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There's still time for low-cost, free summer family fun ideas

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August is Family Fun Month, and there is still vacation time to spare before school starts. Consumer Price Index and Travel Price Index (TPI) continue to increase, making vacationing away from home costlier.

To help consumers find ways to enjoy what is left of the summer, experts at UF/IFAS offer research-based options and ideas for low-cost and free family fun activities sure to make the most of a staycation.

image - family having a picnic
A family having a picnic at a Florida park. Courtesy UF IFAS Photography.

With the cost of just about everything going up due to inflation, many families may opt for a staycation over the traditional out-of-town travel. UF/IFAS Extension experts suggest taking a closer look around your neighborhood for some ideas.

“There are plenty of options and activities right in and around your neighborhood, city, county and region from parks to libraries to facilities. All you have to do is dig a little for information,” said Brenda Marty-Jimenez, one of several UF/IFAS Extension agents throughout the state specializing in family and consumer sciences.

Here, Marty-Jimenez adds her top seven strategies for inexpensive summer fun.

  • Plan a family gathering. This as an opportunity for parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to show the younger generation that fun doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Just reuniting with family during generational get-togethers, activities and a meal prepared using old family favorite recipes can be the best event of all. Shared traditional food combined with stories, games and scenes from photo albums can bring about a lot of fun, memories, smiles and laughter. What better legacy can be left behind, than family members remembering loved ones and their life journey together as a family?
  • image - kids learning to kayak is another great idea summer fun on the cheap. Some parks rent them free to students with an ID.
    Youth can kayak for free or at little cost depending on the public park. Some parks provide equipment for free to students, seniors, first responders and others with an ID. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

    When was your last park visit? Consider visiting a local, county, state or national park and their associated facilities these last weeks of summer. Beautiful scenes, landscaping, facilities and experiences await you. Local city parks can be free or sometimes charge a nominal entrance fee. My local park currently charges $1.50 per person. Burn some calories and have some relaxing time out in nature while exploring.

  • Hike, bike, fish and hydrate. Whether you chose to bike or hike in your neighborhood or in a local park, enjoy your time absorbing some vitamin D and try to identify some native Florida plants, insects and wildlife. There are plenty of smartphone apps that allow you point, shoot and identify what you are finding. Don’t forget there are plenty of places to bring your fishing rod too.
  • Just keep swimming. Local swimming pools and water parks are tons of fun and a great way to keep your cool. Most are staffed with lifeguards and safety personnel to keep you and your family safe. They are a lot less costly than highly attended and expensive theme parks. In Broward County, costs can range from $6 to $9.50 per person. Prices are often reduced after 3 p.m. Seasonal and annual passes may be available. It is always best to call ahead or check the website for pricing.
  • Libraries are the best-kept secret. They have it all. Puppet shows, short plays, magician acts, craft activities and even a movie night, libraries aren’t just for books.
  • Look for discounted activities. Some activities and events offer students, veterans, first responders, teachers, nurses, and military personnel free or reduced costs to museums, parks and tourist destinations in Florida. Are you a senior citizen? Check out AARP discounts and freebies for seniors.

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life.  fas.ufl.edu 

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