This is the time of year when we all want to enjoy the weather and take a well-deserved break. It also is the time to realize that if you haven't been saving for a vacation getaway, it is not going to happen by some miracle; you'll have to use a credit card. For us frugal people, that isn't a possibility.
So what do you do?
In 2007, when the financial crisis was starting, individuals or families enjoyed staycations — enjoying leisure activities while staying home or within easy driving distance. This saved the cost of staying at hotels or resorts and eating out every night.
Some people think a staycation is the cheap, non-fun way to vacation, but with a little imagination you will be surprised how much fun you can have locally. The one risk of a staycation is you might be tempted to go back to work part-time, or your boss knows you're in the area, making it easy for him or her to call on you.
Another problem with staycations is you might end up spending most of your time getting through your to-do list of errands. This isn't a bad situation, because you could feel satisfied that you finished your list, but I encourage you to take some time for fun.
Now is the time to plan your staycation. Think about places in your area that you would like to visit. Your chamber of commerce is a great starting place for suggestions.
If you do want to get away for a night, many hotels offer package deals in hopes of luring planned staycationers into doing some traveling. One of my favorite places to visit is Newport Aquarium in Newport. If you want to turn it into an overnight trip, check out the Radisson Cincinnati Waterfront (Cincinnatiradisson.com). It offers an aquarium package that includes two adult tickets, hot breakfast for two in Kelly's Public House, and free transportation to the aquarium via the South Bank Trolley for up to four people.
If money is really tight, check out deals that offer low-cost entertainment throughout the summer. Remember, your time is free. Nights spent with family or friends playing board games, renting a movie, making pizza or going to the park can be the a great vacation.
■ Sign up for Pop A Deal at Redbox by texting PLAY to 727272. You will get up to two message a week with promotional codes for savings throughout June.
■ Select cable and satellite providers are offering HBO and Cinemax for free from June 19 to 22. Currently participating are Mediacom, AT&T U-Verse, Verizon FIOS, DirecTV and Cox. Call your local provider to see if it is taking part.
■ Chase VISA Signature cardholders may purchase two or more tickets on a Friday for a movie that night, and one ticket will be free while supplies last. This promotion is good until Aug. 21. Fandango.com
■ There are six Avengers Build & Grow Clinics at Lowes Home Improvement Stores this summer for children 3 and older. June 13: Avenjet (Iron Man) June 27: Motorcycle (Captain America) July 11: Skycycle (Black Widow) July 25: Quinjet (Hawkeye) Aug. 8: Tank (Hulk) Aug. 22: Chariot (Thor). Register at Lowesbuildandgrow.com.
■ Check out what is playing at Regal theaters during its 2015 Summer Movie Express Event. Admission is $1. Tickets are available for purchase at the box office, and all movies start at 10 a.m. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Will Rogers Institute. Regmovies.com/Movies/Summer-Movie-Express
■ Purchase a $5 punch card or pay $1 per movie at your local Cinemark Theatre. The Summer Movie Clubhouse is a 10-week program of recently released G and PG films for kids. Dates and times are determined by each theater. A list of participating theaters is at Cinemark.com/summer-movie-clubhouse.
■ Join the Little Legends 2015 JIF Kids Club for free. Your child will receive special privileges as a member, including free tickets to every Sunday Lexington Legends game, after which they may run the bases. They also will have the opportunity to attend members-only events such an ice cream social at the end of the season with Legends players. Milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t495.
■ Register your children for two free games of bowling every day this summer. Each Sunday morning during the program, you'll receive an email from Kids Bowl Free with links to your coupons for the week. You'll need to print and bring the coupons with you to the bowling alley where you registered. You also have the option of getting your coupons sent to your smartphone or tablet if you'd like to go paperless. Kidsbowlfree.com.
■ In Lexington, Collins Bowling Center has its own Kids Club that allows children 11 and younger to register for two free games a day — from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — through Aug.15. Sign up at Collinsbowling.com/kids.html.
■ Take your kids to Joseph-Beth Booksellers for Adventure to Summer Reading. They will receive a passport plus a sleeve of cool stickers. Buy and read any book from Joseph-Beth, and each time your child finishes it, bring in the passport to receive a free kid's dessert, 20 percent off your next purchase from the Summer Reading table and a stamp in the passport. Children receive a free book after reading six. Josephbeth.com.
■ Half Price Books is offering the Feed Your Brain program this summer. Read 15 minutes a day in June and July (grown-ups may read aloud to kids who are still learning) and keep track on the provided reading log. When a child reaches 300 minutes or more, bring the log to Half Price Books to claim $5 in Bookworm Bucks for use in the store. Hpb.com
■ A new free event is being offered at the Kentucky Horse Park from 5 to 8 p.m. Mondays through Sept. 28. Participants in the Kentucky Horse Park Run/Walk Club will walk routes around the park going at their own pace. Road bike enthusiasts are welcome to join the Bluegrass Cycling Club as riders make their way around Lexington and Georgetown. Activities start at the Visitor Center, and there will be local craft beers, food trucks, information tables and horse meet-and-greets. For more information, Candace Rose at (859) 259-4267.
■ Don't forget to mark your calendar for Hats Off to Kentucky's Horse Industry Day on July 25. The horse park will offer family activities including arts and crafts for children, pony rides, interactive education booths, an equine book fair and equestrian competition. It's all free. Hatsoffday.org.
■ Stop by the new Lexington Visitors Center at 401 West Main Street to get a picture of the legendary horse Lexington. The visitor center has created a scavenger hunt of 10 sites related to the horse. Snap a picture of yourself holding "Big Lex" at each of these sites, and you will be rewarded with a prize. Visitlex.com/things-to-do/scavenger-hunt.
■ Tour the Ale-8-One factory at 25 Carol Road, Winchester. Tours are free, but reservations are necessary. For more information or to register for a tour, call (859) 744-3484.
■ Friday is National Doughnut Day. You may get a free doughnut of your choice at Krispy Kreme (no purchase necessary) and a free doughnut of your choice at Dunkin' Donuts (with any beverage purchase) at participating locations.