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Free Family Fun


When I first moved to Tucson I hated it. Like, really hated it.

It seemed so….boring!

I was originally from Austin, then lived in southern Florida (where all the cities really merge together), so I was used to the feel of a larger city. I was used to there being LOTS of community events, many that were city-sponsored (and therefore FREE), with tons of family-friendly options that were available.

There was none of that in Tucson. Or so I thought.

To be fair, there really aren’t a lot of city-sponsored free events. They do have some (paid admission) festivals, but they’re really not that frequent. A few per year is it.

So it felt like a whole new world when I moved out of the central/campus area and out to the ‘burbs. Now there are ALL KINDS of family-friendly and FREE events! Some of these events are sponsored by the town where I now live (I live outside Tucson city limits in a neighboring town), but some are sponsored by HOAs and are open (and free!) to the public. Why would an HOA host a free event that’s open to people outside of the HOA community? I have no idea (false:  its a newer neighborhood and they’re trying to sell houses). But I certainly took advantage of the free fun this weekend!

So I packed up the girls and headed to a big free Easter event this past Saturday. And we did it RIGHT this year! Last year we went right in time for the easter egg hunt (at 11:00am), then stayed around for the other activities, which inevitably put us in the area when lunchtime rolled around and we ended up buying overpriced food from a food truck for lunch (they always have food trucks at these events). This year, we got there early so we could enjoy all of the free fun BEFORE the easter egg hunt, then we left right after the hunt so we could be home in time for lunch. It was perfect timing because we didn’t have any lines for anything since we were early, and we saved money (and calories) by eating at home instead of at a greasy food truck.

Here are some pictures of what we did….

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Free ballon animals (the artist wouldn’t even accept tips, as he’d been compensated by the HOA).  Got a ladybug and a puppy dog!


bounce house fun


waiting to collect eggs (all children were given an egg carton to decorate for their eggs; they discouraged actual baskets because they wanted to make sure every child got some eggs – once the carton was full, the kids were done).

Other un-pictured events include meeting the Easter bunny, sitting inside a fire truck, and the several other bounce houses (girls ran from one to the next while there were still no lines). We had an absolute blast and received all kinds of goodies for 100% free (plus a killer nap that afternoon for the girls, which was an extra bonus) ; )

Right now (Spring) is PRIME TIME for all kinds of these free events. I encourage everyone to check out their community/city calendars to figure out what kind of free stuff they’ve got coming up. Maybe you’ll find something really cool to do, too!

Does your community host a lot of free events? If you’ve got a family, what types of (free/cheap) things do you do for fun?


Texan at heart; Arizonan on paper. Lover of running, cheese, camping, and family (fur-family included!). Blogger, motivated to get out of debt YESTERDAY! Follow along with my journey!

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  • Reply Jackie |

    Our town has one big fair/festival for 2 days. It has the bounce houses, free music and a host of other things. It has a different theme each year. Actually just about each town in Maine has something similar. It can be pricey but some stuff like bounce house is free.

    In Maine we do more outdoor things like canoeing, hiking, fishing. Those are all free–well fishing you do have buy your fishing license for $25 per year.. We have county fairs but once again very costly. We do go to one fair a year so we can see the demolition derby which is a blast.

    We usual starting in the summer are always out in the canoe. Just pack a lunch and we’ll bring our camera and be in the canoe for 5 hours easily. It’s perfect because you can get out if you get too hot and want to swim etc. Plus we see tons of wildlife. We prefer not to be around a lot of people. We’d rather do stuff like hike and not be in a city atmosphere. I lived for 14 years in varying cities and now I don’t have anything to do with cities if I can help it.

    Springtime not quite as much stuff going on because it’s mud season. No more ice fishing etc due to melting.

  • Reply Walnut |

    Love those free events. I’m ready for all of the free music my city has to offer in the summer. Always enjoyable to spend an evening in the park with a small cooler of snacks/beverages with some music in the background.

  • Reply Meghan |


    Your girls are so adorable!! My daughter is close to their age, she turned 2 in January, and I think this is my favorite age for kids. They are so curious, but also quite capable so it is not as time consuming as babies. I take real joy in seeing the world through her eyes, she is so interested in everything! Thank you for sharing the pictures, it is such a great age!!



    • Reply Ashley |

      Thanks for such a sweet comment! I totally agree that this is SUCH a fun age! I swear in the 2 days I was gone for that interview, I felt like I’d come back to toddlers that could have full blown conversations! Their language skills are just growing by leaps and bounds and its so fun to watch!

    • Reply Ashley |

      So true, we’re definitely lucky to have an ABUNDANCE of sunshine in Arizona! We take advantage of it often by going to parks and even just playing in our own backyard. It’s already in the high 90s F, so it gets pretty awful by mid-summer. But right now mornings are still really lovely to be outside.

  • Reply Valerie |

    There’s a network of “on the cheap” sites for many cities that are a great resource for free/cheap events and deals. They are individually-owned and managed, but part of a network headed by Living on the Cheap, so the content varies between cities. I joined the network and started a website for Columbus years ago because I wanted to put all of this info in one place. Unfortunately for you, it looks like Tucson on the Cheap stopped publishing new content in 2012 and isn’t a part of the Living on the Cheap network anymore, but other readers can see if their city has a site by googling “{city name} on the cheap”, or checking out this list on LOTC http://livingonthecheap.com/our-network/. The network is accepting writers for new cities too.

So, what do you think ?