Any time you move to a new town – like my husband, children and I did this month – you find yourself desperately searching for a way to meet new people and get to know the place a little better. However, if you’ve just moved to that new town, you’re also most likely strapped for cash after buying or renting a new home, moving all your old stuff into that new place, and purchasing new furniture or housewares to outfit that new property.
So what’s the new gal in town to do? Surprisingly, finding free things to do is incredibly easy, especially in the summer. So whether you’re just putting down roots in a new place or you’ve been in town for a while, I’ve got some tips on finding summertime freebies.
Start at the Library
In my new hometown, life pretty much revolves around the local library. The academic in me finds this thrilling; after all, there’s nothing better – in my opinion – than watching a group of kindergartners learning to love a good book. But I’ve discovered our library is so much more than that. Here are just a smattering of the free programs my local branch offers:
- Kindergarten readiness program that meets once a week during the summer
- Program for reluctant readers; gives children a chance to read to therapy dogs every Wednesday during the summer on a first-come, first-served basis
- Ice cream socials every Friday in June, July, and August – and yes, the ice cream is free, too!
- Computer literacy programs: one is specifically designed for tweens (like they need it!) and another is designed for adults (probably my mother’s age!)
I could go on (and on) about the freebies to be had at the library, but why don’t you call your local branch and check out what they’re offering instead?
Check Out Your City’s Website
Whether you live in a big city (like the one my family just moved from) or a small town (like the one my family just moved to), be sure to check it out on the web. It’s one of the first things I did when we moved into town, and I discovered a whole plethora of free stuff for my family and me to do this summer. For example:
- Weekly outdoor concert series featuring local performers in downtown
- Sunrise yoga on the town green every Sunday morning
- Admission to the community pool every Tuesday afternoon and evening
If your town isn’t big enough to merit its own spot on the Internet, try looking up your county’s website instead, or search for the nearest convention and visitors’ bureau site.
I’m not an overly religious person, but I have found that local churches are a hot spot for free activities and programs, especially during the summer. I’m Catholic, so all that good Catholic guilt prevents me from taking advantage of any freebies offered by a church other than my own… but that doesn’t mean you have to follow my lead! The churches in our new hometown offer all sorts of free things to do in the summer, including:
- Mothers’ morning out program every Wednesday morning (yes, that’s free childcare for 2.5 hours each week!)
- Parish picnic that includes rides, games, and plenty of food
- Vacation bible school one week each summer (again, free childcare for 3 hours a day for 5 straight days – plus some religious education to boot!)
Go to the Head of the Class
If you’re lucky enough to live near a college or university, there are plenty of freebies right at your fingertips. Although my new hometown does not boast one of these institutions of higher learner, a town about 10 minutes away does. Here’s just a sampling of the free things to do they’re offering:
- An evening in the university’s observatory under the guidance of the school’s professor of astronomy, to get an up-close look at the stars
- Admission to football training camp as the school’s team begins two-a-days for the fall season
- Access to dozens of lectures and performances by scholars, experts, and artists in every field you can imagine
Even if you don’t live anywhere near a college or university, you may want to check out your local school district’s website. Many schools – public and private – offer free admission to sporting events, music and theater performances, and lectures to residents.
Then Just Ask Around
Simply by exploring many of the freebies listed above, I started meeting new people, who told me about even more free stuff to do in the area. We learned that there’s a historical farm nearby that offers free tours and educational sessions; there’s an extensive parks system literally in our backyard with tons of trails and picnic areas; our area is even home to dozens of amazing festivals that offer free admission (Although you have to pay to each or play once inside). I started putting all these freebies on our family’s calendar, and soon filled it up with enough fun, free things to do every weekend this summer!
What are your favorite summer freebies in your area? How did you hear about them?