Whether it’s going for a drive, taking a walk in the park or just sitting outside on the porch, there’s an endless supply of local activities that don’t cost a lot. Maybe you’re trying to save money and have fun without sacrificing too much, or just looking for new ways to enjoy your area without getting on a plane or a train. Consider these free or low-cost fun staycation and local travel ideas.
Staycation Idea: Museums
Admission into most museums is either free or discounted for certain days of the week or year. Check out MuseumsUSA.org for a complete list of more than 15,400 museums and other activities located across the United States. Once you find a museum in your area, you can view the complete description, short history, hours of operation, pricing and directions to the building. Another option to help save you money is by getting a group discount with family members, friends or classmates. Many cities have multiple types of museums that range from art, history and even hands on activities for kids.
Local Travel Idea: Historical Sites and Markers
Historic markers and statues are some of my favorite things to see when I’m exploring a local town or going on a weekend road trip. Almost all the cities I’ve visited have signs available that show where each marker is located — all you have to do is keep an eye out for them. Sometimes you’ll find scenic overlooks, war-era statues and lots of other interesting facts. All of which are absolutely free for everyone!
Staycation Idea: Matinee Movie Marathons
Daytime movie tickets are much cheaper than regular price tickets, so hitting up a matinee show helps save you some extra cash or spend more money on food and drinks. During the summer, when it’s especially hot out, having a matinee movie marathon is a great way to maximize cheaper entertainment and keep you out of the hot sun. And for kids, that will definitely be a big hit!
Local Travel Idea: Campgrounds and Hiking Trails
Spending time outdoors is often much less expensive than traditional vacation outings. Campgrounds, RV parks, and lakeside docks are available almost anywhere. There’s fishing, hiking, boating, swimming, and sitting around the campfire late at night. When you’re outdoors there’s no limit to what you can do and explore. Plus you can make it a weekend adventure or just a short day trip, it’s totally up to you. If you live near a beach, spending the day by the water is a great way to unwind, relax, and recharge your mind without spending any money.
Staycation Idea: Local Festivals
Between annual festivals, seasonal shows, and other holiday celebrations, there’s no shortage of local events. In my area right now we have a food festival happening, a Shakespeare event, and a weekend parade downtown. Local festivals are perfect for getting out the house for the day, or even the weekend. Plus you can immerse yourself in the local culture and try lots of different food.
Staycation Idea: Bookstores and Libraries
Many bookstores and libraries have Saturday morning book clubs, storybook readings and other book signings for kids and adults. You might have the opportunity to meet the author of the book, get their autograph and maybe even a photo with them. Check your local newspaper for free readings and book tour locations. Sometimes they even do book giveaways and contests at bookstores and libraries, which is a fun way to get free books.
Local Travel Idea: Farm or Factory Tours
This option is a little unconventional, but if you grew up in a small town like I did, it won’t seem that strange to you. Local farms and factories love showing off their goods, from how they build furniture, brew beer or wine or make ice cream from scratch — there’s something fun to see for everyone. It’s an up close and personal way to see how something is produced from start to finish, which is both free and educational.
Staycation Idea: Conventions
There are so many diverse kinds of conventions, you will definitely find something to entertain everyone. Local trade shows are devoted to comic books, science fiction, video games, the newest technology, food, and lots more. While admission prices vary, you can connect with experts in your field of choice, check out local booths with anything from antiques to electronics and even try some delicious cuisine.
Staycation Idea: Universities and Colleges
Going back to school isn’t something many of us will do willingly, but this is a great way to find concerts, plays, sporting events, and other activities that are happening this week. Community events usually receive public funding, so they can offer admission to the public for free or low cost. Check your local university’s news and event section online, newspaper listings, and neighborhood bulletins for a complete schedule and list of events.
Planning a low-cost staycation doesn’t have to be boring just because it’s less expensive. With these fun local travel ideas you’ll be able to save money on entertainment, which means you’ll have more money for other activities on your list, which means you’ll have more fun! And who doesn’t want to have more fun for less money?