, and word of mouth tourism advertising.
Your city probably also has a Parks and Recreation Department that holds events or advertises for community events. For example, my city offers “open gym hours” inside their gym for pick-up basketball games most days. So, even if its cold or rainy outside, I can still do something fun and make some new friends.
There are countless websites that highlight free and inexpensive events in your city. A few of my favorites are EventBrite, Thrillist, Meetup.com, and Goldstar.com. Take note that some of them charge a nominal processing fee for free tickets.
Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Home Depot, and Lowe's are large businesses that offer some great events. I love these because they are free and you learn a new skill at the same time. We take our kids to the kid's versions for a fun family activity. Take a look on their website or stop into the store to get a calendar.
Just Google It
Google knows everything, right? No matter where you live, somebody has written something about your town. Just Google “free things to do in [your city]” and pages upon pages of cool things will be available.
My Favorite Free Things To Do
When we're looking for something fun (and free) to do with the kids, these are some of my favorites.
Free Museum Admission
I bank with Bank of America and they have some good perks. On the first full weekend of every month, Bank of America credit and debit cardholders receive free admission at participating museums. Merrill Lynch cardholders also receive free admission.
By adding your spouse and kids to your account and request debit cards for them, they'll also receive free admission.
Spend a Day at the Park
Going to the park to play or have a picnic is a wonderful way to spend the day. My kids are 3 and 7 years old and they can play on the slides and swings for hours. Sometimes I join in the fun, while other times I just like to watch them interact with each other and the other children.
Donate Your Time
Looking for something free to do that will also generate the warm fuzzies? Donating your time to local charities is a great way to accomplish both. Charities often have needs that exceed their limited budgets.
Back in California, I would help the Second Harvest Food Bank sort through donated food and pack goody bags for needy families. It was easy work, and I knew the families that received this valuable nutrition would be grateful.
Home Depot Workshops
As I mentioned previously, every opportunity we get, the children and I head down to Home Depot to make crafts. It helps build their dexterity and get them familiar with using tools. It is fun watching them learn and have something tangible to bring home for their efforts. And I like the one-on-one time I get with the kids.
Having a great time doesn't have to cost a lot of money. There are numerous resources online and in your community that list free events to attend. Searching for them may take a little more time but once you bookmark the places that list the free events, you'll have plenty of free things to do in your city.
What are your favorite free things to do in your city? How do you find free things to do? Let us know in the comment section below.
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