Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

I love to travel. So far this year, I’ve stayed in 80 hotels nights, and that’s without a 30-day road trip. But vacations cost a lot of money and take a lot of time to plan and pack for. Since this is our year to curtail travel, save money, and scale back (to afford the next trip), we’re having to find creative entertainment ideas that don’t cost too much. Luckily, there is plenty to do locally, no matter where you live.


We like to go to museums wherever we travel, but the ones close to home are fabulous, too – from the world-famous Corning Museum of Glass to the small but fascinating Rockwell Museum. Just a little over an hour in any direction brings more fun. My favorite museum in the world, the Strong Museum of Play, is 78 miles from me. The other direction takes us to Ithaca, where you’ll find Sciencenter, a hands-on discover center for all ages. The greatest part of all of these museums is the cost. Compared to other activities (like movies) it’s an inexpensive way to spend a day.

Board Games

Some things don’t take any money at all to do. Parker and I love playing Scrabble. The kids will spend hours on a game of Monopoly. And I introduced them to a childhood favorite, Mille Bornes. We also play Words with Friends together.



Especially in the winter, we love to go to movies or watch movies on streaming services like Vudu and Netflix. We go to a lot of movies, but to make it cost-effective, we have the Regal Crown Card and save all of our points for free movies, go to matinees, and skip the popcorn. More often than not, though, we wait for the movie to come to streaming, buy it for less than the cost of two tickets if we think we’ll watch it more than once (like Star Trek and Marvel), and Dave makes popcorn at home.

Mini Golf

This time of year, mini golf is normally off the table since there’s a foot of snow on the ground. One of our favorite fair-weather activities is going to Harris Hill, a local family entertainment area up in the hills that has barbecues and an amusement park for little kids and a great mini golf course. But now, mini golf can be a year-round thing because the mall in Rochester has glow-in-the-dark mini golf.

When you live in a place like Bath, New York, you have to do some driving to do anything – the nearest mall is 32.9 miles away; the nearest metropolis is 83.7 miles away. But if you live in a village larger than 5,641 people with a median age younger than 44, there is probably even more fun things to do near you.

Yes, I’d rather be traveling….but when the weather is bad and the money is gone, these creative entertainment ideas don’t cost too much.