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Fun Cheap or Free Family Outings and Activities To Do With Teens

Updated on September 15, 2015

Inexpensive Outings to Enjoy With Your Teens

Teenagers are stuck between still enjoying some of the same things they did as a kid and learning to enjoy new things as an adult. The easiest way to enjoy family outings together is plan things similar to what they enjoyed as a kid, but not exactly the same. You want to enjoy the day with them, not have them moping about because you've made them feel like a kid. Here's a few suggestions...

- Visit a Zoo
Most kids like animals and let's face it, it's probably been ages since you've been to a zoo yourself. This is a chance for you both to feel like a kid again together. Give them the map and let them lead for the day. Even if they get you lost, it's about being together, not seeing everything in record time.

- Visit a Museum About Their Interests
There are wonderful museums out there that teens find really interesting and fun. Is your son into tanks? Try the AAF Tank Museum in Danville, VA or look one up near you. How about airplanes, try the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center where you can see helicopters, fighter jets and even a space shuttle! Maybe sports is their favorite activity, try the Hockey Hall of Fame in MN or a take a tour of a historic ballpark like the Jackie Robinson Ballpark in Daytona Beach, FL. There are museums out there for shoes, cats, ball gowns, purses, chocolate, WWII artillery... Whether it's a full day's outing or a short stop while you're already on vacation, learning about they love will make the day enjoyable for everyone.

- Comicon, AnimeCon, or SciFi Horror Fantasy Convention
Nothing says fun to most teenagers like superheros, zombies, vampires, elves or anime. Grab a group of their friends and plunge in. Most of these -cons have loads of people in costume and who knows maybe your teen will be interested in cosplay (dressing like their favorite character), which will lead to all sorts of time spent together helping them dream up a creative costume. Don't worry, the Goodwill, tape and markers will you through a basic costume just fine without breaking the bank. Creativity is key here. Let them tell you all about their latest hero or villain interest. Just have fun.

- Hiking, Biking or a Greenway
If you're not up for a game of tackle football, try something a little easier like a walk on a greenway. It's not only good exercise, but it gives you time to talk. Leave the iPhone in the car.

- Bookstore or Video Game Store
If you want to know what they spend their time doing, browsing around a bookstore or video game store together will show you. Let them tell you about the games they like and why. Why not read one of the books by their favorite author, even if it's a Green Lantern graphic novel or a teenage vampire novel? It'll give you something to talk about, even if you think it's goofy, at least you'll understand some of their references or jokes that you're missing out on.

- Bowling
Yes, bowling. Let's face it, most of us think it's not really a sport, but yet we can't keep the ball out of the gutter consistently and we all look like goof balls trying to get that perfect professional pose. Keep it light hearted and this is sure to be a night of laughter together. Check-out Groupon for your area for special family size deals at your local bowling alley and make sure to call to see when leagues are scheduled so you can avoid those nights. Usually, Friday nights have late night specials too or a totally cheezy theme night, like Disco!

Inexpensive Things To Do At Home with Your Teens

If left to their own devices, most teens would stay cooped in their room or the game room, playing video games or texting with their friends all the time. Entice them to do other stuff by keeping it light and fun. Here's some suggestions...

- Start a Water Balloon Fight
Water balloons are cheap and can often be found at a dollar store. Ask your teen to take out the trash or go check the mail, them get in the first strike (while the getting's good) and challenge them to a water balloon fight. The more the merrier, so get the whole family involved, but expect the kids to gang up on you!

- Plan a Small Garden
Let your teen choose some of their favorite vegetables or herbs and plan a small garden or even just a patio container. Maybe something fun like the hanging strawberry or tomatoes plant that grow upside down!

- Game Night or Movie Night
Try something new. Are they into Magic the Gathering, why not try it? You might like it. How about an old fashioned game of Chinese checkers? Is there a trilogy you can watch over a three day weekend or a marathon Saturday? Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Twilight, Harry Potter, X-Men, Iron Man are usually good choices. Or opt for an old comedy like Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein or a B-flick sci-fi like Flash Gordon. Sometimes cheesy is fun.

- Bake Cookies
Nothing says fun like dessert. Teen boys and girls can both enjoy this. Remember, some of the most famous chefs are men. Teach them to make their favorite, even if it's a box mix of brownies.

- Start a Project Together
While they probably won't admit it, most teens like having a mother-daughter/father-son project. Maybe it's something simple like assembling the new patio set together, putting in a new walkway, sorting through family photos for a scrapbook about them, painting their room, or setting up a game room or unique space for their interests. Think of something that interests them that you have some degree of experience with so you can guide them, but both learn together. It's more fun for them when sometimes they learn something first and get to be the expert and show you how to do it better.

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