We don't have to say it, but we will anyway.
In case you've been living under a rock and don't already know, the economy is sort of down in the dumps right now. Maybe this doesn't concern you rock-dwellers, because you don't have to pay a mortgage or worry about electric bills, but the rest of us are pretty darn broke.
Instead of pouting around all summer and cursing at the gas prices, you may want to partake in one of the activities found on these pages. They all cost $20 or less and are actually fun. Really. We even got a few ideas from our readers and Monitor employees, just in case you're sick of hearing the same old suggestions from us Insiders.
We know, now we're just being silly. You'd never get sick of us . . . right? That's what we thought.
With that we leave you, readers, rock-dwellers and fellow penniless pals to enjoy our list and the nice weather while it lasts - because before you know it, we'll all be cranky about having to buy Christmas presents.
1. Mingle with area artists at the Concord Arts Market.
Yes, you have to pay for the art if you find anything you like, but admission is free. During the summer, the market will be held at 33 Capitol St. on June 27 and July 11, 16, 17 and 25 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. During the fall the market moves on over to Eagle Square for Sept. 12, 19 and 26 and Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 229-2157 or visit concordartsmarket.com.
2. Hop on the Concord Coach bus.
We love Concord, but sometimes it’s nice to get away for the day. Concord Coach provides roundtrip bus rides from Concord to Tilton, New Hampton and Meredith for $20 or under. Visit concordcoachlines.com or call 800-639-3317 for prices, times and other deals.
3. Travel to an exotic place . . . mentally.
On July 9, 7 p.m., at Gibson’s Bookstore, 27 S. Main St., Chase Binder, travel writer for the Concord Monitor, will share a few of her favorite travel books and memoirs, as well as some tips on how to plan a fun and inexpensive vacation here in New Hampshire. All of the travel books mentioned during the free event will be 20 percent off. To learn about other free events, visit gibsonsbookstore.com or call 224-0562.
4. Enjoy summer like a kid. Remember when summer was full of endless hours in the pool, ice cream cones and Popsicles? Block off a full day this summer and make a splash at one of the seven city pools, which are free for residents with proper identification. Once you’ve had enough, buy an ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles at the ice cream parlor of your choosing. Earn yourself extra fun-points by running through a sprinkler or by starting a water balloon fight with your spouse, best friend or pesky neighbor. Visit onconcord.com/recreation for pool locations and hours.
5. Search for hidden treasure. Geocaching is an outdoor activity in which participants search for caches (hidden containers containing a logbook and an occasional trinket) by entering in coordinates found at geocaching.com into their GPS. This activity is free if you already have a GPS, but if you don’t have one, ask a friend if you can borrow his or hers. The only thing you may want to bring with you are some sort of “treasures” to replace any trinkets you find. There are caches hidden all over the world, but start local right here in Concord. Who knows what you will find? Visit geocaching.com for all the details.
6. Explore the great outdoors. This idea is along the same lines as No. 4. Everyone’s schedules get so busy during the summer between work, social obligations (hello, wedding season!) and family vacations, that you may have to schedule a day for yourself to enjoy all of the outdoor activities that Concord has to offer. Whether you kayak or canoe down the Merrimack River, picnic in one of the many parks or spend the day exploring a trail – outdoor fun is often free, provided you already have the equipment or know someone who's willing to lend it to you. Visit onconcord.com for a map of public trails and a list of parks.
7. Get to the theater.
The Capitol Center for the Arts’ Spotlight Café, 44 S. Main St., if offering $20 tickets for the following shows this summer: Headliners Comedy Night One on July 18 at 8 p.m., “The Pact” on July 23 and 24 at 7:30 p.m., Jeff Dearborn and the Contoocook Blues Society on Aug. 8 at 8 p.m., Peter Lampron and Friends on Aug. 14 at 8 p.m. and Headliners Comedy Night Two on Aug. 15 at 8 p.m. For show descriptions and to purchase tickets, visit ccanh.com or call 225-1111.
8. Get to the other theater.
This was a popular suggestion from Monitor employees. You can get a movie ticket, popcorn and a drink, all for under $20 at Red River Theatres, 11 S. Main St. Regular admission tickets are $8 and are $6 for a matinee. Save even more money by sharing the popcorn with a friend. Visit redrivertheatres.org or call 224-4600 for show listings.
9. Enjoy a sub and some peace and quiet.
Monitor reporter Annmarie Timmins suggested one of her family traditions: Get a sub at Yellow Submarine, 192 N. State St., and then picnic at Blossom Hill Cemetery by the pond. “Sometimes there are swans there. It's very quiet and lovely,” Annmarie wrote.
10. Go on an art tour.
The Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce hosts free Art Concord gallery tours. The next one is June 25, from 5 to 8 p.m. Other dates include Aug. 20, 5 to 8 p.m.; Oct. 10, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Dec. 2, 5 to 8 p.m. A brochure and map will be available at each participating gallery, visit concordnhchamber.com for a list of galleries or call 224-2508 for more information.
But you don’t have to wait until the next Art Concord event to enjoy some art. Go on your own time (and during gallery hours) to any of the following places: Cole Gardens, 430 Loudon Road; Franklin Pierce Law Center Gallery, 2 White St.; Kimball Jenkins School of Art, 266 N. Main St.; League of NH Craftsmen, 205 N. Main St.; Mill Brook Gallery and Sculpture Garden, 236 Hopkinton Road; NHTI, 31 Institute Drive; Red River Theatres, 11 S. Main St.; Sulloway Gallery, 19 School St., Rowland Studio, 23 N. Main St. and McGowan Fine Art, 10 Hills Ave.
Concord resident Fred Graf recommends stopping by Bagel Works, 42 N. Main St., for lunch to see even more art on display and thinking outside of the box by perusing a few shops that sell art such as Capitol Craftsman, 16 N. Main St. and the League of NH Craftsmen retail store, 36 N. Main St.
11. Ice cream? Check. Cute animals? Check.
Annmarie had another great suggestion we just had to include, even though it’s not in Concord. Bike out to Beech Hill Farm, 107 Beech Hill Road, Hopkinton. Admission is free, and as Annmarie points out, by the time you get to Hopkinton, you’ve earned yourself an ice cream. “And there are really cute animals to pet and coo over,” she adds. Beech Hill Farm is opened daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. through August; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. in September and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in October. Visit beechillfarm.com or call 223-0828 for more information.
12. Go bowling!
We couldn’t do a 20-under-$20 list and not include bowling. Boutwell’s Bowling Center, 152 N. State St., is open daily and only costs $3.75 per game per person, plus $2 extra for shoes. Play a few strings and have the loser buy lunch. Call 224-0941 for hours or visit boutwellsbowl.com.
13. Venture into outer space.
If you haven’t been to the new and improved McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, 2 Institute Drive, yet, then stop wasting your time and go! Tickets are $9, $8 for seniors and students and $6 for children 3-12. You’ll have enough money left over to visit the center’s new Countdown Café and enjoy a space-themed sandwich such as the Big Dipper Panini ($5.95) or order a kid-friendly personal pan pizza ($4-$4.75). The discovery center is open Monday through Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Café hours are Saturday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. For more information, visit starhop.com or call 271-7827.
14. Have a fancy brunch.
The Granite Restaurant, 96 Pleasant St., offers Sunday brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Everything on its menu is under $20, ranging from $7 to $16 for an entrée. Particularly delectable-looking options include a smoked Scottish salmon with avocado cream cheese and cucumber-red onion slaw on toasted pumpernickel or your choice of bagel for $13 and macadamia nut and pineapple stuffed French toast with coconut rum infused maple syrup for $9. Is your mouth watering yet? Visit graniterestaurant.com to read the rest of the menu or call 227-9000.
15. Try your hand at tennis.
The courts at Beaver Meadow and Memorial Field are free. So grab a few rackets and some balls and give it a shot. Even if you're bad at it, you’ll still get a lot of exercise and plenty of fresh air.
16. Scout out cheap deals at the Davisville Flea Market.
Oh, Annmarie, what would we do without you and all your great wallet-friendly ideas? She suggests heading to the Davisville Flea Market, 805 Route 103 East, Davisville. “Where else can you pick up a shovel, a great lamp, a copy of ‘Wuthering Heights’ and a baby bunny (live bunny) for less than $20?” Annmarie asks. Uh, we don’t know, but we’d like to guess nowhere else. Admission is free, so it’s worth the drive. The flea market is every Sunday through October, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
17. Make your own jewelry.
Bead It!, 146 N. Main St., has a plethora of pretty beads that you can make into a piece of jewelry. Earrings are one inexpensive option, unless you make really, really long ones that hang down to the floor. Bead it! is open Sunday and Monday, noon to 5 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call 223-0146 or visit beadit.biz for more information.
18. Go on a walking tour.
Get to really know Concord by foot by purchasing a walking guide brochure at the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce, 40 Commercial St., or at the Museum of New Hampshire History, 6 Eagle Square. The guide, published by the chamber of commerce, is only $2 but can provide up to 90 minutes of fun if you walk the entire route.
19. Get hot and sweaty.
We know that during the summer, one of your primary concerns is to stay cool and comfortable, but why not do the exact opposite and drop into Bikram Yoga, 8A McGuire St., for $13? Bikram yoga is comprised of 26 postures and two breathing exercises and it is all done in a heated room for 90 minutes. The studio also offers an introductory special of $15 for 10 consecutive days. Sure, your friends may call you crazy for purposely avoiding the air conditioner, but they will be envious of your hot bod when you show it off at the pool. Visit bikramyogaconcord.com or call 415-9642for hours.
20. Sip a margarita and listen to some jazz.
Hermanos Cocina Mexicana, 11 Hills Ave., has live jazz Sunday through Thursday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the upstairs lounge. Since there’s no cover charge to get in, you can certainly afford a margarita or two (prices vary from $6.99 to $8.99). Visit hermanosmexican.com for a music schedule or call 224-5669 for more information.