I recently treated my son to a movie. With tickets and concessions combined, that "three-hour date" cost me $60. Ouch!

But it really isn't necessary to spend a lot of money to treat your child to some fun.

With budgets as tight as they are, entertainment is usually the first to go, but on-the-go families can get out and explore nature without spending a lot of money.

Waterfront Park is an 8-acre linear park at Concord Street and Vendue Range downtown. Stroll along the pier or walking path and look out on Charleston Harbor. Put on bathing suits and let the kids goof off in the pineapple fountain. It's free, and you can't get much better than that!

The Angel Oak is a tree on Johns Island that is estimated to be 300 to 400 years old. The site has picnic tables and a gift shop. There are a few restrictions (for example, children may not climb the tree). Learn all about this enormous tree and teach your kids a little about nature. It's at 3688 Angel Oak Road. Admission to the park is free. Call 559-3496.

My friend turned me on to a place called Botany Bay on Edisto Island. The property is managed by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources as part of its Wildlife Management Area program. You can check out hammock islands, maritime forests and more. Admission is free. It's on S.C. Highway 174, Edisto Island. Call 953-9300.

Though not free, visiting Charles Towne Landing is a very inexpensive way to spend the day. Have a picnic, check out the otters in their habitat or climb aboard a reproduction of a 17th-century trader ship. Adult admission is $7.50, seniors $3.75, kids ages 6-15 are $3.50 and 5 and younger are free. The park is at 1500 Old Towne Road in Charleston. Visit www.charlestowne.org or call 852-4200.

Read more about these locations, watch exciting videos and discover more fun things to do in Charleston at mycharlestononline. com.

What activity do you do with your family that doesn't cost a lot?

Visit the blog at www.post andcourier.com/savvy shopper and let us know.

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Email Shannon Brigham at charlestonsavvyshopper@postandcourier.com.