Whether you have kids to entertain or find yourself wondering what to do with your spare time, having fun doesn’t always have to come with a big price tag. They say the best things in life are free, and that can certainly include experiences.
I never budget a huge part of my monthly spending to entertainment. Instead, I focus on free activities like hosting game nights, crafting, reading and more.
In this article, you’ll find inspiration and resources to locate and sign up for free events happening in your area as well as fun, free things to do at home.
Where to Find Free Events
No matter where you live, you can most likely find at least a few free upcoming community events. These could range from festivals to performances to classes.
Don’t be afraid to go to an event that’s out of our comfort zone. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll learn by keeping an open mind! You could even find a new favorite hobby or hidden talent.
Here are a few easy ways to find free events that are happening in your area:
1. Google Search
One of the best ways to find free events happening near you is with a quick Google search. Simply type in “free events near me” or type in your specific city.
You’ll see a full page of search results with local websites and organizations that are hosting upcoming events. Google also displays event information for relevant searches. You can click on “Events” for more details and check out the top links.
2. Your City’s Website
If you don’t find much in the Google search results, be sure to check out your city’s government website. Most of the time, you’ll find a tab for recreation and things to do. It’s always fun to see your city through the eyes of a tourist!
Scroll through the list of activities and keep an eye out for museums, zoos, performances and art exhibits that are free to visit in your area.
3. The Library
The library is a source of free entertainment all in itself, but you’ll also likely find free community events happening there often! If you don’t already have a library card, stop by and get one as soon as possible; you’ll typically only need an ID. While you’re there, ask about free upcoming events!
You can usually browse these events online, as well. Just search for you nearest library, visit their website and look for an events or calendar tab. My local library is hosting a vision-board making class, origami demonstration, several book clubs and more for free this month!
4. Your Local Free Newspaper
Even if you don’t receive the newspaper yourself, you can most likely find free copies available online. The website for your local newspaper can be a great online resource for free upcoming events. Look for a calendar or events tab and click through the results for more information.
I found several free events listed in my local newspaper’s calendar, including a classic horror film fest, comedy night, bookmark-making class and more.
5. Social Websites and Apps
Both of these resources can be used from a computer or you can download the apps.
You can browse most of the events without having to create an account, but they’re both free to join if you do decide to attend an event. Not every event posted is free to attend, but you can filter out paid events in your search results.
6. Volunteering Opportunities
While you’re searching for free events to attend, consider checking out local volunteering opportunities as well.
Volunteering is a great use of your time. It’s completely free and you’ll be helping out the people in your community. Use these resources to find volunteer opportunities in your area:
I did a quick search on VolunteerMatch to see what opportunities there are near me, and the results included working local sports games, mentoring, walking, advocating and more.
Free Things to Do
If you don’t feel like doing something social, there are unlimited possibilities for free entertainment at or near home — you just might have to get a little creative.
Whether you’re spending a night in alone or with a house full of kids, here are a few fun and free ways to pass the time:
1. Listen to Podcasts
Podcasts are amazing, and you can listen to tons of them for free from your computer or phone. Most smartphones have a built-in podcast app that allows you to browse available podcasts based on interest. You’ll find a range of genres including news, personal growth, crime/mystery and more.
2. Read a Good Book
Revisit an old favorite or pull something off your bookshelf that you never got around to reading before. You can also check out the collection at your local library or borrow a book from a friend.
If you’re a fan of ebooks, you can find a huge collection of free titles on Amazon.
3. Watch Videos, Movies and Television
You don’t have to go to the movie theater (or even pay for cable) for quality entertainment anymore. There are tons of free videos on YouTube for all interests ranging from documentaries to makeup walk-throughs.
For full-length movies, check out a few of these free movie websites. If you have a Roku, you can also stream free movies and TV on the Roku channel or check out Pluto TV. Other popular streaming services like Hulu and Netflix offer free trials to new users.
4. Cook Something
Try creating a meal with only the ingredients you have in your kitchen. I used the website SuperCook to search for recipes based on ingredients that I already have and now I have fresh inspiration for dinner tonight!
To make this even more fun, try having a cooking challenge with family or friends inspired by the TV show Chopped. Have everyone fill a basket with “surprise ingredients” from around the kitchen and then exchange them. Whoever can make the best dish with all of the ingredients wins!
5. Host a Potluck
If you feel like getting creative in the kitchen, challenge your friends to do the same! Ask everyone to cook a meal with only ingredients that are already available, then get together for a potluck.
Spending an evening with great friends and delicious food can only get better when it’s free! Swap recipes, catch up and choose another activity on this list to do together after dinner.
6. Learn a New Skill
You don’t have to attend a class to learn a new skill. With so many resources available online, you can teach yourself how to do just about anything (within reason).
Try searching for articles or videos on how to do something that may come in handy. You may want to learn how to change the oil in your car or how to speak a foreign language.
Other things you can learn online include juggling, knitting, origami, painting and more! Check out YouTube for the biggest selection of free how-to videos and choose something that doesn’t require additional purchases to make, practice or learn.
7. Make a How-To Video
Whether you’ve just learned a new skill or you’ve been mastering a hobby for years, you can make a how-to video and teach others!
Your phone or computer most likely have built-in cameras that will allow you to upload your video and share it online. You can even edit your how-to video for free with software like iMovie or Shotcut.
Cleaning may not be at the top of your list when you think about fun things to do, but with the right music (or podcast) it can be a great way to spend the day. Plus, you never know what you’ll find while going through old things!
While you’re sorting and organizing, take the time to gather up anything you no longer use or wear. You can donate your stuff for a tax write-off or sell it for extra cash by hosting a yard sale. Afterward, you’ll feel amazing in a freshly-cleaned, organized space.
9. Start or Join a Fantasy Sports League
I have family members that probably spend too much time on their fantasy sports leagues for nothing more than bragging rights, so I know they can be a fun source of free entertainment!
10. Take Up Photography or Scrapbooking
Look at your house, yard or neighborhood through the lens of a photographer! You can use the camera on your phone or dig up an old digital camera. Take pictures of things that are beautiful, inspirational or meaningful.
On the flip side, you can organize already-printed pictures into a scrapbook or photo album. Even if you don’t have an actual book, you can start creating scrapbook pages with paper, markers, glue and anything decorative you can find.
11. Get Crafty
For a fun and free challenge, try to create something new with the things you already have! There are tons of ideas on Pinterest ranging from DIY bath bombs to sharpie paintings.
I hoard things throughout the year that could be used for future crafting: Christmas cards, free stickers, magazines and more. In the past week, I’ve made a cute storage box and a vision board without spending a dime!
12. Play Board Games
Look through any games you already have and play them! You can even invite friends over and ask them to bring a few games of their own. This is probably my favorite way to spend a money-free evening.
You can introduce your kids to classic games from your childhood or create an updated version of an old board game to play with friends. For more options, check to see if your public library has a board game selection available to be checked out.
I may be a little biased as a former English teacher, but writing can be a fun, free activity for all ages! You can start a journal by writing down what you’ve been doing, what your plans are or how you’re feeling. This can be invaluable to have for rereading later.
If you’re feeling especially creative, do a quick Google search for writing prompts. Plays and short stories can be really fun to come up with! Writing poetry is also surprisingly easy, and it can be a really insightful experience.
You can find at-home cardio routines, resistance workouts, yoga classes and more for free online. Invite friends over to work out together, and you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll have! I typically look up workout videos for free on YouTube, but you can also check out these free workout apps:
15. Go Geocaching
While you will have to leave your house for this one, you most likely won’t have to go far! Plus, the fun you’ll have is worth it.
Geocaching is basically a free treasure hunt in which you follow GPS coordinates to find hidden trinkets and boxes. Once you find the geocache, you’ll sign your username to the log inside and put it back.
You can sign up for free online or download the free app to get started.
16. Put Together a Time Capsule
This is a great activity to do alone or with your kids! Simply find a box or container and fill it with anything you can find that represents your current daily life. This can include to-do lists, pictures, trinkets, cards, letters and more. For more fun, personalize and decorate the box.
Once you’ve collected everything, seal the box and write on it the date it can be opened. You can choose to open it in a year, in five years or more. Just be sure to store it in a safe location!
Whether you’re looking for something fun to take your kids to this weekend or simply spend a night in, know that you don’t have to break your budget. With a little planning and creativity, you can create priceless experiences absolutely free.
Bookmark this page and come back to it when you’re feeling bored. Even choosing just one activity or entering one Google search, you’ll be on your way to discovering a fun, free activity! After some time, you may find that it’s easier to reduce your monthly entertainment spending than you thought.
What’s your favorite free hobby? Let us know in the comments below!