Regardless of the so-called improved economic state of the country, some people are still struggling financially. Inexpensive road trips and stay-cations have replaced extravagant weeks-long vacations until a positive (and lengthy) security has returned to jobs and folks have restored comfortability with their money. But that doesn’t mean that you should give up some of life’s pleasures during this down time or cease exploring your home city.
Every city has a museum – whether an internationally known art museum, small gallery or location dedicated to something whacky, quirky and downright weird (THOSE are actually the best places to discover). I’ve been to a puppet museum in Missouri and a renowned art museum in Cleveland – and both were absolutely free.
You don’t need an expensive gym membership (or its annoying meathead looky-loos) to socialize over exercise. Finding local running or hiking groups is a great way to stay on track with your workout program AND to meet friends with similar interests. Not to mention, being outdoors, you might discover a new vantage point to your city or location of interest.
3. Historical Landmarks
Most Midwestern cities are full of ‘em: buildings with significant time period architecture, columns and arches; bridges; historical or Presidential homes or local places of interest. I even love old cemeteries (decidedly beautiful and NOT creepy during daylight hours). My freebie advice: look up – I find a new detail or architectural design in downtown high-rises and skyscrapers nearly every day. And that prompts me to want to find out more about the structure.
Chocolatiers, candy makers, breweries, wineries – these are all great examples of places to discover when traveling somewhere new – or exploring your own neighborhoods. Complimentary tastings are plenty (and typically, free) if you find a locally based establishment. While unlimited samples are encouraged, of course, you will have to pay for full-size offerings (or to go products). Look for factories, companies or small food and wine shops with specialized food merchandise that are headquarted in your area.
5. State Parks
Camping is by far one of my favorite experiences, but oftentimes, there is a nominal fee to set up your tent. By utilizing my local state parks and its extensive set of trails, I can design my own outdoor adventure – and then return to the comforts of my (bug-free) home (or just use your backyard, if you have one!). Bring a bagged lunch to the beach or have a picnic in the park. For something completely new, check out geocaching opportunities in your area (my newest geeky hobby).
6. Cultural Festivals or Street Fairs
Winter is tough in certain climates, but farmer’s markets, festivals and fairs do exist. But if you’re like me and hibernate through most of December through March, then spring is an amazing time to explore local heritage and discover new neighborhoods (when I am just beyond having Cabin Fever).
Most libraries are federally funded, then backed up financially by regional supplements. All are open and free to the public and offer an amazing experience (at most, you will have to sign up for a card, if you want to check out anything for an extended time). The library is definitely recommended if you don’t have the funds for continuing education – my local branch has offered everything from weeks-long computer courses to cookbook lovers and foodie meet-ups. Or, for those that want to get completely lost in some history or fiction, there’s a section for you too.
I’m doing OK now on a freelancers budget, but I am forcing myself to save more than ever. But that doesn’t mean that my life is boring on a limited income! What free activities have you discovered in your own city?
Top Photo Credit: Canadian Pacific