Silver Chips Online

Fun for less doesn抰 mean less fun

Ten simple, inexpensive local activities that are fun for everyone

By Helen Bowers, Print Managing Entertainment Editor
February 9, 2011
When the weekend rolls around and you抮e trying to impress someone with a great date idea or just wanting somewhere new to chill with your friends, it can seem like the only thing to do in Downtown Silver Spring is to watch a movie or to eat at a restaurant. Not only does that routine get boring pretty fast, it can also cut a big hole in your pocket. But if you venture a little farther out of your comfort zone, you can find some great places that won抰 set you back more than $10.

321匓lastoff!

If you need a fun family activity that will have something to interest everyone, the rides at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum will take you out of this world. You can train to become an astronaut, jet flyer or one of many other stratosphere explorers with the help of motion stimulators. Rides at the Washington DC location include SpaceWalk, Cosmic Coaster, F-18 Experience or Wings and they each cost $7.


Great flea finds

The flea market across from Wheaton mall on Georgia Avenue carries everything from pocket watches to used instruments, all at great, flea market prices. There you can find friendly vendors selling cultural artifacts, novelty toys or used clothing. Take a look at the handbags and scarves, or the graphic tee-shirts and inter hats. Bargaining is always acceptable at the flea market, and with so much selection, you抮e sure to find exactly what you want for under $10.

Naturally cheap

While it may be a bit costly to buy backpacking gear and set out for a great adventure, you can still answer the call of the wiled without putting a hole in your wallet. Picnics, kite flying, sledding or running around with friends can make an entire afternoon pass in minutes. Head down the Sligo Creek Bike Path where you can stop on the bridges to feed the ducks, play a game in one of the many fields, or just fool around on the playground. Raining? Grab some old clothes and some close friends and have a mud battle.

Bowling bargain

The White Oak Duckpin Bowling Lanes are affordable and unforgettable. Grab a group of friends and head on down to the lanes and you won抰 strike out for a good time. Duckpin bowling is basically the same as regular bowling, except that the balls are a little smaller and you get three balls per turn. You and your group can bowl a relaxing game or start an extreme competition for strikes. The lanes cost $4 -$4.50 per game, and shoe rental is another $3. For an extra splurge try Cosmic Bowling for $14 every Saturday night from 11pm to 1am which features music and a disco ball.

Books on a budget

Hidden away in the basement of the Wheaton Public Library there抯 a small bookstore that sells donated books, as well as old library books. Here you can find volumes with topics ranging from philosophy to foreign language to romance novels. The best part is that you would be hard pressed to find a book that costs over $3. This store is particularly excellent for finding books for classes, but also great for recreational reading. Need suggestions? Try checking out Zeitoun, Hunger Games, Never Let Me Go or Persepolis. You can see reviews of each of these books on page 27.

Saving on skating

While some of us are still wounded by the loss of the beloved Astroturf in Downtown Silver Spring the new ice-skating is another source of great fun. This outdoor rink is open to beginners and experts of any age, and can be reserved for private parties. Admission is $8, and if you need to rent a pair of skates, it抯 another $3. Whether you want to skate or just chuckle with your friends at those who are slipping and tumbling on the ice, the Silver Spring Ice Arena is a great source of fun.

Listening for less

DC culture is at its best at Busboys and Poets, a restaurant and bookstore combination. All Busboys and Poets locations in DC offer great food and attractions. Every Tuesday at the 14th and V street locations there is a weekly open mic, which is on Wednesdays at the 5th and K street venue. These nights of rhyming bliss cost about $3, and you can certainly find food at the restaurant for less than $10. The restaurant offers everything from salads to burgers, and even has a few vegan options.

Economic Entrees

Nestled among an array of ethnically diverse restaurants in Wheaton, lies the beloved Woomi Garden. Help yourself to all you can eat sushi, Korean and Japanese barbeque and a large selection of tempura vegetables. The best part is that all these delicious delicacies are available for under $10 if you go on weekdays between 11:30AM and 2PM; and don抰 be fooled by the affordable pricing, the food quality at Woomi Garden is top notch.

Delicacies without debt

If you抮e planning a cozy night in, and Chinese Food delivery is too extravagant of a cost, pick up some ingredients at the Thai Market on Thayer Street in Downtown Silver Spring. These incredibly reasonably priced groceries can be made into an array of dishes. You can whip up some yummy fried rice, which requires only vegetable oil, tomatoes, soy sauce, ground pepper and rice. If you抮e not in the mood for cooking, you can order off the menu and the cooks at Thai market will prepare your Thai meal for you. Any way you decide to go, the Thai Market will provide everything necessary for a mouth-watering meal.

Affordable arcades

If you抮e tired of all the video games you have at home, a wider variety is available at the arcade in Chevy Chase, or else in the smaller games room in the majestic theater. With most of the games at the Majestic costing between 50 cents to a few dollars, one can easily spend much time shooting, blasting and piloting their way to a fun, playful, cost efficient afternoon.

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