Frugal Entertainment for the Whole Family

Fisher Swanson

Here are some frugal entertainment ideas for the whole family.

Board Games

Board games are a great investment. If well taken care of, they can easily last a generation. You can often find them at garage sales for a dollar or two, even the new board games. Every family should have some basics like cards, dominoes, chess, and checkers.


Movie Night

Rent a movie, pop some popcorn and entertain the whole family for a couple hours. Take turns picking out what movie to watch. You can order DVD's or videos from the library for free. Sometimes there is a wait but many libraries allow you to place holds online and receive notifications when your items are available.

Discount Movie Theatres

Most areas have at least one movie theatre that runs older movies for cheap prices. All you have to do is wait until the movie has been out a for a few months and it will eventually show up at one of these theatres. Ticket prices can be even less than a matinee and are sometimes double features. Drive-in movie theatres can also be great bargains.

Minor League Sports

If your area has a minor league team they can be a lot of fun to watch and much cheaper than their major league counterparts. The minor league stars of today are often the major league stars of tomorrow.


Playgrounds, State Parks and Local Parks

Most parks are free, especially if you are not camping. Pack a picnic lunch or bring some barbecue. Try out different parks in your area until you find your favorites. Bring a frisbee and a dog!

Support the Arts

High school plays, talent shows and community theatre are generally inexpesive and a lot of fun. You will be surprised at how much talent there is in your community. Churches also have plays and programs that are open to the community even if you don't attend that church.

Watch for Free Days and Free Events

Many museums, zoos and aquariums have free days. This is often one day per month such as the first Tuesday or last Friday. There are a lot of museums that are fun and have areas tailored towards kids. In art museums the ancient cultures exhibits are often fun for kids.


Open Houses, Openings and Festivals

Sports teams often have a free open house before the season starts. Also make note of free festivals and events in your communities. Check your local paper and chamber of commerce for upcoming events.

Zoo Membership

If you have kids who love to go to the zoo you should consider a family membership. It can be a great deal if you plan on going often and have a zoo nearby. Similar memberships are available at museums and aquariums as well.

Farmers' Market and Swap Meets

You don't have to spend much money to have a good time at your local Farmer's Market. Most communities have them on Saturday or Sunday every week during the Spring, Summer and early Fall. You can get some great vegetables for less than you pay at the grocery market and usually there is something fun for the kids to do.

Library and Bookstore Events

Next time you go to the bookstore or library pick up an events calendar. They often have live music or book readings that might interest your family.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Keep your eyes and ears open and you will find many more opportunities to have fun with your family without spending a lot of money.

If you have some frugal entertainment ideas feel free to post them below.

April 7, 20040 found this helpful

Becci From PA

When you buy a zoo membership, consider all the zoos (and aquariums). The American Zoological Association does not reciprocate (allow free entrance with a membership) if you are a member of a zoo or aquarium that is within 45 miles. For example, we have the Philadelphia and Hershey Zoos plus the Camden Aquarium near us. We ended up buying a membership at the Hoogle Zoo in Salt Lake City so that we could get into any participating zoo and aquarium along the East Coast in case we take a vacation there.

Also there may be a reciprocation program for science museums so check with your local one.

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November 15, 20110 found this helpful

I love board games! These have kept me entertained for hours since I was a child! Now that I am older I am learning to play chess, but I still love simple board games like Sorry and Monopoly.

I got a membership to the zoo July 2011, in the middle of the month. It is for me + 1 guest every time I go. It is good until July 31. 2012 so I got a little over a year for my membership. I usually go with my boyfriend or best friend. It has already paid for itself and I still have 8+ months left of membership!

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