Ah, summer. A great time to explore free activities in town.

The other day, a lovely friend and I headed to the charming seaside town of Steveston, pretending we were Southerners who couldn’t pronounce the town’s name, to get in “tourist” mode.

Towns like this are often about walking, shopping in quaint stores, bites to eat (like deliciously fresh fish and chips), and hanging at the seaside. But the bonus this year is that the Gulf of Georgia Cannery is offering free admission as part of the celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. For us, it was perfect as we’d had a late start and wouldn’t have wanted to pay almost $8 each for a half hour’s cruise through. But for free, it was just right. I love seeing pictures of “the olden days” and I appreciate having more insight as to what all goes into, literally and figuratively, the cans of seafood that we may easily take for granted as we grab them from the supermarket shelves.

We walked out with some smoked salmon, and the 2017 Discovery Pass, to explore other places for free this year. The Fort Langley National Historic Site is next on my list to take advantage of temporary no admission fees, travel back in time, and maybe do a little panning for gold. In addition to historic sites, there are many locations in BC and across Canada for potential exploring like parks and marine conservation areas – check out parkscanada.gc.ca. Just show me a lighthouse and I’m a happy gal.

To stay on a fishy theme, an always free location is the Capilano Salmon Hatchery in North Vancouver, close to the charming town of Edgemont that’s also worth a boo. And if you are into suspense, you can bypass the super expensive Capilano Suspension Bridge and head to the Lynn Valley Suspension bridge for free. Okay, it’s a lot shorter and there are no people in historical costumes. But it’s free. And shaky. And surrounded by beautiful nature which can’t be beat.

Some places that used to offer free options like the Museum of Anthropology no longer do so, but you can at least get a discount on Thursday nights and pay $10 instead of the usual $18. (When did regular prices go up so significantly? I still have figures like $12 in my head, but I am obviously out of date.) The MOA is at least cheap compared to the Vancouver Art Gallery that charges a gulp worthy $24. They do have a free night on Tuesdays but it’s crazy crowded from my experience and if you want to relax and enjoy works of masters, currently on display, like Monet, you just may want to pay. And stay super opened minded as to what is considered “art” (like, um, the bathtub filled with sand and pieces of broken mirror). To carry on the art theme, the area of South Granville, nick named “gallery row”, is filled with many charming art stores worth perusing.

For my August birthday, I’m hoping to head to Burnaby Village Museum as that’s another fun, and free, place to head back in time (it’s free all the time, not just birthdays). And eat ice cream. I even have a free ticket for a carousel ride when I go, cuz you’re never too old for a carousel ride, right?

If it’s your birthday coming up, you can Google for what’s free in your area on birthdays. In Vancouver, if you sign up before your birth month, you can get a free ticket to Vancouver Theatresports (vtsl.com). If I’d been a winter baby, I could have gotten a free ski lift ticket worth $35 for Cypress Mountain. And there’s always good old Denny’s that offers a free Grand Slam breakfast on birthdays.

On top of those ideas are the awesome free events at the local libraries. Last week I happened upon a display by the Urban Safari Rescue Society involving brave young children being cuddled very closely by a snake! There are all sorts of kid events in the summer including crafts, puppet shows, ventriloquism, mad scientists, and air conditioned Fridays with games, colouring, and LEGO, for those who need a break from the sun. And these days, colouring isn’t just for kids, so you can sign up for Adult Colouring! Check out your local library for many possibilities to be entertained and educated (e.g. vpl.bibliocommons.com/events or fvrl.bibliocommons.com/events). This week I’m off to learn all about the darling little ukulele.

Well, the summer is almost half over, so I hope the rest of your summer “tour” is filled with lots of affordable discoveries, and good times with precious family, friends, and fish n’ chips.

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