Another good way to keep your budget in check is to keep yourself busy with activities that are more cost effective. That way you will still feel like you’ve had a full summer but bypass the impending doom of calculating how much you’ve spent. To aid you on the mission I’ve rounded up twenty ideas to get you out of the house that aren’t going to cost you your first born. You’ll be able to do most of the suggestions no matter where you live, but I have included Edmonton-specific details for my local followers (and for me to refer back to when I need to make some plans!)
1. Go for a Hike
The perfect (and free) activity and pretty much my favourite way to exercise during the summer. Unless you are going on an advanced hike in the mountains, you won’t need to invest in an expensive pair of hiking boots, and there are plenty of trails that won’t cost you anything to trek on.
- Local: Edmonton has an incredible network of trails throughout the river valley, but if you’d prefer to get out of the city then you should check out Cooking Lake/Blackfoot Recreation Area. It’s my favourite spot and is only about 45 minutes East of downtown. It’s a provincial park that is free to get into and has almost 85 km’s of well-maintained, not crowded trails. Cooking Lake/Blackfoot is also directly South of Elk Island National Park, so you could also take advantage of your free park pass this year.
- Local: Our annual berry picking tour starts with Strawberries at Prairie Gardens, and then we head East to Horse Hill Berry Farm to stock up on raspberries. As long as we get an early start, we are usually done by lunchtime, and so we head to The Downtown Diner in Fort Saskatchewan for a bite.
Take a stroll around town and visit your local art galleries for the perfect mix of outdoor heat and indoor air conditioning. Many large galleries also offer free admission days so keep an eye out for those.
- Local: The Art Gallery of Alberta (AGA) is now offering free admission every Tuesday and Wednesday night from 5 pm to 8 pm. There are also many art galleries along 124 Street (full listing here) so you can plan your own walk, or there are organized walks every so often.
- Local: Northlands Park is the place to go for racing in Edmonton (at least for now), so check the schedule and plan a visit.
- Local: Hit up the Italian Centre for a fantastic selection of deli meats, cheeses, and dips that will impress just about anyone.
- Local: We made it out to a few Edmonton Prospects baseball games last year, and it was always fun. The best seats in the house are only $20 ($10 for kids), or you can go on ‘Toonie Tuesday’ and buy one full price ticket and get the second for $2. Pro tip: get the perogy hot dog, it’s delicious! Maybe soccer is more up your alley; FC Edmonton also has promo tickets for $20 and that includes a hot dog and pop.
Farmer’s markets are a great way to spend a morning, and you don’t need to spend a lot of money. Take advantage of all the fresh produce and local food and get inspired to cook something for dinner from scratch. Even if you splurge a little on supplies, you’ll still save money by cooking at home instead of heading to a restaurant.
- Local: There are lots of farmer’s markets all across the city, you can find a listing of all of them here. My favourite is the downtown City Market, it’s has a good variety but isn’t too huge and Saturday mornings always seem to be the best time for us.
- Local: Alberta has this weird thing where we like to build random big structures, it’s strange but can set you up for a pretty unique road trip. Head to Vegreville and check out the giant Ukrainian Easter Egg and then head to the giant Ukrainian Sausage in Mundare.
- Local: Board n’ Brew in a new addition to Edmonton’s board game cafe scene. They have a huge selection of games, tasty food, and local brews on tap.
13. Backyard Movie
Set-up your TV or laptop up outside, pop some popcorn and curl up on a blanket under the stars to watch a movie. Much cheaper than going to the theatre, and romantic 😉
14. Improv Show
Comedy shows are a perfect date night out, but they can get really expensive depending on who you are going to see. Instead, look for a local improv troupe. Their tickets prices will likely be much more affordable, and you’ll still get a good laugh.
- Local: If you’re in Edmonton you should go see a Rapid Fire Theatre show. Tickets to their Theatresports start at only $12.
- Local: For a couple of options that are in Edmonton’s vicinity you can look for the Ponoka Stampede or the Vegreville County Fair. Admission is free to the Ponoka Stampede, but you do have to buy tickets to the rodeo events, and it’s $8 to get into the Vegreville County Fair.
Summer is the time when the events schedule for a city really picks up, and there are often free activities you can attend.
- Local: Edmonton is known for all of its festivals, so there’s no shortage to choose from. The Heritage Festival, K-Days Parade, Canada Day Fireworks, and the Works Art & Design Festival are all free to attend, as long as you can resist the temptation to sample all the food options.
18. Jigsaw Puzzle
There’s always a few days in the summer that are rainy, and you’re stuck inside. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself and watching endless hours of TV, why not get a jigsaw puzzle and give your brain some activity. I love puzzles but they are a hard pass for the bf, so I’m usually left solo, but if you are both puzzle lovers then it’s fun.
19. Local Music
Just like how local comedy shows are cheaper than big names, local musicians also have much better ticket prices (sometimes even free). And maybe you’ll get to watch an intimate performance by someone who ends up super famous! Someone out there got to see Taylor Swift play in a dive bar before she was a superstar.
- Local: If you live in Edmonton (or are visiting), check out The Needle Vinyl Tavern. It’s a fantastic live music venue right downtown.
There you have it, 20 ways to fill up your summer with date nights (or days) that aren’t going to break the bank. What are you going to try first? Or maybe you have more ideas to add to the list?