Once the holidays have passed, you will still have another week or so before school starts again in January. Before the kids start fussing about being bored, take a look at all the fabulous fun and frugal adventures you can have. Here are 10 free or affordable outings you can take that will get you out of the house and entertain both you and the kids.
1. Playtime at the park: Bundle up and head to the park so the kids can burn off some energy and enjoy the outdoors. You may need a few more layers of clothes, but your kids will thank you for the outdoor fun. Did I mention that it’s FREE?! Click on the link in the box for a list of area parks in from the Raleigh Parks and Recreation Dept.
2. Discover the museum: Many museums offer free or very inexpensive admission. Call your local science and art museums to see if there are any special programs for children so you can enhance the visit even more. The NC Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh is free (although they do welcome donations) and it includes a walk-through butterfly habitat, hands-on activity room and tons of fascinating displays.
3. Reciprocal membership: Consider a membership to the zoo or aquarium that also offers a reciprocal membership to other area attractions. Some memberships can be used at many other statewide attractions so for the cost of one membership, you can enjoy 150 other zoos and aquariums around the country. Click the link in the box for information on the NC Aquarium’s membership and reciprocal benefits.
4. Free reading time: Libraries and book stores offer free story time for the younger children. Once the story is finished you can stick around the library and check out a few books. Call your local library and book stores to see if they offer any programs over the holidays. The Eva Perry Regional Library has a couple activities for kids in the next week.
5. Discount movie theater: Find out if your town has a discount movie theater. In Raleigh, the Carmike Blue Ridge 14 Theater offers movies for $1.50 per person. These are often movies that are a little older, but are still considered relatively new.
6. Movie night at home: Head to a Redbox $1 movie rental kiosk. You can find them in grocery stores all over the Triangle: http://www.redbox.com/. If you sign up your e-mail, you will get a promo code sent to your inbox on the first Monday of every month. Often you get codes for free movies. Pop your own popcorn and get a couple $1 boxes of candy and a $1.00 2-liter of soda from the drug store. For less than $5, you can all enjoy a movie and snacks.
7. Shine a light: Enjoy some amazing Christmas light displays all around the Triangle. One of the biggest displays is in Meadow, NC just of exit 334 near Benson. They even have a candy store and carousel this year and they are open until December 31. Another popular light display is at Lake Myra in Wendell. You can enjoy their lights until December 31. Find directions and details at the links in the box above.
8. Put a smile on someone else’s face: Bake some cookies or brownies with the kids and then surprise a neighbor or friend with the treats. You have entertained the kids with the baking and delivery of the goodies and you can make someone else’s day with a little surprise.
9. Give back to the community: There are many area organizations that would love to have a little extra help over the holiday break. Most food banks welcome assistance from families and there are many jobs kids can do including sorting. To find your nearest food bank and inquire about volunteer opportunities see the link in the box above.
10. Grab a bite: Many area restaurants offer discounted or free meals to kids with an adult entrée. For a list of area restaurants offering some meal freebies click on the link in the box above.
The key is to remember that every family activity doesn’t have to cost you $50 or more. You can still enjoy lots of fun, educational outings without breaking the bank. As I always say, it’s your money, spend it wisely!