Last September, my family and I did the Living Well Spending Zero challenge from Ruth Soukup. As part of the challenge, we spent minimal money for the entire month. No groceries, no entertainment, no take-out. We allowed ourselves a small amount of cash at the start of the month for minor necessities, and activities that had already been planned, but that was it. We ate through the food in our refrigerator and pantry, learned to ration our seltzer, and went to some free events like the Fork Food Lab grand opening.
Overall, we did a great job, or at least until the last day of the month when our cat came down with a UTI, and we had to do an emergency visit to the vet complete with x-rays, anesthesia, and multiple antibiotics, all of which negated most of our savings from our zero spend month. Still it was a fun, creative experiment and one we would definitely try again. More importantly, our cat, other than one minor setback, is doing great now.
Are you looking to save more money this year too? While you may not want to dive into a full month of zero spending, although I do recommend it, here are a few ideas for some free activities that you can do in Maine. I’ve broken the activities out by month, but some of them are available over multiple months. Note, some of this information is based on my experiences from last year. The activities offered and pricing may change so it’s always good to check the links to the various websites to see what they have scheduled for 2017.
Winter is here and it’s time to take advantage of the great outdoors. Embrace the cold, the snow, and the wind chill, and head out on a moonlight hike. Check out this great blog post from Fit Maine, with a list of snowshoeing events, many of them free, Full Moon Snowshoe Hikes, Skis & Walks (And some starlight events, too). While you do need equipment for snowshoeing, many local parks and recreation departments, as well as libraries, have them available to borrow.
Winter Festival | Auburn 2017. While not all the activities are free at this weekend long event, some of them are including a snow playground at the festival plaza, the Lake Auburn scenic trails, and Friday night’s torch-light parade at Lost Valley Ski Area. You’ll have to hurry though, the festival begins Friday, January 27th! There are other great winter festivals throughout the state as well and all usually have a free activity or two.
Flavors of Freeport. There are some scheduled events in the evening that do require tickets, but during the days you can walk around to many of the retail locations for various free tastings. My husband and I went last year and had a blast. You can get more details on the event from my previous post – #AtoZChallenge | F is for Flavors of Freeport
I am lucky enough to live on a lake and about once or twice a winter conditions align and we can go skating in our backyard. We had those conditions a few weeks back and it was glorious. However, what to do when the lake is covered in snow and not really accessible? Head to one of the many skating venues located throughout Maine. While there are some paid rinks, there are also some free options out there too and Maine Today recently compiled a great list of free outdoor skating venues in Southern Maine.
The Portland Museum of Art is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon and if you head over on a Friday night, admission is free from 4:00-8:00 pm. The museum will be closed for the month of January 2017 and will re-open on Friday, February 3rd during the Lights Across Congress celebration.
As baseball season gears up, why don’t you swing by Hadlock Field for a free tour. The Portland Sea Dogs offer free tours of Hadlock Field to groups. Tours are available on weekdays when the team is on the road.
Wolfe’s Neck Farm offers free camping and meals in exchange for volunteering to help with their spring clean-up weekend at Recompence Shore Campground. Last year they hosted two cleanup weekends in late April / early May. They haven’t posted the dates for this years sessions yet. but check their website closer to spring for more information.
The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is an amazing destination. There are a variety of gardens throughout the space with beautifully maintained native plants and displays. They offer free admission to Maine residents during their Maine Days event which runs over Memorial Day weekend. See my previous blog post for more details An afternoon at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay.
The Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife offers Free Fishing Days during the year. For 2017, the free fishing days are February 18 & 19, 2017 and June 3 & 4, 2017. According to their site,
“On these days, any person (except those whose license has been suspended or revoked) may fish without a license. All other laws and regulations apply on these days.”
Last year, many state parks also offered free admission on Father’s Day so keep an eye out for this freebie in 2017. My previous post Hiking Swan Island for Father’s Day highlights our visit to Swan Island last year to take advantage of this free admission day.
With warmer weather comes the joy of outdoor movies. Portland Summer Films offers Free Movies in Congress Square Park every Sunday evening during the Summer. They haven’t announced the 2017 scheduled yet, but click the link to see the films that were shown this past summer.
Other towns have also offered free outdoor summer movies in the past. Below are a few links to some previous free outdoor movies:
In addition to movies, summer is all about the music. Here are a few links to the 2016 free concerts offered last year. The 2017 schedules aren’t out yet, but will be worth checking out as summer gets closer.
During Maine Open Lighthouse Day many of Maine’s iconic lighthouses are open to the public. This annual event draws large crowds. While I didn’t make it out for last year’s open lighthouse day, we did get to tour the Portland Breakwater Lighthouse during the kite festival at Bug Light Park.
The Great Maine Outdoor Weekend is held a couple of times during the year in February and again in September. During the weekend, there are many free and introductory events held throughout the state.
October is not too late to take advantage of free admission to the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland. According to their website, “From June through October, the museum offers free admission to all on First Fridays from 5 – 8 p.m.” This one is on my bucket list for 2017 !
And, if you’re in the mood for more art, many of the University Art Museums in the state offer free admission as well.Click the links below for more details on each art museum.
I enjoyed attending a few of the Cellardoor at the Point Complimentary Wine Pairings this past year, and blogged about the experience in my post Cellardoor at the Point and Black Dinah Chocolates Food and Wine Pairing. It’s a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to checking out more of their events in 2017, although they are no longer offering complimentary wine pairings. But, if you’d like to try some wine, Rosemont Market & Bakery regularly hosts free in-store tastings at their various locations. They have not published their full calendar for 2017, but you can check at their website on their event calendar as they add additional dates for their free tastings.
Allagash Brewery Tour and Tasting Allagash offers free tours and tastings throughout the year and there’s no better way to end the year than a stop into their tasting room. We actually started our zero spend month with a visit to Allagash. It was the perfect way to kick-off of a spend free month, and would also be a great way to end your year. Really, it’s perfect for any month.
This is certainly not a complete listing of all the free events happening in Maine, but it provides a small taste of some of the cost-effective ways to have fun in Maine this year. Do you know of any low-cost or free events happening in the state? I’d love to add more activities to my list!