Woman Wearing Towel Looking at River

Summer on a Shoestring: 8 Budget Friendly Tips for Families in YDH

Family road trips in Ontario are a staple of the summer season. However, we’re firm believers in that you don’t have to travel far to make some incredible memories! There are plenty of destinations across York Durham Headwaters where you can enjoy fun and inexpensive family outings. Keep reading for some amazing family road trip ideas in Ontario and how you can save money on summer activities in YDH!

Research Ahead of Time

One of our biggest tips for saving money on summer fun with kids is to do a little research ahead of time. Many family-friendly destinations in Ontario have deals so take a look at websites and social media as you plan your summer adventures. For example, the third Sunday of every month is “Family Sundays” at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg. All day long they have special drop-in programming like hands-on art workshops, storytelling circles and interactive tours. Plus each Sunday has a different theme, meaning no “Family Sunday” will be the same!

Get Out for a Hike

Family Hiking

York, Durham, and Headwaters boast some of Ontario’s most stunning natural landscapes, making them ideal for budget-friendly outdoor escapades. Uxbridge, known as the trail capital of Canada, offers a variety of trails catering to all skill levels. The Oak Ridges Trail spans over 250 kilometers and winds through lush forests, picturesque farmlands, and tranquil wetlands, providing scenic views and opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife spotting. Families can also explore the Trans Canada Trail, which passes through the heart of Uxbridge and offers easy access to local parks and conservation areas.

For a more immersive nature experience, venture into one of the region’s four provincial parks. Mono Cliffs Provincial Park features rugged limestone cliffs, dense forests, and serene ponds, making it a popular spot for hiking and picnicking. Darlington Provincial Park offers sandy beaches along Lake Ontario’s shoreline, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and family picnics. Sibbald Point Provincial Park boasts a historic estate and scenic trails along the shores of Lake Simcoe, providing opportunities for hiking, fishing, and exploring the park’s natural heritage. Both Darlington and Sibbald Point Provincial Parks offer camping facilities, allowing families to enjoy overnight stays amidst nature’s beauty.

Don’t forget that you can enjoy them for free on July 19th for Healthy Parks Healthy People Day!

Soak Up the Sun With a Beach Day

Family Jet Skiing

Speaking of beaches, enjoying the sand between your toes is easily one of the most affordable summer activities in Ontario. While we certainly have a few favourites, we’re fortunate to have over 25 beaches across York, Durham and Headwaters. Whitby is home to Iroquois Beach Park whose long, sandy shoreline is a great spot to enjoy a picnic (see what local Durham Region eats are in our picnic basket!) and toss a frisbee around. Georgina is another fantastic destination for a beach day in YDH as it offers 52 kilometres of shoreline along Lake Simcoe. It’s also a bustling hub for agritourism so pop by the Georgina Farmers Market on your way in or take a peek at these great spots for eats once you’re done!

Bring Back the Classics

Families have been always looking for a way to save a dime. So why not take some inspiration from the past! Just think to yourself what did we use to do for fun as kids?

Enjoy 2 for 1 Tuesdays at Leisure Lanes bowling in Oshawa where you can enjoy two hours of 10 pin bowling for the price of one! You can also get your game on at Playdium in Whitby where you can save 20% on the purchase of 3 or more $50 game cards.

Try a two for one special at YDH’s only drive-in theatre up in East Gwillumbury. Star Dust Theatre has nightly double features where each ticket allows you to watch two movies.

 Everyone loves a one-stop shop for affordable summer activities in Ontario. Why not head to a family-friendly destination where you can enjoy a round of mini putt, take some swings at the driving range, try out gem mining, and see how you fare in the batting cages? You can do all of this and more at Stouffville’s Timber Creek Golf as well as the Pickering Playing Fields! Not to mention that Pickering Play Fields has some great eat-and-play deals to help make it an inexpensive family outing. These are definitely some of the top spots to find summer fun for families in Ontario!

Carpool When Possible

Whether you explore indoors or out, one of our biggest money-saving family travel tips is to carpool when possible! Not only does it make the adventure extra fun but it will also save you some stress with parking upon arriving at your destination.

Enjoy the Free Community Events

Downtown Stouffville

Another thing that’s great about summer is that there are plenty of free things to do with kids in Ontario. So many communities organize free community events which makes it easy to enjoy some low-cost family road trips. Head to Shelburne for their Fridays in the Park where families can explore the heart of town while enjoying some fantastic live music as well as children’s entertainment. Another great option for a low-cost family road trip is the town of Stouffville. The town has organized a variety of free summer events including their park patio series, plein-air movie screenings, Ribfest and more. With so many cheap outdoor activities for kids, they make it easy to plan a family road trip on a budget in York, Durham, and Headwaters!

Plan a Staycation

Mansfield Outdoor Centre
Woman Wearing Towel Looking at River
Mansfield Outdoor Centre Dog

While we here at YDH are big fans of affordable day trips in Ontario, we also love a good staycation. For those looking to find cheap outdoor activities and family-friendly attractions, head to Cedar Park Resort in Bowmanville where you can RV Camp and enjoy their water park, mini golf, tennis courts and more. Another fantastic option is to snag one of the rustic camping cabins (or pitch a tent!) at Mulmur’s Mansfield Outdoor Centre. Enjoy the plethora of hiking and biking trails and make new friends around their communal fire pits as you soak up the fresh summer air, then snuggle in for the night in one of their onsite cabins. Lastly, Harmony Resorts Grand Valley is the perfect place to unwind. Grab an inflatable and settle in for a float along the river, explore the Grand Valley trail or take a dip in the heated pool as you enjoy a night or two at one of their campsites or in one of their cabins. They have tiny homes for rent as well!

For those looking to enjoy a staycation closer to the city, there are plenty of affordable summer fun for families near the Toronto Marriott in Markham. The hotel features a gorgeous infinity pool that’s sure to be a hit with kids of all ages. Plus its close proximity to attractions like the Markham Museum, and Lloyd Family Farm, and Canadas Wonderland makes it a top budget-friendly family destination for your summer road trip.

Are you ready to explore budget-friendly things to do with kids in York, Durham, and Headwaters? Enjoy a ‘Summer on a Shoestring’ with these budget-friendly ideas to help you save money so you can have plenty of affordable summer fun in Ontario.

York Durham Headwaters Go to Home Page