June 2024

Summer Fun On a Budget

Keeping the kids entertained while on summer break can be an expensive endeavor. Registrations for summer camps, daycare, and recreation programs are only the tip of the iceberg. You also need to consider transportation costs to and from these programs you don’t normally attend during the school year.

However, summer break doesn’t have to break your budget. You can still take some quality family time and you can do it all on a dime. Here are some great ideas to keep your children entertained while you are at work, and some fun family activities, all of which are economical or free!

Camp out in your yard

If you can’t take time off work this summer, take advantage of the great Santa Cruz County weather and go camping in your backyard. Put away the electronics and enjoy nature with the convenience of your own bathroom just a few feet away. Don’t have a backyard? No problem! For a donation of just five dollars, you can camp under the stars at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on September 27.

Enjoy free movies

June 14 through August 9, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk will offer free movies on the beach every Friday at 9pm. Check out the schedule and get there early. Seats fill quickly!

Go to a movie or concert in the park

Esplanade Park in the Capitola Village and Santa Cruz County Parks offer free movies and concerts featuring area musicians. Be sure to check their websites or social media sites for more information.

Be a tourist in your hometown

Get to know your town a little bit more by visiting the local museums and other attractions. Santa Cruz County is rich in museums, including the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center, and many more! Take a trip down memory lane and visit the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park or visit the famous Mystery Spot. Being a tourist, you might be surprised by what you find, like Wednesday night sailboat races at the harbor! Many of these activities are free of charge, and none of them will break the bank.

Have a family boot camp

Exercise isn’t just good for your body, it’s also good for your soul. Agree on an exercise as a family, whether it’s kayaking, yoga, or hiking. These serve as great opportunities to get outside and move your body. No need for expensive classes either; YouTube has instructional videos for any activity and applications like All Trails are great for exploring new hikes.

Take turns hosting a kids craft day

Work out an arrangement with another parent or two. Each household sponsors a craft day once a week for a month. One week, all the children visit your house and complete a craft you developed. The next week, it’s another parent’s turn. If you aren’t exactly the crafty type, that’s okay! The first Saturday of every month, Home Depot offers a free in-person kids workshop.

Visit the library

Free to residents, the Santa Cruz Public Library system offers a variety of toddler and preschool storytime programs to help keep kids busy. If you’ve outgrown the toddler programs, there are plenty of activities for older kids, too! Between a Game Zone at the Scotts Valley branch, Afterschool STEAM programs in Aptos and La Selva Beach, and Make and Explore in Felton, there’s sure to be an activity your child will love.

Take a morning to appreciate one of our five incredible farmers markets

The Santa Cruz Farmers Markets are a great opportunity to teach your kids about where their food comes from or challenge them to pick out a meal. Don’t feel the need to spend money at all, as they often feature free live music and entertainment.

Make your own water park

If you have grass available to you, set up sprinklers, fill up some squirt bottles and water balloons, lay out the camping tarp, and get the hose ready. Channel that inner child and create your very own slip and slide. The memories will be priceless!

Summer doesn’t have to take a lot out of your pocketbook, it just takes a little bit of creativity and a little effort to find activities that the whole family can enjoy while parents enjoy a little budget relief. Have a great summer.

Bay Federal Credit Union is a local, not-for-profit financial institution with banking solutions for the whole family. (bayfed.com)

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