Twelve ways for retirees to enjoy Labor Day for free

August 29, 2019

As you prepare for Labor Day weekend, you’ll find a plethora of activities to choose from throughout the country. However, many of these events come with a steep price tag. To avoid overspending during the holiday, plan what you want to do ahead of time. With some research, you’ll be able to find plenty of free activities to make the most of the final days of summer. Here are some ideas to help you enjoy Labor Day weekend that won’t cost a dime.

Take a walk. Whether it’s around the block or on a local trail, spending some time moving is good for your long-term health. “Walking helps the heart to function properly and keeps blood vessels pliable to protect against arterial damage,” says David Nico, a health care strategist and wellness coach. If you’re starting out, talk to a doctor to get the green light on exercise. Then use Labor Day as a time to kick-start a walking program. “Just a 30-minute walk, three times a week, provides enough ‘brain food’ to prevent brain shrinkage,” Nico says.

Take in a local Labor Day parade and enjoy free festivities around the state.

Catch a free concert. From classical to jazz and country or rock, most regions offer special music events during the Labor Day holiday. Check on times and available seating before you go, as you may need to bring your own chair or blanket. Also find out if drinks and snacks are allowed. You may be able to dine while you watch the show.

House sit. If you want to be a tourist but don’t want to spend your travel budget, look for house-sitting opportunities. “From New York to Europe, Labor Day will find dog owners desperate for house and pet sitters,” says Elizabeth Avery, founder of Solo Trekker 4 U. Check house-sitting websites to see what’s available in your area.

Take in a local parade. Many communities hold a parade during the morning hours of Labor Day. If you live in a warm climate, bring plenty of bottled water, sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat or umbrella. Also pack comfortable chairs and go early to get a good spot.

Soak in a festival. From local food samples to music and games, many cities provide special events throughout Labor Day weekend. Check the starting times and prices, as some festivals include charges and some are free. To avoid the crowds and heat, plan to go early. If you opt to arrive later and linger, carpool with friends who can drive if you don’t want to go behind the wheel during the evening hours.

Get ready to head south. If you live in the north but plan to spend the winter in the south, take advantage of the warm weather to get your home ready for your absence. Invite children or grandchildren over to help clean debris from the gutters. Then prepare the outdoor water system for the cold. “Disconnect your water hose from the outdoor spigot,” says Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing. If you leave it connected, the hose can freeze, expand and cause indoor pipes to burst. Then shut off the water valves for outdoor spigots and drain water from the outdoor water lines. “Check outdoor faucets for drips and leaks,” James says.

Go on a picnic with friends. To enjoy the company of former co-workers or longtime friends you only see on occasion, suggest a meetup at a nearby park. If your acquaintances live several hours away, choose a spot halfway between your homes. Keep in mind that parks and picnic tables can fill up with people during Labor Day weekend. To make sure you have a place to eat, bring your own seating or choose to go at a time that is usually quiet, such as earlier in the day.

Have a picture party. If you have an assortment of family photos, invite family members over during the long weekend to go through them with you. Give away pictures you no longer want to keep to grandchildren or loved ones. And if you have a number of framed pictures, consider creating a gallery wall in your home that showcases some of your family’s favorite moments.

Bring out the crafts. Rather than heading to the craft store for supplies, look through what you have to come up with a weekend project. If you have wood scraps and paint, you may be able to create a wall hanging with a modern look. “Painted wood grain art is a great way to create art for your home without having to have a lot of artistic skills,” says Morgan McBride, who blogs about crafting at To make wood grain art, use different colors of paint to trace and fill in some of the grain on a piece of wood.

Invite a house guest. If it’s been several months since you last saw your grandchildren, invite them to your place for an overnight stay during the weekend. Together you can go through family heirlooms or keepsakes, bake family recipes or make a scrapbook. If you have lingering yard work to tackle before summer draws to a close, use the time together to trim shrubs, clean a fence or wash the driveway.

Hold a neighborhood barbecue. To celebrate the end of the season, ask friends on the block to come over for a grilled meal. If you’re on a special diet, prepare a dish you will be able to eat. Ask others to bring food to share, along with beverages and paper plates to avoid a hefty grocery bill.
Go to the fireworks. Check online or in the newspaper to see if a display will be put on in your area. Many cities and local organizations offer a fireworks show, free of charge, for the public. Bring along chairs or a blanket and arrive early to catch a good spot.

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