Fun Ideas for a Budget-Friendly Day Out

With Father's Day just two weeks away (don't forget: it's Sunday, June 21), I want to give a shout-out to my superstar dad. I love you, Dad!

Back when I was growing up, Dad worked a weekly 9 to 5. While he certainly spent time with his kids on weekdays too, coaching our sports teams, helping with homework, making 'breakfast for dinner,' and more, Dad always dedicated his entire weekend to us. This meant that, especially Saturdays, my brother and I could expect a fun adventure.

Dad had two favorite places to take us on Saturday excursions (both of which—parents, take note—are free of charge). The first? An RV rental-and-sales lot. The second? Yankee Candle's original flagship store in South Deerfield, MA. I loved them both. Here's the scoop on these low-cost days out.

RV freebie:  Though (understandably) this first day trip destination may never have crossed your mind, RV lots can be particularly fun for kids, offering a multitude of spaces to explore and play pretend. While you should be prepared to listen to a salesperson's pitch about their latest and greatest models, you should also expect to be able to climb in and out of every RV in sight. And if your kids are anything like my brother and I were, they'll especially enjoyed testing out any that come with a bunk bed, and any that have a table that turns into a bed! Kids can also hop behind every steering wheel they desire, imagining they're off on a great American road trip. While I'm sure those salespeople eventually figured out that Dad was never

really going to rent or buy an RV, they nicely never showed it, judging by how often they let us back there. Perhaps your local RV dealer will be just as kind!

Scent-sational site: Now if you're ever visiting this area of Western Massachusetts—that's halfway between Boston, MA and Albany, NY—with kids, I'd highly recommend you check out the Yankee Candle flagship store, open 363 days a year. If you didn't click the above link already, here's just a taste of what you'll find: A toy room where Santa sits year-round, a magical Christmas village where snow floats from the ceiling, a drawbridge to a castle where princes and princesses can crown themselves, a dip-your-own candle room for kids, and of course, thousands of candles to sniff and sort through. The whole family can also sit down to a reasonably priced lunch at Chandler's Restaurant, where my brother and I always looked forward to the classic kid-favorite: chicken tenders and french fries.

More fun outings that won't hurt your wallet (inspired by my father):

1. Pet stores: My brother and I never got tired of playing with their cute puppies and kittens. And if your kids aren't allergic, they likely won't either! (These trips were also my dad's solution to curing our bad moods).

2. Neighborhood and city parks: Packing a picnic and heading for the playground can provide hours of fun. Our city park also had a free petting zoo, plus a water-sprinkler park for cooling off in summer. Yours probably has some great offerings too. Also, any of these epic playgrounds would be sweet to visit.

3. The local library: I had a fantastic library to go to growing up, with a large children's section that not only had books, but also toys and games. See what your library has in store for your kids, and ask if they have a summer reading program (most do).

Where do you take your kids for a low-cost day out? Add a comment below—I'd love to hear about it!

Lucy Casale is an assistant editor at FamilyFun.

(And that's Lucy in the shot above, 20-something years ago, having fun with her Dad). She wants to thank her father for his unfailing support and encouragement as she's pursued her passion of being a writer and editor!

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