10 Fun Hobbies You Can Take Up for Free


In the new year, many of us choose to take up new hobbies to fill our free time and extend our skills. I recently looked into taking a pottery class, for example, but the $600 price tag sent me scrambling elsewhere to find some less expensive fun. Sure, a good number of fulfilling activities cost a pretty penny, but there are plenty of others you can start for free.

1. Exercise

Forget gym memberships. All you need for a great workout is yourself (and maybe a pair of shoes). You can walk or jog around your neighborhood. The web has a wealth of free workouts you can perform in your living room. Also investigate the gyms and fitness clubs around you to see if they run free weeks or classes you can try before you buy.

2. Read

All you need to become a frugal bookworm is a card to your local library. Even if your local stacks don't hold all the books you want to read, you can usually request to get most anything you want through interlibrary loans. So, sign up for Goodreads, research some books in whatever genre appeals to you, make a list, and slip into your reading glasses.

3. Write

If you'd rather write than read, look around the web for different writing challenges that "push your boundaries" and allow you to explore different topics and styles. You might also start a blog to share your words with the world (or keep it private, or for friends-only). Many regions also have writers' groups that allow you to meet up with like-minded people and get feedback on your work. Check your library, bookstore, or community calendar for details.

4. Play an Instrument

Venture into your attic and find your trumpet from high school marching band. Stop singing only in the confines of your car. There are a number of community groups — bands, orchestras, choruses, and other ensembles — that allow you to re-learn your instrument and perform in concerts. I was a member of a local philharmonic for years, and I loved having an excuse to play my violin after a 10-year hiatus.

5. Act

The same goes with community theater. Audition for lead roles or hang out with the extras in the chorus. Whatever part you play, acting allows you to meet new people, explore your creative side, and just have a lot of fun. You don't even need experience! Just search "community theater" and the name of the city where you live to find groups near you.

6. Learn a Language

Have you ever wanted to speak another language? I mean, beyond those few years of Italian you were required to take to graduate college? I sure have. A few years ago I taught myself French using an app and some free online language resources, and I was surprised how much fun it was (and useful, too!).

7. Listen to Podcast

Move over, TV and books, I've become seriously obsessed with podcasts since Sarah Koenig's Serial came out. Now I've moved on to This American Life and other free radio programs and podcasts I can stream or download. I love how these programs teach me things about myself and the world around me. I can listen to them while I lay in bed or go for a jog and change subjects to suit my mood.

8. Volunteer

Doing good feels good and is certainly a thoughtful hobby to take up and enjoy. You can serve food at your local soup kitchen, help build houses, or visit the elderly. The need is great and the opportunities are endless. To find volunteering gigs near you, try sites like VolunteerMatch that sort by location and interest.

9. Explore

Take a hike — literally. Pack yourself a lunch and head out on a local trail. A friend of mine in the Adirondacks tries to reach the summit of a new mountain every couple weeks. You can also try geocaching, which allows you to hunt for different objects or locations using GPS coordinates.

10. Begin Again

Then there are those hobbies of years past — you have all the stuff sitting in a box somewhere. For me, it's knitting. I have countless skeins of yarn and a few different sizes of needles, assorted books, and other supplies. All I need to do is use what I have and pick up where I left off. For you, this might mean dusting off a chess set, unearthing oil paints, or rolling out that old yoga mat.

Do you pursue and free or frugal hobbies? What do you do?

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Guest's picture

For anyone looking to learn a language, I recommend the app "Cat Spanish" - funny pictures of cats, while you learn. It's great!

Ashley Marcin's picture

Hahaha NICE. I love cats, so I’ll be checking that out!

Guest's picture

Great list Ashley! Reading books and writing is my favorite hobbies. I love to write unique, interesting and engaging ideas. :)

Ashley Marcin's picture

Thanks, Mark! And writing is THE BEST! Have you checked around your area for writers groups? I was a member of one a long time ago, and it was really helpful to get constructive feedback on my stuff.