Low Cost and Fun
With the economy in its current state of depression a lot of us are struggling for fun things to do close to home. Just because it's close to home doesn't mean it can't be any fun.
Having only lived in this area for about four years many places are still new to me which helps but even the natives can find fun things in their own neck of the woods that won't cost an arm and a leg. I've listed a few things in the Southern Maine area but of course most of these types of activities can also be found in your area too. Just a quick google search will turn up a few ideas for fun low-cost ideas.
Go to the park! Deering Oaks Park one of my favorites - If you live in the Portland Maine area you can take the Forest & High St bus. There is parking around the park for those who drive from out of the area. This park, designed in 1879 by William Goodwin the cities Park Engineer. His goal was to keep the park a natural oasis from city life. This park, owned by the City of Portland and maintained by the city and the Friends of Deering Oaks Park. The park has an amazing rose garden - lots of blooms all summer long but the best are late May through June and an amazing fountain is the centerpiece of the park. A wonderful farmers market on Saturdays, go early as parking tough due to its popularity. There is a visitors center open most days through fall with information on other park features and information.
Another stand out in our area is Henry Law Park in Dover NH. Great place to picnic during the day. Nice views of old mills, plenty of area to play games in or walk around. In the evening they have a concert series (this starts in the summer, after school is out for the year). Henry Law is next door to the Children's Museum and down the street from the Woodman Institute which is a must see if you live in Southern Maine or the seacoast area of New Hampshire.
Town/City Owned Trails - Most towns and cities in this are and probably your area too have trails open to the public. Just by checking your local governments website and looking under parks and recreation you can normally find this information. We like Mill Creek Park in South Portland for a quick walk and a great view of the City of Portland. If you have little ones they will enjoy feeding the ducks that live there. They have a fountain, a rose garden, and a gazebo. We also like Number One Pond in Sanford/Springvale. Good easy walk with some interesting wildlife and well as nice views of old mill buildings. You can not feed the ducks here though - it's posted that it's a no-no. Sanford/Springvale do their annual 4th of July fireworks over this pond as well as the famous pumpkin drop (go to YouTube and check it out - it's quite funny). You can also head down to Rochester New Hampshire area and take a nice walk up the Blue Job Mountain Trails. The trail head I believe is technically in Strafford New Hampshire. Not a bad hike, about a mile long. It's considered fairly easy though I huff and puff my way up! Best left for late spring into summer as the trail can be muddy. You'll find some good information about trails on your local town websites.
Your local library - Spend a rainy spring or hot summer day at your local library. You'll be surprised what you'll find, especially if you're not a frequent visitor. Our local library has coffee available, plenty of comfy chairs and work tables, countless public computers and free WiFi for those of you who bring your own laptops or smart phones. A lot of local libraries even have great outdoor spots for an afternoon picnic. It's also a good spot to research your area to find great ideas for low-budget things to do. Don't forget to check the bulletin board!
Our area of Southern Maine has plenty of lighthouses, forts, historical houses (that are often free to local residents or on specific days of the year), and beaches. Google your area using the search words family, fun, low-cost, no cost and see what you come up with. Don't forget your state parks - they have plenty of no cost or low-cost programs for adults and kids too!