Frugal Long Weekend Fun

Can’t get away? We’ve got some budget-friendly ideas to help you make the most your long weekend.

You don’t have to go far or lay out a lot of cash to have a good time this long weekend. Here, some activities that may just have you saying “Remember that time when…

Explore your own city

How many times have you passed a museum, gallery or tourist spot in your hometown and thought, “I’ve been meaning to go there”? Visit your city or region’s website and look up their tourist information. Find out what attractions, local events and activities are recommended to travellers and choose a few you’d like to try yourself. Spend the day antiquing or checking out those little boutiques you’ve always wanted to see. Visit a museum you’ve always passed off as being “too touristy”. Many smaller museums, historic homes and local archives have very low admission costs and won’t be crowded with visitors like more popular places.

To help balance out admission costs, make sure your tour includes some freebies as well, like local churches and government buildings. You can often walk around the grounds of some sites without having to pay admission to enter.

Learn (or teach) a new skill

Take it from Benjamin Franklin who said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn” — learning or teaching a new skill paves the way for memorable experiences. How many of us can remember a skill we learned from a relative, or something we learned alongside a friend?

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Get together with a cooking buddy and try a new recipe or new cooking technique. Teach your child or grandchild a skill like knitting or sewing, or involve them in a hands-on project. These quick lessons can also turn into longer projects that you can work on together.

Get some exercise

Walking is a great way to burn some calories, and a pleasant way to spend a few hours. The trick is to get out of your neighbourhood and away from your usual haunts if you want to make this a memorable activity. Take a hike in a local park or conservation area with a camera and some favourite snacks in hand, or see if your area offers free walking tour guides through town. (See Your guide to walking tours for details).

You can even set a goal for the excursion — like creating an online photo album to show friends and family you’ve been trying to convince to come visit.

Of course, your feet aren’t the only way to get around. Check to see if you can rent a bicycle for the day and take a tour. Or, if you’re lucky enough to live in a town with water, consider renting a boat for a few hours. Many areas offer paddleboats, rowboats or canoes to rent for an hour or longer.

To market, to market

Skip the grocery store this weekend and go to a farmers’ market instead. The trip isn’t just about food shopping — it’s about taking in the sights, sounds and smells as well (like live music and fresh popcorn).

For those who would prefer to avoid the crowds, a visit to a local farm to buy your produce provides the perfect opportunity for a drive in the country. If you’re not shy about getting your hands a little dirty, find a farm to pick your own produce instead — it provides a bit of an adventure and you’ll likely pay less.

Once you’ve loaded up with fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s time to put them to good use. That extra day off is a good opportunity to preserve some of that tasty fare by making jam, loading up the freezer with fresh produce or making sauces. (See Savour summer all year long.)

Eat out (outside, that is)

There aren’t too many months of the year where we can dine en plein air so we should take advantage of them! Preparing your own meal is much less expensive than a trip to a restaurant, and the outdoors can provide excellent ambiance. If you’ve been to the farmers’ market or just learned a new recipe, now is the time to show it off.

Enjoy fresh foods and seasonal favourites with a potluck barbeque, or enjoy brunch in your outdoor room. Picnics are also versatile and inexpensive ways to spend time with the people you love, and you can adapt the choice of locale and cuisine to suit any audience like the kids or grandkids, your parents, friends or a special someone. (See Six simple picnics for ideas.)

You don’t even have to prepare a full meal — roasting marshmallows and making s’mores with the youngsters in your life will do the trick.

Plan a day trip

Another option is to pack up your car and head out of town — even if it’s just an hour or so away. Take along a comfortable pair of walking shoes, your camera, and an umbrella (if needed), and take a tour. Your journey can be as planned or as impromptu as you like. Simply stop in at a store or visit the tourist bureau to ask for recommendations on what to see or where to eat.


Savour summer all year long
Six simple picnics
Plan a great road trip
Your guide to walking tours
Great Canadian beaches