With the passing of the Victoria Day long weekend, summer is officially here. While your list of activities for the next few months may be growing, and the cost of amusement parks and family vacations can start adding up, there are a number of things you can do to stay on budget. Here are a few ideas for some fun and productive activities that can help you soak up every drop of this summer without breaking the bank.
Plant a vegetable and herb garden
Nothing says summer like fresh herbs and crisp vegetables. Spice up your summertime menu with a few homegrown items and save on your grocery bill. Whether you have a green thumb or not, planting and maintaining a garden is not only cost-effective, but can be calming and provide you with a nice break from the hustle and bustle or your day. If you're a first timer, start with a few herbs and some easier vegetables to grow, like beans and spinach.
Pack up for a picnic
Dig out your pic-a-nic basket and checkered blanket. Whether it's a romantic snack for two or feast for the whole family, picnics are an inexpensive and great way to enjoy the outdoors and spend some quality time together. Make a pasta salad with your home-grown veggies, bake some cookies, or grill some burgers on your park's BBQ to really make it a home-cooked meal away from home. Or, do it potluck-style and ask everyone to bring a different meal or dessert. Make an afternoon of it and bring some fun outdoor games or a book to read.
Have a BBQ for your neighbours
Invite the neighbours or some friends over and fire up the BBQ. On a hot summer day, there's nothing better than an ice cold drink and food hot off the grill. Have some fun and try an ambitious recipe from one of your favourite chefs. If you're looking for a place to start, Canadian Living has some great ideas. You'll save money on food and drinks from a restaurant, and your guests will be just a short walk away.
Get your body beach ready and have a healthy summer. Not a member at a gym? Take advantage of the nice weather to spend time outdoors and get in shape at the same time. Check out local hiking trails, or go for a long walk to explore some neighbourhoods in your area. Joining a sports team with some friends not only keeps you in shape, but is a fun way to stay in touch and meet new people. To exercise from home, you don't need expensive equipment to see results. Need some suggestions? Here are 4 beginner exercises to do at home.
Camp out at a national park
Our country is full of beautiful places to camp and, living in Canada, you're likely less than two hours away from a great spot. Unplugging from the world gives you a chance to recharge your own battery and connect with nature. There are many protected camp areas, so pack your backpack full of marshmallows this summer and experience some of the world's most beautiful parklands. You'll save money on flights and travel, and get to vacation in your own backyard.
Catch a local semi-pro sports game
Entertain and feed the whole family for the price of a beer at an NHL game. Most cities and towns have a feeder team or high-level amateur team of some sort. If it's not free, admission is reasonably priced and you'll think you've traveled back in time when you see the price for a hot dog. There is a great sense of community when you're rooting for the hometown team, and who knows, you might even see the next big star.
Watch a movie under the stars
You're not going to get that Dolby Digital 3D sound experience, but there's something nostalgic about seeing a movie at the drive-in. Pack some of your favourite snacks and save on high-priced concessions from a traditional movie theatre. Don't forget to wear some comfy clothes - it's the perfect set-up for catching up on that movie everyone is talking about. Some towns even have movie nights in the park which is a great way to spend a warm summer night and catch a classic.
Attend an outdoor festival
Whether it's a parade, a cultural festival, or just some good ol' fashioned fireworks, something worthy of this celebration is definitely worth sharing in. Check out the event calendar on your city's website and bookmark a few festivals that you want to check out this year. Many are free or have low admission costs, and you'll be showing support for your community.
Summer is meant to be spent outdoors, experiencing the nature all around us and taking in as much culture as possible. Best of all, you don't have to spend a lot to have a good time. Be smart about your spending this season and have a summer to remember with your friends and family.
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