Free fun: Fun family days out that don’t cost a thing
We love days out with the kids, but I am often asked how we can afford to be out and about as often as we are. Here are some ideas activities that don't cost a penny!
1. Find and explore your local country park
Our local country park has a play trail, playgrounds, story and nature trails to keep younger children entertained and for the older ones, why not hit the bike trails and race around. Many offer planned activities too such as den building and mini-beast hunts. Just think, all that fresh air will wear them out so you will get a good nights sleep too!
2. Head to the beach
I don't care what age you are, a visit to the beach is always lots of fun. Take a picnic, bring a football and a frisbee and have fun. We love the beach out of season as it is much quieter and we can stage our own mini Olympics with sand hurdles, the long jump and the water bucket relay. The kids favourite is always burying dad in the sand though. If your local beach is more stone than sand, skimming stones and rockpooling are the order of the day.
3. Visit a Museum
Many museums are free and make perfect days out for bad weather. Seek out the little, independent museums for surprising and unusual days out. Local toy, train, and history museums and so on are often run by amateur enthusiasts who are only too happy to take you through their “treasures” and tell their stories.
4. Go Geocaching
This is an outdoor activity in which participants use their mobile phone and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches" or "caches", at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world. It is great for teaching kids how to read a map and improves their observation skills too.
5. Take the kids crabbing
There is an initial outlay of around £5 for the kit which consists of a bucket, a net and a crab line, but once you have the equipment, crabbing is hours of fun and you can use it again and again. We visit Mudeford Quay or Poole Quay in Dorset to find ours and it always surprises me how many we catch. Some people recommend using bacon as bait, but our crabs seem to like cat food.
6. Backyard Travel
Do you know where you live? I love exploring our local area and have found many hidden gems but taking a different path than I normally would. We have found an abandoned railway track perfect for cycling along, a heath full of interesting creatures and even a stunning bluebell wood. To get the teens involved just tell them you are off out catching Pokemon and they will soon come and join you. Challenge the kids to create a map or illustrated list of their favourite new “discoveries”.
7. Go on a bike / scooter ride
Many parks have nice large pathways, perfect for zooming along on a bike or scooter -- mix it up by renting a bicycle for two or a reclining bike, pack a picnic in your backpack and go. More and more communities are putting in skate parks as well – go early to try the curves with a board or scooter; the shredding teens usually don’t show up 'til noon.
8. Check your local council website
Many councils run free activity sessions such as sporting and fitness sessions for all ages. They also list all the play parks in the area and you may find a hidden gem that you’ve not visited before. We found our new favourite park this way and what is even better is that there is an activity trail and the beach all within a short walk of each other.
9. Family Festivals
From April through to October, in addition to the big national festivals, many towns and villages run various festivals which showcase local crafts, food and talent. Sample some new foods, watch traditional activities such as Morris Dancing and Punch and Judy shows and enjoy the atmosphere as you wander around. In November and December, Christmas Markets spring up – it’s a great way of getting into the Christmas Spirit and finding inspiration for some homemade decorations.
10. Visit your local Library
The library is a frequently overlooked gem which often hosts free craft activities, treasure hunts and book challenges. Why not take out a book about where you live to get inspiration for sites to visit or if the weather is bad, borrow a film and have a movie marathon at home.