Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Fun Without Spending a Cent

Are you beginning to think happy thoughts of summer -- and then having despairing thoughts about your wallet? Never fear, Captain Cheap is here with some summertime adventure ideas a la free!

Part of "Feats of Strength" by Tom Otterness, featured at
Western Washington University
* Go see some outdoor art. Some cities have outdoor art galleries (like Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis) that are free to visit year round. Other cities feature commissioned outdoor artwork spread around the city, in parks and in front of businesses, like the pig statues in Seattle, which you can make an entire day out of visiting. Community colleges and universities also often feature outdoor art on their campuses - search on the websites of schools near you to find out what they offer! 

* Visit a cemetery. As my dad likes to say, you can always "dig up a friend" at a cemetery...and as I have never actually said, but would like to start saying: There might be somebody famous buried right down the road! Check out the location page from here and click on your state - or country! - to find out what famous/historical people have tombstones near you. You might also consider visiting a military cemetery (such as a Civil War cemetery) if there is one close by - these are often pretty memorable.

You could be on the
other end of this
leash! (picture
courtesy of
* Walk some dogs. Call your local animal shelter and see if they can use dog-walking volunteers (often, they can!) and get involved. You can help a dog and soak up some sun at the same time! If you're more of a cat person, shelters can oftentimes use cat-petters too...but I can't make any promises about that one helping you get in that vitamin D. 

* Visit your local Tourist Information /Visitors' Bureau. I know, that sounds boring, but think about this: These places are often staffed by senior citizen volunteers just WAITING for someone to walk through the door to pass off their wisdom to. Senior citizens who have serious connections -- chances are good they know about festivals going on that you've never heard of (possibly on your very own street) and also where to get the cheapest cup of coffee in town. They might also have information about historical markers in your area -- almost always free to visit -- and hiking trails, complete with maps. There's no requirement that you have to be a tourist to "learn from the locals." 

* And when you get bored of these, there's always these:  Go to a parade, visit a local lake or river, hang out at a town festival, have a picnic, host a barbecue (if you have access to a barbecue - otherwise make your friends host one), fly a kite, take a hike, play frisbee, catch up on summer reading with the library's help, ride a bike, bird watch, or go fishing. 

Readers, here's to another superhero week... of saving dollars in distress!

(Thanks to Mr. Tightwad at the Chicago SouthTown Star for the inspiration to write this post. Chicago-area readers, be sure to check out his awesome cheap summer tips for your area here.) 

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