Soak up the End of Summer for Free
Staying home with kids all summer long can seem like more work than pulling long days at the office. It’s wonderful and rewarding, but it can also be demanding and gruelling — especially if you feel obligated to entertain children, rain or shine. Summer season offers many activities and attractions, from theme parks to camping (or glamping if roughing it isn’t your style). If you’re unable or unwilling to open your wallet for the endless opportunities to soak up summer, don’t worry — there are frugal, fun options.
The library: The activities are fun and free and cater to many age groups. Check out your local advertiser (printed version or online) for detailed information, including classes. Here’s one from the Toronto Public Library.
Parks and trails: Parks are a wonderful way to spend the day and keep kids active. Many offer trails, playground equipment, splash pads and plenty of green space. If you’re looking to expand your horizons, you can find unique parks in your community online. Here are the top playground spots for Durham Region in Ontario. Don’t forget you can also bring your family to one of Canada’s free parks, including national parks, national marine conservation areas and national historic sites, courtesy of Canada 150.
The mall: Checking out the mall isn’t only about window shopping; there’s a lot for kids to do and you won’t even have to spend a dime. Try sampling smartphones or video games, or head to a nearby toy store. Many stores like Chapters Indigo or Mastermind Toys have designated spaces for children to play. If you have young children, you’ve probably taken a ride on an escalator or two, or three. It may not seem interesting for adults, but kids love riding up and down them! Malls are also air conditioned, so it’s a great place to be if you’re caught in the middle of a heat wave or downpour.
The beach: Pack a picnic, towels and sunscreen and you’ve got a recipe for a fun day in the sun. Beaches are a great place to pass the time while frolicking in our great lakes or other bodies of water. You can also bring along a frisbee or football to toss around as you bury your toes in the sand. There are also other summertime events like, ‘Movies at the Beach,’ where you and your family can watch your favourite flick after the sun goes down. Here’s a sample of free outdoor movie listings:
You can also check out your local listings for unique summertime events like the Cobourg Sandcastle Festival.
Splash pads: Splash pads are an inexpensive way to cool off on hot summer days and they offer hours of fun for the kids. Whether you’re walking around the block or driving across the city, there seems to be no shortage of free outdoor splash pads in Canada. You can easily access some near you by heading online. For example, here are great resources for splash pads in Halifax and Vancouver — home of the largest free water park in North America.
If Mother Nature has an impromptu change of heart and ruins your outdoor plans, there are plenty of indoor activities for you and your family:
- Family game day: get back to basics and dust off some board games (think Jenga for younger kids and Monopoly for older ones).
- Homemade treats: bake cupcakes or freeze homemade popsicles that you and the family can enjoy together.
- Indoor water play: many young children love playing in the water. Fill up the kitchen sink with water and soap and throw in a few small toys.
- Summer movie: you can search for a summer blockbuster or classic movie- pick a flick the whole family will enjoy.
Enjoying these summer activities won’t break the bank and will allow for more quality time with family. Soon, the kids will be back in the classroom so enjoy the last few moments of routine- free outings.
Have a safe and happy end of summer!