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Fun family activities on a tight budget!

Where you can go in the Hudson Valley for frugal fun

While the weather outside can be frightful, your children don’t need to stay holed up at home for the weekend with nothing to do. You need a plan, and in this economy you may only have a shoestring budget. Here are 8 ideas that fit the bill to help make your family’s free time fabulous!

hrow a pizza or taco making party

You have to eat lunch anyway, so why not make it fun? Your child can even invite a couple of friends to help out, while you supervise. You can purchase ready-made pizza dough, or taco shells from the grocery store, along with the list of ingredients on the packaging. Just follow the instructions on the package. While it might cost a bit more to use shredded cheeses for either recipe, it’ll save you some headaches cleaning-up later on. These activities work best with kids, age 10 and over. Otherwise, you may need to step in and do more of the work yourself. If you invite too many children, things could become unmanageable. Either way you'll need to watch out for horseplay. Warn the kids not to throw food at one another, especially when working with tomato sauce. If you don’t have a pizza pan, make the pizzas smaller and bake them in pie plates or on cookie sheets. This activity may take a while, so it's best to start the project well before everyone gets too hungry.

READ MORE: Budget friendly after school activities

Make your own movie marathon
Rent or borrow DVDs, load up on popcorn, and sit the family down for a few hours of movie marathon mania! This is an old standby, but it generally works quite well, as long as everyone agrees on what movies to watch.

A day at the museum

Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum in Poughkeepsie
Weekends, 11am-5pm

This museum is geared for kids 6 and under. There’s an admission fee of $6.50. The museum is always worth visiting, but if you're looking for something a little more local, libraries are also a great way to spend an afternoon! Also, a number of libraries in the Valley can provide families with a one day free pass to the museum through their Friends of the Library program. Remember to check with your local library. The number of passes available is limited. Before you visit the museum, we suggest you plan ahead and check out the website at mhcm.org. The museum offers some workshops which require reservations and additional fees.

Video games
Some people might argue that too many video games might fry out the brain, but occasionally getting up and playing some Wii bowling is a great activity to get the family involved. Video games might be expensive, BUT many libraries do hold gaming nights for free!

READ MORE: 13 ways to spend the weekend

Go take a hike

Enjoy a free hike at Frost Valley YMCA in Claryville.

The beautiful Frost Valley YMCA has many trails for casual and experienced hikers to enjoy. The weather might be getting cooler, but nothing is quite as exhilarating as a brisk walk through the woods! Also, when it snows the YMCA hosts snowshoe hiking!

Snowy fun
Speaking of snow, if we do end up getting some soon, a day outside playing is a ton of fun and also completely free. You can make it a family affair or have your child invite some friends over. The kids can make snow angels or build snowmen. They can also build snow forts and have a snowball fight. In any event, the participants must have a warm change of clothes handy. Snowy fun is best when followed by hot chocolate and cookies, or perhaps hot soup with sandwiches.

And then there is always the park!

Thomas Bull Memorial Park in Montgomery
9am-dusk, daily, as conditions permit.

A majority of the activities at the park are free, but you’ll need to bring your own equipment. The activities, which are located in the same general area of the park, are sponsored by the Orange County Parks Department. When viable, sledding is available on a hill next to the snow tubing slope. There’s not only an ice skating rink nearby, but also a frozen pond to skate on, weather permitting. Meanwhile, cross-country skiers have 3 miles of trails to cover at the Stony Ford Golf Course. Snow tubing at the park is very popular, but costs money. There are separate fees for county residents and non-residents. There are also height restrictions.

READ MORE: 7 fun things to do with bubble wrap

More ideas
If you don’t need to plan your weekend activities on a shoestring, you’re in luck! Here are 2 Valley favorites, which can provide family fun:

Bear Mountain
$8 parking in Main Parking Lot; $5 admission for ice skating, ages 12 and up

Weather permitting, there's also hiking, snow shoeing, cross-country skiing and ice skating available at Bear Mountain State Park. The cross-country skiing is challenging, since the trails are not groomed. You'll need to bring your own equipment. All of the activities are free, with the exception of ice skating, which requires an admission fee. The park staff says it’s possible to find some free parking nearby, but right after a major snowfall, those areas do not get plowed.

Hudson Highlands Nature Museum

The Hudson Highlands Nature Museum almost always has some awesome events happening. Click the link and see what they have available. Your family will love getting to interact with the animals and learning more about the region which you all live in!