Mr. Tightwad’s guide to cheap summer fun
By Mr. Tightwad email@example.com May 25, 2012 11:32PM
Mr. Tightwad is all ready for some cheap summer fun.
Updated: July 3, 2012 9:35AM
Whoa, Nellie! Things sure have heated up outside, and that’s a sign of one thing — the dog days of summer are just around the corner. So get ready for the significant other and the Little Tightwads to start harassing you to take them places and have a grand ol’ time on your dime.
Well, Mr. T is a pro when it comes to having fun on the cheap. Follow his lead and take advantage of some of these activities, while at the same time preventing these activities from taking advantage of your bottom line.
$4 to watch a grown man wrestle a bear
Head out to the Big Run Wolf Ranch in Lockport on one of its Family Days/Open Houses. The ranch, which promotes wildlife conservation, has wolves, a cougar, porcupine, raccoons, a skunk and a coyote. But the star of the show is Kuma, a 450-pound North American black bear.
During the open houses, John Basile, the owner of the ranch, wrestles with Kuma. It’s only open to the public on the following dates: June 23, Aug. 18, Sept. 22, Oct. 27 and Nov. 24.
Admission is $4.
Look at stuff for free
It’s absolutely ridiculous to pay general admission to museums because they run plenty of free days throughout the summer. The Field Museum has free general admission for Illinois residents on June 1, 4 and 5. The Adler Planetarium has the same deal on June 1 and June 4 through 8, and at the Shedd Aquarium, you’ll get in free June 17 through 22. And don’t forget, the Lincoln Park Zoo is free every day of the year. You’ll just have to figure out a way to not get soaked on parking.
If you’re looking for something a little different, the International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago has free admission every Tuesday. Just don’t plan on going there on a first date — because it’ll most likely be your last date.
For the not totally cheapskate thrill-seeker
Six Flags can be a bit pricey at $59.99 per ticket if you buy those tickets at Six Flags. Save $20 per ticket when you buy the tickets ahead of time online and print them at home. Do the math — for a family of four, you’ll save 80 smackers for a few minutes of your time. And yes, the Tightwads always pack a picnic lunch and take a load off under a tree in the parking lot while stuffing their faces at supermarket prices, not amusement park prices.
For the kids ... and the kid in you
The Palos R/C Flying Club has events throughout the summer at the fields at 107th Street and LaGrange Road. It won’t cost you a dime to plop a chair in the grass and enjoy the show up above. Some of the remote control planes are wickedly cool and do some impressive tricks and maneuvers in the air. Dates and times of the events are subject to change, but they’re on the club’s website (www.palosrc.com).
Buy your way to savings
It’ll only cost you $12 to get an Entertainment book filled with money-saving coupons for food, drink and other activities throughout the area.
Get the kids out of the house
When it’s too hot and the kids are looking for a cool place to burn some energy, head off to the bowling alley. It won’t cost you a dime if you sign them up at www.kidsbowlfree.com. Registration is free, and they’ll be able to get two free games each day, all summer. The freebie doesn’t include shoe rental (but they can bring their own). A goofy-looking bowling shirt is optional.
Mr. T sure isn’t going to pay an arm and a leg to sleep on a bedbug-infested mattress in a hotel while on vacation. That’s why he camps — because if he’s sleeping with bugs, he’d rather it be part of the experience. If you camp a lot, get a KOA Value Kard. It will cost $24 for the membership, but they’ll whack 10 percent off your tab every time you camp, in addition to giving you points you can redeem for further discounts.
Cheap history lesson
The annual Will County Thresherman Association’s Antique Tractor, Steam Engine and Gas Engine Show at the Dollinger Family Farm in Channahon is an annual favorite of the Tightwads. This year, it’s held July 19, 20 and 21 and admission will only set you back $5 for adults and $2 for children.
There’s a good selection of old machinery on display, much of it still in working order. There’s also a playground, petting zoo, a steam-powered sawmill and other live demonstrations. For a family of four, you’re looking at hours of entertainment for less than $20.
There are plenty of cruise nights throughout the area, which are great for adults and kids. The Frankfort Car Club holds cruise nights every Thursday, and Babe’s Jumbo Hot Dogs in Joliet has cruise nights each Wednesday.
Spend an afternoon at the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park at Governors State University and tour the grounds while taking in the 26 major artworks on display. Pack a lunch and spend the afternoon. If you drag the Little Tightwads along, bring a wagon because their little legs won’t be able to handle all the walking. The park is open every day of the year from dusk to dawn. As an added bonus, dogs are welcome as long as you clean up whatever they leave behind.
It doesn’t have to be that expensive
The Wisconsin Dells area has long been a family destination, but holy moly, it’s expensive. Getting dozens of coupons is as easy as heading to www.Dells.com, clicking on the “Free Online Coupons” tab and registering your email address.
Cheap ballgames ... and cheaper beer
A ticket to a Windy City ThunderBolts game will cost you as little as $8, and if you go on Wednesdays, hot dogs and soda are only $1. Get a designated driver on Fridays because Budweiser draft beer is only $1.25.
Sitting on the lawn at a Joliet Slammers game will only set you back $5.