If you are traveling full time in your RV or like to take your RV for family vacations, finding FREE (or close-to-free) activities is always a good thing. We have been on the road with our four kids for over 3 ½ years and throughout the years we have found some great free (or close to it) things to do at the locations we visit.
Go-To Free Activities
This by far tops our list. Hiking is such an amazing way to get out and really see a new location. Plus, it is a great way to bond as a family. It always amazes me that as soon as we start hiking our oldest starts talking and sharing all his thoughts with us.
We have been to Yellowstone and Glacier National Park during the really busy season and whenever we go out on a hike, we pretty much get the whole place to ourselves. How cool is that? Next time you are heading somewhere with your family, Google “Top Hikes” in that area and then head out to get some exercise and to bond as a family for free.
Going to the Beach
Whenever we can find a beach, no matter if it’s by the ocean or a lake, we check it out. It is a great way to spend the day with your family and is normally totally free or close to it. What we have found is our kids need these days where they can go somewhere and just play – without having to wait in line or follow a lot of rules. The beach is a perfect place for this.
If you are staying at an RV resort, most likely there are activities planned throughout the week for you and your family. If you are looking for a place that offers a LOT of free family activities, I recommend looking for a Jellystone campground. They are great family campgrounds with loads of activities.
If you aren’t at a resort, but instead at a State or National Park, never fear! They usually offer a variety of free things from classes to presentations. When you check in, be sure to ask for a schedule of events. One of our favorite things is doing the Junior Ranger programs at the National Parks!
Riding bikes around is a great way to see a new city, plus so many places are adding amazing bike trails and building businesses/restaurants around the trails. Biking is like hiking – you are getting in exercise while also experiencing a different view point on the location you are visiting.
Local libraries usually have a lot of activities for kids from Lego night to craft nights and family nights. Being out of town, you may not be able to check out books, but you can normally attend the events or hang out at the library and look at and read the books while you are there.
Yup, a brewery visit with your family can be a lot of fun for everyone. Most of the breweries we have visited around North America have a great game selection and we have had many a game night with our family while the adults try the local brew. Yes, you have to pay for your beer, but the games are free!
Checking in at the cities visitor center is a good idea. They sometimes will have coupon packets or can share what is going on in the area at the time you are there. You can look these things up online, but talking to someone in person usually means you are going to get the insider scoop on what is going on in the area.
Tips for finding low-cost activities
Google: “Things to do for Free”
No matter where we go, we Google “Things To Do For Free” (and whatever city we are in comes up). This has been a great way to find free things that each city offers and to learn about free events in the area.
A lot of the time, this leads to us attending a free concert in the city or maybe a free day at an activity that the city is known for. It is always worth it to do a quick search.
Kids Eat Free
Going out to dinner can always be a big expense with a large family. We’ve found that Googling “Kids eat free” in the city we are in usually gives some options where kids eat free. This usually means there are limits, like one kids meal per adult meal, but it’s a good way to save some money while enjoying a new restaurant.
Groupon has been another great way to find deals for top attractions in an area we are visiting. This isn’t free, but if you find a good Groupon, you can get a decent price. This doesn’t always work, but it is always worth it to check to see what they are offering.
I can’t even tell you how many hundreds of dollars we save each year with our reciprocal museum membership. It is amazing. A reciprocal membership is a museum membership you buy that gets you into science centers for free and half price at children’s museums and aquariums and zoos around the U.S. You can learn more about how to get your own Reciprocal Museum membership here.
Every time we are going to a new city, we get out the list of Reciprocal Museums and circle the ones we want to go to. There are hundreds across the U.S., so there is normally one close by.
The best way to find free or close-to-it things when you visit a location is to do your online research and then find locals or visitor centers that you can ask and get the low down on what is going on around the city. But most importantly, have fun with your family!