5 fun family outings that wont break the bank

Ok, you guys, we are well into June. Whaaaa...? Where is the time going? Before I know it, I'm going to be back in the rat race and a mere stranger to these three kiddos...Gah! #shiftworksucks.

That being said, Ryan and I are desperate to pack in as much summer fun as we can this year. Since I'm not working any evenings or weekends (or days, but I digress.) The kicker?...Doing stuff costs mucho dinero, which adds up fast if we're not careful. We are quickly becoming experts on how to have fun family outings on the cheap. And guess what folks? I'm going to let you in on our top 5 Summer favourites. Now obviously they are for the Ottawa area, as that is where we live, but I hope it gives you some inspiration for some fun, frugal family outings no matter where you call home.

Going out as a family of five can be expensive as all heck. Here are five of our favorite summer outings that are free (or almost free) to inspire you to get out of the house without spending all of your hard earned moola.

1. Go to the airport and watch the planes land.

There is a spot on Leitrim Rd. where you can pull over and park your car right across from the landing strip. (check your local airport to see if you are as lucky as we are) it puts you right under the landing airplanes. (as long as the wind is blowing in the right direction, otherwise, they are using another landing strip without the same vantage point). It's beyond crazy. It feels like you can reach up and touch the airplanes...but you can't, don't worry.

a few things to consider:

-I don't recommend taking a stroll around the area. Teens People use the area to "party" so there is the usual paraphernalia lying about.

-It's loud. If your kiddos are terrified of loud noises bring earplugs.

-you'll want to check the wind direction, and the flight plans before heading out. It's more fun if there are lots of planes coming in.

2. Catch an outdoor movie.

Last year, our City Councillor hosted an outdoor movie at a local park, and it was awesome. We headed out with two other families and enjoyed the park, popcorn, and obviously, the movie. I wasn't sure if this was going to be a hit but it definitely was. Ottawa has many outdoor movie nights (Friday Night Flicks (formerly Movies on the Beach), and Centretown Movies, to name a few) and we will be hitting up at least one this summer, that's for sure.

a few things to consider:

-Bring camp chairs, blankets and pillows for comfort/warmth.

-remember the show starts after dark so you will want long-sleeves, and pants to keep the mosquitoes away. If it's too hot for full coverage than you'll want to bring bug spray.

*For Jonas, we also have this stroller mosquito net that works great to keep him protected from the buggies.

-Bring lots of snacks to keep the kiddos content and sitting in their chairs.

-Bring a flash light. For finding dropped items, packing up, and getting to the car. Most outdoor movies are, understandably, set up in darker areas.

3. Hike in the Park.

We always manage to make it to Gatineau Park at least once in the summer. It's a great place to take visitors, like Granddad. There are many areas to hit up, but we normally park at Mackenzie King Estates and walk the waterfall trail (super easy) followed by a picnic on the grounds, and then we hit up Champlain Lookout on the way out to check out the view. The trail around Pink Lake is also easy enough for young kids/Granddads.

a few things to consider:

-Bring some cash. You have to pay for parking at Mackenzie King Estates (but a lot of the other parking areas are free)

-We like to bring a picnic lunch to have on the grounds. It's beautiful and a great spot to rest after a hike, but you can buy BBQ hot dogs if you forget, or don't want to pack a lunch, or you lurve hot dogs. If you don't have crazy toddlers you could also have a fancy lunch on the porch of the estate. (I've done this with my Mother and Mother in-law and it was lovely!)

-Even though it's an easy trail I would still recommend that the kiddos (and yourselves) wear sensible attire and footwear. I would also leave the stroller and diaper bag at home and bring the baby carrier and a backpack filled with essentials and lunch, instead.

4. Watch fireworks.

We've seen the Casino de Lac-Leamy Sound of Light Show from the side lines before but last year we actually went to the designated venue with Lilah and Vaughn (the Canadian Museum of History) and it's definitely something we want to do again this year. It cost $8 per adult, kids are free.

a few things to consider:

-Go early to get a prime spot and enjoy all the pre-show activities, live music, and beer tent (just saying.)

-see all the outing #2 tips as this is also an outdoor, evening event.

-Again, if you think your kids might not like the loud boom of the fireworks bring earplugs. They work like a charm!

5. Enjoy the RCMP Musical Ride's Sunset Ceremonies.

Ryan took the kids to see the Musical Ride last year when I was working, and they had such a great time that we are all going to go this year.

a few things to consider:

-Get there early. It's popular and there are only a few dates per year. This year it's June 22-26th. It gets crowded quickly.

-You can bring camp chairs and/or a blanket to sit on, but people tend to stand up to get a better view, so prepare to have a kiddo on your shoulders.

-Bring a few things to do outside (a ball, bubbles, etc.) that way you can waste a bit of time outdoors before heading back to the car. The traffic leaving is bonkers. So why not just enjoy a bit more time in the fresh air vs. being stuck in traffic in the car.

All of these activities are easy to do with another family, so you can get in some adult hang time, too. Always a bonus. 

Thanks to Personal Capital for inspiring this post. Check out their FREE financial software to keep your spending (and saving) on track.

Later gators,