These days, it’s easy to spend a bundle on weekend fun.

But you don’t have to — and I don’t mean you should stay home and do nothing.

Here are five suggestions for fun (and maybe rewarding) no-spend activities to keep you busy on Middle Tennessee weekends.

Volunteer: This does not have to be a big preplanned organized project but could be a last-minute neighborhood cleanup that you do on your own or with a group. Or maybe you could spearhead a book drive or food drive, where you pass out flyers to neighbors asking them to put out books or nonperishable food items for you to pick up and donate to a food pantry or literacy program. And if you want an organized project, Hands on Nashville has a full calendar of volunteer opportunities at

Go for a hike: There are plenty of great walks in Middle Tennessee with state and local parks and the growing number of miles of greenways. A few suggestions: the Nashville greenway that starts at Two Rivers Park Trailhead (park at Wave Country) and takes you across the lovely pedestrian bridge that spans the Cumberland River and offers fantastic views; Beaman Park, which has a trail that reminds me of some of my favorite Cumberland Plateau hikes; or another favorite is to take a walk on Centennial Park’s paved trails that take you by the Parthenon, the Cockrill Spring and Lake Watauga and give you a look at the recent improvements to this grand ol’ park.

Create your own walking tour: Select a destination — maybe downtown Nashville, or perhaps increasingly popular East Nashville, or bustling Germantown — and gather a group to walk around and see new development.

You can see so much more walking than driving, and I do love a field trip. I’m hoping to get some of my pals to join me to explore the new Fifth + Broad development and see what else is new in that part of downtown.

Nashville is changing so fast that an outing like this can be eye opening and great fun. Just find a good free place to park, map out a route and head out.

Jump in a lake: With summer winding down and many of the outdoor pools closing for the winter, there are still some free lake swimming opportunities at state parks like Montgomery Bell’s Lake Acorn and at Long Hunter and Rock Island state parks. Visit

And not free but certainly affordable are the $5-per-vehicle public swim beaches on Percy Priest Lake at Anderson Road and Cooks recreation areas, and on Old Hickory Lake at CedarCreek, Laguardo, Lock 3 and Old Hickory Beach.

Get ready for a garage sale: Spend some time gathering up things you and your family can part with. I once read about the “27 thing fling” (, in which you identify 27 things in your home to get rid of every day (or, if you are really serious, you can “fling” three times a day).

Either way, that strategy should give you plenty of inventory for a garage sale. You could spend one weekend getting ready for the sale by going through everything and starting to price it, and then have another spend-free weekend the next weekend when you actually have the sale, and make some money on top of that.

Mary Hance, who has four decades of journalism experience in the Nashville area, writes a weekly Ms. Cheap column. She also appears on Thursdays on “Talk of the Town” on NewsChannel 5. Reach her at and follow her on Facebook at

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