10 Free or Cheap Winter Activities

Posted by Kristen on February 21, 2013

Earlier, I did an article on 11 fun, free or cheap activities to do during winter at home. I mentioned how it’s so easy to find free things in summer to do since the weather is warm and the days are long. Winter is a little more difficult though. And as much as I do enjoy these activities to do at home, sometimes you really just need to get out of the house. But instead of ending up shopping or going out to dinner, there are other free or very cheap places you can go to have a good time without emptying out your wallet.

Photo Courtesy: Kristen

Free Winter Activities

Here are 10 free or cheap activities to do outside of the house during winter:

  1. Find free wine or beer tastings.
    There are many ways to enjoy wine and craft beer even though you’re on a budget. One of my favorite ways to do this is to scope out places that offer free tastings. It’s not going to be as elaborate as a paid wine or beer tasting, but it gives you a chance to try something new completely for free. Check out the website for various wine specialty stores, liquor stores, gourmet grocery stores that sell wine or beer, and even your traditional grocery store. If it doesn’t say, give them a call and ask.
  2. Visit the library.
    Years ago, I was surprised to learn there are far more than just books that the library offers. You can borrow movies and entire television series for free. My library has events for both children and adults. They have art displays, speakers, classes, and other interesting free activities.
  3. Enjoy the snow.
    Regardless of how old you are and whether or not you have kids, you can always take a moment to actually appreciate the snow. As an adult, when I see snow I usually just start to dread a rough commute to work or think about how I have to shovel and put salt on the walkways. But try and rekindle some of that child-like appreciation for snow. Bundle up and go sledding, play in the snow, or even take a short walk.
  4. Find free concerts.
    Check your local community colleges, nearby universities, community center, library, and even high schools for a chance to see a free concert. Even religious organizations or other clubs may perform concerts for free.
  5. Volunteer.
    Volunteering is a great way to give back and help others. To make it fun, volunteer with an organization that you are passionate about or means something to you. You can search Volunteermatch.org to find opportunities that suit your interest and skills. Encourage your friends or significant other to do it with you to make it even more fun. If you have kids, volunteering with them is the perfect way to teach them a valuable lesson about helping others and not only thinking about ourselves.
  6. Find free entry to museums.
    I live in Chicago, and I was shocked to find there are dozens of museums in and around the city that are absolutely free to get into to. Many colleges have free art or photography museums right on their campus. If the museum you want to visit has an admission, check to see when they offer a free day. Museums often offer a few free days per month or even set hours each week where admission is completely free.
  7. Visit your city or state’s official visitor’s guide.
    Every state and most cities, regions, and even counties have an official website for tourism. We often take our own cities for granted, but start to think of it like a tourist. When I was traveling around the country and doing research, every site I visited had a list of free things to do in the city. Many sites, like Chicago, offered a search system where you can choose what type of event you’re looking for and “free” was an option. You might be surprised what types of free attractions, shows, and events are happening right around you.
  8. Visit your friends and family.
    Since I was honest and upfront about telling my friends I have in debt from my student loans, they understand that going out to bars and restaurants isn’t at the top of my list right now. So instead of inviting each other out on the town, we invite each other to our homes. Don’t think just because you are at each other’s houses you still can’t have just as much fun. You can still dress up, dance, and indulge in tasty cocktails and appetizers. But this way, you are doing it for a fraction of the cost.
  9. Go out for happy hour instead of dinner.
    If you are determined to go out to get a bite to eat, go out before or after dinner. Many restaurants and bars offer fantastic happy hour specials that can include specials on drinks and half price appetizers. Times and deals of course vary by restaurant, but you can find deals near you by downloading the free Happy Hours app. The app uses your current location to find deals currently going on near you and when they end.
  10. Find local deals.
    If you plan ahead and know where to look, you can find deals for activities in your area. First, sign up for e-mail lists to places you’re interested in going to such as gourmet grocery stores, restaurants, the bowling alley, movie theater, and anywhere else you’re interested in. This way, you’ll be the first to hear of any promotions or deals. You may also receive coupons and freebies on your birthday or anniversary. Second, check their website for discounts and specials. They can offer deals at off peak hours or discounts for students, teachers, or anything else you can qualify for. Lastly, keep an eye on deal sites like Groupon, Living Social, and Restaurant.com for deals that can save you more than half of the original price.

What are free or cheap activities to do outside of the house when the weather is cold? How do you save money on having fun and entertainment during the long winter?

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Comments to 10 Free or Cheap Winter Activities

  1. Free day at the zoos and museums are also days when fleets of school buses show up making it unpleasant.


  2. Another freebie that is offered by many libraries is free passes to local museums. My husband and I have used these on several occassions. We are in the Detroit Metropolitan area and there are many places to visit but have an admission fee. This makes for a very affordable way to spend the day and have fun too!


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