Everyone wants to have an amazing summer, jam-packed full of adventures, exploring new places and basking in the warm weather - I mean, that's what summer is made for, after all! Unfortunately, that's what makes summer somewhat of a stressful time as well...scrounging up money to be able to afford a beach house with your friends, tickets to outdoor concerts and memberships to a pool can leave people with a deep hole in their bank accounts at the end of the season.
But it doesn't have to be that way - you don't have to go into debt to enjoy your summer! There are actually so many trips and activities you can partake in that are completely, 100% free! So read on and have a great summer, made greater by the fact that you'll still have money to spare when fall comes back around.
Visit the closest National Park or trail system during the fee-free entry period.
Most National Parks and trail systems have a week or two during their peak season where they completely suspend all the fees and payments you would normally have to fork out to get in! It only happens a few times a year, so don't forget to take advantage of that!
Wander around your local farmers market.
Window shopping is so much more fun when it's ethical and supportive of local establishments. Farmers markets are incredible ways to get to know your community even better, and, if you do end up buying something, it'll be SO much cheaper than purchasing from the grocery store.
Drive around with the windows down while playing your favorite songs.
I mean, did you even have a summer at all if you didn't do this at some point?
Go to the nearest free concert or music festival, even if it's not your favorite type of music.
Summer isn't summer without live outdoor music, even if it's not your favorite genre. The ambiance and the ability to people-watch, dance and maybe even find some cool local tunes for free are so worth it.
Drive to the top of a mountain or a hill and park to watch the sunrise/sunset.
Everyone HAS to experience this at least once during the summer, due to the fact that it's basically the only season during which you can do it without freezing to death or having to wear a bunch of extra layers. You might have to get up earlier or stay out later than you initially wanted to, but trust me, it'll be an experience you'll never forget.
Find the nearest body of water and JUMP IN!
After making sure there aren't any snakes, harmful fish, crabs, etc., of course...taking a swim is so much more exciting with the threat of wildlife, am I right? (Nah, but really...natural bodies of water have this awesome healing effect you'll never get from the local community pool.)
Plan an outdoor picnic with your friends, bringing whatever food you have in your refrigerator at the time.
Okay, so the image of a beautiful, luxurious picnic with champagne, grapes and a cheese plate sounds like a dream, but it isn't that affordable. Get a few friends together and plan an impromptu picnic with whatever food you each have in your fridge at the moment - it'll make for a funnier, more realistic memory.
Find a parade or festival.
Parades and festivals are activities that absolutely flourish in the summertime. There are so many: Fourth of July parades, plant exhibits, food festivals...all of which can be enjoyed without an entry fee or purchase!
Host a bonfire.
This one is easy, especially if you live in a rural area. Wood is free, people - just go out into the nearest forested area and pick up the hundreds of leaves, little sticks and broken branches lying around everywhere. In most places, there are super tiny bushes or branches that you can hack off with an ax for thicker burning material. Then, using a lighter that you (most likely) already have, BOOM! You have yourself a bonfire. Just make sure you're not breaking any local or seasonal burning laws.
Pick some wildflowers or other local flora to spruce up your place for the season.
You can't enjoy the season to the fullest if you're not feeling summer outside AND inside. Look around and pick some of the local flowers and plants that are currently in bloom to place in vases or arrange elsewhere around the house.
Fortunately for us, the government hasn't placed a price on the night sky (yet)! Take your car away from the city to the summit of a mountain or a hill after sunset, and just take in the incomprehensibly huge and gorgeous universe around us (extra points if you can actually find and name any constellations, too).
Like picnics, camping doesn't have to be glammed-out to be enjoyable. You can save a ton of money by hosting a backyard campground for a night or two if you have the space! Just invite all of your friends to pitch a tent in your backyard, bringing over whatever food/amenities they have at the moment.
Find the nearest free museum.
Most smaller, local museums are free to the public and definitely worth the trip, even if they feature a subject you're not exactly super interested in. Who knows? You might just learn something new about the area you live in or something about a specific subject that you didn't know before.
Be a tourist in the next town over.
You probably already know the cool hang-out spots and attractions in your own town, so go to the next town over (or just the closest town you're not familiar with) and explore! You'll be surprised at what some areas can offer.
Dance/run around outside during a rainstorm.
Just indulge in one of the simpler moments in life, ya know?
Try to learn something new.
Summer is a time for growth - flowers are blooming, and so should you. Whether it's photography, playing the ukulele, playing chess or tying knots, just try your best to learn a new trade or skill. You can't go wrong with more knowledge.
Summer isn't a contest of who can spend the most money or go on the most vacations abroad - it's about making memories with the people around you. With this list, you can definitely do that and make sure you get the most out of your summer without sacrificing your hard-earned cash. Happy adventuring!