Summer fun does not have to mean travel and expense

Times-News editorial board

Many people are likely feeling pinched this summer due to the economy. With many layoffs in Central Illinois, families may be feeling depressed about the fact they may not be able to afford a family vacation this year.

When summer comes, people usually equate it with fun, but it does not have to be expensive. This year, families do not have to look any farther than our five newspaper’s Around Town sections for events going on in Central Illinois. Many of these events are even free.

On Page 6A this week, there are economical or free things to do, such as comedy and magic, a car wash benefit, a car show and more.

There are also many free programs for adults to attend, such as the 9-12 Project, a conservative movement to bring patriotic Americans together.

Not mentioned in the calendar are the many parks in Morton where a family can have a picnic. Recently added is the new pickleball court in Birchwood Park. Pickleball is similar to tennis. Instead, players use smaller paddles and a whiffle ball on a significantly smaller court.

For families who would like a little exercise, there is a bike trail in Morton that goes all the way to East Peoria. Families can get on the trail at the corner of Detroit and Jackson and travel the route through East Peoria.

And families can include their pets in the summer fun as Morton has the Oakwood Dog Park on North Main Street.

These are just some of the things to do in Morton. There are many more affordable things to do in surrounding towns.

Spindler Marina in East Peoria offers affordable camping down by the Illinois River. Tent camping costs $10 per day. Canoe and kayak rentals, including life jackets and oars, costs $10 for four hours, or $15 for eight hours. The start of the Illinois River Trail II is also located at this campground and marina. It is a nice wooded boardwalk through the peaceful woods.

The Fon du Lac Park District also has a farm park located at 305 Neumann Drive.

The Fon du Lac Park District Web site describes the park as a recreation of a 1920s farm. It has antique farm equipment, a working windmill, a replicated kitchen of the 1920s era, and one-room school.

There are giant gold fish in three ponds. Children may also purchase a feed cone for the many animals on site, from chickens, turkeys and geese, goats, cows and pigs.

There is a silo slide in the barn as well as playgrounds and a country store. Families may visit the concession stand and eat lunch at the park.

In Washington, families could have a picnic at the historical Square.

In Peoria, there are a plethora of things to do, such as hiking at Forest Park Nature Center or attending a free concert along the riverfront.

The Peoria Municipal Band offers free concerts on various dates and places this summer.

There are also free art festivals to attend and browse at, such as the fine arts festival on Pekin’s Riverfront this weekend and Art at Water Street Cafe in Peoria.

The Tazewell County 4-H Fair also kicks off Monday in Pekin.

These are just some of the fun things to do locally. Many probably forget about the hidden gems of their communities. Perhaps it is because when you live too close to the forest, you can’t see the trees. In other words, take a step back and see the “trees” in your community.