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Free and Cheap Outdoor Activities for All Ages

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A great big list of free and cheap outdoor activities for all ages.

DISCLOSURE: I didn't get paid to write this post and I have no connection with the brands, products or services I've mentioned. This post may contain affiliate or referral links to something I love, but will support the cost of this site if you click and/or make a purchase. My love is genuine and was not swayed by any form of compensation.

Twenty years ago, children begged their parents to go outside and play.  Today, it's nearly a game of tug-of-war (virtual, of course) to get the kids outside.  It's not only teens who are consumed with media and electronics, keeping them from going outdoors, but even the younger children as well as adults.

It's time to get back outside and enjoy nature!


In an episode of Duck Dynasty, episode 42 'So You Think You Can Date' (air date: 8/21/2013), Grandpa Phil and Miss Kay are babysitting their three granddaughters.  Phil tries to get the girls to look at birds out the window using binoculars.

The girls are busy playing Angry Birds (aka Mad Birds according to Phil) on their iPads ("WiiPods" as Phil likes to call them). Grandpa Phil tries to get the girl's attention by telling them Justin Bieber is the yard. They didn't even flinch because they were so wrapped up in "technology".

Phil dubs his granddaughters "snack eating computer freaks". Sounds pretty accurate to me.

How do we get off the devices and enjoy the real world?


Check out this list of tried and true, free and cheap outdoor activities for families. Whether you're a couple with no children, parents of young children, tweens or teens, there's something to please everyone!

Don't forget to bring the camera!

Free and Cheap Outdoor Activities List

This list is not just for summer. It can be for all seasons!


updated July 4, 2017

Badminton


Badminton is a racquet sport where a shuttlecock (or birdie) is hit back and forth over a net. It can be played casually with or without rules. Playing the game develops stamina, agility, strength, speed, precision and motor skills.

For less than $40 we got a complete badminton kit with the net, stakes, etc., four racquets and six shuttlecocks (or birdies) for our backyard. It has definitely paid for itself and is fun for all ages.

Batting Cages


For just a few dollars per person, you can usually hit around 20 balls each at the batting cages.  The bats and helmets are provided.

Bike Riding


From recreational biking to mountain style, biking is a great way to encourage health & fitness. The cost of a bike for each family member for a casual biker is nothing compared to the benefits.  BMX biking is also popular.  Whether you bike alone, as a family or just the kids, it's a classic way to get the kids outdoors.

Bubbles


You're never too old for bubbles, whether you want to believe it or not.  Blowing bubbles and catching bubbles is therapeutic and fun. There are many different types of bubble blowers these days. Bubbles can be found at a dollar store or discount store.  $1 can offer hours of entertainment in increments.

Camping


Whether you're camping in your backyard, at a campground or in the wilderness, camping is a fun and nostalgic activity. It's also a budget-friendly alternative to hotels when you're traveling.

You can usually find a campground or site within 50-100 miles of your vacation destination. You might have to pay a park entrance fee or site fee, but if you're ready to brave the wilderness you can most certainly find a standalone site for free.

The cost of a tent will pay for itself after just a few uses. You'll need some sleeping bags, too. Other equipment may be required depending on your camp style.

These days, Yurts are a tent alternative at state parks if you're into a more glamorous camping style.

Driving Range 


For just a few dollars per person, you can snag a bucket of golf balls and split them among the family. If you've got a bigger budget, you can get more balls.  Generally, drivers are included.

I've run into availability issues on Saturday and Sunday mornings with snagging my preferred driver style.  Check out your local sports consignment shop or Goodwill for low-cost individual drivers.  We scored 3 for less than $10 at our local Goodwill.

Firepit


A fire pit is a safer alternative to a backyard bonfire.  Safety rules still apply and adult supervision is a must!! Check out these posts for safety tips and be sure to read the manufacturer's warnings.

Fishing

Fishing


Fishing is a relaxing and fun activity for all ages.  It teaches patience, cooperation and perseverance. It's also a great activity to bond with your children through conversations.

Poles, a tackle box and other optional gear will get you started.  Depending on the level or style of fishing, the costs can vary from inexpensive to the polar opposite.  A fishing license is usually required on an annual basis for a fee, though day passes are available in some states.

After you get your gear, the cost of future fishing trips can be as simple as transportation, bait, food and snacks.

Frisbee


Become the proud owner of a frisbee for less than $5, or even $1 at a dollar store, when they're in season. You can even get free frisbees online by paying attention to special promotions; or at local festivals and fairs.  Head to your local city or town green area, local park or state park and toss it around for free an unlimited number of times (unless, of course, a dog gets a hold of it).

Frisbee Golf

I know very little about the sport of frisbee golf, but I hear it's a fun outdoor activity.  I'll be looking into frisbee golf a bit more to try new things with my 14-year old son.  Check out this great article about Frisbee Golf for Beginners.

Gardening




Growing your own herbs, vegetables and fruits is rewarding no matter what size space you have to work with.

30 Insanely Clever Gardening Tricks | BuzzFeed

Whatever way you choose, the experience of working together, choosing what to grow and how to grow it is a fun experience. The best part is that gardening can be really inexpensive if you recycle every day items and start from seeds.

Low cost supplies are available at dollar stores, general stores and even homemade using things you already have on hand.

Even Mr. Vines, who hates vegetables, knows how to garden. It's funny because the gal who will eat ANYTHING GREEN has no clue!!

Geocaching

Geocaching is a real-life treasure hunt.  A website and apps, as well as many internet articles are available to get you started.  Geocaching locations will take you to places you've been to, as well as territory you've not yet explored.  It can be as close as around the corner to as far as you'd like.

A mobile device with GPS and an internet connection (3G, 4G, etc.) or a standalone GPS device is required.  A one-time app purchase may be required for your mobile, internet connected device.

Hiking



Hit the trails casually or on a more serious level. To get started, all you need is good shoes, comfortable clothes and water. If you're an enthusiast, you'll need a more serious gear like a backpack, snacks, a map or compass, hiking boots and more.

10 Essentials for Hiking | Washington Trails Association

Finding the right trail is important, especially for beginners.  Some trails require a park entrance fee, such as state and national parks.  Check out the free entrance days for national parks.

Horseshoes

summer, outdoor activities, horseshoes

Horseshoes is a toss and target style came, where players are required to throw the horseshoe around a stake.  Get a Champion Sports Steel Horseshoe Set now or browse other horseshoe sets.

Jarts

SAY What? What's a JART?



Jarts are lawn darts, but due to increasing popularity are also available for the pool.  Jarts are available at local retailers or online at Amazon.  Jarts is a mixture of horseshoes and darts.  Metal tipped lawn darts were replaced with plastic tips, for safety.  You can snag a set of jarts for around $20.

Kites



You can buy a basic kite for just a few bucks and use it multiple times. Of course, the weather has to be just right.

Picnic


I can't think of an easier outdoor activity to pull off. You don't need a pretty picnic basket or a red checkered blanket. The main ingredient of a picnic is food. Just choose your faves and you're all set.

Next up add family or friends and you're set. Find a city, county or state park and plop yourself down on a blanket or picnic table and you're good to go!

Putt-Putt


For $5-$10 per person you can play 9 to 18 holes of putt-putt golf or mini-golf.

RC Vehicles and Helicopters


RC vehicles and helicopters can offer hours of entertainment. The initial investment may be costly.

Sack-Race


Sack races are traditionally held in potato sacks.  If you don't have potato sacks handy, you can use pillow cases, especially for the younger children. You might need something a bit bigger for adults, but there's no doubt you're never too old for sack races.

Swimming


Swim outdoors.  If you don't have an outdoor pool at your disposal, don't forget about lakes and oceans.  Some folks have "swimming holes" nearby.  If you have a pool at your disposal, change your scenery.  Go to a different outdoor swimming venue to add a little variety to the mix.

Swings


Step back in time and put yourself on a swing with your kids.  Swinging can release stress and provides ultimate relaxation.

Tubing

tubing, outdoor activities, summer activities, cheap family fun

Tubing on a local river can run between $10-$20 per person, depending on the duration of the trip.  Wear your swimsuit or clothes you're willing to get wet and you're good to go.  Leave your technology at home or snag a waterproof case for your phone.

Tug-of-War


Grab a rope here and get your tug on! Tug of war is fun for all ages.

Free Entrance Into National Parks

Every year, the National Park Service has a handful of days where 127 of the 407 national parks that usually charge an entry fee, are free.


U.S. National Parks like Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, Everglades National Park in Florida, Joshua Tree National Park in California, or the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan, among over 120 others offer free entrance. To find a park near you visit here.

Check out the free entrance days for national parks here. This is updated yearly. Bookmark this page and be sure to check back each year!
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Meet The Vines: Free and Cheap Outdoor Activities for All Ages
Free and Cheap Outdoor Activities for All Ages
A great big list of free and cheap outdoor activities for all ages.
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Meet The Vines
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