family fun ideas on a budget

4 Apr

Sweet Cade with a Lorikeet!

Since raising 3 sweet kids, we are always on the lookout for fun, yet inexpensive activities/things to do with them. Jd and I love getting out and about with them and have fully taken advantage of the area in Columbia, SC that we live. I’ve complied a list of some of our favorite things to do as a family, hoping it might give you some ideas. Some of these places are unique to where we live in Columbia, but many of them can happen in any city. Feel free to add ideas in the comments!

1. airport – watch planes take off and land: near our airport, at the end of the runway, there is an empty parking lot. We have loved bringing bikes and a picnic lunch to watch the planes.

2. geocaching: Geocaching is basically “treasure hunting” with a GPS. Our phones have an app for GPS locations. You look up a find you want to do on a geocache site, put the coordinates into your GPS, and go find it! Usually,  depending on the size of the cache, you’ll find small trinkets that the kids love.

3. the river: during warm months, we love wading in the river, enjoying the beautiful scenery, and eating a picnic (local: river by Riverbanks Zoo, Broad River through the back of Chestnut Hills neighborhood)

4. Riverbanks Zoo: the best way to visit the zoo is with a zoo membership. I don’t know what we’d do without ours. I love being able to visit to walk the gardens, see animals for an hour or so, or just have a place to walk where the kids hear more “yes” than “no.”

5. church playgrounds: many churches have playgrounds and have policies that allow families to use them as long as children are supervised. Check with that church closest to you! (local: Gateway Baptist, St. Andrews Presbyterian, Faith Presbyterian)

Carousel fun at the zoo

6. Irmo Park: a beautiful town park. We love coming here for picnic lunches, nature finds, rolling down the green hills, and running.

7. bookstore: we love to visit the bookstore for a few hours and just read. Our local stores have train tables and small toys that keep the littles occupied while I can read to the biggers. The library is great too. (local: Barnes and Noble, Books A Million)

8. Harbison State Forest, Sesquicentenniel State Park, Saluda Shoals: All great parks with great hiking trails. We love going for an afternoon of nature exploring. You can come up with lists of finds for the kids, physical challenges, or just hike.

9. Riverfront Park – in downtown Columbia, we have the Three Rivers Greenway. As part of that, there are beautiful trails lining the area’s rivers. We love to bike and fish on the trails. There is also Riverfront Park, where we love picnicking, biking, and fishing. There’s a neat old water plant to explore and many other things.

10. beach – we love to take a day trip to the beach. Sometimes the hassle of packing things, sand, water, and sun can seem like a damper to the enjoyment of it, but I never regret going. The littles love the water and it’s like the world’s largest sandbox. Bring beach balls, frisbees, kites, and sand toys. Something about the salt smell and the breeze is even relaxing for a momma who is on hyper-guard with all the potential dangers there. It does end up being enjoyable and I could do it every week.

Harper girl feeding goats

What are your favorite family activities where you live?


2 Responses to “family fun ideas on a budget”

  1. the olive tree April 4, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    Your blog title made me smile 🙂 I have always wanted to try geocatching!

  2. Heather April 8, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    We love going to the zoo!

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