20 Fun Things To Do on the Weekend on a Budget (Cheap or Free)

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Strapped for cash, but still want to have a good time come 5 pm Friday? These things to do on the weekend on a budget are perfect for having lots of fun while keeping the purse strings tight.

Fun Things To Do on the Weekend on a Budget

fun things to do on the weekend on a budget (colorful list of ideas 1-14 listed below)


1. Watch the Sunrise/Sunset

People from all different corners of the world and walks of life can generally agree on one thing: there’s something innately soothing and calming about watching the sun make its colorful daily entrance or exit.

You can enjoy a sunrise or sunset display from the comfort of your own backyard or head out to a high point – maybe on top of a hill – for some truly breathtaking views.

Make sure to pick a day that’s not overcast, and opt for a morning or evening with sunny, clear skies. A little-known secret: the most bright and vibrant sunsets are typically witnessed during the colder months. 

2. Teach Yourself Meditation

Take your zen to the next level when you’re sitting on top of that perfect sunset hill by throwing some meditation into the mix.

Alternatively, if you’re new to the practice, start by creating yourself a relaxation space in your home, or wherever you feel comfortable.

Try lighting some candles, shutting out any distracting nearby noise, and learning some ‘tricks of the trade’ from a book or online video tutorial.

Meditation is all about clearing your mind and managing your inner well-being: these are often skills we have to learn and refine but are almost always worth it in the end. 

3. Visit Your Local Library

There’s a famous quote that says, “reading does for the mind what exercise does for the body.”

This is true in many ways: even in adulthood, reading helps develop and foster our imaginative skills, and there’s even evidence to suggest that regular reading makes us more intelligent.

If you’re not sure exactly what you’re after and don’t want to commit to buying a new book, the library is the perfect place to go and browse.

You can get lost in any type of story you can think of, from fictional works of fantasy to more factually-oriented reads such as celebrity biographies. 

4. Go for a Bike Ride

Whether you live in a busy city, you’re a suburban dweller, or as rural as they come, a long bike ride out has its own unique benefits for each.

Living in a city, once on your bike, there’s really no limit to where you can go. You can spend an entire day seeing all the best and brightest sights of the city, without ever having to spend a penny.

If you live further out, in the suburbs or somewhere more rural, a long, solo bike ride provides a great opportunity to seek out some local countryside views. You never know, you may even stumble upon a little-known local beauty spot. 

With Friends

5. Hit Up a Museum 

Museums are great to visit at just about any time, though they’re especially good to check out when you’re on a budget, as entry to most museums is free of charge.

The only costs to consider are travel, and any refreshments or keepsakes you want to buy (though you can always pack snacks and drinks in a bag before you go if the museum allows outside refreshments on-site).

Getting together with a group of friends and immersing yourselves in the worlds of old – from prehistoric to recent modern history – is an enchantingly fun way to spend a weekend afternoon without breaking the bank. 

6. Host a Charity Drive

If you’re looking for fun weekend activities that are easy on the wallet, a charity drive is perfect.

Rather than spending money, you’ll have a chance to raise some, and you and your friends will feel great knowing it’s all for a good cause.

Your charity drive can involve anything from asking folks to bring their unwanted items over for a yard sale to gathering bits and bobs from around the house that the local food bank is currently in need of (they often update their websites and social media accounts with wish lists) to doing a sponsored group activity like a Zumba-thon.

7. Hold a Board Game Night

Singer-songwriter Eliza – formerly known as Eliza Doolittle – once wrote a lyric that said, “don’t need to travel ’round London tonight, we can play Monopoly, buy Mayfair in our own time.”

Though over time a group game of Monopoly has become more associated with heated arguments – like who ultimately gets stuck playing as the shoe – than an evening well spent having fun, the principle is still the same: board game nights are a cheap and entertaining way to spend a night with friends.

Classics such as Twister, Buckaroo, and Pictionary are always safe bets for playing in groups.

8. Potluck Dinner Party

Potluck dinner parties are wonderful in that they only require as much preparation as you want to put in.

Going all-out with an organized, formal, sit-down meal where everyone brings a course is just as acceptable as a casual, buffet-style type of evening where guests help themselves from the table.

All that’s required is a place to host the evening and for each attendee to bring a dish that they have prepared at home.

People will love a chance to showcase some of their favorite recipes, and everyone is bound to find a new dish – or a unique spin on a tried-and-true classic – that they love.

For Couples

9. Rearrange the Furniture

A good furniture shake-up now and then can really be good for the soul. Couch in the bathroom? Sure! Bed in the kitchen? Why not?!

Seriously, though, the folks of ancient China were on to something when they invented the art of Feng Shui.

In a nutshell, Feng Shui involves arranging items within your environment to achieve harmony and balance. Translated, it means “the way of wind and water,” and can be achieved by arranging furniture in a way that sends out positive energy, or “chi.”

You can do this by arranging sofas in a U-shape to encourage conversations between guests and keeping items in each room that represent the five elements. 

10. Go Volunteering

Even if you and your significant other have different interests, there are so many volunteering projects to be taken on that you’re sure to find something that suits you both.

Giving something back to the community is an ideal way to spend a weekend without spending money – you’re bound to have fun, and you’ll feel great for doing something that’s sure to help others.

Some things you could do with your time include helping out at a local animal shelter, distributing at a nearby soup kitchen or food bank, or campaigning for environmental or political organizations that are close to your heart.  

11. Enjoy a Home Spa Session

It’s perfectly possible to enjoy a relaxing day at home with all the frills of the spa, especially if you create your own DIY spa treatments beforehand.

Not only are many home spa essentials simple to put together, but they can often be made from everyday food cupboard ingredients.

For example, a simple, calming face mask can be made from honey, coconut oil, a little avocado, and a drop of lavender oil.

Light some little candles and put on some relaxing music to really set the mood, and enjoy.

Read more: DIY Spa Day at Home & Spa Day Gadgets.

12. Head to a Flea Market

If you’re stuck for ideas while spending a summer weekend with your significant other, head to a flea market – you never know what kind of hidden treasures you might stumble across.

These kinds of events are a perfect way to spend a day out when you’re on a budget, as you’ll find lightly used items such as clothes and home decor for a fraction of their original price.

Since flea markets usually have a huge variety of different things on sale, you may find just the perfect, quirky, one-of-a-kind accessory you never knew you needed. 

For Families

13. Build a Blanket Fort

The age-old pastime of building a den out of whichever blankets, bedsheets, and pillows can be found around the house is a wonderful, free way to have fun, no matter your age: adults, kids, teens, and toddlers alike will enjoy the cozy atmosphere. 

Consider moving some furniture around the room and using it to your advantage to prop up the blankets, and lay some pillows around inside to make your blanket fort extra comfy.

Once everyone’s in, you could put on a movie, take turns telling stories, or even play shadow puppets. 

14. Go on a Picnic

Family picnics only cost as much as the price of food and fuel and create wonderful, enduring memories.

You can keep costs down by preparing your own food, and by finding a local beauty spot, instead of taking a long road trip.

When you’re there, take advantage of the great outdoors – make sure to plan for some activities and pack accordingly.

Bubbles, a frisbee, a bat and ball, hula hoops, or a soccer ball are all fun ways to keep everyone entertained throughout the day. 

15. Scavenger Hunt

The great thing about scavenger hunts is that they can be set up wherever you like: they can equally be enjoyed whether indoors on a rainy weekend, or out and about in warm, sunny weather.

They can be enjoyed by kids of all ages, too – for children of preschool age, clues to find each hidden item can be shown with pictures rather than words. Older children will likely enjoy solving simple riddles to uncover clues. 

16. Create a Time Capsule

To say we live in fascinating times is a bit of an understatement. You can preserve this time in history by putting things in a box that are relevant to what’s currently going on.

You could pack a newspaper with the current date, a face mask, and a ‘time capsule interview’, with written questions and answers, which are all great to put in.

Once you’ve finished, bury the box, and make sure to mark where it’s buried, so it can be looked back on in years to come.

At Home/Indoors

17. Take an Online Course

The internet is an enormous and weird yet wonderful place – countless opportunities to learn new skills are available simply at the click of a button.

Whether you’ve always wanted to learn how to make bread like a master baker, you’ve always wanted to learn about criminal psychology, or you simply want to brush up on an existing skill, there’s no shortage of resources to help you do so.

Great sites to visit for free courses include FutureLearn, Alison, and Coursera, and even YouTube has so much educational content to enjoy for no cost.

18. Start a Photo Album

Are you one of those people, like me, who has tons of printed pictures in a box, but so far hasn’t got round to doing anything with them?

Placing them all nicely into books, and taking the time to arrange and stick them into photo albums can be a relaxing, fun, and free activity to enjoy at the weekend.

For photos that have interesting stories behind them, grab a pen and jot it down by the picture, and you’ll enshrine those memories for years to come. As time passes, you’ll love looking back and reminiscing.

19. Get Your Bake On

Baking can be a wonderfully relaxing experience: measuring ingredients, putting them together, and following recipes step by step is a good way to calm your mind – and you get something delicious to enjoy at the end of it too!

Not only that, but the ingredients are generally cheap to buy, and baking at home provides an opportunity to learn a versatile new skill.

At your next dinner party or potluck, you’ll get a chance to showcase your new know-how – home-baked goods are always a crowd favorite.

20. Take a Moment

Life goes fast. Days turn into weeks, weeks into months, months into years. It might seem like a great deal has changed over the last few years.

Or maybe things are still roughly the same, and the differences are more subtle. Whichever applies to you, taking a moment of gratitude, just to appreciate all the people, things, and circumstances that made your life what it is today, is a great idea.

This can help reduce stress, slow down, and reinforce those special connections with your loved ones.

If you feel like it, consider writing your feelings down in a gratitude journal – next time you need something to lift your spirits, take a look back through it to bring back all those wonderful reminders.

If you don’t want to spend a lot to have a good time, there are still so many ways you can have fun and make memories on the weekends, both outdoors and at home.

Use these fun ideas to inspire you to plan a gathering, event, or spontaneous trip, while keeping the money worries at bay. We all deserve to enjoy ourselves!

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Want to plan a memorable weekend on a budget? Keep these ideas in a safe place, by saving them to one of your Pinterest boards.

Fun Things To Do on the Weekend on a Budget (list of 1-14)