Is your budget more staycation than vacation this summer? Not to worry. We’ve rounded up 10 super-fun, free city activities that won’t just keep your savings account intact—they’ll encourage your sense of adventure, too.
1. OUTDOOR MOVIE SCREENINGS: Retreating to the arctic chill of a movie theater may be a summertime rite of passage, but who wants to pay 20 bucks for a bucket of popcorn and a drink? Instead, make the most of the balmy summer weather by heading to your nearest open-air movie screen. It’s hard to beat the experience of a big screen under the stars, cool evening breezes, a BYO-picnic, and gratis entry.
2. EXPLORE YOUR CITY’S HIDDEN GARDENS: Even when you aren’t actually getting away from it all, seeking out your city’s lesser-known parks and gardens will make it feel like you’ve left the hustle and bustle far behind. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite secretive green spaces in cities around the country. Head out in the morning, and bring a book with you.
3. OUTDOOR YOGA: Want to practice your downward-facing dog—or just cultivate your zen? Yoga offers the chance to limber up your muscles and relax your over-stimulated mind—a must during any urban staycation. Look out for free yoga classes in your city’s public parks, or go it alone with a guided yoga session on a fitness app.
4. HEAD TO THE MUSEUM: Visiting your local museum can be an excellent free city activity—and not just because of the welcome reprieve of the A/C. Exploring your local cultural offerings is also its own way to travel: encounter new artists, learn about fascinating moments in history, and expand your horizons without leaving town.
5. EXPLORE BY BIKE: Normally use your bike for commuting? Skip out on the urban grind during your staycation, and instead use your wheels to explore a new side of your city. Bike to a neighborhood you’ve never explored before, or purposefully get lost and see where the road takes you. It’s an excellent, easy, and totally free way to explore.
6. ATTEND A FREE FESTIVAL: Tickets to music festivals are often astronomically expensive—which is why attending your city’s free festivals is that much more of a coup.
7. GET A LIBRARY CARD: Listen: if the stereotype of grumpy, shush-happy librarians is keeping you away from your local library, it’s time to change your ways. Odds are, your city’s got a sprawling library system with tons of books, hot new releases, DVDs, community workshops, and other forms of entertainment and erudition that you can take home without paying a cent.
8. GO ON A PHOTO TOUR: One easy way to make your city feel new and exciting again? Traveling with a camera (or smartphone) in hand. A photo tour will encourage you to seek out new areas around town, capture surprising angles of familiar landmarks, and otherwise see your surroundings differently. Coming away with some Insta-worthy shots? That’s an added perk.
9. HOST A STOOP SALE: Hosting a stoop sale isn’t just a nifty (and eco-friendly) way to declutter your apartment—it’s also an opportunity to meet other neighborhood residents and make positive local connections. Up the festive atmosphere and sell homemade baked goods or glasses of lemonade. (Hey, it’s tradition.)
10. VOLUNTEER: Your staycation isn’t just an opportunity do some chillaxing—it’s also the chance to give back and connect with inspiring local organizations. From sustainable food-waste organizations to tree-planting excursions and beyond, there are plenty of ways to donate your time—and make a difference for your city—this summer.
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