Me and Zach are getting ready to move to Tacoma in a few weeks.
I can’t even describe to you how excited I am! I grew up on the coast of the Great Lakes in northern Michigan. That is definitely the opposite of where I live now, in the dry, dusty plains of Colorado.
However, I know I’ll be tempted to spend with reckless abandon once I get there. I’ve spent a lot of time with me, after all, and I know how I think. Even if I can’t find the keys that are in my hand sometimes.
There are tons of things I want to buy. There will be a whole world of restaurants I haven’t tried out yet, new saltwater fishing equipment to buy, and that’s even before I get to the kayak I want to get. Don’t even get me started on where the hell we’d even put that thing, since we’re still stuck with apartment living.
So, with all of these extra temptations in mind, I’m trying to prepare myself in advance. I went on an epic quest through the wilds of the Interwebz (there’s a lot of weird shit out there, guys) to find the best free or cheap summer activities to help you (and me) stay under budget this summer.
It’s going to be a fun summer, and if you want to follow along with how we’re using these ideas, make sure to follow my Instagram account!
Now get out there and enjoy the sunshine!
I love camping. For about 5,002 different reasons, me and Zach haven’t done much camping since we’ve been married. In fact, I can count on my hand the number of times we’ve been camping since we were married 10 years ago.
That’s all about to change. I’m setting a goal for us to go camping at least once per month this summer.
Cost: Around $20 or less per night, depending on where you go.
Geocaching is another one of those activities we used to do a lot more of. I’d pretend I was a pirate searching around for buried treasure. I may or may not have spoken in pirate-speak for the entire time we were searching for the caches.
Yaaaar, onwards me polly (i.e., Zach). We’ve got some scallywaggin’ to do!
Geocaching is also a great way to explore all the nooks and crannies in a new city.
Cost: Free, or $29.99/year for the premium version.
Related Post: Geocaching 101: A Healthy, Fun, Frugal Hobby
Visit a Brewery
There are few things I love in this world more than beer.
Checking out breweries is one of me and Zach’s favorite things to do. We especially love going out for beers after eating dinner at home, since it’s a cheaper way to get the date-night experience without buying a pricey dinner.
Did I mention I like beer?
Cost: Around $5 or so per pint.
Related Post: Here’s How Much It Costs to Brew Your Own Beer
Go Out to Lunch
In addition to beer, I also really like food. Eating is one of my favorite hobbies. In fact, I do it at least a few times a day.
In the past, me and Zach have had problems spending waaaaaaay too much at restaurants. One of our ways to solve that is by going out one per week, for lunch. Lunches are usually a lot cheaper than dinners, and there’s usually less people too! Win-win. Boom.
Cost: It depends on where you go, foo’.
Go For a Hike
My favorite frugal activity is hiking. Unfortunately we’re not able to do that as much anymore since Zach’s time in the Army has gifted him with knees containing all the power of an 85-year-old man.
That doesn’t stop us though—we just look for easier hikes. My favorite place to scope out news hikes is AllTrails—which, like the name says, is a directory of just about all the trails out there in any location. Check it out!
We’re hoping to check out tons of cool trails in Washington. I’m particularly excited to check out Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier National Park.
Fun fact: If Mount Rainier ever erupted, it’s expected that it’ll create a huge lahar that will wipe out most of the areas we’re looking at living in. This has given me nightmares ever since I learned what the hell they are. You’re welcome.
Cost: Free, or cheap if you need to pay an entrance fee.
Read a Book
Some people tell me that reading books is only a fall or wintertime activity.
I throw books at those people.
What better time to catch up on a good book than while soaking up the sun rays on your patio? (Side note: I really hope we have a patio in Washington. A lot is depending on this. A lot).
Here’s what I’m currently reading: In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson. Read it. Read it now. On your patio in the sunshine.
Cost: $20 or less, depending on what book you buy.
Related Post: How Much Money Can You Save By Using the Library?
Grill a Meal
Ah, grilling. The quintessential American summertime activity. Nothing says “‘MERICA, FUCK YEAH!” quite like grilling meat.
I’m not complaining, though. I love grilled meat. We don’t have enough room on our patio for a grill at our current apartment, which mostly means that we are stuck with pathetic attempts to pan-fry cheap steaks in our kitchen.
It also lacks a proper ventilation system, and so each time, we usually end up with a flurry of meat smoke and frantic attempts to point fans out the nearest window while waving books and cardboard around like bat-shit crazy idiots.
Ah, good times.
Cost: Free (or mostly free), once you’ve bought a grill.
PYO farms were a staple of my childhood. Zach, who grew up with skyscrapers and feral foxes as neighbors in downtown Denver, didn’t get that experience.
That’s why I’m so excited to take him to a PYO farm. There are tons of them in Washington! Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, anything you could want. Zach’s only had store-bought blueberries and strawberries, and I’m excited to show him that these fruits can taste like more than just moist cottonballs.
Cost: It depends. Fun fact: once, I went to the only PYO farm I could find in my area. They charged 10X the price of store-bought strawberries, which I didn’t find out until after I’d picked them. Since I couldn’t glue them back on the plants to return them, I paid it, and begrudgingly ate the berries. But when I was a kid, I remember PYO farms being a much cheaper alternative to the grocery store.
Visit a Farmer’s Market
Again, a bit hit-or-miss depending on where you live. When we lived in Alaska, there were tons of small farmers who showed up each week at the Tanana Valley Farmer’s Market. True, you couldn’t quite get mangoes or pineapples, but there was plenty of other produce to choose from.
We were so excited to move to CO because we thought the farmer’s market scene would be baller here. Ha! Ha ha! We were disappointed when we found out all the farmer’s markets in Fort Collins are composed of equal parts kombucha, popcorn, and friendship bracelets. The only produce vendors were huge semis that rolled up with grocery-store produce.
But from what we hear from friends, the farmer’s market scene in Washington is more legit.
Cost: Varies depending on where you live. But if you see a big-semi-vegetable-vendor posing as a small farmer, throw a tomato at them.
Go on a Picnic
I think we all have romanticized ideas of picnicking as strolling through the park with a spendy pic-a-nic basket and plopping down on a checkered spread that you only use once or twice a year.
That’s one way to do it, but it’s not the only way. All you have to do is grab a lunch to go, find somewhere pretty (whether it be at a picnic table, a bench, or if you’re a true trailblazer, plopping your butt right on the ground), and eat.
Obviously sandwiches make good picnic fare, but so do these ideas. Have fun with it; challenge yourself to plan a fun meal with new foods you haven’t tried yet to make it a new experience.
And whatever you do, don’t forget to bring a cold brewski.
Did I mention I like beer?
Cost: Free, since you need to eat a meal for lunch anyway.
Alright, so this one won’t be available everywhere.
But I am soooooo looking forward to exploring the beaches and what’s on them. It’s probably the biologist in me who still enjoys long walks on the beach and poking dead things with sticks.
Even when I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do was walk along the beaches of the Great Lakes and look for Petoskey stones. Now image all the things in the ocean that might wash up on the shore! So many things to explore and poke with sticks!
Go Out For Ice Cream
Ah, another quintessential summertime activity.
Ice cream is a cheap treat even if you treat ‘yo self and get a spendy cone. My favorite flavor is Superman ice cream because I am a child of Michigan and I still have the mental age and appetite of an eight-year-old.
Cost: $10 or less, if you’re fancy.
Go On a Self-Guided Walking Tour
Sure, you might think you know a place if you’ve lived there long enough.
But there’s hidden corners of everyone’s hometown that you can still learn about. One of the best ways to do that is by taking a self-guided walking tour. It’s handier than a guided walking tour because you can stop and dip into any local breweries along your path.
Did I mention I like beer?
Find a Cool New Meetup Group
Even though I’m an introvert, I realize that community is important. But because we live in a huge apartment complex with very loud neighbors who like to bump uglies next to our shared wall each night and play the didgeridoo and bongo drums underneath us, we’ve decided to look for other places to develop a sense of community.
One of the best places to find people with shared interests is on the Meetup website. A quick perusal of Tacoma’s Meetup options show a women-only craft beer group, a French language group, a book club that meets at breweries, and about 492 outdoor adventure groups.
Alright, so I said I would be tempted to revamp my entire fishing outfit, and I am.
But, it still won’t cost anything more than a fishing license to use what gear I’ve already got for inland fishing, and probably even saltwater fishing too if I’m not too picky.
However, I’m still planning on buying at least a few things right off the bat. I’m going to be getting this crab snare, because FREE DUNGENESS CRAB ARE YOU CRAZY? Even if you’re brand spankin’ new, though, a basic fishing kit and some worms isn’t that expensive.
And I don’t need anything else.
(Pro tip: Many states have free fishing days, where you don’t need a license. Expect it to be a little more crowded than normal, though.)
Cost: $55 for a combo fishing/shellfish licence in WA. Could be a lot cheaper in your area.
What budget-friendly things to do this summer are you looking forward to? I need ideas, guys! Leave a comment below!