20 free things for families

April 3, 2014

Gizmo, the author’s pet hedgehog knows Easter, and warm weather, is just around the corner. Photo by Melissa Schlicht

Gizmo, the author’s pet hedgehog knows Easter, and warm weather, is just around the corner.
Photo by Melissa Schlicht

By Melissa Schlicht

Are you on a tight budget? Here are 20 awesome free things to do in Clare. As spring slips in to summer you can fill your calendar with fun things to do locally at no cost!

1. Free Bowling! Gateway Lanes participates in kids bowl free. Children up to age 18 can bowl 2 free games every single day all summer long. Sign up now at https://www.kidsbowlfree.com you will receive an email as soon as registration opens. They will email your bowling coupons to you weekly.

2. Free Movies- Busy Bee Story Time-Indoor Easter egg hunt: Our local library has great kids programs all year long. They have free after school movies with popcorn, an awesome summer reading program that encourages children to read. They even have free classes for adults to improve computer skills. They offer Basic Computer Technology, Windows 8, eReader, and Basic Microsoft Excel classes. Why not brush up on some computer or job skills while the kids enjoy all the free programs our library has to offer? They are having an indoor egg hunt on April 19th at 1:30 pm. The Easter bunny will be there, there will also be crafts and prizes. Families must pre-register for this event at the circulation desk. You can get information three ways; stop in and check them out, check them out online at http://www.pmdl.org/  or give them a call 989-386-7576.

3. Hike! Mid Michigan Community College offers four trails in their trail system. They are open all year long for hiking, biking, running, snow shoeing, and cross country skiing. They are open to the public and free to use. The trails wind through MMCC’s 560 acre campus of beautifully wooded land. You can get details and trail maps at  http://www.midmich. gid=2&sid=167&pid=1455

4. Picnic: Clare has six awesome city parks that are perfect to roll out a blanket, unpack the picnic basket, and enjoy the fresh air. Shamrock Park on Wilcox Parkway, Petit Park on McEwan Street, The City Park on 5th Street, Brookwood Park on Ann Arbor Trail, Stamina Stadium on Schoolcrest, and Maple Street Park on the corner of 3rd Street and Maple Street.

5. Run, ride bikes, rollerblade at The Pere Marquette Rail Trail: The Pere Marquette rail trail is approximately 30 miles of paved trail extending all the way from Clare to Midland. You can take the kids and the dog and walk, run, rollerblade, or bicycle your day away. It is a beautiful route which is also a refuge for deer, squirrels, and birds. Don’t forget to grab your camera, there are many family photo opportunities on this trail as well.

6. Skate Board: Check out Clare’s awesome Skate Park across from the water tower. It is open from April through September and offers two quarter pipes, one quarter, two launch ramps, multiple centers, two wedges and a rail.

7. Enjoy some Art: The 515 gallery is a student run gallery located right on McEwan Street next to Hick’s Jewelers. Their mission is to inspire and educate the artist in all of us. Their next event is on April 26th featuring the Jack Pine Conference student show from 6-8pm.

8. Volunteer: There are many opportunities to volunteer in Clare. Volunteer work is typically very rewarding for the organization and even more so for the volunteer. Don’t know where to start? Some places that gladly accept volunteers: City of Clare Recreation Department, Joshua’s House Maternity Home, Clare County Animal Shelter, or Clare County Senior Services/Council on Aging.

9. Take Hunter’s Safety:  Jays Sporting Goods will be offering free hunter’s safety classes this April 8th -11th from 5pm -8pm. This class is open to children of all ages with any disabilities and to adults. You can register ahead of time or on site the first day of class. They will have a second offering in August. For more information please contact the Trophy Room at 989-386-3475.

10. Play Tennis: Brookwood Park on Ann Arbor trail has tennis courts that are free for anyone to use. You can pick up a racket at the City Wide Yard Sales for around a dollar each. Get some exercise and have some fun in the sun with the family and promote a little healthy family competition.

11. Fish: Fishing is free for anyone under 17. For anyone over 17 there are 2 free fishing weekends available each year, the next one for Michigan is June 7th and 8th. Any resident or non-resident can fish for free.

12. Back Yard Camping: Things are warming up and who doesn’t love to camp in the backyard? Pitch a tent roast some hot dogs and eat some smores while catching fireflies.

4-4-14 Dog -English Mastiff Brock

A walk, or run with a friend is a fun free activity for the family.

13. Run with your furry friends: Take the dogs down to the baseball diamonds to run out some of their energy. They’ve been cooped up all winter long too.  Dogs LOVE to run and play ball and they stay contained in the diamonds. Take their favorite toy and the whole family, place people at each break in the fence and let the dogs loose! Play Frisbee, or throw the ball or a stick and enjoy some free sunshine and exercise. (Diamonds are located at Clare’s Stamina Stadium on Schoolcrest Ave or at Brookwood Park on Ann Arbor Trail.)

14. Enjoy some music: The City of Clare puts on a completely free concert series in the City Park under the water tower. Concerts will be starting June 5th and run through July 31st this summer. There will be free music in the pavilion from 6-8pm. They feature a little something for everyone, different genres of music will be featured each week. Bring a blanket or grab some lawn chairs and enjoy a great feeling of community.

15. Scavenger Hunt: Be creative take the kids outside and use signs of spring for your list. Have teenagers with camera phones? Even better! Expand the search and do a photo scavenger hunt around the neighborhood. Have your teens snap photos of the items. This will eliminate any clean up time.

16. Vacation Bible Schools: Keep an eye out for all the local churches offering free vacation bible schools. These are typically week long programs that offer, fun, games, and snacks for school age children.

17. Amish Quilt Auction and Flea Market: Enjoy browsing all the beautiful handcrafted items at the Amish Quilt Auction and Flea Market. People come from miles around to take part in our Amish culture. Let your children learn about the Amish’s simple way of life and enjoy their handcrafted art. There are two events this year May 16th & 17th and August 29th & 30th from 8am-5pm each day. There are free shuttles on Saturday only from the Doherty Hotel, Wood’s Household/Curves parking lot and Big Boy restaurant in Clare.

18. Free Dinner: Ponderosa in Clare offers free birthday dinners when you sign up for their eClub. You can sign up online or at Ponderosa. You will receive a free steak or buffet coupon and a Buy one get one free entrée or buffet coupon just for signing up. Sign your kids up and get free birthday meals for each child to be used 3 days before your birthday, on your birthday or 10 days after. (Must purchase an adult Entrée for the birthday coupons.)

19. Free Easter egg hunt: This one is coming up quickly. The Easter egg hunt will be held in Shamrock Park from 11:00 – 12:00pm on Saturday, April 12th. There will be an egg hunt, crafts, games, and plenty of sweet treats. Pre-registration by April 9th is required: contact atheunick@cityofclare.org or (989) 386-7541 X 213 to register.

20. Basketball: Shoot some hoops at Broowood Park on Ann Arbor Trail or at the Clare Middle School.

So don’t let your days slip away with “I’m bored”. Challenge your family’s boredom. Ask them if they have; B-been creative, O-outside to play, R-read a book, E-exersized for 20 minutes, D-done something helpful. Use this list to get them outside to enjoy some of our small town charm – for FREE.

Here are a few more low cost ideas to keep your family busy and active:

Budget Ideas….

*Swim at the Doherty Hotel’s pool or enjoy their hot tub just remember to bring your own towels. Weekday price $7 weekend price $10 per person.

*See a movie at the Ideal Theater. Adult tickets are only $5 and children 12 and under are $4. You can get two large pops and a large popcorn for only $9!

*Have a beach day at Herrick Park, take a picnic lunch and swim on their sandy beach. Herrick has sections roped off by depth for the little ones, picnic tables, grills, restrooms, showers and a playground. They are open from May to September from 10am – 8pm daily. It’s only $6 for a whole car load of family and friends to enjoy the facilities all day. http://www.isabellacounty.org/parks-information/herrick-recreation-area

*Get out and get some good bargains and sunshine at Clare’s City Wide Yard Sales. They will be held from June 26th – 28th this year.

*Brush up on some Clare History: The Clare County Historical Society museum complex reopens in May. The museum complex consists of the Clare County Historical Museum, the historic Dover one-room school house, and the restored Ott log cabin. Yearly membership is only $10.

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