Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hamilton on the cheap (aka: the post-xmas credit card bills are in!)

So, the holiday season has come and gone, bills are begging to be paid off and any budget for doing ‘fun’ things in January was spent before the New Year was even rung in.

But the post-December credit card blues are no excuse for sitting around the house, right?

We still want to get out and see more of Hamilton!

Given 1) the post-Christmas come-down and 2) the frigid temperatures, I’ve found myself contemplating our options for having fun on the cheap in Hamilton, while staying inside (if possible).

Here is a little list of potential/cheap activities I’ve compiled (skewed to my interests, I'll admit, but cheap nonetheless):

Art Gallery of Hamilton: Granted, the AGH isn’t always free. Thankfully, we became members last spring, so for the time being, it is for us. If you’re not an AGH member, there are tons of events at the gallery this winter, some free and some with a minimal cost, such as film nights (including a few flicks that screened at TIFF last fall). Here's their 'calendar of events'.

For example, Friday, February 3 from 4-8pm, the AGH has its “First Fridays”, allowing the public the chance to enjoy its Gallery Level One exhibitions at no charge.

Art Crawl: Continuing on the art theme for a second, and deviating a bit from my ‘staying inside’ idea (you DO have to get from one gallery to the other by going outside!) the James Street North Art Crawl is an enjoyable and low-cost way to spend a Friday night in Hamilton, and a chance to get out and see some of the wonderful artistic talent this city has to offer (and maybe have a glass of wine). Check it out on the second Friday of every month – for your winter schedule planning purposes, that would be January 13 and February 10.

Rec centres: I’ll admit, I sometimes forget about the benefits/value of the rec centre, as I’m WELL past the age of taking swimming lessons, etc… True, it’s a great place to take a family for a day of cheap swimming or skating, but its not just for the kids – lane swim, for example, is just a few dollars per visit.

I also see that on Family Day (Feb. 20 this year), there are a number of free activities at many rec centres across the city.

Skating: Okay, so this one isn’t inside. But this is Canada, so we might as well get out and enjoy some of what winter has to offer, right? Lucky for us, Hamilton has a great little outdoor skating rink at Pier 8, which is free of charge if you have your own skates. If not, there’s a nominal fee to rent a pair ($4). Afterwards, Williams Fresh Café is RIGHT THERE – so having a little hot chocolate afterwards is probably in the cards (ie: necessary). We took advantage of a mild evening recently to try the rink out, and it was tons of fun (dedicated skating blog post coming soon!)

Other possible options for cheap Hamilton activities (some of which involve being out in the cold) include: walking one of the MANY trails in the Hamilton area (especially great if the weather isn’t -30), visiting the Farmer’s Market or Dundurn Castle ($11 per person admission, including the Hamilton Military Museum),

I’m sure there are loads more cheap and cheerful activities afoot in Hamilton this winter. As a relative newbie, I know there are inevitably a ton of fun pastimes that have slipped under my radar. Please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments below!

Cheers to January :)

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