Spring Break is here again. The kids are off school for a week, and they’re longing to make it a real vacation. But Disney World or the Grand Canyon just aren’t in your budget this year. Don’t worry. Here we present 7 inexpensive family activities so you can enjoy Spring Break, stay on a budget, and make it special for the kids.
1. Explore your local parks. Remember, it’s springtime, so load up the bikes, the in-line skates and skateboards, pack a picnic and get out of the house. But don’t just go to the parks you’re used to visiting on the weekends. Go online and explore new parks in your city. Check out the programs at county, state and national parks, because many of these put on events and programs for kids and families, especially during vacation time.
2. Build something. Have you been procrastinating on a home project? Maybe you’ve always wanted to grow your own vegetables in the back yard. How about a tree house for the kids? Take this week to plan and execute a project with the children. Swing by your local lumberyard to pick up materials, and build whatever you like. Just do it together. Your kids will learn new skills, and take pride in enjoying the project they helped build.
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3. Visit family. This is my all-time favorite of the inexpensive family activities. When we’re low on cash and we have time off, we visit the children’s grandparents, aunts and uncles. Everyone gets to bond and our kids get to be in a different environment. And best of all, we get free room and board!
4. Go to discounted events. A week is a long time when you’re on vacation with the kids. You’ll need a lot of options to keep them entertained and to keep yourself sane. Consider going bowling at least one day. Our local bowling alley has Sunday morning specials throughout the year. Maybe one of your local museums has early bird specials or a free day for kids. There are also dollar-movie theaters, miniature golf, zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens.
5. Go to the public library. Most people overlook them, but libraries are a great place to spend time. Most libraries also have events like story-telling time and theater presentations. But you can always go and spend time there looking at books. I know we now have Google and Wikipedia, but a great idea is to choose a theme or subject with the kids and go to the library to research it. It’s not just a great learning experience, but it’s also a wonderful way to spend time together.
6. Get out of town. You don’t have to go to an amusement park or an exotic destination to feel like you’re on vacation. Consider driving an hour or two out of town. Many farms are open to visitors and offer You-Pick-It harvesting, petting zoos and other activities. Perhaps you can even spring for a cheap motel room and spend the night, order pizza and watch HBO. The kids can swim in the pool and raid the ice machine! Mine love that.
7. Make each day a theme. Choose a different country from around the world for each day of your vacation. Then plan out each day based on that country. You can go to the library and research the place, its customs, history and traditions. Choose a craft that you and the kids can work on together, rent a movie from that country or that takes place there, learn to speak a few phrases in the language, and cook a traditional dish for dinner. You can all even dress up in homemade costumes from that country!
Remember, the fun is in being together and doing things outside of the daily routine. If you can’t come up with ideas, there are plenty of websites out there to help you devise wacky and fun activities for the whole family. But whatever you do this spring break, remember to relax and enjoy the company of your kids. It’s vacation, after all!