It’s summertime in the ‘Burg! My boys love to get outside and enjoy all that our city has to offer, but this frugal-minded momma needs balance in our family’s entertainment budget. By sprinkling in some free and inexpensive activities, I can fulfill the daily ask of “what are we doing today” without breaking the bank.
Outdoor activities are often free and give our entertainment budget some breathing room. I have also found that as my boys get older, simpler activities give them the greatest reward and tend to be the most affordable.
Here is a sample of my family’s simple pleasures in and around Fredericksburg:
Plant a vegetable garden. Get the whole family involved from planning what to grow to planting, weeding and watering. My kids love to help harvest the “fruits of their labor” and to use them in meal planning. If you don’t have space for a garden, consider joining a community garden. Garden plots are relatively inexpensive to rent for the entire growing season.
Take a walk or go on a bike ride on the Canal Path. The Canal Path is a paved pathway that is 1.8 miles long and winds along the canal from Fall Hill Avenue to Princess Anne Street. The Rappahannock River Heritage Trail is a 1.6-mile asphalt stretch that connects the two parts of the Canal Path, making a 3.1-mile loop. Pack a lunch and take a break on a bench to birdwatch or stop at one of the many public parks along the way.
Catch a baseball game. Fredericksburg has its own minor league team, the Fredericksburg Nationals. Take the family to a FredNats game on a Tuesday for $2 a ticket (these are limited and for select home games) and grab a street taco for $2. For children 12 and under, sign up for Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers Kids Club. Membership is $20 for the season.
Go jump in a lake. Visit our local reservoir, Lake Anna, to sunbathe, swim or camp. Camping is a fairly inexpensive activity that you can make into a learning experience for the kids. The Naturally Yours Passport gets you admission and parking at all state parks.
Take a hike. Visit the Shenandoah National Park and use the AllTrails app to safely hike its 200,000 acres of protected land. The National Park Service does not charge entrance fees on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, the first day of National Park Week, the anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act, National Public Lands Day and Veterans Day. If you have a fourth-grader, there is the Every Kid Outdoors Program that provides students and their families with free admission to public lands.
All of these ideas are free or inexpensive and are family centric. You can always add a family game of soccer or baseball, catch lightning bugs, fly a kite or blow bubbles for even more frugal family fun, but don’t forget the sunscreen!