Cheap Summer Family Outings-Not Everything Has To Cost Lots Of $$ Money

By: Canadian Budget Binder
Have you ever noticed once the winter sets in most people are comfy sitting inside with the family watching movies around the fire,eating popcorn or playing games. Well that gets old, although it’s a fairly cheap night in with the gang. Then suddenly our lawns turn from white to blah and from gremlins to warriors we battle our way to sun, sand,music,parties and the smell of barbeques! (beer in hand I might add)
barbeque (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Yes, it’s that time of year in Canada where we start to hear the lawn mowers running,the birds chirping and your neighbours spring cleaning their homes.
Then we have the  kids who are anticipating or better yet counting down the last days before summer vacation. We’ve hung up our snow gear to dust off the next seasons attire because it’s time to get out and get moving again.
When we think of fun for the family we automatically think money don’t we.
Yes money can get you top-notch entertainment but not everything that is fun and educational costs money . Keep in mind not everyone has money to save for family getaways or short jaunts around the city. It also doesn’t make sense to pile debt on top of debt if you can’t afford it in the first place. The pleasure will be short-lived once the bill arrives… sort of like after Christmas if you didn’t budget the money you spent on gifts.
There are alternative ways to have fun without breaking the bank.
You can form a neighbourhood sports team and play sports once a week, go for long walks down the Nature trails or have a party in your back yard. We like to go check out Open Houses/ Homes for Sale in our city to see what others are doing to their homes and get ideas for our own home. This is free and fun because it’s something we like to do as a couple. Home Decor and landscaping are topics we both like to explore for free.

Geocache used in the Geocaching sport. Loonse ...

Geocaching is also an exciting fun outdoor event that has been getting lots of buzz around the world.


Geocaching is outdoor treasure hunting using a Smart Phone or your GPS device and planned coördinates.With Geocaching you attempt to find the treasure and it’s yours. You can even plant a geocache if you want and have people search for it. Yes you are out-of-pocket the cost of the device but it’s free sailing after you pay for it with that cash you saved!  It’s fun for the entire family and it’s free. There are currently 1,743,784 active geocaches around the world and 5 million geocachers.

Ikaika swimming along in a tank at Marineland ...

Not convinced yet? Well start the budget if you like the excitement and sounds of the most familiar family tourist destinations  in Ontario. If you are a family who loves to go to Niagara Falls ,Marine Land or Canada’s Wonderland you know you better save your nickles. These types of trips are great when you plan them ahead of time and save money in the budget. This helps to offset the costs so you don’t have to dip into your Emergency Savings or see your credit line grow exponentially.
Keep costs low=planning
We don’t have any of our own children (yet) so in the summer we have exchange students at which time we need to be creative when it comes to outdoor fun.  Although the students already attend the big attractions in our area as listed above we still like to show them the surrounding area. One place we like to frequent is Webster’s Falls in Hamilton, Ontario.
Webster's Fall
Webster’s Fall (Photo credit: Di Qiu)
We hike through the park and visit the falls and take loads of pictures and all costing us around $5.00 to park the vehicle plus gas. We make sure we bring plenty of beverages and snacks for us along the way and a lunch if it will be a picnic in the afternoon. You certainly don’t want to get caught having to pay tourist prices on food and drink so bring extras just in case. In any case eating in vs eating out even if it is a picnic still saves you about 50% of the costs of convenience. The kids simply love the time we spend at Webster’s Falls as it’s something they’ve never seen whilst exploring wildlife, plants, scenery and people.
We also like to visit local parks and beaches and again you mainly pay for parking and gas which is a fun frugal trip out. Keep an eye out for coupons, on-line tickets or in shops that might help drive the cost of your trips down and help save some money in your pocket. The list of free/frugal fun you can have with your family or as a couple is endless. Keep an open mind as there is fun to be had by all. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best ideas!
If all else fails have that plan B in place for the big attractions ..Budget for family vacations=planning… so you don’t get stuck with a hefty bill.


How to Source out Free and Cheap Outings in your area?
  • Talk to your friends and see what they do
  • Research on-line, there’s a whole world waiting to be discovered
  • Call your local City or Tourism Information Outlet ( if you have one) or visit as they have a multitude of magazines you can look through.
Below you can read what some of our Canadian Budget Binder Facebook Fans do with their family for a frugal yet fun outing!
What do you or your family do for fun that doesn’t break the bank?
Share your comments with us!

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  • Michelle DesRoche: Hike, picnic at the park
  • Laura Neddo: Go on a picnic,walk your dog,go to the water and feed the birds,go on a hike. and clean up the yard!
  • Sue Demers Judges:Take them all shopping with me to help out with coupons. Not exactly free, but rewarding and its an outing!
  • Nicole Ballam: We have a bird sanctuary nearby where the birds eat right out of your hand…the kids love it
  • Lindsay Threlkeld: We go geocaching (there was an upfront cost for the gps, but now it’s free to do!)
  • Joanna Cheevers: My daughter just loves when I take her to the beach. One of our local beaches has the sand to play in, a park and swings, and a historic carousel which although not free, costs just a nickel a ride.
  • Kathy Molnar Mahood: The beach and the Peterborough zoo in northern Ontario it’s so pretty there and its free except the little train ride you can go on and they have a lot of animals
  • Edna Mahood: Our local zoo is free, We window shop a lot,Camping
    Art museums. Many different things are offered seasonally.
  • Tamara Carr: I have a membership to the Canada’s game centre and children under 2 can swim for free 🙂 So that and the park is usually our day out
  • Jen Peacock: We go to my parents cottage at Crystal Beach…gets a little crowded at times but my Aunt belongs to a beach club near by and we can sometimes go with her and its less crowded. Port Colborne is nearby and that is fun, Niagara Falls is also close. I love picnics…when we’re home we sit by the credit river and when we’re at the cottage we picnic along the Niagara Parkway. I also love going for walks and jogs. I know it’s not free but we go to yard sales every Saturday and we love that! I’ve gotten a few good bargains… books for my son, a toy lawn mower and Christmas cards…$3
  • April Christianson: I just got back from an hour-long bike ride with our 4 yr old daughter. I wish we had a bike trailer to take our 10m old but we had a grandma. We are going swimming tomorrow with free passes that we got.
  • Wendy LeDrew: Park, beach, walk, hike, bike ride, campfire, picnic… playing a game of catch, baseball, soccer, or volleyball, frisbee…
  • Sherry Hounsell: Back Yard!
  • Shelley Ann McInnes Chenier: The beach once the nice weather is back…only cost is gas….
  • Vicki Holst: I used to take my nieces to an amazing fish store they thought they were going to an aquarium.
  • Bonnie McCarl Buckley: The hubby and I go searching for old abandoned houses, buildings etc and take our camera , some of them have private property keep out signs up so we avoid those but we have found some pretty cool places
    You can find CanadianBudgetBinder on Twitter HERE or Facebook HERE don’t be late… come join the conversation. Mr.CBB
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  1. One of our favourites here is an LRT adventure. We get on at the nearest station, ride to one end, either talking about what we see or just chatting, stay on and come beck the other way, getting off at the University or Government Center and having a picnic or grabbing lunch in HUB mall or something, then takinf the LRT and buss home. It’s a half day of fun for not much, if the kids are young enough not to need tickets especially.

    1. Hi, nice to meet you! If you would be interested in writing a guest post here at CBB simply read the guidelines and send me an email… would love to hear what great suggestions you have for my fans. Cheers Mr.CBB

  2. We have a monthly ritual where our entire extended family gets together for a picnic. Its brilliant and the best part of summer for the kids.

    1. My wife’s family did that with their cultural group and still do this today. It was a time that the whole family looked forward to especially all the fun the kids had. Thanks for your comment fahimaanwar! Cheers Mr.CBB

  3. Hi There, Thanks for liking my blog. As you can see, I liked yours so well I included it for everyone to see. Liked your blog site loads of Great Information. Do stop by again soon. Now get out there and do “Something”!!! 😉

  4. Review your costs of holidaying near your home because sometimes staying close to home can cost more than going away.

  5. I am planning on doing some camping and trying out my new camera from Christmas on nature walks. This geocaching thing sounds cool…might read up on that one!

  6. Great ideas from everyone. The mention of Marineland reminded me that I forgot to include the seasons passes in my budget. Looks like camping is a popular activity, we will be camping again this year. Thanks for the post.

  7. awesome ideas..nice to have something to look at when stuck for ideas. Lots of times, the cheaper family fun days, are the most memorable:)

  8. Another great one! Some great ideas! I’m at home with my girls and it’s hard to think of new ways to entertain them. We tend to do alot of picnics, the kids love to pack the basket (which I got from a garage sale for $.50!!!!!!). There is also a really cool old dried up lake in caledon, that I’m planning on making a couple trips to soon. It’s less than 10 from my house. Summer evenings we tend to head out as a family afetr dinner. The girls ride their bikes and my husband and I rollerblade 🙂 Lotfs of free fun!!!!!

  9. Awsome blog, this year we arent planning on any big trip , going to camp for the summer, of course going to every park with the kids, swimming at the lake, getting movies from the library and new books, walks in trails with the family.

    1. Well Thank You Lise for the lovely compliments. You know that my blog is reflective of the team of readers I have. All of you inspire me to write, and I learn from all of you. This is how we take something and turn it into our own. Looks like your vacations are all planned out. Good for you! Mr.CBB

  10. It’s always nice to have a list like this to turn to when you’re trying to think of something to do on the weekend or on summer holidays! This weekend we are taking our son to either Chudleighs farm or my uncle’s house which has a nice pond and property. My Uncle’s would be free and the farm is either $5 or $10. Tonight we just took our son around the block for a walk and that was quite entertaining as he has only been walking for a short while so he got a kick out of it!

    1. Thanks for your comment Jen. It doesn’t cost alot if you just think outside the box or do some research. Children love farms and educational experiences so it doesn’t always have to be money,money, money. What is Chudleighs farms? Where is that? Mr.CBB

      1. Chudleighs is an apple orchard just north of Milton on highway 25…..I remember when it was just an apple orchard and then they expanded to welcome in the public, petting zoo, pick your own apples, wagon rides etc…..I went there once when I lived near Rockwood to get a bushel of apples—-I couldn;t believe they were selling the bushels of apples by the pound, I left and never went back….the whole outdoor/animal experience would be great I guess for families who don’t have any other options.

        1. It’s more about the experience for the kids. i know I and my wife can think back when our families took us cherry picking and vegetable picking.. or just to farms for that matter. Those are experiences no one will ever take from us.. every family should do this with their children. Cheers Sarah!

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