What free things have we been doing for fun in Paradise?

Paradise has the benefit of not being 80-gazillion degrees with 100% humidity.  WOOOOO.

Paradise has a lot of things to spend money on, but it also has a lot of fun activities that are completely free.  And we’ve been enjoying them!

1.  We have been going to all sorts of different parks and playgrounds.  The kids love this.  And, unlike the playgrounds in our hometown, they still have swing-sets.  Enjoy those swings while you still can, kids.  We’d do playgrounds in our hometown as well, and many of them are shaded, but even shaded it was really an early morning or late evening activity.  In Paradise we can take the kids whenever they’re feeling squiggly.  Drawback:  Their endurance is going way up.

2.  The library!  The last time we lived in a city this was a 20 min walk and we’d go once a week.  Now it is a 7 min walk and we go LOTS.  There are puzzles and so many books.  Their romance section isn’t great, but their other branches have more books and they deliver to this branch, so that’s been fun.  In our hometown the library isn’t as good and we have a lot more books at home so it was more of a once a month activity.  Related:  We’ve been reading more books.  DC1 has technically done two summer reading programs this summer, one in our hometown and ze is signed up for the one here.

3.  Free movies in the park.  Every Friday evening in the summer there are free movies in one of the city parks.  We do not do this in our hometown because it’s hot and there are too many mosquitos.  I don’t go to these, but the kids have been enjoying them (DH has been tolerating them).

4.  First Fridays.  Every first Friday of the month there’s music and dancing and booths and so on in the townsquare closest to us.  DC2 has been talking about the first one ever since it happened and cannot wait for the next.  At home the town next to ours has first Fridays, but it’s a drive and there’s less free stuff.  Related:  there have been a couple of community street fairs that have a few food stands for local restaurants but are mostly things like the firepeople letting people climb all over the firetruck, ditto police people and a police car, the library staff playing banjo music etc.

5.  Driving to state/local parks.  (This does cost gas.)  Some of the state parks in the area cost $ (though not much money) for either entrance fees or for parking, but many of the smaller ones do not.  They spent two hours throwing pebbles and sticks into a pond and did not want to leave.

6.  Grocery shopping/farmers markets/specialty markets.  While not technically free, we have to get food for the week *anyway* and it’s been fun seeing all the different kinds of food there are.  The kids love Trader Joe’s!  Our friends out here with kids the same age say they never take their kids grocery shopping because they don’t behave, so YMMV on taking kids to do chores.

7.  Biking.  I haven’t gotten a bike yet [update:  I ordered one], but DC1, DC2, and DH all have bikes, and DH has a seat for DC2 for longer distances.  They have been having enormous fun just biking around.  They’ve been doing a lot of seeing if they can get to daycare and DC1’s school, checking the cheap neighborhood bike guy to see if he has any adult bikes in yet, trying out playgrounds that are farther afield, and so on.

8.  Walking.  Just checking out the neighborhood and places we can walk to from where we live.

9.  Playing with friends.  We have some friends out here with kids exactly the same age as our kids and they’ve been having a great time.  It’s been really odd socializing mid-week instead of just on weekends.

10.  Going to short plays put on by a summer camp every other Friday just outside the library.

That’s it for so far, but we haven’t been here long!  I suspect there will be activities attached to public school.

What have we been doing less of?  Less ipad.  Less Netflix.  Less swimming (DC1 is taking lessons, but the HOA pool was free and we don’t have passes for the nearby pool).  Fewer video games.

What have we been doing that costs money?  Street fairs with yummy food.  DH and the kids went to a museum (there are plans to do more, but spread out and when relatives visit).  DC1 did a daycamp that had a field trip to an amusement park.  As mentioned before, we signed DC1 up for a few daycamps in addition to swimming lessons.  DC2 has daycare.  DH has used up most of his saved up allowance on exploring coffee shops and sandwich places.

What free fun things do you do?

30 Responses to “What free things have we been doing for fun in Paradise?”

  1. Rented life Says:

    Our CSA pick up is a family trip. LO picks out what fruit he might eat, and sometimes a cow or horse is around for him to growl at (apparently all the things make that noise according to him). We’ve walked a few street fairs, and there are two parks nearby. The one we picnic at if we get tacos from the food truck. He loves music so we listen to a lot of CDs. The library. Walks. We went to the waterfront once and I’d like to go again.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      ooh, that’s exciting! We’ve never had CSA pick-up at an actual farm on a regular basis. Our current one has a permanent drop-off point at someone’s house. But we did stop by a park that had a working farm on it, which was fun for DC2. Zie is very into chickens.

  2. Kellen Says:

    I miss having a good library! We have one in our neighborhood, but it’s sort of depressing and doesn’t have much space. I go to one near my parents’ house sometimes, which is just so pleasant–quiet and airy. Our neighborhood is up in arms since there is a plan to close our library and 2 others in nearby neighborhoods, and consolidate them into a big new library. People are sad because they won’t be able to walk there anymore. It’s right on the edge of the residential part of the neighborhood so relatively few people can walk there anyway (and it’s about a 35 min walk for me), so I’m pretty pumped to get a bigger library that might be worth browsing in!

    I think the lack of sweltering heat and humidity sounds lovely… I try to get out and do stuff here (ATL) most weekends, but it definitely involves a lot of sweating to do stuff outdoors here in the summer.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Our local library isn’t the best for browsing, but the system is pretty good. Last night DC1 and I had to order hir 3 books because they just didn’t have them (#3 in one series that they had all the others, #1 that was checked out in two other series). So hopefully they’ll come in in the future. DC1 is learning patience. :)

      Big libraries are awesome! Sweating sucks. :(

      • Kellen Says:

        The library in my college town was pretty nice. They often didn’t have all the books in series–so I would buy them, read them, then donate to the library to complete their series. I hope they realized this! (A lot of times the donated books go straight to the ‘buy for $0.10’ fundraiser rack).

  3. Louisa Says:

    I’d love to know where your Paradise is. Is it a secret? More free things: neighborhood strolls, watching mime artists, lying on grass, picnics, visiting cemetaries, attending worship or a faith community in whatever form (ours is a meditation group)

  4. Cloud Says:

    Hmmm… thinking about this, I realize that we do a lot of cheap things (e.g., carousel rides), or things we paid for once and use a lot (e.g., zoo trips), but not as many truly free things as I thought. Our big ones are: go to the beach, go to Balboa Park, go to one of the parks we like, go to Coronado (usually includes a meal at one of our favorite local brew pubs, but it wouldn’t HAVE to), go to Old Town (again, usually in conjunction with a meal, but the music my kids enjoy listening to is technically free). We do also go to the library quite a bit. We have a branch walking distance to us, and a trip down to the nice new big one downtown is considered a treat. And really, we all like just hanging out in the backyard, even though the lawn is severely drought damaged right now!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Being able to go to the beach on a weekday is pretty amazing though.

      We haven’t been going to restaurants in walking distance even though there are a lot of them because they’re not that great and the CSA (which is amazing, but hard to keep up with) is taking over our life. I’m bummed about the restaurants– there are a ton of them nearby and there are really good restaurants that are in driving distance, but the walking distance once aren’t really worth walking to when we can have something better and healthier at home. Previously when we’ve lived or visited someplace like this there’s been one or two really great places worth going to again and again, but so far not so much.

  5. becca Says:

    Beach! We saw Lake Michigan from the IL, MI and IN shores this summer (much to my surprise, I liked IN best. Maybe it was just the day we went, but the waves were biggest there!).
    Definitely libraries. Also the YMCA (not free, but already paid for)
    We swam a ton this summer.

    We only got out on the kayaks once, but that is essentially free. Need to get a bike again (mine was stolen).
    We’ve had some free festivals and the like this summer.

    My SO’s idea of entertaining the kid is making him do home improvement projects, so there was a lot of that. Our backyard looks great :-)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Beaches are awesome! Especially when they’re free. IIRC, Indiana has some pretty spectacular dunes, though I could be misremembering.

      That sucks about your bike. :(

      Home improvement projects can be fun for kids. (Though not always! Still, they’re good learning experiences.)

  6. Miser Mom Says:

    I keep re-reading this post because it makes me so happy. Your Paradise reminds me a lot of the city I live in, right down to movies/concerts in the park and the First Fridays. Although I suspect my city is much cheaper than Paradise, with somewhat less thrilling libraries/museums than yours. But we have outdoor pianos that anyone can sit down at and play!

    Our idea of out-of-the-home fun is mostly exercise-ish things: walks, bike rides, basketball at the park. Inside the house, what could be more fun than math? That’s what I did today. Oh, and crossword puzzles. And picking vegetables.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Ah math. Sadly DC1 has already done all the 5th grade math they’ll be learning this year. Ze doesn’t seem bothered by that, but I will be supplementing. Maybe I should sign hir up for math olympiad…. it isn’t offered through the school though, but outside of it, so it is not free. I suppose zie could always go back to doing python…

      Pianos are cool! We’ve been dragging our heels on getting lessons set up.

  7. Norwegian Forest Cat Says:

    Yay free things! Is Trader Joe’s a new thing for you, or do you have one in non-Paradise? I am a sucker for their free wine tastings on Friday nights, but that usually turns out to be not-free because it’s a very effective marketing strategy. :) I am so lucky to be close to a lot of the free things here – museums, a zoo, art galleries, music during the summer (somewhat tolerable after the sun goes down), a big Shakespeare festival before it gets too hot outside, a giant dog fun-day around Earth Day, great picnic spots, room to play frisbee golf… jeez. I really should get out more.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      It isn’t new, but there isn’t one in non-paradise. (Before I got a real job, I lived in cities with TJ’s, though of course I did not grow up with one.)

      Those all sound like really fun things!

  8. middle_class Says:

    In my part of paradise, there are a lot of free museum days.

  9. bogart Says:

    Many of the things you list, though we are not as good about biking as we should be. One thing we enjoy that isn’t on your list is disc golf (one of our town parks has a free course). We also have an inflatable (Sea Eagle) kayak, that gives us free access (after paying for gas) to many local lakes and rivers.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I don’t think I’ve seen disc golf. It sounds fun!

      • Norwegian Forest Cat Says:

        Yeah! I do this all the time too. Don’t be put off if you don’t have a course – we just make ours up using trees, posts, boulders, etc. as we go and dream up whatever the “par” should be based on who we’re playing with. It’s a fun way to get outside and do something that’s not *too* effortful. Beware of the water hazards though! :)

  10. Leigh Says:

    Your normal place of living sounds absolutely miserable compared to Paradise ;)

  11. Rosa Says:

    Our library system is such a gem. The online services make it basically wish fulfillment; if i want a book, I can download it instantly or ask them to send it to our branch. But we can also just spend an afternoon in their AC reading comics on the cushy chairs, too.

    And then they sponsor all sorts of free things – kids movies (with free sponsored snacks & juice boxes) once a month except in summer. Lego play days. Foreign language conversation circles. Walking tours to learn about various neighborhoods.

    Our parks and theaters, too – in summer, I’m likely to stumble across a free concert or play in our park, and if I paid attention we could plan on attending them all over the city. Free outdoor movies in summer (though in summer, it gets dark so late, kiddo’s not really up for it.) Beaches – we have been going to the beach with a friend to throw sticks for her dog, lately.

    We have two art museums that are always free, and the other ones have free nights pretty regularly. For a while there was a program to check out museum passes from the library, but their grant got over.

  12. Sandyl FirstgenAmerican Says:

    This describes my community pretty closely, except for the mosquito’s part. Lots of parks and free everything. Free movies, free Shakespeare in the park, third Thursday street fair, first Friday art fair, a different farmer’s market I can go to at least 4 days out of the week, touring the various schoolyard playgrounds, lakes, museums, libraries, apple festivals, parades. Like every weekend there is so much to choose from you can’t possibly do and see it all.

    BUT, I also know that there are armies of volunteers that make all these things happen, so the events are only a physically manifestation of the general coolness of the people in the community.

    Thumbs up to paradise communities. It does a body (and mind) good.

  13. J Liedl Says:

    The library is big for us. Being able to put books on hold and have them delivered to our local branch is awesome. A friend’s daughter worked in the children’s programming this summer – I know they did a lot of fun things from crafts to movies.

    We’re always up for walks in the local parks or around our neighbourhood. Even though she’s closer to twenty than ten, Autistic Youngest still loves the swingset at our local park.

    One of the local gyms provides free daytime access for teenagers, requiring only that they complete the orientation and keep their use to between 8 and 3 – that kept our girls happy for many summers.

  14. chacha1 Says:

    I suspect if I looked hard enough I could find some free things that we could be doing. Unfortunately all the things I’ve been interested in doing, that I’ve found out about, that were free, happen during the business day. This is not helpful for those of us with 9-6, M-F jobs.

    There are also technically-free things that cost money to get to. Either they are a fair distance (meaning driving, meaning gasoline + time) or being there entails spending money on parking and probably on food, and/or there will be crowds of people. Like the beach, which = all of the above.

    I am an old crank at this point and am basically tired of how much effort is involved with doing just about anything in my vast populous city. :-) Also of how fricking hot it is, because I don’t care if something *is* free, I’m not doing it in 90-degree heat.


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