Planning days out with the children when you are on a tight budget can be difficult. However it is possible to have some really good days out without spending a fortune, especially if you are able to get out on one of the rare day’s when the sun shines in England. There are still plenty of days out that can be had without the sun shining though, and ones that don’t need to break the bank either. If it is wet we’ve also compiled a list of things to do for free on a rainy day We have invested in a picnic bag now so we’re set to get out whenever we can. It beats being cooped up in doors all the time.
Churches and Cathedrals – We are really lucky to live in a city with a beautiful cathedral that is still free to enter. It’s almost 1000 years old, has a king buried there and can even claim to be part of Hogwarts as well. Can you guess where it is? We quite often go to the cathedral to fill an afternoon. We often make a list of things we want to spot as we walk around and try and hunt for them. We try to make the list as silly as possible so we will look for something such as a person wearing odd socks, or Lottie’s favourite, a bird doing a poo! If you take a picnic with you, or drinks and snacks then this can be completely free. We also visit other churches, abbey’s and cathedrals when we go to other places. I am happy to pay a donation to enter these places but I don’t like paying an actual entry fee. I don’t feel a place of worship should charge you to use it.
Penny Walks – This probably wouldn’t fill a full day but it can last an hour and makes a really good dog walk as well. The idea is quite simple. Take a penny and flip it. If it lands on heads then you go right, of it lands on tails then you turn left. Repeat this process every time you come to a junction, and then see where you will end up. The joy of a penny walk is that no two walks will ever be the same. We accidentally discovered a new play park doing this once.
Forests – Another perk of living where we do is how close we are to the countryside. We have several forests and woods within a fifteen to thirty minute drive of us. We quite often take the dog for a walk in the forest. By packing a picnic and snacks we can spend a good few hours walking through the forests and only have to pay for car parking. One of the great things about the forest is that it tires little legs out so they sleep well that evening!
Days at the Park – Another completely free activity here. Most cities have lots of local parks and play areas. Lottie likes to try new ones, so we often ask friends living in other areas for recommendations so that we can try out new ones. We’ve found some really good ones recently, especially the one with the outdoor gym equipment. We also like the big one with a duck pond so that we can feed the ducks when we go out. (Just remember to use wild bird seed and not bread!)
The Beach – We don’t live near a beach unfortunately but this is probably why it makes it such a popular day out for our family. The closest beach to us is about an hour away but it is definitely worth the drive when the weather is nice. Pack a bucket and spade and you have hours of entertainment. We do usually treat ourselves to some chips on the seafront though.
Museums – Another great way to spend a day out is visiting a museum. I know some can be quite pricey but there are also plenty of free ones out there as well, or with low entrance prices. We have had some really good days out at some of the free museums. One of our favourites is Coventry Transport Museum which we often visit when we go there to see family. This is a free to get into. Another option for reducing the cost of getting into some of the more expensive museums is to book in advance online. You often get a discount doing this. Also look online for discount codes.
Swimming – This obviously going to cost something but it is usually a cheaper option than other activities. Most sports centres often subsidise the cost of swimming in order to encourage children to exercise more. Our local pool offers free entry for one child with each adult, and allows under 5’s in for free. This makes it a really good option for a cheap afternoon out that uses some energy and encourages exercise. Lottie loves the inflatable session, and because we go swimming on a fairly regular basis she is now a very confident swimmer.
Library – I love our library. They allow us to read an unlimited amount of books without spending a penny. They also offer a whole lot more than just a book borrowing service though. Every school holidays our local library run themed activities for children to do for free. Themes are generally based on popular books but we’ve joined in with other activities based on space, Ancient Egypt, the Olympics and China before. Even without these activities we can easily spend over an hour in the library just looking at the books and choosing ones to borrow.
There are loads more things that can be done on a budget. These are just our favourite things to do. I hope they provide you with some inspiration.