He: So what do you want to do today?
She: (Shrugs shoulders). I don’t know. What do you want to do today?
He: (Shrugs shoulders). I don’t know. (Speaks to kids) What do you want to do today?
Kids: (Shrug shoulders). We don’t know. Mom, what do you want to do today?
This has probably never happened in your household, but I’m pretty sure it occurs with astonishing regularity in others. Here’s a list of blog posts of fun things to do. These are primarily meant to be low cost or no cost, and available almost anywhere. So you won’t see visit the Statue of Liberty on this list, but you might see something about family activities. Enjoy.
Take a virtual tour of a foreign city.
Pick a city that you have on your bucket list to visit. Then find some travel sites on the internet. Or go to YouTube, or even Wikipedia. Look for your city, and then start following pictures, links, and stories about your city. You may not get to smell the pizza in Rome, but you can get information and pictures of the Coliseum and Vatican City.
Watch some funny video movies and clips.
Open up a YouTube session, do a generic search for funny videos, and let the site take you where the links lead. Or you can search for something specific as a starting point – crazy sports plays, people falling, bicycle disasters, and so on. The supply is endless, and offers entertainment for all.
Play board games
Yes, I know this will be a shock for some of you, but long before computers, gaming hardware and software, and even iPads, there were actual, physical, lay your hands on them board games. They will obviously be new to many, but games like Monopoly, Clue, Life, Chinese Checkers, and others are truly timeless.
Go for a walk
Simple stuff. Minimal equipment needed – comfortable shoes, maybe a hat, and a water bottle. Just stroll around the neighborhood, or, if you’re so inclined, jump in the car and drive to a park or nature preserve to enjoy the sights. Throw a camera around your neck and you can expand it into a nature walk; take pictures of plants, flowers, and animals.
Check out local community sports.
There is no need to spend triple digits for tickets to an NFL game, or by $8 sodas to watch a baseball game. There are low and no cost sports options available virtually everywhere. Little league games, high school football, minor league baseball, 5K and fun runs – lots of options available for you to watch, or even volunteer.
Go to an entertainment center
While places like Dave and Buster’s and Main Event can get a little pricey, there are several individual things to be done, rather than purchasing an all-event pass. For the younger crew, Chuck E. Cheese offers many age appropriate games (adults should bring ear plugs :)). Many malls have a game room; grab a roll of quarters and have fun.
Go to a museum
While this may not be an option if you live in a smaller community, most medium to large cities have museums available for free, or at low cost. It could be a children’s museum, art museum, science museum, or natural history museum. Any of them will give your family an opportunity to see new and different things.
Try a new restaurant
If you’re planning on going out to eat anyway, why go to the same place you’ve been going to for years? Yes, we understand the tried and true is comfortable, and you know what to expect, but come on, live a little! You can try a different restaurant within your favorite cuisine, or try a new cuisine altogether. City guides can give you ideas, cost estimates, and reviews to help you choose.
Play a round of miniature golf
This is a fun activity, whether just you and the husband or wife, or the entire family. It does not matter if you are a great golfer or first time player; a miniature golf course will completely humble all of you. You can handicap for the kids by letting them start closer to the hole. Good luck with the windmill!
Go to a local park or nature preserve
Many communities have your normal variety parks, and others have themed ones, such as horticulture parks, parks with dog runs, etc. Get the dog on a leash and take a nice long walk with the family. If you can find a local nature preserve, make a list of birds and animals you might expect to see, and check off the list as you would in a scavenger hunt.
Go on a picnic
You might be able to combine this with your trip to the local park or nature preserve. Pack a blanket, fill a cooler with water, sodas, or adult beverages (if allowed), and pack a picnic lunch. The old time classic is fried chicken, but it is just as easier to throw some sandwiches together, or maybe just some bread, wine, and cheese for two.
Go to the beach or community pool
If you are lucky enough to live near a beach, head on out! Pack an umbrella, chairs, food, drinks – whatever you think you will need or want for the day. Don’t forget a bucket for the seashells the kids will collect. If your choice is a pool, break out the floats and water wings. And don’t forget the sunscreen!
Go out to brunch.
We seem to go out to lunch fairly regularly, dinner occasionally, and once in a while breakfast. Why not combine lunch and breakfast and hit a local brunch service. You typically get a buffet, so there are lots of different choices for you, instead of ordering only one thing off the menu. And even though you do have to get up and serve yourself, you don’t have to clean the table and do dishes.
A nice activity for the whole family. You can rent all the equipment you need, so the only additional costs are the lane fees, which will vary based on how many games you decide to play. Many alleys now have bumper rails to make it more fun for the younger kids, and some even have ramps, so all they have to do is aim the ball instead of throw it.
Go to an indoor trampoline park
These parks are sprouting up all over the country. They are basically wall to wall trampolines. You can bounce, jump, dive into pits, dunk basketballs, and lots of other activities to do. While Mom and Dad may not want to get involved, the kids will be in heaven, and, best of all, completely wear themselves out so you get some peace and quiet later.
Take a bike ride
Strap on those helmets, grab a water bottle, and just go! You can just wander aimlessly through your own neighborhood, or plot out an actual destination, like the local ice cream shop. You might even find yourself abandoning the car once in a while, and biking to do your errands.
Go to a flea market
These are typically held on weekends, although some indoor flea markets are open all the time. Some are themed, like those featuring antiques, but most just rent tables to people who want to sell stuff they probably bought at a different flea market. You never know what treasures you can find there.
Go to garage sales
If you don’t have a flea market in your community, I can pretty much guarantee that there will be garage sales when the weather is appropriate. You will get much the same variety as if you had gone to a flea market. Grab the local paper, look through the ads, map out your route, and go for it. Some communities and neighborhoods even offer a garage sale weekend, where multiple homes all put out their wares.
Go to the zoo
Again, this might be something that residents of smaller communities can’t do. But really, if there is one available to you, who doesn’t love the zoo? You get in a nice walk, at your own pace. You can see any or all of the animal exhibits. Most zoos even have a smaller petting zoo for younger visitors.
Get lost on a drive
Simple instructions – get in the car and go. If you want to randomize it even further, write down driving instructions before you leave. Get out of town, take the third left, follow for 2.5 miles, then take the next right turn. Follow that for at least a mile, then take the first turn in either direction. You get the idea. You’ll see places and scenery brand new to you. When it’s time to go home, just turn on your GPS or map app.
Go see a movie
Going to see a movie doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go see the latest big screen blockbuster. Many theaters specialize in movies that have been recently released and have passed through all the major theaters. These are usually quite inexpensive, particularly for matinee performances. Other theaters run classic films, which you can introduce to your children.
Go to a farmers market
Farmers markets are found in virtually every community. They are normally held in a central area, and area farmers will set up individual booths selling their fruits, vegetables, and homemade goods such as jams and jellies. You will be getting fresher produce than at the grocery store, and have the added pleasure of a nice walk outdoors.
Start a book club for the kids
This is a good summer project, to help them keep their reading edge while school is out. Help each child make a list of the books they will read in the coming weeks and months. A couple nights a week, at dinner, pick a child and have them give you an oral report of what the book is about, how they are enjoying it, and so on.
Make a movie or video for YouTube
Let your imagination go crazy here. It can be something as simple as the kids clowning around in the pool, or as complex as filming a how-to video for a specific task, craft, or job. If you are feeling truly adventurous, you can use the edit features in your app, and add special effects. Once complete, you can either post it on YouTube or another social site, or just share it with family and friends.
This is another idea that can be done either individually or as a family. If you want to get the kids involved, find a couple cookie recipes, break out the flour, and get out of the way. If you want to challenge yourself, look for a dessert or other recipe more complex than what you normally do, and surprise the family with that special cake, pie or torte after dinner.
Watch a comedian
Nothing takes away the stress of a long day at the office or at school like a good laugh. If you search YouTube, there are literally hundreds of top end comedian acts, all for free. Sit down, relax, and pick a couple. Then there will be links to other similar comedians. Oh, and if the kids are around, you probably want to consider headphones until you are familiar with the act.
Visit an animal shelter
First and foremost, it’s important to set the expectations if you are taking the children. You are going to visit the animals, not bring one home. But if you are bringing one home, all the better. Adopt, don’t breed. Most shelters will let you interact with any number of pets, and many are also looking for volunteers for walking and feeding the pets.
Go to a local festival.
Especially during the good weather months, there should be any number of festivals around for you to visit. Many are geared around ethnicity, such as an Italian Fest or a Greek Fest. Others are themed, so you may find some around arts and crafts, antique cars, county fairs. Many will be free, although some may charge a nominal admission fee.
Get out under the open sky and look at the stars. Listen to the sounds of nature around you in the quiet of the evening. You can do this informally, right in your own backyard, or go to a campground and pitch a tent. Many campgrounds have cabins for rent, so you can escape the bugs!
Do a scavenger hunt
This can be done on several different scales. You can do this as part of a children’s birthday party. Give them a list of things to find around the house or the yard. You can find great ideas on the internet. For the adults, you can set it up to drive all over the county – get a restaurant menu, find a red brick, etc.
Throw a BYOE party
That’s Bring Your Own Everything party. Invite all your neighbors, friends, or family. Pick a theme, and have them bring everything they would need to fulfill that them. For instance, if it’s a snacks theme, they should bring plates, napkins, a variety of snacks, and drinks. Each family does the same. Then everything goes in a central pile, and everyone gets to pick and choose and sample all the different foods.
Go out for ice cream
Who doesn’t like ice cream? This is such a simple, inexpensive thing to do, and it will absolutely delight your children. Dozens and dozens of flavors, types of cones, sprinkles and toppings – the variations are endless. There are even sherbets, sorbets, and gelato if you prefer. Just bring lots of napkins!
Clean out your closet(s)
If you are like many, you still have not admitted you are never going to get back into those 30” waist jeans. It’s time to bit the bullet, and strip the closet of all those old, outdated, and unused clothes. Make a tax deductible donation to a local organization accepting used clothing.
Go to a concert
Quite a scale to choose from here. It could be a music superstar in a filled stadium, or a solo singer in front of ten people in a local lounge, or anything in between. Many festivals will have musical acts associated with them, including county and state fairs.
Plant a garden
Again, a varied scale of opportunity here. This could be something as simple as putting some flower seeds in a pot with the kids, watering it, and setting it aside to watch it grow. Maybe it is putting a few tomato plants in with your shrubs and landscaping. Or it might involve clearing a patch of ground and planting a vegetable garden in the backyard. Any will work, and all will get you new plants to enjoy.
Do a puzzle
No, not online or on your device. Break out a magazine or newspaper, a sharp pencil with an eraser, and have at it. There are lots of options available – Suduko, word searches and jumbles, crosswords, and jigsaw puzzles. Keep your hands and brain occupied.
Create a time capsule
This one might even create some technology education for the kids. Find a strong cardboard box, and start filling it up with your treasures. Put in some black and white or color family photos. Paper ones. Add a CD or two; who knows if they will go the way of the 5-¼” floppy disk. Put in anything relevant to today, or important to your family. Pick a date in the future on when it can be opened, maybe 20 years from now. Seal it up, give it to a caretaker, and sit back and wait.
Read your community calendar
This might just be the ultimate guide for finding things to do in your area. This may be an online calendar, a weekly or monthly mailing, or a few pages in a local magazine. Either way, there will be a long list of special events and things to do for you to read through and choose based on your personal tastes.
Take a class
Again, a ton of options, controlled mainly by the amount of time you want to spend on this activity. You can take a language course at your local community college, or take a short class on investments. Many restaurants and businesses sponsor cooking classes. Art and craft classes are also available.
Listen to podcasts
It doesn’t really matter what subjects interest you. You can rest assured that somewhere out there on the internet you will find a podcast related to it. You can experiment and try several different ones, or go to your first choice and sign up for updates as they come out. These can be educational and informative, or just plain fun. Your choice.
Start an art project
Head down to your local arts and crafts store, and spend some time just browsing around. There are a myriad of potential projects for beginners all the way up to experts. You can also find projects suitable for all ages, so this can even be a family activity.
Meditation is a process where an individual can intensely focus on a particular object or thought. By focusing, you learn to establish a calm, serene mental state, which will, in the long run, help you to achieve an improved mental state. Search the internet for beginner techniques to this centuries-old practice.
Discover new music
Free internet music stations such as Pandora and Spotify give you the opportunity to expand your musical horizons with no risk at all. You can select an artist you particularly like, and the station will also add similar artists to the playlist selected for you. Or, you can pick a genre, such as rock, blues, or rap, and you will get a playlist of numerous artists from that genre.
Geocaching is an outdoor activity, where people will hide objects in various places, post their locations on various geocaching web sites, leaving the locations for others to find. Using a GPS system or mobile device, you navigate to the hiding spot. Normally there will be a log book by the object, where you can write in your accomplishment.
Explore history on Wikipedia
While spending time on the internet, you can actually learn something! Pick an historical event or person, and search for them on Wikipedia. As you are reading about them, you will see links to various other related events and people from the same era, or otherwise related to the topic you’ve chosen. You will have opened a veritable rabbit’s hole of information.
Make a “to-do” list
You don’t have to do all the work immediately, but take a household walk-through and look for various things that need to be repaired or replaced. Maybe it’s a blown out light bulb, or some touch up painting that needs to be done. The kitchen cupboards and pantry might need new shelf paper and reorganization. I’m sure you will find plenty.
Take some photos
Get up early and catch the sunrise. Match it to the sunset later in the day. Look for some of the birds native to your area. Catch the kids unaware and unposed. Take shots from the neighborhood so you have some landscaping improvement ideas. Don’t even try to make a list; just wander around and let the spirit take you.
Origami is typically associated with Japan, and involves taking a piece of flat paper and folding it into intricate shapes and sculptures. You will find step by step written instructions and videos on the internet, for a wide variety of things to make, from simple to intricate. The colors you can use and shapes you can make form an endless combination.
Do volunteer work
There are going to be endless opportunities in your community to volunteer your time to help others. You could start at the local hospital, perhaps manning the visitor desk, or working in the gift shop. Animal shelters are always looking for feeders and walkers for the dogs. Homeless shelters and food kitchens are usually significantly understaffed. Use some of your free time to assist others in need.
Catch up with an old friend or family member
There always seems to be someone out there that you can never quite find the time to catch up with. Might be an ex-neighbor, old college buddy, or even a relative in another state or city. Take the time to reach out to them this weekend, and hopefully rekindle the relationship.
Okay, so there you have it – fifty fun things to do. Let’s not here anymore whining about how there is nothing to do, or how bored you are. This should keep you busy and content for a long, long time. But if I do hear some malcontents out there, be aware I am going to throw Number 51 at you – START A BLOG!