Summer on a Budget: Outdoor fun on a scaled-back budget

Posted June 19, 2008 6:51 a.m. EDT
Updated June 19, 2008 10:26 a.m. EDT

— For the second installment of her “Summer on a Budget” series, WRAL's Kim Dean focused on outdoor activities that won’t break the bank.

WRAL viewers sent in suggestions, and Dean began her quest at Duke Gardens, a popular summer destination. The 55-acre garden sits in the heart of Duke University’s west campus.

Admission is free, but visitors must pay for parking.

“If you come on Saturday and Sunday before 1 o’clock, it's totally free, because the parking rates don't go into effect until 1 p.m. on the weekend,” said Bill LeFevre, Duke Gardens’ director.

If the weather is too hot outside, LeFevre says visitors can explore the native plant garden.

“Generally, when you go in there, the temperature will drop anywhere from 10 to 15 to 20 degrees, especially when you get to any of the areas near water,” he said.

A trip to a local lake was a popular recommendation from WRAL viewers. A car load costs $5 to get into a state park, which is cheaper than the cost of gas to get to the coast.

Another suggestion was to visit a community pool. Admission is discounted for residents, such as those at Raleigh’s Chavis pool. It's 75 cents for kids under the age of 8.

Another outdoor treat Dean found was wafting. Groups paddle inflatable boats on the Eno River in Durham. It’s a bit of a budget splurge at $13 a person.

Wafting organizer Rio Josie says it's the perfect way to escape.

“Although we only paddle a couple of miles, it still gives you the feeling of being away from traffic and computers and cell phones,” she said.

With most of the two hour trip under the shade of trees, it's also a way to keep cool this summer.