There are plenty of things to see and do in Alberta’s cities and towns, even when the weather isn’t cooperating. If you’re on a tight budget, or are trying to pay off debt or build up your savings, pass the time without derailing your finances with these free or inexpensive activities:
1. Visit the farmers’ market
Whether you live in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer or small-town Alberta, most communities have a weekly farmers’ market. Peruse vendors offering locally produced food, baked goods, artisan crafts and other interesting products. Markets often have live music and food vendors and are a great place to connect with your community.
Savings tip: use your regular weekly food budget for spending at the farmers’ market. Bring a shopping list to help you stay on budget.
2. Explore West Edmonton Mall
For those who call Edmonton home, spend a rainy afternoon at one of the largest malls in North America. You don’t have to be a big shopper or spend a lot of money to pass the time at West Edmonton Mall. Take in some of the cost-effective, family-friendly attractions and activities including mini golf, ice skating and a marine life show. Treat yourself to a cinnamon bun by the pirate ship or peruse the Asian imported products at T&T Supermarket.
Savings tip: a family trip to West Edmonton Mall’s World Waterpark or Galaxyland can be expensive. Consider saving a portion of this year’s tax refund and purchase your passes online ahead of time at a 10% discount.
3. Go on a beer tour in Calgary
Love craft beer and live in Calgary? This vibrant city is home to many local breweries and craft beer pubs. A guided brewery tour is a good option if you don’t have a designated driver, as the tour company will drive you to each destination. Otherwise, take the train downtown and go on a self-guided walking tour of the craft beer bars there. Good stops include CRAFT Beer Market, Last Best Brewing and Distillery and Beer Revolution
Savings tip: on a night out on the town, it’s easy to overspend. Set a budget and take out some cash before you leave. When the cash is gone, consider it time to wrap things up.
4. Visit Red Deer’s museums and art galleries
If you’re passing through Red Deer, consider stopping in for more than gas and coffee. If you’re a resident of Red Deer, you already know what this remarkable little city has to offer. Check out the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum for an interactive, hands-on experience of the province’s sport history—it’s fun for the whole family. You can also discover the history and culture of Red Deer and Central Alberta at the Red Deer Museum & Art Gallery, which offers a range of programs, activities and special events for all ages. Head to www.reddeermuseum.com to see what visiting exhibits and art shows will be in town.
Savings tip: admission to the Red Deer Museum is free, but donations are strongly encouraged. Pay what you can and bring the kids for a full day of fun and learning.
5. Visit the local library
In today’s digital age, we’re going to the library less and less. Whatever your age, a trip to the library on a rainy day is one of the most cost-effective ways to spend time. Most public libraries offer free programs and activities for children and a vast selection of books, magazines and DVDs for patrons of all ages.
Savings tip: if you usually spend money on books, music and movies, consider borrowing these items from your public library instead. Each month, put the money you save into a tax-free savings account instead.
Whether you’re planning a staycation or looking for something to do over the weekend, some smart and creative thinking will ensure you’re making the most of your time without overspending.