When the warmer weather rolls in and the spring rains roll by, everyone wants to get out of the house and spend some time outdoors. If you are on a fixed income or limited budget, finding affordable opportunities can be a challenge.
Pick Your Own – Spend an afternoon at a local farm or u-pick orchard. Kids generally love the idea of picking blueberries or apples and sampling a little of the wares as they go. You can save money on the produce as you spend a leisurely afternoon in the sun while taking in some good clean fresh air. PickYourOwn.org can help you locate u-picks and orchards near you.
Go for a Hike – Many state and national parks have trails you can wander for free. The trails range from short and easy to long or difficult. Visit Trails.com to find trails you can walk, bike ride or back pack through near you.
Take a Drive – Most states and many counties have marked trails you can follow by car. Often they follow the route of something historical or significant in the region. With a little research on the internet, you can map out some interesting stops along the way too. For example, in Illinois you can travel the Trail of Tears Historical Route, Route 66, The River to River Trail and the Ohio River Scenic Byway. A search for scenic auto routes and the name of your county or state should bring up some fascinating trails.
State Parks – State parks exist in almost every state in the union. They offer the chance to commune with nature, visit the local wildlife, develop an appreciation for the area’s plant life and enjoy the great outdoors. Many offer hiking, fishing, camping, horseback riding and picnic facilities. They often host events such as re-enactments, fairs, wildlife exhibitions and other educational and interesting opportunities – most with little or no cost.
Check Out Local History – If your area is anything like mine, you are surrounded by dozens of small towns or neighborhoods. Each one has a story to tell. Many have a museum dedicated to a famous son or daughter. Often local librarians are a wealth of information about the area where they live and work. Find out how your town was born, who lived there and why. Once you know something about the area, then head out to find the landmarks that tell its story.