How do you feel when the sun sets and you’re ready to call it a day?
You probably want to hit the newest club, attend the hottest concert in town or catch a movie at the theater. One problem though, you’re on a strict budget and all these activities cost money.
If only there was a way to cut back on entertainment costs…
Well, there is!
Reducing the entertainment budget doesn’t mean saying goodbye to your social life. No matter where you live, there are exciting places to go and things to do at night that don’t cost a lot.
To help you make the most of your time, this article will discuss some of America’s favorite activities for fun-filled evenings.
Free or Cheap Things to do at Night for Fun
Not sure where to start? This list includes fun things to do outside at night and activities you can enjoy at home.
1. Movie Night
The good ole movie night.
Although it’s recommended you switch off your technology on family fun night, make an exception for movie night.
Watching a movie alone isn’t half as fun as watching it with the people you love. You can take turns preparing the snacks and choosing the movies.
Show a movie on a large screen or make a home movie inspired by your favorite movie, TV show or book. Design your living room in accordance with the theme and get everyone dressed as their favorite character in that TV show or movie. This classic family pastime will give you hours of fun.
If you’re alone, spice up things a little bit by watching your movie somewhere else, like in the bathtub.
2. Show an Outdoor Movie
You may find yourself plan-less when nighttime rolls around.
Do you have access to a digital projector? Why not take the movies outdoors and host a backyard movie night that will make your neighbors envious?
Or better yet, invite them to your own “drive-in theatre” experience. It’s so much cheaper than going to the movie theater.
Grab some warm clothes and ensure you have plenty of popcorn and snacks on hand!
Try watching something a little more action-packed like a recent Marvel movie. You can pick a family-friendly reality show if you’re with the kids.
Over the past decade, reality shows have become super popular as they bring together drama and entertainment that appeals to just about anyone.
3. Go for a Drive
Feel like an explorer! Take a night to get to really know the place you call home.
Nothing beats exploring the natural world at night. Night drives are so therapeutic; no crazy traffic or annoying honking. See what feels and looks different about your area.
While driving, check your local state park or nature center for family-friendly night programs. Many parks offer tours or special attractions. You can discover a ton of night hikes, campfires and interpretive programs through your local mountain recreation and conservation authority.
Head out to your nearest trampoline park for an exciting game of dodge ball. You can find a bowling alley for a bowling competition or look for a go-cart facility for a late-night race.
If there’s a railroad track near where you live, head there and watch for trains to pass by. If you are with your kids, carry a train-themed coloring book to keep them busy as you wait.
4. Have a Scavenger Hunt/Geocaching
Everyone loves hunting for hidden things. Whether you are 25 or 52, clue-based scavenger hunting is a fun activity that will keep you and your friends occupied.
But most folks only think of going for a scavenger hunt while the sun is still up. Do it differently – at night!
Create a list of things you might come across on a short walk at night through your neighborhood, then head outside and see how many you can find. You can make it as crazy as you want. Split your family up for a jaunt around the neighborhood or enter a contest with neighbors who want to have a family night.
If you live in the countryside, make it a nature scavenger hunt where your list includes specific animals or plants like acorns and pine corns.
These tips from wikiHow will help you plan a perfect scavenger hunt.
Download the Geocaching app on your smartphone or log in to the Geocaching website, and find geocaches using only GPS. Geocaching may introduce you to local spots you’ve never visited in your own hometown.
Pretend to be a child again. Nobody has to know.
5. Attend a Free Outdoor Concert
Another of my favorite things to do outside at night.
All summer long, many parks host outdoor festivals like concerts or plays sponsored by theater groups, downtown associations, etc.
Your local alternative weekly paper has the scoop on upcoming musical acts and other artsy performances that provide great family fun.
Night outdoor concerts and street festivals with street performers, art exhibits and craft demonstrations are a whole different ballgame. Everything looks so different under the moonlight.
Whether you go with some friends, a significant other or alone is up to you. Even if you don’t know the band, you could end up having a great time listening and dancing to live music.
6. Have a Girls Spa Night
This one is for the girls.
If there’s nowhere to go or you don’t want to venture out, create an at-home spa. Light candles, create a super zen playlist to have in the background and make your atmosphere resemble a spa.
Paint your fingers and toenails. Put wash-off facial masks and exfoliates while wearing comfy robes. And don’t forget a bathtub foot soak.
Afterward, you can make each other’s hair, dress up and put on makeup as if you were going out. You and the girls will enjoy this time of pampering and relaxing.
You can also turn it into American Idol night. Have two of your friends be the judges and the rest can be contestants.
Don’t forget to capture the memories.
7. Invite Friends to Dinner at Your House
Do you cook the same dinners each night? Boring, right? Cooking for friends is incredibly rewarding.
Get adventurous with your meal choices when you invite friends to dinner at your house. Have an international dinner night where you and your friends pick a country that intrigues you.
Do some research about their food and cuisine and prepare it! You can even find clothing that is worn in the country and wear it to dinner.
After dinner, have a dancing competition. While not everyone is a natural dancer, it can be energizing and relaxing at the same time.
Use a speaker with a disco ball or built-in light show. Make up new dance moves to teach each other. Dancing makes you feel free like the wind. You will have fun and it’s also a great way to get some exercise.
The good food and interactive performances will help you create beautiful memories that you will cherish for years to come.
8. Host a Game Night
Tired of yet another pub quiz? Invite some buddies over and play board games. Some of my favorites include Yahtzee, Ticket to Ride, Scrabble, Catan, Monopoly, Sequence, and Pictionary.
I recommend board games because they are designed for multiple players and almost everyone loves playing them. Complex or simple doesn’t really matter, as long as you have a wonderful time. Hold a tournament with prizes to be won.
Sometimes, the best game is the one you take the time to make up yourself. You can also invent fun group games and make rules to govern them.
Take turns setting up fake crime scenes that others will have to solve. Drawing and guessing games are also fun. Gather everyone for an hour of acting, guessing, and fun. Be creative and let the kid in you come out.
Or set up your own glow-in-the-dark bowling alley using any softer toy ball and empty pop bottles as your pins. This will create long-term memories.
9. Watch Sports on TV
Not into board games? No problem.
If you already have the sports package with your satellite or cable package, host an indoor sports watching night.
Watching Football, Basketball or Baseball on TV is a great way to have fun without spending money. It’s an old-fashioned favorite that never gets tiring.
To make the night complete, add in some beers and burgers on the grill.
10. Host a Paint and Sip Wine Party
How about hosting an in-home paint night? Here, every person will create a painting that matches the next person’s when they are hung side-by-side.
You can also get hours of late-night entertainment with a sip wine party.
Get to know each other better with fun activities. Missing karaoke night? You can still do it from home.
Start a band using items from around the house like pans and pots. Let people pick a song, then try singing and playing it together.
Play your favorite songs, unleash your inner pop idol, and just sing your heart out like no one’s watching. Belt out your favorite Ariana Grande track and lament the career you could’ve had on stage.
Normally, Halloween is the only time you can get away with putting on costumes. You don’t have to wait till Halloween to play costume charades.
Let people find costume pieces, accessories, and clothing from around the house and dress up as whatever character you’re supposed to portray.
11. Binge-Watch Netflix
Just give in to the urge. Log into Netflix and re-watch classics like “How I Met Your Mother” or “Friends” on a rainy night.
You probably don’t know this, but you can actually stream a digital Netflix party. Yes, if you’re tired of binge-watching Black Mirror alone, you can host a digital party through the Netflix Party app and invite all of your friends.
If you and your pals are all fans of the same TV show, now’s the time to watch it together. There’s a chat window if you want to discuss interesting scenes in the movie. Did I mention that anyone can pause or stop the video?
Another idea is to host a family favorite TV marathon featuring all the classics you remember from when you were a kid. Everyone gets to pick one show to watch a few episodes of with the whole family.
Who knows, maybe you’ll find a new favorite show.
12. Learn a New Skill
It’s never too late to learn a new skill.
When it’s just you alone indoors at night, take advantage of the opportunity to learn a new skill like sign language or Morse code. Learning a new technique is always interesting.
If you’re with your family and looking for something to get your blood pumping, you can make a drill and plan an escape route in case of fire or any other natural disaster. Let everyone have an opinion on the plan.
After learning something new, treat yourself to a self-care night. People have been taking to TikTok and Instagram to show off their delightfully smug baths replete with candles and bath bombs.
Take a long, indulgent bath. For an even better experience, add lavender and bath salts.
If you have one of those big walk-in showers, create your own indoor water park. Dim the lights and use glow sticks. Throw on your bathing suit and play with water toys.
13. Camp Out in Your Backyard
Got some camping supplies somewhere in the basement that barely get any use?
Camping doesn’t have to take place in a campground in the woods. Popping up the tent in your backyard is a great way to commune with nighttime nature.
Falling asleep to the sounds of nature and awakening to fresh morning air – there’s nothing quite like it.
While camping in the backyard, search for nighttime critters. You may be familiar with the animals you see around your backyard during the day.
But do you know what happens at night? All sorts of creatures come out under the guise of the dark.
Count how many unique animals you can find. You can look for moths, spiders, opossums, raccoons, lightning bugs, and more.
Is it wintertime and there’s snow everywhere? Make the best of what you have instead of wishing for summer. Build an igloo in the backyard using snow tools like brick molds.
Fill squirt guns and water balloons with colored water, then play with the water toys in your snow-covered yard to create snow art.
14. Visit a Friend or Family Member
Wondering what other things to do outside at night? Visiting a friend or family member is something that most of us don’t do often enough.
It’s a great way to catch up on what’s going on in their life. They can set up a table in the backyard and offer some tea and freshly baked cookies to make the visit even more pleasant.
When you visit, turn off all electronics (TVs, phones, computers, etc.) and just sit and talk. This way, you can find comfort and joy in the company of people you value in a real setting.
So what can you talk about? Anything and everything! Sharing your worries with someone that cares can help you deal with stress.
15. Try a New Recipe
Trying a new recipe is always fun.
Take a night of the week and cook a 4-course finger-licking-good meal using whatever ingredients you find in the pantry. Have every person be in charge of a specific course.
You can choose and prepare the main course, while other people take charge of salad, appetizer, dessert, or side dishes. Then, eat together as a family.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve noticed everyone showcasing “Dalgona coffee.” The whipped, fluffy iced coffee has been littering our TikTok and Instagram feeds with people sharing their recipes. Get inspired and use this as an opportunity to try a recipe out before you cook for your family.
If you like watching cooking shows, you’ve probably seen episodes where chefs are divided into teams. The chefs direct teammates to work together to cook magical dishes.
You can also bring the same creativity and enthusiasm to your kitchen by hosting a chicken challenge dinner. Let everyone create a dish featuring chicken. Everyone will taste each other’s dish and vote for the best.
Whatever recipe you choose to try, don’t forget to have a lot of fun in the process, and fill the kitchen with laughter.
16. Build a Bonfire
Yup, it’s still a thing!
All you need to light a bonfire is a fire pit, some firewood and company.
You can tell a story or sing a song around the campfire.
Do you know what night sounds like? You can play a listening game to find out.
Here’s how to play it: Tell your friends to close their eyes and listen as you count to 20 in your head. When time is up, let them tell you everything they heard. Then swap and let them count while you listen.
You can also play a game of Family Guess Who? Here, every person will write down 3-5 things they have done that others might not know about. Take turns picking papers from a jar and guess who did what.
Sometimes these activities can start to get boring after a while, so add a little twist. Make a list of things you like about someone and give them the list. This will make both of your nights.
17. Make Crafts
*Collective eye roll* but hear me out. Creativity flows from art. Creating crafts is an awesome way to express the inner thoughts of your mind.
Host a family craft night. There are many kits on the market that can help you get into new crafts. Lay out all the available craft supplies on the table and every member can create their own craft.
You can start with personalized greeting cards. You can easily get supplies by taking a trip to an arts and crafts shop. This activity won’t just bring your family together but will make you realize the respect and love you have for your other family members.
You can also try crotchet stitching, sewing and other related activities at home.
If crafting isn’t your thing, try learning how to make throw pillows from scratch. Or take apart an old electronic device, like a broken DVD player or VCR, then rebuild it.
18. Reminisce With Friends or Family
Reminiscing is a great way to relive the exciting moments that you shared with your friends or family
Different people have different memories of people and places, so enjoy the opportunity to talk openly about your feelings.
As you reminisce the good old times, print out pictures you have stored on your camera or laptop.
Or you can have a family photoshoot. Let each person have a chance to create the backdrop and pick everyone’s outfits.
19. Play Laser Tag
Adults often get too busy and suppress the voice of their inner children.
Purchase a couple of laser tag sets and play with friends or family members in your home or yard. Create teams, run around, and chase the other team.
Introduce rewards to make the game even more exciting. Your family members will participate more enthusiastically since the stakes are high.
The reward doesn’t have to be money or a material thing. The winner could be exempted from their daily chores for a few days.
Events like this are often the catalyst for a fun-filled evening.
When you lay enough, you can answer questions on Q&A sites like Quora, Reddit and Yahoo Answers. You will soon start getting feedback from your suggestions. This can be another rewarding pastime.
20. Read a Book
This may not sound like the most exciting night plan, but reading a printed book is an awesome creative outlet. A hard copy gives you a break from e-reading and internet reading.
Visit a local bookstore, grab a real book with a thick cover that interests you and then curl up with it in bed! I recommend comic books if you’re looking for something fun to read.
If you have no new book to read, try rereading an old book that fascinated you. What is good once could be even better the second time around.
While reading a book is something you’ll most likely do alone, you may also do it with your family.
Take turns reading a book and leave notes for the next person, sort of like a book club. Once everyone has read their part, you can have a family discussion about it.
21. Community Calendar Free Event
Not in the mood to read? Check out the community calendar – there’s usually something happening.
Most communities publish a calendar of events that include grand openings, farmers’ markets, comedy shows, street fairs, music events, etc. Do a quick Google search or stop by city hall to find a free event in your hometown and head out on an adventure.
A free event may not sound like a fun activity at first, but with the right company, you’ll love it! Grab your significant other, pet, or group of friends.
22. Put Together a Puzzle
Yeah, I know the new PS5 just got out. But you don’t need electronics to have fun.
Puzzles are also a cool way to spend some quality time with your friends and family. It’s time to show some love to that jigsaw puzzle that has been collecting dust in the garage.
If you don’t have one, find a complex puzzle and put the power of teamwork to the test. You can spend hours finding just the right pieces to add to the puzzle. The best part? Seeing the finished product.
Puzzle-making isn’t a one-night activity, so put the puzzle somewhere it can be undisturbed.
After solving puzzles, you can search for free courses you can take online. Many Ivy League Colleges, including Harvard and Princeton, offer free courses to everyone who wants to learn new things. After completion, you’ll receive a certificate.
23. Take a Walk
Experts say that nighttime walks are an effective way to boost your mood and uplift your spirit. They just don’t compare to daytime strolls.
If you live in a safe neighborhood, wait until the sun goes down, grab a flashlight and blaze a trail. Enjoy the peace and tranquility of the night sky.
See what kinds of things you can discover at night that you don’t usually see during the day, like owls and other nocturnal animals. If you decide to venture into the local wild, stick to open areas and keep away from dense forests.
You can alternatively take a leisurely night bike ride to a location you’ve never been to before. Ensure everyone’s wearing a reflective jacket and has working headlights.
This way, everyone will be able to see and be seen. For even more fun, decorate your bikes with glow in the dark materials.
While bike-riding, introduce a dollar store challenge. Every person will have the same amount of cash to spend in the dollar store, and the winner will be whoever will buy the most individual items.
24. Go Night Fishing
Here’s another idea: Grab the poles, find a pond or lake, and cast those lines!
That simple fishing you do in the evenings is a completely new experience at night. The water is calmer and the sounds are different. Fishing at night is one of the best ways to enjoy the stillness.
If it’s a clear night when the moon isn’t full, you can gaze at the night sky. Spread a blanket on the boat, get comfy and see how many stars you can count and print out a map of the stars.
Watch for satellites too. Satellites are fairly dim objects, often slow-moving, that appear and disappear quickly.
26. Tell Ghost Stories
Cemetery picnic, anyone? Turn out the lights, gather around the fireplace and swap spooky stories.
Just because the sun’s gone done doesn’t mean you can’t have fun outside. If you know a place reported to be haunted in your home town, pay a visit and see if there’s some truth to the stories.
For an extra scary soiree, open Netflix and watch a horror movie based on a true story.
27. Work on Your Genealogy
Do you sometimes wonder where your family was in the 1918 flu pandemic? Now is the best time to look into your ancestry. Start with Ancestry.com.
A scrapbook is another great way to arrange and present personal and family history.
With family pics of everyone from their third cousin to their great grandparents, a scrapbook can help your kids learn about their family members.
It’s cozy, relaxing, educational and, more importantly, free!
28. Plan a Future Trip
Many travel plans have been rightfully canceled this year. Vacationing might be on hold, but that shouldn’t stop you from dreaming of where you’d love to be when all this is over.
Create a family trip wishlist and plan for your next island getaway. Do some detailed comparison shopping for the best deals and interesting things to do. Everyone can share their ideas – combine them to create the perfect itinerary.
If you happen to have some extra time, browse Amazon bestsellers to see some of the coolest stuff on the retail website.
Having fun does not have to mean constantly spending money on events and outings. Sometimes it’s the simplest activities that are the most enjoyable and memorable.
This list of things to do at night with friends and family reminds you to be grateful for all the blessings in your life. Change your evening routine, and your wallet will thank you.
When you decide to take all the fun outdoors, never go out at night alone, always wear warm clothes and comfortable shoes, remember to carry a flashlight, and only go to places you have spent time in during the day.