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Nothing beats a family day out especially as Easter arrives and attractions start opening for the 2010 season; leading family attractions can be very expensive, but with a little thought, you can have really good alternative days out for very little cost. Here are some ideas to get out on the cheap!
Look for open spaces where you can walk, run around and explore. Many National Trust properties offer free admission to grounds; rivers and disused railways can often be explored at no cost; local parks and commons rarely charge for access other than sometimes for parking. Play exploring games, make obstacle courses or create a treasure hunt!
Museums and Heritage
While many museums charge admission fees, lots of museums and art galleries are free. Use the internet to find museums and galleries close to you that offer free admission. Just because a museum is free doesn't mean it has nothing interesting to show - many are run by local councils or were perhaps gifted by wealthy philanthropists. Many also hold special events aimed at children and families which again may allow you to participate at no cost. If there aren't games laid on for little ones, make up your own games - have them find certain artefacts on display.
Towns and cities don't just mean shopping and spending! There are usually open spaces that you can explore, parks for little ones, there may be sculptures and other street art to view, and famous landmark buildings that you can admire from the street. Plan a route through a town or city near you, note interesting features along the way, and take the children exploring!
Reservoirs are sited around the country, and many allow free access to explore. Reservoirs are great for watching birds and see other wildlife. You may be closer to a National Park or other accessible landscape than you realise, such as the Peak District, New Forest or the National Forest. Those living in the South may be near the South Downs National Park which came into existence on 1st April 2010. These offer great opportunities both to spot animals in the wild, but also to explore and find signs of animals, such as tracks, nests, holes, droppings and so on. Take a pad and pencils and have them draw the different animals, birds and plants that you spot. For younger children, have them draw the different colours that they see.
If you're going to be out for a whole day, you'll want to eat cheaply. Prepare your own picnic before you go, or for cheap restaurant eating, look for low cost chain restaurants or even supermarket restaurants - these often have special deals on food.