Moms Weekend activities that won’t break the bank


By Christina Oehler

Parents’ weekends are the most underrated weekends of the year. The dynamic of the relationship with my parents changed when I got to college; they were no longer the disciplinary force in my life, but they became my best friends. 

I realized I have stopped trying to escape them like I did in high school and have realized that I look forward to those daily phone conversations and texts. 

Yet when they come to visit, it is hard to escape the inevitable: pricey activities. Nice, off-campus dinners and tickets to on-campus events start to add up. This year, I wanted to find some activities that my mother could fill our day with that didn’t involve shopping or spending any more money than would already be spent.  

My mom is my best friend, and as best friends, there is nothing we love to do more than enjoy art and nature. This year, I have found a variety of free activities for my mother and me to do this weekend when she visits.

Last year, my mother and I spent a portion of mom’s weekend at the University of Illinois Arboretum in Urbana. A walk through the garden was the perfect way to spend a spring day. All of the flowers were in bloom, and the weather was finally nice enough to appreciate the beautiful landscape we have on campus. Once we had looped around the Arboretum a few times, we made our way over to the Japan House, located next to the Arboretum. The Japan House is home to pathways lined with beautiful gardens, so it was a perfect place for my nature-loving mother and I to spend an expense-free day on campus.

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Another great place to check out is the University Plant Biology Greenhouses. This year, I’m planning on bringing my mother to the greenhouses, because they are home to a diverse collection of exotic plants and flowers that cannot be found at the Arboretum. However, the greenhouses are only open from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, so if your mom comes early, make sure to get in there before the weekend starts. Checking out some cool plant life would be  a great way to kill time before grabbing dinner with your mom.

Despite the fact that many of the most aesthetically pleasing sights happen to be gardens, visual beauty isn’t the only kind of beauty you can find for free. As a piano instructor, there is nothing my mother loves more than music, so this year, I decided to register us for a tour of the Altgeld Bell Tower. The tour is said to include a climb of the tower, as well as a short concert, so this quick yet creative idea could be a fun way to entertain a music-loving mother. 

The Illini Union Board is also putting on the IUB Craft Fair for families to view some of the artistic goods that will be on sale. Although the art pieces are not free, window-shopping through the fair will be.

No matter what your niche is, there is something for every type of art-loving mother out there that won’t break your wallet this Moms Weekend. With all of these incredible and free options this weekend, there won’t be any room for boredom. 

Christina is a sophomore in Media.

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