There is something about summer that gets me itching to plan a vacation or try something new. I’m guessing it has something to do with the fact that summertime was usually a great long break from school for the first 20ish years of my life.
If you’re like me or you have kids to entertain now that school is out, you may be looking for activities to satisfy your summer activity itch. And we want to help you have fun while staying line with your budget. Summer is a great time to get out and explore your community as a lot of places offer discounts and even free days.
This week we’re sharing with you our tried-and-true methods of finding free summer activities and challenging you to find the ones near you so you can have some free summer fun! It’s the Week 22 challenge of NextGen MilSpouse’s You Got This: 52 Challenges to Make 2016 Your Bitch.
Week 22 Challenge: Find and schedule free summer fun for your family in your community (or for your PCS route).
Challenge Details: Spend time this week finding and scheduling free summer activities for you, your spouse and children.
Your Deadline: June 6
Bonus points if you schedule one free weekly activity for the entire summer. Don’t be shy! Share photos of your free adventures with us on Instagram or Twitter using #Make2016YourBitch or #NGMSHappyHour.
8 Ways to Find Free Summer Activities for Military Families
1. Blue Star Museums. Every year from Memorial Day to Labor Day, museums across the country offer free admission to active duty members and their families, including National Guard and Reservists. This collaboration between the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families and the Department of Defense started in 2010 and is especially awesome when you’re on vacation or getting to know your new duty station. Find a full list of participating museums online.
2. Check with your base MWR or ITT. Throughout the year military bases offer free or cheap activities for families – including tickets to sporting events, concerts and summer camps. Make sure that you like and follow your base’s MWR Facebook page, as they often post last-minute deals or giveaways there.
3. Bookmark your local newspaper’s website, Facebook or Twitter accounts. Whether it’s your base paper or the local town, newspapers often list community events in print and online. Not all of these activities are free but do some reading and you’ll find the free ones in no time.
Another great resource are free community papers, magazines or newsletters. You can find them at the local grocery store or library. These publications will list local events and it won’t cost you a dime to pick them up. They may have a Facebook page too. Don’t forget to “like” it to see their events in your Facebook newsfeed. See #6.
4. Check with your local city. Paging Leslie Knope! Yes, local governments often put on their own events and also list events happening in their town. Check on their website, at your local park, visitor’s center and chamber of commerce for opportunities for arts festivals, lectures, concerts, free movies and more.
Want to explore nearby cities or towns? Visit their websites too to find out about their local festivals and events – that gives you a great excuse to not only visit somewhere new but do something for free!
5. Visit a National Park. Go explore nature (at a time of day that isn’t blistering hot and be sure to bring lots of water no matter what) at nearby national parks or recreation sites.
Military members and their families are eligible for the America the Beautiful Pass for free – just ask for it when you go to any federal recreation site – including National Monuments.
Especially if you’re making a cross country PCS this year, be sure to check out which parks will be on your route. It’s a great way to stretch your legs while seeing some amazing American landmarks.
6. Check Facebook. On the left sidebar is the “Events” tab. If you click that it will bring up nearby events that are popular with things you’ve been interested in before and it will bring up public events near your location. This is a great way to search for what’s going on nearby as many organizations publicize their events using Facebook. These events could include concerts and local food festivals, you never know! Go explore your Events tab on Facebook and see what you find.
7. Google is your friend. Whether you’re exploring where you live or where you are vacationing, do a Google search for “Free events (TOWN NAME)” and a number of resources will pop up.
In some larger cities there are even blogs devoted entirely to all of the free things you can do there.
In smaller towns you may be linked to the local newspaper calendar, but regardless, it’s a great place to start when looking for things to do.
8. Discover new parks. Be it a city or state park, instead of going to the park down the street, why not go to the one in a different neighborhood? Who knows maybe they have better amenities or a cooler slide.
Get out of your comfort zone a bit. While state parks may charge a daily user or entrance fee, check with your local state government for any days when military families can visit for free.