By Bobbi Burger Brunoehler of Bobbisbargains.
Finding family activities that don’t break my budget and are stimulating is a challenge. As a homeschooler, I am always on the lookout for places to learn and have a good time. We are fortunate to have many wonderful institutions that allow for such activities. Depending on how often you go, membership may save you money. Here are five of my favorites:
- Children’s Museums. Many major cities have invested in children’s museums. These museums are set up to withstand rigorous play and encourage “hands on” activities, as opposed to the normal look but don’t touch rule. A truly fabulous place to go with young children.
- Science Museums. My favorite is the Boston Science Museum. With its proximity to M.I.T., it is hard to beat the interactive displays and state of the art technology. Our family membership to this museum was the best investment we ever made. Make sure that you see the Ball Sculpture. Another notable science museum is the newly renovated California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.
- Libraries. Budgets are getting tighter for libraries, but they are still my very favorite place. Most libraries have free programs of all sorts and you can’t beat the price of “free” for all the books and other media. Support your local library!
- Zoos. You have an opportunity to learn about all sorts of animals at your local zoo. Perhaps your child has gone there on a field trip. But have YOU gone with them? It’s a chance to experience many new and exotic life forms. My favorite is the butterfly room.
- Aquariums. Most major cities that are on the coasts have an aquarium, but even land-bound metropolises now have this great way to learn about our oceans and the inhabitants that live there. I’ll never forget the first time I got to watch real penguins.
An excellent way to get the most for your money is to join the Association of Science-Technology Centers Passport Program. Once you join your local science/technology center, you gain free entrance to more than 290 other centers. The only caveat is that the other centers must be more than 90 miles from your local center.
Many of the above five listed type of institutions have a free day at least once a month. Target sponsors 2,200 free events and discounted performances a year.
With the price of gas going up, sometimes it is hard to even get to such a place, but what is pretty cool is the fact that now many of the websites feature virtual tours. An interactive tour of the blown glass exhibition is available on the Indianapolis Children’s Museum website.
I hope that this list will inspire you to take advantage of the many wonderful museums and public facilities that have free and discounted days. What is your favorite frugal family outing?