We are very lucky, we live near the beach. The sad part is that almost NONE of our gorgeous beaches in New Jersey are free. So in order to get in some wonderful beach time, we have learned the tricks and tips that will get us the most " bang for our buck".
- Many of the beaches have free concerts or movies once a week with free popcorn! If you are a ocean "wader" and not a "swimmer", you can get an hour or so in before the festivities start. There is plenty of time for youngsters to build sand castles and dig at the shoreline. Sometimes we even take a picnic if the beach allows it.
- Some of the public beaches do not charge a fee, or they charge a small partial fee for late arrivals. One of the park beaches charges nothing after 3:30 pm. This is the perfect time for beach-goers. Less crowded, sun not as strong, and still lifeguards on duty.
- If you just want to be near the ocean breezes and do not care for the sandy mess that comes with them, then we suggest a spot on the boardwalk. Most have benches and/or tables for the public. Some even have pavilions with overhead shade. These are perfect for a quiet read, a drawing session, soft music, or a game of " I Spy". The crisp salty air is refreshing and healthful and the cost is free!
If you are not among the lucky ones with beach access, check out your local park system or borough hall. Many municipalities have free events during the summer including concerts, lectures, tours, exhibits, sing-alongs, and folk dancing. There are outdoor art festivals, story-tellings, and perfomances of all kinds. Sometimes these are not as well publicized as they could be, so we always strike up a conversation with a few of the attending folks to get in "the insiders loop". You would be amazed at how many small events are going on in your town! A lot are sponsered by clubs and other groups who hold "open house" events to encourage prospective members to join.
Local libraries and churches also have many events for free! Movies, travelogues, musical recitals, lectures, and demonstrations abound. It just takes a bit of research and determination to find them.
And last, but certainly not least, is plain old summer "family time". This was always my favorite as a small child. The family would gather on Grandma's wide porch, seated in wicker chairs or porch rockers. She would tell us tales of her childhood in the country and we would nibble on graham crackers and sip lemonade. When the stars came out, there would be a bedtime story and a soft lullaby. Then off to bed for the little ones and those of us lucky enough to stay up would hear the latest news of other relatives and friends who did not live close by. It was a wonderful way to spend a summer's evening and kept us close.
If you put on your thinking cap, we are sure you will find many fun and free activities to fill your summer days and nights. Enjoy!
By PlumCottage from on the beach in New Jersey