It’s summertime and the living is easy, or so they say. But does it have to cost a lot of money to have a lot of fun? No! Let’s talk about fun to be had for little to no money. Not just for parents, for everyone. And not just where I live, but everywhere.
When was the last time you went to a farmers’ market? Without fail, every farmers' market I go to has samples, samples, samples. Yummy! Also, every farmers' market seems to have some local entertainer performing. You can really make a day of fun out of it. Generally, the information booth at these markets will also be stocked with leaflets, brochures, and flyers for other free events. Walk up and ask. If you’re lucky, you’ll get someone chatty like me who can tell you where all the free stuff is. Check LocalHarvest.com with your zip code for local markets.
Do you live anywhere near any institution of higher learning? Colleges are chock full of free or low-cost events. If the college is known for its music or theater program then there will be even more. Sporting events are not as likely to be free, and the library may be off limits to anyone but students, but frequently you’ll find plays and concerts on a community calendar. One of the best places to get scoop? If there is a coffee shop on-campus or nearby with a bulletin board, it will be covered with information on all the paid events and freebies. There is no one place to on-line to get listings; go the coffee shop route.
I spent this last Sunday with hundreds of thousands of people at a parade. I was in the front row 100% of the time and not at all crowded because I was in front of the barriers, furnished with beverages, and got a free tee shirt. I volunteered. At a past event, all the volunteers met at the museum and then they said we could stay and enjoy the museum all day. We all got swag bags full of goodies from the sponsors. Amount saved for two of us on museum entry was $44. The parade was hella fun and so was the museum.
Did you know not all volunteers work for free? Last week I enjoyed the early morning hours by the lake, hung out with a few enjoyable people I’d have never met somewhere else, and got paid $15 per hour. I handed out medals and sashes to 3000 runners. It turns out that when there are not enough volunteers, many events turn to “paid volunteers” recruited by staffing agencies. These opportunities, free and paid can be found on Craigslist under “volunteers.”
Speaking of museums, almost every museum has free days. Museum as a general term also includes planetariums, interactive science, children’s museums, botanical gardens, and even the zoo. Most museums enjoy some support from the government so everyone must be able to enjoy them even if they can’t afford them. That’s how we get the free days! If it’s educational, enriching, or cultural in nature, there is probably a free day at least once a month. Pick any place you want to go and do a search on the name of it plus “free day”. Or look in the ticket section of any museum venue and look for the smallest print at the bottom of that page. That’s where you usually find this information.
Want to see the latest movies for free? How about seeing them before they are even released? Sign up at AdvanceScreenings.com and get invitations to pre-release screenings. These tend to be in large cities like LA, NY, and SF but can be anywhere. It’s on a first-come basis so even once you’ve gotten your passes on-line, you’ll still need to be early to the theater. You may be asked to surrender your phone at the door so no one records the movie, but you’re not always asked. Bonus to seeing it before it’s released? No one can spoil the ending for you.