One thing I realized after becoming a dad… Family entertainment is EXPENSIVE! I mean sell your second kidney expensive. For instance check out these prices for the daily admission to the Orlando Science Center:


That’s a SINGLE days price!

My little guy is 3 sooooo I can either teach him the art of lying…errr sort of thought about it at 15 bucks an entry…. Or I can hand over the 15 bucks and smile.

The kicker…. 5 dollars for parking!

Over 62 bucks just to walk through the door….

Yeah family entertainment is expensive!


What if it didn’t have to be???

What if you could do something that was fun and cheap?


Painted Rocks Background

First let me be upfront. I did NOT start the painted rocks trend or introduce it to my community but I am so excited that it was started.

The idea behind this is SUPER simple… People in your community find, paint and then hide rocks throughout the community. Other people then walk around the town and community and find the rocks. In some cases communities have created Facebook Painted Rock Groups in which people post images of the rocks they found.

The best part of this is this is not an “event” with a start and end time. People just randomly paint and hide rocks. So any time you are bored or are looking for something to do you can go out “hunting” rocks.

Our Painted Rock Hunting Adventures

Our little town has really embraced the painted rock phenomenon. Imagine walking down Main Street and seeing colorful little pieces of art hidden under benches, in bushes, and even in the shop windows. Our little guys face lights up every time he finds another. He has a special bucket that he brings with us as we stroll up and down the streets searching for new rocks.

As you walk the streets and alleys you will see other families either searching for rocks or hiding theirs. They wave as we pass by.

Local businesses have even gotten in on the fad by creating special coupons painted on the rocks. Free LOCAL advertising since people then post it to their social media feed…(SMART)

As a family we normally spend about an hour and a half to two hours just strolling down the streets of our town. We wave to the business owner and really get to explore the nooks and crannies of our town.

We finish with a frozen treat from our favorite local ice-cream shop costing us as a family:

7 bucks!

One of the other perks is he has also gotten into the painting rocks with my wife. (I am a terrible painter and really lack the patience…). The two of them spend hours at the kitchen table together designing and coloring more rocks that we can hide on our next adventure downtown.

Four Frugal Lessons Learned Searching For Rocks

  1. No Cost Entertainment

Fun family entertainment does not have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact as a family there are a lot of interesting ways to have fun for free. For us walking around town looking for rocks is FREE! While you may not  have this option in your town, walking downtown or heading to the local library gives you other options for no cost entertainment.

One of the benefits of these low cost/no cost options for fun is it begins teaching my little guy that fun does not equal money. Too many times we equate having fun with spending money. By teaching our little guy and reprograming our brains that fun can be free it will help him out in the long run.

  1. It’s Okay to Spend Money

One of our all time favorite things to do after our rock hunting adventures is to get ice-cream together as a family. I do not know how it started but it just caps off our rock hunting adventure nicely.

Too many times I read about being SUPER frugal and always looking for things that are no cost. But I think people can almost be frugal to a fault. For us it is worth it to spend 7 dollars to have ice cream together. We know that our little guy wont be little forever and these are the memories that we building with him. I believe that there is a balance that needs to be had. So you have my permission… its okay to spend money… within reason…. Just make sure its in the budget J

  1. Expensive Entertain is not always better

My little guy absolutely LOVES going to the science center that costs over 60 bucks a pop… There are a couple rooms that he could probably spend hours in just playing with all items. When we go we are there for 4 hours going from floor to floor checking out the different exhibits. But you know what he talks about and asks to do more often than not???

Searching for rocks…

I am not saying that the Science Center is bad because as a family we love it. We have gone a couple of times. But for our little guy, he doesn’t know the difference between the two. He thinks these are just fun things that he does with mom and dad. I know the our culture continues to say you need to buy this or do this and if you don’t your not a “good” parent but guess what??? Our little guy and I am sure your little guy doesn’t know the difference. Playing at the Science Center is no different than going to a local play ground or hunting rocks to him.

  1. It’s the memories that matter

Whether you go hunting for rocks, go to a science center, or go to Disney, it is not the money that counts. It doesn’t matter how much the event costs, at the end of the day it is the memories that you are making with your family that really matter. You might spend $1000 on a vacation but spend the majority of it disengaged by sitting on your computer or phone but the same is true hunting for rocks. My wife “reminds” me when I’m on my phone a bit too much during our rock hunting adventures. I am reminded by Timehop…. that my little guy wont be little forever. So regardless of what you are doing make memories.

“Hunting” painted rocks is one of our families favorite pastime. It’s free and it gets the entire family outside together. My wife and I have even been known to walk together looking for rocks while grandma watches our little guy… If you don’t have this yet in your community I challenge YOU to start it! I am serious! I am friends with the people that brought it to our town and it was not hard. They were even featured in our local newspaper. J

What are some No Cost/Low Cost Entertainment that you do with your family? Comment below




How to Start Your OWN Painted Rocks Community.

Here are some steps:

First: Create a local Facebook Group that you will use for your rocks ie ( Austin Rocks-#AustinRocks or Austin Painted Rocks-#AustinPaintedRocks)

In the group include exactly what you want them to do. “Hey guys. When you find one of our local #AustinPaintedRocks take a picture of it and share it with the group. Feel free to share it to your own timeline and get your friends involved. Don’t forget to make your OWN rocks and use the #AustinPaintedRocks to help our community grow.”

Second: PAINT A TON of rocks with your #. Enlist your friends and families. You want to start with a LOT. Take pictures of them and add them to your facebook group so it’s not an empty shell.

Third: Hide your rocks in downtown.

Fourth: Have your friends and family find a couple and share it on their Facebook Feed and in your group. Allow people to be added to your group so that it can grow.

You will be surprised on how fast your little painted rock experiment will grow.