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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Affordable Things to Do Over Presidents' Day Weekend 2.18.11

So, I assume many of you are still at home as you read this, trying to think of ways to spend those precious free hours of your 3-day weekend, so as not to squander them on crazy things like housework, homework or yard work! You almost can’t get away from work, but even if you can’t find it in your budget to go on a holiday break, you can always do a staycation and order some take out (or go to some mildly fancy sit-down restaurant). Of course, I also mean you should get out of the house and celebrate our nation’s finest presidents – yes, I’m sure that’s up for debate – with some things you can find in your own neighborhood. Then, if you want to pitch your tent in the backyard and pretend you’re camping on the top of Mt. Everest, because it’s that cold still in some parts of the country.

If you haven’t come up with a better plan than ordering pizza and watching HGTV for the rest of the weekend, maybe some of these budget ideas will make you want to move your backside to do them. Remember, you can always DVR those DIY shows you’ve seen a dozen times. They’ll be there when you get back!

Hit up your local national park. There are so many across this great country, that it’s a shame if you don’t get out to explore and enjoy them. If the nearest park is too far away, look into your city’s Audubon Society or arboretum (that’s a fancy name for a place where they grow a variety of indigenous plants, mostly trees). Sometimes you can take your furry friends, but sometimes you can’t, so ask before you load them into the car and get them all excited for a hearty hike.

Enjoy complimentary admission to your favorite museum. Maybe. Many museums across the land will be offering free admission on Monday. Learn the history of your state as well as that of the United States and other parts of the world. Call the ticket office or check online to see if you can skip paying for tickets to get in. Spend that money in the café or gift shop!

Finally see what the Historical Society is all about. Nearly every big city has a historical society. Learn all about your city and state and its great leaders. They may or may not have become presidents, but if you’ve never been to your local society, now might be the time to check it out. Some run on donations, so drop a couple bucks in the jar to help preserve the history for future generations.

Order some apple or cherry pie. If you’re more ambitious than I am, you can also make your own pie, but the most effort I will put into pie-making is to go buy one and put it in the oven. I know this really has nothing to do with Presidents’ Day per se, but you can claim you are celebrating America or that you are honoring that whole chopping down the cherry tree incident.

Visit a historical monument or presidential landmark. Bonus points for you if that includes something like Mount Rushmore. If you live in a state that doesn’t have big presidential history, don’t worry. You can find all kinds of historical landmarks throughout it. Drive around, get out, read a plaque, takes a bunch of pictures and then make yourself an album entitled “The President Probably Stood in Some of These Places”…or something more appealing. If you live in the Washington, DC area, check out my previous blog post for things to do that are affordable.

Sit through Abraham Lincoln’s speech in the Hall of Presidents. Everyone has memories of the Hall of Presidents (now Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln) at Disney. If you have a trip planned to either Anaheim or Orlando, take half an hour to honor all our presidents and marvel at the creepy awesome animatronic technology. It might be the only way you will ever find yourself in the same room as President Obama…and you have to admit, it’s sort of hard to tell he isn’t real – as in the imagineers at Disney are fantastic, not that I think real-life Obama seems like a robot. (When you’re done with that, go see how real the Captain Jack Sparrow addition to Pirates looks!)

Watch a parade. Nowadays, there are parades for everything, so I’d be surprised if you couldn’t find one revolving around this national holiday. If not, pull one together in your neighborhood. You can easily find a George Washington wig at your local party store. Grab a can to use as a baton and have him (or her) head up the parade. Get the local kids to dress patriotic and march down the street after Washington. Toss some candy and copies of the Declaration of Independence and play the presidential anthem (or something “American” like Born in the USA) and have a good time. It doesn’t have to be a long parade either. Set up a lemonade stand and sell it up and down the block. You can use the proceeds to pay for your wigs and candy or donate it to your local historical society (see above). Make sure to take lots of pictures…and if you actually do this, I want links to the photos (or them posted to my Facebook page).

While you sit around trying to decide which of these sounds the most fun and plan your day out with your family, take a look at this trailer from what’s surely going to be a summer blockbuster, starring our 16th president: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. I mean, how can you not want to see it? I discovered its impending release through my most-frequented movie theater and decided I didn’t care who was in it or how bad it was, I was going to be there on opening weekend. It’s June 22nd for all of you who love a good (or bad) vampire flick and still have a little twinge of sadness every time you hear the name Buffy.

And if that doesn’t look fun enough for you, download the Presidents vs. Aliens game from iTunes. Test your presidential knowledge while defending the earth from aliens! Only $.99

Don’t forget:
  • Take a moment to enter to win a pair of CityPASS passes to the city of your choice, courtesy of CityPASS.
  • Downloadable packing lists will be available for download until the end of the month through newsletter subscriptions. If you haven’t yet, subscribe now. It’s easy and free!
  • Learn how to get around your vacation destination for less with my guest post on CheapOAir, where I will be a regular subscriber from now on (hooray!).
  • Coming soon: a guest post on green budget travel.

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