- Explore parks near you with a picnic and/or a Frisbee/hiking/walking/play tennis at local parks/exercise in general: This one is great if you’re into exercise (and/or your friends are into exercise). When I was in college, my friends and I loved to go play tennis at our university’s local courts. Fortunately, we were all terrible so we were all pretty equally matched. (I will say tennis is not the most fun thing to do if one of you is super good and the other one is terrible, unless y’all are into that student-teacher tennis game.) Now, I live near a local park now and my friends and I often take our dogs and go hiking there. Easily takes up a couple hours, is great exercise for us and the dogs, and it’s free! Maybe you live near a lake and you or one of your friends has a kayak or boat. Maybe you love basketball. Just do whatever you’re into with this one!
- Local museums: Many museums have flat out free admission, like a couple near me. Many others may offer admission at a big discount if you’re a student or have a groupon with your friends. And many others may occasionally offer great deals, like if it’s their off season.
- Antique store window shopping: Antique stores can really be a lot of fun if you like window shopping. (Now if you’re a shopaholic, I don’t know that I would suggest this one for you!) If antique stores aren’t your thing, you could always go window shopping at the local mall or whatever stores you do like.
- Driving (if you have gas): Just going for a drive and listening to music with friends or as a solo meditation session can be fun. There can be lots to see and do. Sometimes my friends and I like to go to nice neighborhoods and just look at the pretty houses there. Or go to the city or big malls and people watch! At Christmastime, it’s always fun to look at all the Christmas lights at night.
- Hustling: bonus if you can get your friends to do this one with you! Organize a group garage sale, write a book together, start a business, whatever floats your (or you and your friends) boat!
- Girls or guys night in: Tell your friends to BYOW (bring your own wine) and get cozy with some movies (or a sports game or favorite TV show) or games or whatever y’all like to do. My friends and I used to all love this one TV show so we’d have a viewing party every Monday for the new episode. Bring your pets too for doggy play dates if you’re into that. Make some pizza (super cheap), popcorn, whatever you want, or have your friends bring their own snacks, and have fun! You could have a potluck type dinner if you like your friends’ cooking. Now if you and your friends are going out kind of people, then…
- Host a pregame party: So for me, the most expensive part of going out is all the $10 drinks I order once I get to the bar. Even if I keep it reasonable and order 2-3 drinks and tip the bartender not too generously of 20%, that’s easily going to be $20-30+. One way to combat this is to have a pregame party with your friends before y’all go out. Everyone brings their own bottle of wine or whatever they want to drink and you can get the party started at your place first. You could also have them bring snacks/dinner! Then, when you actually get to the bar, you will already feel good and will order less drinks (or maybe not even any!). Or maybe you get everyone feeling so good, they never leave your house and you don’t even have to buy one drink at a bar….
- Check out your city’s local, unique & free offerings: I know that for my city, there are lots of local, free, fun things to do (like an art stroll with up and coming artists, hosted on a Friday monthly). Just google your city + fun free or cheap things to do.
- Dog park party: If you have a playful furry friend, check out your local dog park. They often are really nice areas, with nice seating and shade. And your pet can make some new friends! Alternatively, if one of your friends or you have a nice big yard, host your own dog party with your dog’s favorite friends.
These are my favorite free things to do with my friends or by myself. Each person and friend group are unique so put your own spin on ideas here that you like too! Tell me, what’s your favorite idea on this list?