Summertime and the living is easy (but not so easy on your wallet). From summer weddings and travel to just going out to eat more because it's so nice out, you might find yourself spending more money this season than you would during other time of year. I blame the sunshine and warm weather for making me feel so giddy that I forget about my monthly budget.
You should be able to indulge in some summertime spending, but for the moments that you'd like to give your bank account a break, we've compiled a list of free (or almost free) things to do during summer. Take a look below at our suggestions, we've categorized them, too.
Fitness and Wellness
Go on a hike: Lace up your sneakers, pack some snacks and water, fill your phone with podcasts or a playlist, put some sunscreen on, and bring a friend if you want. You might live somewhere where hiking isn't possible year-round, so take advantage of the warm weather and head up your favorite trail (or explore a new one).
Bring your bike to the beach (or any nearby body of water): There's nothing like coasting on your bike with the water right beside you. Think of how relaxing the breeze and fresh air will be.
Take a free workout class: A lot of studios or gyms offer free classes for first-timers—it's your chance to try that new workout that you've heard everyone talking about. Or check your local community center, some offer yoga, bootcamp, aerobics, Zumba, or tai chi in parks.
Tend to your garden: There's science out there that says gardening is good for your health—and summer is one of the best times of year to work on your green thumb. Don't have a backyard? Check to see if your local community garden is looking for volunteers.
Plan a "spa" night: Think about it: You and your friends probably have a Sephora store's worth of face masks, nail polish, and other self-care products. So why don't you pool your resources for a relaxing night in?
Get a group together for frisbee, tennis, volleyball, or basketball at the park: Instead of going to brunch or meeting everyone at your local hangout over the weekend, invite your group of friends to catch up over a fun game. Getting a workout in can be a lot more fun when your friends are involved.
Go for a swim: Head to the beach or lake to cool yourself off. If you don't have a body of water close by, check if your community pool or aquatic center has free swim hours (some might charge under $5 for admission).
Volunteer at an animal shelter or local charity: If you want to get moving on the weekends, why not use the time to do some good, too?
Chart a new course for your run: Veering off your normal running route can make your workout more exciting. When it's hot out, though, you'll want to be mindful of drinking enough water and running in the morning or evenings when the heat isn't so bad.
Lie outside on the grass and do a full-body meditation: Bring a blanket or beach towel and download a free meditation app if you need one, or continue with your usual meditation practice. The fresh air will feel so good and relaxing.
Go to your favorite outdoor spot alone to watch the sunrise or sunset: A peaceful moment is the best way to start or end the day. If you journal, bring it with you to write down some thoughts.
Go on a walking tour of your neighborhood: Sure, you might have your favorite hangouts, but when was the last time you explored where you live? Sometimes it's fun to pretend to be a tourist.
Take a nap outside: Of course, you might want to avoid taking a nap when there's a heatwave, but for other summer afternoons, sleeping outdoors is a nice change. Find a shady spot, or post up on a hammock. Make sure you put on some sunscreen, though!
Go to the park or beach and read a book or listen to a podcast: There's nothing like some "me" time to make you feel more relaxed. Finish that book you can't put down, or download that podcast that everyone is talking about.
Head to a free dance party: This doesn't necessarily mean hit up the club. A lot of community and city organizations offer free dance parties or lessons in public spaces throughout the summer (think salsa dancing, line dancing, even Bollywood-inspired sessions). Dancing is a fun way to mix exercise and creativity.
Light some candles, put on some relaxing music, and take a bubble bath: Need we say more?
Check if there's free kayaking, canoeing, or paddle-boarding near you: It's probably a different change from your usual fitness routine.
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Clear out your fridge and go on a picnic: It will be much cheaper than heading to the grocery store and spending $100 on expensive cheese or gourmet pre-made dishes.
Explore the farmers market: And, by default, taste samples from vendors.
Attend a free wine tasting or beer tasting: Yes, it's possible. Some local wine shops have special wine tasting events (be warned, you might find yourself purchasing a bottle or two). Or, go on a free brewery tour—it will be an educational experience and sometimes you get to sample the beer.
Invite your friends over and ask them to bring whatever they have in their fridges and pantries: Take inventory of what everyone brings and have fun trying to figure out what to make. You could split the group up into teams, too, like appetizers, main dish, dessert. Consider it Chopped, dinner party edition.
Go to an outdoor movie screening: A lot of parks offer free movie screenings. Raid your pantry for snacks and pack a picnic blanket. It beats an expensive movie ticket.
Attend a free concert: There's nothing like a summer concert under the stars (made especially better when it's free).
Head to a museum: Most museums (or botanical gardens) have free days or nights, if they don't already offer free admission.
Get tickets to a free comedy show or open mic night: We can't promise you it will be good, but it will be entertaining! And hey, you might even get to see a future star before they become famous.
Gallery hop: Many galleries have exhibitions open to the public, so do some research on some near you. And we don't want to get your hopes up, but sometimes there's free wine and cheese involved…
Invite friends over for a game night: Dust off the old board games or playing cards and get competitive. Don't blame us if some fights occur.
Camp in your backyard: You definitely won't miss out on any creature comforts by doing this.
Watch fireworks: Even if it's not July 4, there always seems to be a reason for fireworks during the summer. Take a look at the community calendar to see when you can see a pyrotechnic show.
Have a clothing or decluttering swap with your friends: You can consider this free shopping. Plus, it's more incentive to finally get your closet organized.
Host a paint or crafts night: Remember when adult coloring books were all the rage and you bought a whole bunch of them? Or what about when you wanted to paint your own artwork for your new place? Take those supplies (or ask your craftiest friend to bring what they have over) and get creative with your group. BYOB!
Listen to a talk: Check your local university or city college, library, bookstore, or museum for their list of free talks or lectures. You might just learn something new.
Stargaze: Head to an open area (maybe a scenic lookout) and take in the stars.