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How I spent a 4 day weekend & only spent $18


I had to write a blog post about this because I was pretty proud of myself. As a mom who has been very low income lately as I try to start my own business, I can not afford as many expensive expeditions with my children as I used to. I am always looking for a deal, something that is free, or to enjoy the outdoors with my kids which is always free anyways. Last weekend I had both of my children for 4 days and I only spent $18! I took them somewhere everyday and still only spent under $20. Needless to say I was pretty proud of myself and my thriftiness. So much so that I decided to brag about it in this blog post.

More importantly than patting myself on the back I really want to share how you can save money but not skimp on the fun. After all that is why I started Bay Explorer in the first place. I wanted parents of every socioeconomic status to know that you can have fun with your kids in the Bay Area without having a big budget. All you really need is time and to be present to show kids that you care.

So without further ado, how I spent a 4 day weekend taking my kids somewhere everyday and only spent $18...

Thursday: My oldest daughter had stayed home from school with a slight cough. I don't know if anyone else with two kids can relate but staying in the house with two kids all day can feel like you are refereeing a bad wrestling match. So when my friend text me to come join her at a free event at the library I was like yes please! Immediately threw the kids clothes on and some snacks together. Jose Luis Orozco was having a performance for the kids at the Elmhurst Library in East Oakland. My youngest was having a good old time singing and dancing with all the other kids. My oldest stacked up on books to bring home and read over the break. After the concert was over the library served us lunch of papoosas and beans in their Play Cafe. The kids ate and played with bubbles all for free! I am not a parent who thinks of the library when I think of what to do with my kids but it is actually such a great free resource!

Friday: We ventured into Golden Gate Park to the Conservatory of Flowers. Right now through January 7th they are featuring their Butterflies & Blooms exhibit. The conservatory is really cool if you have never been anyways, it is worth a visit but the butterfly exhibit makes it so worth it for the kids. The butterflies are everywhere and children can get up close and personal with them, learn about their life cycles, and if you are lucky and wearing bright colors one may just land on you. Prices are Adults $9, youth & college students $6, children 5-11 $3, and children 4 and under are free! This is where I spent my first money. Student discount for me- $6 and $3 my 8 year old. A whopping $9 cha-ching! The butterflies were enchanting and Ayala got to see them as up close and personal as she ever will!

After the Conservatory we walked over to the Koret Children's Playground where we thoguht we would be riding the merry-go-round- alas it was closed. But no worries the playground was really all that we needed. A large portion of the playground is still under construction due to the recent arson fire that took place, but enough of it is open to still have fun. Even with light sprinkling the girls still had so much fun swinging, running, climbing, and getting dizzy on the spinners.

Saturday: We were so torn on Saturday about what to do because there were several free events happening in San Francisco. The sandcastle competition at Ocean Beach and the Bayview Harvest Festival which were happening during virtually the same hours. The lure of a free petting zoo and jumpy tents was calling us, so we opted for the Bayview Harvest Festival in Hunters Point. I am sure glad we did too! Everything was free and the kids had such a great time! Free petting zoo, free face painting, free bounce house, free pony rides, free mini golf, free art stations, and free entertainment- FREE, FREE, FREE! Normally an event like that might cost upwards of $20 for all of those fun things but because this was a community event for the people we enjoyed everything for free!

After the Festival was over we were a little bummed to have missed out on the beach for the day. So what did we do? We headed to Ocean Beach to catch the sunset. While we missed the sandcastles we did catch a magical sunset while the kids played and rolled down the sandy dunes. The beach and nature are always free and so enjoyable.

Sunday: Sunday we had every intention of making it to the Marine Mammal Institute in Marin where they were having their free day. But sometimes our plans don't work out the way we planned. So instead we headed up to a much closer location Tilden. We hit two thirds of the Tilden trifecta. First we went to the steam trains. I had a ticket from 3 years ago I brought with me, so that was one ride. Ayala can pass for under two so she was free. Other than that the train is $3 a ride. Grandma was along for the trip. So we treated her to a ride that was the other $9 spent of our weekend. The train is fun for young children with some scenic routes that you travel through, plus the dark tunnel. If you are going this time of year bundle up because it gets pretty nippy.

After that we hit the merry-go-round, grandma treated the girls to a few rounds on the carousel. So I didn't spend any money there either. But FYI tickets are $3 a ride or $15 for 7 ride tickets. Both of these Tilden attractions will be lit up at night for the upcoming holiday season.

So that's it, how I spent a 4 day weekend taking my kids somewhere everyday for $18! Thriftiness is possible even in this high Bay Area economy!


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