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November 15, 2021

With a little creativity, you'll feel like a tourist in your hometown. And your wallet will thank you for it.

It's no secret that going to the hottest concert in town, the latest club or a trip to the nearest movie theater can be expensive, and the cost of social outings can add up weekend after weekend. According to a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spent an average of $2,913 on entertainment in 2016. Reducing your entertainment budget, therefore, can be an easy way to cut your expenses and save money.


But don't worry. Reducing your entertainment expenses doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to your social life. There are plenty of ways to enjoy yourself without spending money, and you don't have to look any further than your own backyard.

"How many New Yorkers have never ridden the Staten Island Ferry or attended a concert in Central Park?" says Donna Freedman, a writer who specializes in personal finance.

Whether you're on a tight budget this Friday night or just looking to cut back on your entertainment spending, here are 13 fun things you can do without spending money that will make you feel like a tourist in your own hometown:

1. go on a picnic

Picnic Lunch

A picnic with family or friends is a way to have fun without spending money, and you can do it at your favorite outdoor spot or use it as an opportunity to explore a new place. Emma Healey, a money-saving expert and founder of the blog Money Can Buy Me Happiness, has a special strategy. She pulls up Google Maps and looks for green spots near where she lives. Then she Googles the name to see if she can take her kids there.

2. go to free museum and zoo days.

Gratis Museums

If you have museums or zoos in your area, check out their websites to see if they offer days when you can visit without paying admission. The downside is that these days can be relatively popular and crowded, but it's worth it if you're trying to find fun things to do without spending money. Some companies also have deals with local museums that allow employees and their families to attend without cost on specific days, so check in with your employer to make sure you're taking advantage.


3 Try geocaching

Goacoaching

If you own a smartphone, you probably already have all the gadgets you need for this hobby. It's based on a simple idea: people have hidden more than 3 million treasure piles (called geocaches) around the world, and it's your job to find them using only a GPS device. To get started, simply download the Geocaching app or sign up on the Geocaching website. Bonus: This activity can take you to places you've never been, making you a tourist in your own hometown.


4. use your chamber of commerce.

Handelskammer Festival

Many cities and towns offer free festivals, music nights, and other events. This is an easy way to enjoy your hometown, meet up with friends, and vary your evening activities - all without opening your wallet. Check your local chamber of commerce's website for upcoming events to have fun without spending money.


5. take a historical tour of the city

Altstadt

Did you know that many cities have free historical city tours? These tours, geared toward kids and adults alike, are often organized by businesses, chambers of commerce, or government agencies and offer a chance to be a tourist in your own hometown. To find out if there is such a tour in your area, search for "walking tour" on the website of your local historical society, city or chamber of commerce. Sometimes these tours are led by volunteers, while others are offered as self-guided tours.


6. visit a farmer's market

bauernmarkt

If you're a thrifty foodie, you can buy fresh produce at affordable prices at farmers markets in your hometown, especially if you go at the end of the day when vendors are more willing to offer discounts to get rid of excess merchandise.

But why not try something new to feel like a tourist in your hometown? Instead of buying your favorite vegetables, challenge yourself: pick one or two vegetables that you wouldn't normally buy, and then find a recipe for them. You'll save money by not having to eat out, and you'll expand your cooking repertoire.

You can also stop by the farmer's market and take a nice walk or picnic outside if you're looking for something fun to do without spending money.


7. go camping

Camping, Zelten

One way to have fun without spending money is to have an outdoor adventure. While some campgrounds charge a fee, there are also free sites. For example, you can camp for free on most national forest lands. However, you must follow certain rules, such as staying a certain distance from water sources and paved campsites.


Lest you think camping is only fun for people who live far out in the country without spending money, there are campgrounds near many major cities that charge minimal fees. For tips on recreational opportunities and visiting public lands, check with your local or regional Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, or State Parks Office before you head out.


8. enter a photo contest

Fotowettbewerb

Want to hone your photography skills and explore hidden nooks and crannies to become a tourist in your own hometown? Google "photography challenge" to find lists of things to photograph every day for a set period of time. Tasks like "Find something red" or "Photograph something abandoned and forgotten" can turn your photography into a real hometown treasure hunt.


9. borrow books from the library

Library Bibliothek

Author Freedman says she uses the library all the time to have fun without spending money. "On my way out, I always stop at the new arrivals section and buy some new reading material," she says.

You'd be surprised how accommodating libraries are, even if your local branch is no bigger than a walk-in closet. For example, if you want to read something you can't find on the shelves, most libraries can order it for you.

At many libraries, there are even more fun things you can do without spending money, such as borrowing DVDs, cameras, or binoculars.In some places, you can get free tickets to museums and other local cultural attractions," Freedman says.A visit to the library, as opposed to downloading content to your devices, can also become an event in itself and give the family a chance to get out of the house.


10. volunteer

Ehrenamtliche Mitarbeit

You may not think of volunteering as a way to have fun without spending money, but there are many organizations in your area that could use your help. Check with a local nonprofit, such as a food bank or wildlife rehabilitation center, or use a website like VolunteerMatch to find opportunities. You could meet new friends, feel good about helping hometown residents, and even develop new skills.


How did you have fun without spending money?


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