We get out and do a lot of things together as a family. In fact, every day, Beatrix asks what we'll be doing that day after school (or "all day" if it's a weekend). As I have noted before, the Twin Cities have a lot of free festivals and events, especially in the summer, so there is often something interesting to do.
For Christmas, my dad got us a membership to the Minnesota Historical Society, and one of our favorite things to do together is go to historic sites. Beatrix especially loves Fort Snelling, but she has enjoyed every place we've been, even the windy Jeffers Petroglyphs on a particularly frigid Memorial Day weekend!
Today, we had a chance to see the Purcell-Cutts house, thanks to a membership to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts that our friends Sommer and Hjalmer gave us (technically, the membership is expired, but since the home is only open a few weekends of the year, and since tomorrow is my birthday, they let us in). We've seen several Frank Lloyd Wright homes, but this was a particularly good example of lesser-known architects that was equally impressive and far more local.
Often my clients give me comps to shows, and this year we had Fringe Festival comps as a thank-you for billeting artists (and some of my clients, like Open Eye Figure Theatre, usually has free kids programming for everyone!) But a beloved annual tradition for us is the SEIU Zoo Day, in which union rents the Minnesota Zoo after hours for one day a year and the members can attend free. Beatrix's aunt and uncle took her to the zoo earlier this year, but usually it's an expense we just can't cover, so it's a particular treat to get there at least once a year and enjoy the animals together.
At times in the past we have gotten Renaissance Festival comps from friends; we have used the library passes to go to museums when that program still existed; my dad, who volunteers at the Bakken, has brought Beatrix there several times and brought us on a tour with the boys when they were much younger. We go to free Songs of Hope concerts and outdoor movies in the park. And we're lucky to have friends who are often up for fun family experiences, even if that is just meeting at Midtown Global Market to enjoy a variety of foods and the free music.
Which is all to say that for our family, getting out and doing a wide variety of things is a core value, and we have been exceptionally successful in making that happen on a shoestring budget. Come out and play with us sometime!