Free and Frugal Fun at the Beach (Five Days of Family Fun at the Beach)

This week we’re vacationing in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It’s family tradition to come to the beach each year with Jason’s side of the family. We all room together in one large house, and we have fun with the cousins hanging out together and the grownups chatting and playing games. In connection with this year’s trip, I’m posting Five Days of Family Fun at the Beach.You can find the landing page with links to all five posts here.

Vacations anywhere can make a big dent in the family budget. But beach vacations can be particularly pricey. It seems that anywhere we go can end up costing quite a bit- especially with a family of six. But in our years of beach vacations, we’ve ended up finding some ways to have fun without spending so much money. We’ve even found a few free and fun activities.

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We discovered geocaching at a library event a few years ago. While not everyone in the family enjoys it, a few of us are hooked. And it’s a fun, free activity to do wherever you’re on vacation. You can look up to find geocaches wherever you are. There’s also a geocaching app you can access through that website. Using the GPS on your phone, you can search for a geocache in your area.

Geocaching- if you’re new to the idea- involves using GPS coordinates to search for a hidden “cache.” Anyone can hide a cache and register it with or a similar site. Once you know there is a cache nearby, you can use a handheld GPS unit or a smartphone to find the cache using the coordinates. One really neat thing about geocaching at the beach (or any other vacation spot) is that you can often find new, interesting places to see that you may not have noticed before.

State Parks

State parks can make for fun, inexpensive tourist stops. Most state parks only have a  minimal admission rate- sometimes we can pay just one price for the whole car. State parks offer something to see and do that’s usually off the beaten path.

Within a state park, you can often visit a museum or picnic in a shelter or play on a playground. There may even be hiking and geocaching in the park. State parks are usually less crowded than most touristy attractions. And if you enjoy camping- NOT ME!- you can find an inexpensive place for the family to stay. Myrtle Beach has two local state parks with camping, playgrounds, beachfront access, and programs for kids in the summer.


I love going out on the pier at the beach. I’m not wild about the fishy smell, but there are often fun things to see – and sometimes fun things to do – out on the pier. Many are free or have only a minimal charge. If you love fishing, you can bring your own equipment or rent equipment to fish off the pier. But even if you aren’t there for the fishing, it’s often a pretty place to view the ocean. And some larger piers boast entertainment or games and activities for kids. This site details the piers in and around Myrtle Beach.

Reciprocal Museum Memberships

If you have a membership to a local museum, check to see if there are any reciprocal museums in the area you’re visiting. One year I was very pleased to find a great museum about forty-five minutes north of our vacation site. This museum is an ocean themed museum and had a reciprocal membership with our local science museum. Because of our membership, we were able to get into the beach museum for free! You can find museums in and around Myrtle Beach here.

It is possible to have fun our your family beach trip without spending a fortune. Have you found any free or frugal activities at the beach? Share them in the comments.

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