Summer activities on a budget for every age

by Andy Fisher, CIRP, LIT
August 5, 2021

With summer vacation upon us, and with covid restrictions lifting across the country, we can finally think about leaving the house and looking for activities other than watching Netflix.  Travel is still a challenge, but there are lots of activities that we can do close to home and on a budget.  Subject to your local covid restrictions and ensuring that you are staying safe, here are a few suggestions:

Farmer’s Market Scavenger Hunt Master Chef Challenge

Pick your favourite recipe and head down to the nearest farmer’s market.  Make sure the market has lots of choices for vegetables and maybe some meats. Shop for the ingredients needed for the recipe at the market.  You can only use produce purchased at the market; which means you may need to make some changes on the fly.  Then make the meal.

This is an activity that can be done with your family or friends.   You can work together or get into groups and have a cook off challenge.  It’s local, healthy, fun and you get a (hopefully) delicious meal.

Public library programs for kids

Libraries offer lots of programs for kids that are fun and educational.  Instead of sending your child to camp, check out the library’s website or speak to the librarian to find out what programs are available. You can also use the opportunity to read to your kids and introduce them to the joys of reading.

Staycation of discovery

Canada is full of lots of local conservation areas, provincial and federal parks that offer day access, in many cases for free.  Check the website of your town/city, look at the local conservation authority, provincial park or Parks Canada ( to learn what there is to discover.  You can also do a google search to look for blogs or articles of nature walks to discover near you.  Many of the parks offer day programs that are free or included in the cost to use the park.

If you live in or near a city; why not be a local tourist.  Google local walks or look at travel sites to learn the top tourist attractions.  We all get caught up in our day-to-day routines and often don’t find the time to visit other neighbourhoods in our city.  Take your own walking tour to discover your town or look at it from the perspective of a tourist, you’ll be amazed what you can discover.

You can also add to the adventure by creating a list of certain things to look for. For example, who can spot the most different birds or most colourful insect; look for historical buildings or names of historical figures. You can create your own scavenger hunt or go Geocaching (Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches" or "caches", at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world. Yes, there’s an app for that.)


Camping is an affordable alternative to staying in a hotel and it doesn’t always mean roughing it or having to buy all the equipment.  Local outfitters will rent tents and all the equipment you need.  You can contact your friends to see if they have the equipment or know someone who has the equipment you can borrow.  Many campgrounds will rent equipment or have other affordable accommodation that doesn’t necessarily mean roughing it a tent.   

Canada offers a wide variety of summer activities and vacations that are affordable and can fit whatever type of activity you are interested in.  Do something local, you’ll be amazed what you can discover. 

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