Free (or budget-friendly) activities to do this Family Day

February 15, 2024


✔ Having fun on Family Day doesn’t have to be expensive: it’s about spending time together.

✔ Spend time outside hiking, skating, or even just making snow angels.

✔ Libraries, museums and art galleries have fun (and often free!) Family Day programming.

✔ Playing cards, cooking together, or just watching a movie and eating popcorn are all great ideas for budget-friendly fun.

Family Day gives us a much-needed, mid-winter long weekend – and a welcome chance to relax and spend time with people we love. So, what will you do with your Family Day?

The good news is that there are plenty of things to do that don’t require you to spend a lot (or anything at all, really) for some quality togetherness.

The third Monday of February is Family Day
in Ontario, Alberta, BC, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, Louis Riel Day in Manitoba, Nova Scotia Heritage Day in Nova Scotia, and Islander Day in PEI. And it’s also the first long weekend of the year!

Here are some of our top picks for budget-friendly Family Day fun.

Plan a family hike

Bundle up, put on some warm boots with good grip, and tromp through a nearby forest. Provincial parks are a great setting for hikes and most are either free or charge a minimal entrance or parking fee. You’ll get to take in a beautiful natural setting, get some fresh air and exercise, and maybe even see some wildlife. If you live in a city, try an urban hike. It’s a great way to explore different neighbourhoods and local parks.

Drop into your local recreation centre

Most local city-run facilities offer free family drop-in programs on Family Day including swimming, volleyball, basketball, table tennis and yoga. Check out your local city website to see what recreation centres near you are offering and plan your visit based on what everyone wants to do.

Plan a ‘YES’ day

Your kids likely know all about a ‘yes’ day. It is a day where they can choose what they want to do for 24 hours and the parents can’t say no. It may seem a little scary, but you can still plan a day by putting a few boundaries in place that will avoid them going overboard. Here are a few tips to make your ‘yes’ day budget-friendly:

  • Encourage crafting and creativity which can cost less
  • Set a cap on the total amount they can spend
  • Have them team up with siblings or family friends

Have an outdoor adventure

Whether it’s building a fort, renting snowshoes, getting out the toboggan or checking out an outdoor skating trail, outdoor winter activities can be a lot of fun and not cost a lot. Go online to look up your local runs, trails and rinks to see which you can explore for no cost.

Go to the museum or art gallery

Whether you’ve got a “dino fan” in your family or someone with a passion for painting, going to a museum or art gallery together is a great family-friendly activity. Many have special pricing and family-focused activities planned for the long weekend, with everything from crafts to dance workshops to keep everyone entertained. Popular programs fill up fast, so check if you need to book ahead when you’re making your plans.

“Chef” together

Spend some time in the kitchen, making a kid-friendly meal that lots of hands can help with, like pizza, tacos or spaghetti. Start with a trip to the grocery store, where everyone gets their own list and has to find the ingredients they need. It’s a great way to teach kids how to shop for food and help them understand how much things cost. Then head home, and get cooking!

Have a family movie night

Going to the movies can be expensive, especially for a whole family. But you don’t need to go out. With a little planning and creativity, you can have a theatre-style cinema experience at home for free. Move the furniture, throw down some pillows and blankets and enjoy! Can’t decide which movie to watch? Get everyone to write their choice on a piece of paper and draw the winner out of a hat.

Hit up your local library

Books, movies, great activities and even special Family Day events – they’re all free! See what's happening at your local branch, or just make an event out of finding some new books to read. Head over on Saturday to stock up on reading material for the whole long weekend!


Do a little hands-on learning with simple science experiments using household items. See what happens when you combine baking soda and vinegar, mix food colouring into milk, or use lemon juice to create “invisible ink.” There are lots of ideas online to inspire your budding scientists.

Family Day is a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time together without breaking the bank. Get creative and have fun – after all, the most important thing is spending time together.

Disclaimer: This content is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial advice on any subject matter.

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