In some lucky parts of the country, the weather is warm all year. Outdoor activities aren’t curtailed much during the seasons. Lucky for you folks! For the majority of us, however, summer is a great opportunity to fully enjoy the outdoors before the weather gets cold. Of course, there are outdoor activities year round, but the range of what you can do in 80 degree weather with many hours of sunshine in greater than what you can do in 15 degree weather with less sunshine!
With that in mind, we recently spent a day driving a few hours each way for some outdoor fun. In lieu of an overnight vacation, I’m focusing on activities that are within driving distance and seasonal. Anyway, we set out to go from Chicago to the Indiana/Michigan border for blueberries and the beach.
Just as you cross the border into the southwestern tip of Michigan, there are a number of blueberry farms. There, we picked fresh berries! Coming from an urban area, it’s almost a novelty to pick fresh fruit and vegetables. Thing is, it’s educational for kids to see where their food actually comes from. In this case, I thought blueberry picking was a good choice because it was right in the heart of the short season, and they’re quite the healthy food!
Anyway, we had a blast going out in the field and picking blueberries. For my oldest child, it was fun being able to run around and hunt for the best blueberries, and filling up the bucket with as many as she could. For me, I was thinking about how tasty fresh picked berries would be, and how cheap they were:)
How cheap were they? Well, if you picked, they were just $1.40 per pound. What a deal! After we finished, we came out to nearly 2.5 pounds, totaling $3.45. As we were ready to pay, we discovered that you could buy berries that they had just picked for $1.90 per pound. So, we bought two more pounds. In total , we paid $7.25 for 4.5 pounds of blueberries! Compare that to a typical supermarket, where 4 pounds of blueberries might cost up to $40 all told. More than anything, it was a lot of fun.
Then, following blueberry picking, we went to the beach. Some of you might be wondering, “what kind of beach can be in Michigan?”. Well, I’ve been to 47 of the 50 states, have seen quite a few areas, and think this particular beach is a hidden gem. The name is Warren Dunes State Park, you can google it for more information.
The warm season to enjoy the beach is probably just a few months, but it’s a nice secret. There is a huge stretch of soft, sandy beaches, about as good as you can get if you’re not on the coasts. Additionally, there are massive sand dunes adjacent to the coast. One reaches heights of 236 feet! We enjoyed the beach and got some great exercise climbing that massive dune. It’s quite the challenge climbing something when your feet are sinking in deep sand!
Lots of fun for anybody healthy enough to spend time outside. Total cost: $8. Yes, for just an $8 entrance fee for our vehicle, we enjoyed a great beach, sand dunes, Lake Michigan, and a fun day outside.
We spent $15.25 between the blueberries and the beach/dunes park. On top of that, we probably spent close to $25 in gas. Our food costs were no different than they would have been otherwise. So, for about $40, we had a great family day. We got to leave Chicago and go 2 states away for a totally different environment and great outdoor, summer fun.
Goes to show that fun doesn’t have to cost that much money. There are many times when we can have cheap fun. In summer, when we can comfortably spend time outdoors, there are many opportunities to do so. We just have to find them!
My Questions for You
What are your favorite ways to spend time outdoors and enjoy the summer, without breaking the bank?
Did you get a chance to have any fun getaways this summer? If you’re a Squirrelers reader, I’m guessing you found ways to make it affordable:) Please feel free to share.