Cheap ways to enjoy the sunshine (or hide from it) this summer

By April Dykman

For Get Rich Slowly

Published: Wednesday, July 9 2014 7:00 a.m. MDT

A few summers ago, we had a summer of 60+ days of 100-degrees or higher. That’s not the norm, thank goodness, but still, August can be brutal. Here are some ways to get out of the house, but stay in the AC.

  1. Movies. OK, this one is obvious, but I’m thinking beyond the regular movie theaters here. For instance, there’s a historic theater that plays classic movies all summer long, so you can see "Citizen Kane" or "The Godfather" on the big screen. There’s another theater that runs a kids camp with free movies for parents and kids. My hunch is that local, historic, or more off-beat theaters are more likely to offer these kinds of screenings.
  2. Improv show. My friend Kacey is an improv actor so I’ve been to a few shows. “Tickets are usually $10,” she said, making them a fairly inexpensive way to have a ton of fun. For instance, did you know that there’s such a thing as musical improv? The actors make up entire songs and sing in unison right on the spot. Crazy.
  3. Museums. Many museums are either free or they have a specific day of the week when they’re free.
  4. Ice skating rink. Before writing this article, I’d never thought about ice skating during the summer. But really, what a great way to cope with an insanely hot day. Especially because I’m terrible at ice skating, so my rear end will be on ice most of the time.
  5. Be a bookworm. There’s the library, used bookstores, and local bookstores that are all free or cheap. These places also host events, so look for an events calendar.
  6. Learn something new. Want to learn how to bake a peach pie or what the heck a downward dog is? “Many institutions and stores offer free classes on the weekends on all sorts of topics,” writes Trent Hamm at The Simple Dollar. “Stop by a local food store and catch a free cooking class, or a hardware store to learn about a home repair topic. Got kids? Try something like the Home Depot Kids Workshop, where they offer free how-to clinics for kids ages 5 to 12 — these can be a lot of fun.”

    Of course, you’ll need to Google around a bit to get the specific offerings for your hometown, but most mid-sized cities seem to offer some version of these activities and events.

    As for me, I’m making another date to hang out at the springs. A big pool of water is my summertime happy place.

    Readers, help me out here and add to this list! What do you do when you want to get out of the house during the summer?

    April Dykman is a freelance writer, editor, and blogger who specializes in personal finance, real estate, and entrepreneurship topics.