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6 Family-Friendly and Frugal Summer Activities

July 15, 2016
5 mins
A mom and dad pushing a stroller with a child riding a scooter

The 2016-2017 school year is almost a thing of the past, and families all across the country are making plans to embark on a summer filled with fun, excitement and new adventures. From day camps to overnight camps, road trips, camping and beyond, there are an incredible number of ways to enjoy the season — and just as many ways to break the bank!

We all know that even the most basic road trips and camping excursions can start to add up, but there are lots of ways to give your kids a summer to remember without overspending. Here are six of my favourite family-friendly and frugal activity tips that will keep your kids smiling all summer:

#1: Go to the beach!

You may not know it, but Canada is blessed with incredible beaches, and since we only have a few months to enjoy them, it’s time to make the most of that sun and sand! A trip to the beach can cost as little as your fuel to get there and a picnic lunch.

You can even save on lunch by using loyalty points. For example, if you have the President’s Choice Financial® World Elite MasterCard®, you’re likely aware that it is one of the best cards out there for redeeming grocery rewards. Cardholders earn 30 PC points for every dollar spent at grocery stores where PC products are sold, Shoppers Drug Mart and PharmaprixMD. You also earn 10 PC points for every dollar spent elsewhere. And according to our Best of Finance methodology, you can earn around $736.50 in free groceries each year!

Plus, for a limited time, when you apply through RATESDOTCA and activate your card, you’ll get a $100 e-gift card and up to 20,000 PC points.1 That’s $20 worth of PC points towards your groceries! Redeem PC points at participating grocery stores where President’s Choice® products are sold. Get more bang for your buck this summer and sign up today!

No fancy beach toys in the house? Grab some Tupperware, spoons, and the watering can from your garden. Now you have all the tools necessary for building the most intricate of sandcastles… or just burying friends in the sand! Your local dollar store may also have a good assortment of beach balls, floating devices and other toys.

Pack some sandwiches, wraps, fruits and chips for lunch and pop some cold drinks and ice in a cooler. Most parents will agree that kids never tire of playing at the beach. From the sand to the surf, there’s always something fun to do!

#2: Make a splash!

Some families are willing to make a two-hour drive to the beach. But if there are none near your home, search for a splash pad or public pool in your area. Many towns across Canada are adding outdoor splash pads to rec centres or parks in place of wading pools. They are safer and more accessible since a lifeguard isn’t required, and your kids will have a blast cooling off on a hot day. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

#3: Have a close-­to-­home campout!

You don’t need to plan a trip to the campgrounds to give your kids the experience of sleeping in a tent – just pitch it in your own backyard! Depending on where you live, you may even be able to toast marshmallows on a backyard fire (check permits beforehand). But if not, mom or dad can always whip up some s’mores indoors with the oven. Backyard camping can also work great for children’s birthday parties and sleepovers too. Arm your kids with flashlights for nighttime bathroom trips and make sure you’ve got bug spray on hand to keep away those pesky mosquitoes. 

#4: Catch a movie!

Continuing our backyard adventure, tack a plain white sheet to the fence, set up the projector, pop some popcorn, and enjoy a movie under the stars! Or you can check out the listings at your local drive-in theatre. If you don’t have a projector or a drive-in theatre nearby, most Cineplex locations host a cheap movie night (typically on Tuesdays), when rates for adults and kids are discounted.

And if you’re into collecting SCENE® points, the SCENE® Visa* offers 2,000 SCENE points (two free movies!) if you spend $500 within the first three months, plus one point per every dollar spent with no annual fee. Sign up for the card, use it for your typical day-to-day expenses and bills, and you’ll have enough free movie tickets for the family in no time. 

#5: Strike!

With a simple Google search, you can find bowling locations all across Canada where kids can bowl for free. even offers two free games daily all summer long to each child you register on the site. Perfect for those hot, humid or rainy days when hanging out at home or outside has lost its appeal.

#6: Take a hike!

Within a short drive of just about anywhere in our gorgeous country, you can find beautiful trails to explore with your family. Or, in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, you can grab a free national parks pass from the Government of Canada website this year and explore some of the best parks, marine conservation areas, and historic sites our country has to offer. The pass gives you unlimited free entry until December 31, 2017.

Get your kids involved in planning the route and packing the hiking snacks! You can even put a semi-educational spin on the excursion by bringing along binoculars to watch birds and a magnifying glass to help identify insects or plants. - There are so many ways to make the most out of your family’s summer vacation without forking over too much cash. Take advantage of these fun and wallet-friendly ideas with your family this year!

This post has been updated.

1 Apply online and when you receive your PC Financial Mastercard credit card, you will also receive four welcome coupons or offers each worth 5,000 PC points. Use your PC Financial Mastercard and redeem each coupon or offer to receive 5,000 PC points with any purchase at the checkout in participating grocery stores where President’s Choice® products are sold. See coupons or offers for full details. Coupons or offers have no cash value. For all offers, allow 2-3 weeks from qualifying purchase for bonus PC points to be awarded. Each offer is limited to one per new PC Financial Mastercard account and may be terminated or changed at any time without notice.

Désirée Fawn

Désirée is the Canuck mama behind So Fawned Lifestyle. Blogger, social media wrangler, go-to girl. Living the #indieparent life with her partner Rich and awesome daughter Gretchen, she spends her days typing, drinking copious amounts of tea, and watching Gilmore Girl reruns. She's the Sr. Editor of Mom Spark and CEO of Kitz & Co. Media.

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