Budget Friendly Fun

Grab Whatcha Got and Let’s GO!

That’s our tagline. It’s also our philosophy. You don’t have to have lots of money or fancy equipment to thoroughly enjoy life. Here’s some tips for some budget friendly fun activity ideas.

 I bet you can gather the things you already have at your disposal and have a wonderful day!

Budget friendly fun photo share

For this post, I’ll concentrate on outdoor activities that are free or budget friendly. We strongly encourage staying within your budget, but that does not mean all drudgery and sacrifice. A great deal of my fondest memories have been spending time with people I love and just being. Plan an activity that doesn’t include screens and does include real face time with those who are special to you.  We all know moving your body, getting out in nature, and being fully present in what you are doing are good for us on so many levels. These things reset our minds and bodies and lead to lower stress and just plain enjoyment of life.

 ** OK, I do mention some Apps, but take em or leave em.


Remember you just need some decent shoes/boots, a water bottle, and a carefree spirit. Do a little or a lot, but get out there. You will be amazed at the things you see – animal tracks, mushrooms, lovely trees, snow frosted branches in the winter and lush greenery in the summer. You can find hiking trails simply by googling hiking in your area. There are local park options and also state park options. We often turn our hikes into mini road trips, perhaps stopping at an attraction or bakery.

Read up on how difficult the trail is. Start slow and flat. If you enjoy your experience, that will make you want to do it some more. If you take on something too difficult you may not want to do it again. We like to go very early and enjoy the sun coming up on the trail and then finding a mom and pop bakery or deli once the hike is over midmorning. Or pack a sandwich and some granola bars and enjoy a bite to eat while we rest and soak up nature’s beauty.

Meet Ups

You can use meet ups 2 ways. 1. Look for actual meet ups with people you have something in common with. You could search all sorts of activities – anything from hiking, biking, walking to meeting with GENEXers, Single, divorced Dads, pet owners who want to walk…. The groups go on and on.  2. You could look at meet up activities for ideas. You don’t necessarily have to attend the meet up, but see what people are doing. This could include indoor or outdoor activities, of course. Often these events focus on budget friendly fun activity ideas

We belong to a group (which does involve a paid membership) that is called InterNations. It is a group of people from all over the world looking to get together and have what I call “an international friendship club.” We meet new and interesting people, of varying ages from many parts of the world.

Festivals and Gatherings

Sponsored by a city, county, or business – these are often free or very budget friendly. Remember, you can go and have a great time just getting off the sofa and doing something new. We recently attended the Hudson, Wisconsin – Hot Air Affair. Here is a list of things we did for free. Sampled and voted on a Hot Dish (casserole) contest, watched a chain saw ice sculpting competition, watched some crazy races called “Smoosh boarding” – where 4 people all together strap on a specialized pair of skis and race another team. We saw a Dress your Pet competition and saw the creative ways people dressed up their pets.

For a whopping $5 we bought a kite and flew it. I never thought of flying a kite in the winter in the Midwest.

Relaxing with a kite

The main event was watching the hot air balloons take off. You could talk to the balloon pilots and get up close to see all the workings. The launch was quite emotional because we were not sure if weather conditions would allow for take off. When they did leave the ground, the crowd cheered and I found myself getting a little teary.

Balloons at the Hudson, Wisconsin Hot Air Affair 2020

Local Parks

Pack a little picnic, gather up any sports equipment you may have and call some friends or take a gaggle of kids. You can play games, do a scavenger hunt, perhaps have a bon fire, even take your $5 kite out for another go. If you play an instrument, you can play guitar around a fire or take a yoga mat and do some yoga in the park.

Many of our local parks offer movies outdoors and music in the park nights. I can’t tell you how many times we have walked around the little lake at our favorite park and listened to everything from Mozart to Teddy Bear Band to Swing, Jazz,…. You name it, you can probably find a specific night for that.


This one can involve a little planning. We have easy access to the Mississippi River which is a migratory path. You can check out peak times when certain birds are migrating, plop yourself on a ridge or near a woods and see how many species of birds you can spot.

Bald eagle at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota
Bald eagle at the National Eagle Center

There are Apps that can help you identify birds or just relax and see what you see.

Water activity time

– swimming, playing on a beach, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, paddle boating… Pack some things for a water day! Some of these activities would involve renting a canoe or other equipment, but if your budget allows it, it could be a great adventure.

Volunteer Activities

These activities will not only get you out moving and grooving, it will give you an opportunity to help out. You could rake, shovel, paint, mow for the elderly. You could volunteer to clean a section of highway, stream, or park. You could chaperone kids on a nature walk. There are many many walks and runs for a given cause. Those often involve an entry fee, but you usually get a T-shirt out of the deal and help support and bring awareness to a cause. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to support a cause, or to do any of these activities.

Let any stigma you have about your perceived physical limitations go and focus on having fun and supporting a worthy cause. I guarantee you will be appreciated for your efforts.

Sunrises and Sunsets

Don’t forget about those golden minutes of when the sun either rises or sets. Be sure to find a clearing or a hill that offers great views. Keep in mind the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so pick spots that offer the proper vantage point. Being near water or high on a ridge can be dramatic and romantic.

a sunset is always a good idea for budget friendly fun
Any random sunset will do

You could add on a little star gazing after the sunset if you wait for it to get dark enough. A little road trip away from any city light pollution will make you think you can reach out and touch the stars.  There are also Apps which you point the phone at the sky and it will show/tell you the constellation you are looking at. Kiss your partner or kids every time you see a shooting star!

Ways to find things to do

Google things like Budget Friendly Activities in my area. Local libraries are a wealth of information and often have fliers of things to do. Meet ups mentioned above. Facebook events. Local newspapers. Budget friendly fun activity ideas can be found for anywhere and anytime.