Get Up and Get Out: How to Find Cheap Local Events
Everyday there’s something fun and affordable happening where you live. Yes, even in small towns and cities; you just have to know where to look. To help you find these low-cost activities and events in your area, here are a few of the always reliable resources I use to help plan my next adventure. (See also: 15 Ways to Make the Most Out of Warm-Weather Weekdays)
Visit Ticket Sites
I don’t follow sports, but I love attending sporting events. There’s something about the atmosphere — junk food, cold beer, excited fans — that draws me to the stadium, but as someone who’s not particularly invested in the actual game, I search for the lowest possible price on tickets I can find. In particular, I find StubHub to be useful since it shows me the absolute rock-bottom price available, which often is lower than what’s available at the venue. StubHub tickets are sold by individual sellers, some of whom are simply trying to recoup a percentage of face value opposed to full face value. StubHub also is a great resource for concertgoers, too. There are a lot of big-name tickets available, and if you search at the right time you could score a big deal.
Sign Up for Event Newsletters
Many local establishments have event newsletters that they send to customers via email. The purpose of these marketing emails is to inform customers of what’s happening with the hopes of getting you into the joint to buy food and drinks and enjoy the entertainment while you’re at it. I’m signed up to a few select places in my area because I generally like what they’ve got going on. If they send email too often, I unsubscribe — which sometimes happens, and you can, too — but for the most part I’m happy to know that there’s always something nearby that I can do on a lazy day or night.
Subscribe to Daily Deal Emails
I use daily deal sites for a lot reasons — buying gifts for friends and family, scoring discounts at restaurants — but I also pay attention to the events they offer. My husband and I like to participate in activities, so I’m always on the hunt for a great activity at an even better cost. Through daily deals, we’ve gone camping, white water rafting, river tubing, zip lining, and more — all for much less than we would have paid normally.
You can browse the Community section of Craigslist to find kitschy little events in your area, but I also recommend browsing the tickets and free sections as well. The latter in particular was fruitful for me one day when I came across a listing offering free tickets to a Mets game. I thought it might be too good to be true, but it turned out to be the good deed of a doctor who enjoyed giving away his season tickets to strangers on nights when he couldn’t use them. Certainly that almost never happens, but you may be surprised what you can come up with on Craigslist if you dig deep enough.
Scour Local Print and Online Publications
Every community has a publication — usually online and off — that lists the events that are happening in that area each week. Subscribe online for alerts or receive the hard-copy publication so you can stay up to date on what’s going down in your ‘hood on a regular basis.
Check Out Tourism Sites
Tourism sites are helpful when searching for cheap events where you live and in places you’re traveling. Whenever we go on a trip, I usually search the destination’s tourism site to find things for my husband and me to do in that area. From free local concerts to ethnic festivals to high-school football games, if something noteworthy is happening in a particular area, I can usually find it on a tourism site.
Walk Your Neighborhood
Take a stroll around you neighborhood — or the downtown area of your town if you live in a more rural area — and browse flyers in windows, scope out sandwich boards on the streets, pick up event postcards, and read marquees to discover what’s happening near you.
Utilize Social Media
If you’re active on social media, chances are you already have a slew of events in your "Upcoming Events" section of Facebook. Some of them will probably be of no relevance to you, but others may be just what you’re looking for. Every now and then take a peek to see what’s scheduled and plan to participate. Otherwise, social media is a great place to simply ask around. Somebody in your networks knows something fun and frugal happening — I guarantee it.
Get Specific and Search the Web
You can conduct generic searches for local events, but if they’re not listed on the sites that come up in the results, you’ll never know they’re happening. For instance, in my area, free kayaking is available on the Hudson River on weekend mornings. I wouldn’t have discovered this great event if I didn’t specifically search for kayaking in my area. Same goes for free outdoor summer movies, which I maintain is one of the best no-cost events/dates ever. Search for "free summer movie" plus the town in which you live, and I bet you’ll come up with something, whether it’s in a park, a parking lot, or at a nearby church. The point is when you have a specific idea of something you want to do, head to your search engine and find it; it’s almost always there.
Have more ideas on how to find cheap local events? Let me know in the comments below.