April 3, 2021

Free and Almost Free Fun Things to Do at Night

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Picture this: 11pm. Alone? Bored? Here are 50 ideas of places to go and things to do at home during the night.

Some people are night owls by choice, some are in a career that involves a second- or third-shift schedule. And some people have insomnia or just the occasional night of poor sleep.

Whatever category you fall into, you need some fun ideas to fill the wee hours when much of the rest of the world is asleep, and many things are closed. We found 50 free and almost free fun things to do at night.

1. Star Gaze

Looking up into the night sky on a clear night in an area of low light pollution is such a relaxing way to spend the dark hours. Even if you don't know exactly what you're looking at, stargazing is fun.

If you would like to know what's up there, there are several apps, some of them free and some that cost just a few dollars, that can guide you.

2. Get in the Kitchen

Get in the kitchen and whip up something! You can make something indulgent; you can batch cook or prep ingredients, so you have less work to do later in the week or try out a new recipe.

Do a Chopped Challenge. Ask someone else in the house to pick out five ingredients, four standard ones and one unusual one, and challenge yourself to turn them into a delicious dish.

3. Clean Out Something

Cleaning out a closet or cabinet might not be everyone's idea of a fun time, but if you put on a podcast or some music, it's not the worst way to spend a couple of hours.

Or turn on Marie Kondo or an episode of Hoarders to get inspired! If you need a little monetary motivation, sell some of the things you find that you don't use on a site like Poshmark, Facebook Marketplace, or Letgo.

4. Learn a New Skill

Is there something you've always wanted to do, like learn to play the guitar, change the oil in a car, build a bookcase, or cook the perfect Beef Wellington?

If you've ever wanted to learn how to do something new, there is almost certainly at least one YouTube tutorial out there to teach you. Or maybe take the dartboard approach and type "Tutorial" into the YouTube search bar and pick the first result.

5. Make Your Own YouTube Videos

Anyone can start a YouTube Channel, and some content creators make thousands of dollars on the platform. Most just do it as a hobby, though. What do you like to talk about or do or teach others? Take a look and see what similar content on YouTube looks like to get some ideas for yourself.

6. Take an Online Class

Learning is always a fun way to spend an evening, and there are so many free or low-cost online courses available that you can take at your convenience.

You could take a class just for fun, like a drawing or painting class, or a class that will help you advance in your career or jump to a new one. Coursera is an excellent resource for online courses with topics ranging from public speaking to political science to health and nutrition and dozens of others.

7. Improve or Create Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn is an excellent resource for networking, but you're only as good as your profile. If you don't have one or yours could use some work, do some research on creating a good profile or improving an existing one.

Once your profile looks good, spend some time networking with your contacts. Even if you aren't currently in the market for a new job, you never know when you will be or when there might be a unique opportunity for you. Update and polish your resume too.

8. Learn a Language

A program like Duolingo can help you learn to speak a new language for free by spending just a few minutes a day on lessons. There are lots of free resources to learn a language, but the interactive nature of Duolingo is enjoyable.

9. Teach a Language

Teaching English as a second language to students from all over the world online is a great way to make extra money, pretty good extra money. Some of the companies pay $20 or more per hour. For some people, though, the teaching schedule doesn't fit with their schedules.

If you're a night owl, teaching English to overseas students may work perfectly for your schedule. Some good companies to check out are VIPKID, Skooli, and DaDa.

10. Volunteer Your Time

There may be plenty of "after-hours" volunteering opportunities in your community, and the organization you'd be volunteering with might really need people to help out at those times when most people are ending their days or sleeping.

11. Rearrange Your Furniture

When is the last time you rearranged your living room or bedroom? Maybe you've never done it, and everything is in exactly the same place it was when you moved into your current home. Moving furniture around can give a whole new look to a room, and unlike redecorating, it doesn't cost you anything!

12. Paint a Room

Painting a room or just a single accent wall is another great way to change up your home's look for a relatively small investment of money and time.

13. Make Some Bucket Lists

The typical bucket list is a list of things you'd like to do before you die, but you can write a whole series of bucket lists. Some ideas included:

  • Books to read
  • Movie to watch
  • Series to binge
  • Foods to try
  • Places to visit
  • Skills to learn
  • Places to visit in your state, country, and the world

14. Start a Book

Many people harbor dreams of writing a book, and nighttime is a great time to write; it's quiet, and there are generally fewer people around to interrupt the artistic process. Does the idea of writing a book seem overwhelming? Consider this:

  • 50 words is a paragraph
  • 400 words is a page
  • 300 pages is a manuscript

And you no longer have to shop your manuscript around to different publishing houses and hope one of them accepts it. You can self-publish and list your book on Amazon.

15. Begin a Gratitude Journal

A gratitude journal is a place to write down things you're grateful for. The point is to have a list of good things to look back on when you're having a tough time and to be more mindful of the good things in our lives.

Some people write in it every day, some just occasionally, some set a goal of writing down a certain number of things they're grateful for each day. And some just list good things in their lives without trying to hit a set number.

There are many beautiful journals designed explicitly for gratitude journaling, and they're fun and pretty to use. Still, a plain old spiral notebook works just fine, as does a digital list, although there is something nice about writing down the good things in your life by hand.

16. Make a Dream Board

A dream board is a place to see the things you want out of life. They can be material objects like a new computer or achievements like learning a language, or bucket list things like taking a trip to a specific place.

Pinterest is a great place to make a dream board, but it can also be enjoyable to get a piece of poster board and cut pictures out of old magazines of the things you want and glue or tape them to the poster board.

17. Have a Spa Night

Indulge in a little self-care! Run a hot bath with bubbles or a bath bomb. Put on a hair mask, exfoliate yourself from head to toe, put on a sheet mask, give yourself a manicure and pedicure.

If you have a pretty well-stocked kitchen, you probably have the makings of a spa night without having to spend any money at the drugstore or Sephora.

Olive and coconut oils make a good hair mask, sugar, salt, or coffee grounds mixed with a bit of one of those oils are a great body scrub, mashed avocado or banana make good face masks for dry skin, and egg white or oatmeal (mix the oatmeal with a bit of water to make a paste) are suitable for oily skin.

A pair of spoons that have spent a few minutes in the freezer are great for de-puffing the eyes. Just lie down and put the concave sides of the spoons over your eyes for a few minutes. Cold cucumber slices work well too.

18. Organize a Game Night

Choose a board game or card game and have a game night with friends or family. Buy a few special snacks or order a pizza for everyone to share.

19. Build a Blanket Fort

Building a blanket fort is silly, sure, but there's nothing wrong with silly fun! All you really need is two chairs and a blanket, but sofa cushions and ironing boards are also really great to use when constructing a killer blanket fort. Once your fort is complete, bring some snacks in there and watch a scary movie!

20. Go Camping

If you have a tent or can rent or borrow one, set up camp in your backyard. All of the fun of camping with all of the comforts of home (like a bathroom and shower) just a few steps away.

21. Build a Bonfire

There are so many fun things to do around a bonfire, by yourself or with others. You can read a book, toast marshmallows or hot dogs, look for shapes in the flames, tell ghost stories. If you don't have an outdoor space suitable for building a bonfire, small tabletop fires are available that are safe to use indoors or outdoors.

22. Hold a Potluck Dinner

Having a potluck gathering is such a fun way to entertain. It takes the financial and cooking stress off the host, and everyone gets to try a wide variety of foods. To have the right mix of dishes, it is a good idea to have some organization.

One easy way to do it is to tell those with a name that starts with A-E to bring an appetizer, F-I to bring a main dish, J-N to bring a side dish, O-S to bring a dessert, T-Z to bring a drink. You don't have to follow that exact model, but you get the idea.

You can have a theme for your potluck too!

Maybe dishes from a specific country or with a particular ingredient as the focus of each dish, or a locavore theme (meaning the majority of each dish's components have to be from within a certain radius of your location). A locavore theme is a great way to support your area's local food producers.

23. Have a Picnic

Food always seems to taste better when it's eaten outside! You've likely had a picnic before, but you may have never had a picnic at night. It's especially romantic if you light some candles.

24. Have an Adult Slumber Party

Remember how much fun slumber parties were as a kid? Nothing is stopping you from having one as an adult! Everyone can bring their sleeping bags, order pizza, watch movies, and tell scary stories in the living room.

25. Go for a Drive

We forget how relaxing driving can be when we're stuck in rush hour traffic on our way to and from work. Nighttime is made for driving! Almost no one else on the road, no particular or any destination in mind, just you, the road, and maybe a good driving playlist.

Here are a few great driving songs to keep you company:

  • I Drove All Night: Celine Dion
  • Radar Love: Golden Earring
  • Born to be Wild: Steppenwolf
  • Little Red Corvette: Prince
  • Keep the Car Running: Arcade Fire
  • Truckin': The Grateful Dead
  • Hotel California: The Eagles
  • I've Been Everywhere: Johnny Cash
  • Boys of Summer: Don Henley
  • LA Woman: The Doors

26. Write a Letter

When is the last time you wrote or received a letter? With the advent of texting and emails, handwriting letters has become something of a lost art. But people love receiving handwritten notes because someone put time into writing them and because they're so rare these days.

Getting a letter is even nicer when it's on pretty stationery, and browsing a stationery store is a fun, albeit a daytime activity! So crack out the good paper and make someone's day.

27. Write a Love Letter

If you have a romantic partner, handwrite him or her a love letter and leave it somewhere they'll find it when you aren't around. A love letter is something anyone will treasure, and it will make them happy.

28. Re-Read a Book Series

What book series did you enjoy as a kid: Harry Potter, Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High, The Baby-Sitters Club, the Little House on the Prairie books?

Re-read them as an adult. You'll be surprised at how many new little details that you pick up on as an adult that you missed as a kid. This activity is even more fun if you have kids you can introduce your favorite books to.

29. Set Up a Budget

Again, this is one of those suggestions that probably isn't anyone's idea of a good time, but creating a budget is an excellent use of your time. And with all of the budgeting programs available, it is effortless and really doesn't take long at all.

Even if you don't have a rockin' time making a budget, you'll be glad you did. Having and sticking to a budget is the cornerstone of being financially healthy.

30. Exercise

You don't have to join a gym to exercise, but if you like working out in a gym and can find one that is open 24 hours or at least has late hours, working out at night can be great because you'll have the place mostly to yourself, which means you don't have to wait your turn to use the equipment.

If you don't want to go to a gym, there are plenty of other ways to exercise. If you decide to go for a walk, run, or bike ride at night, be mindful of your safety.

31. Go for a Swim

Swimming feels nice any time, but there is something about swimming at night that feels incredibly decadent or naughty! Do be careful and let someone know where you're going swimming and around what time you should be home, or even better, bring someone with you.

32. Swing on a Swing

Remember how much fun playing on the swings was as a kid? It's still pretty fun as an adult! Find a park or a playground and spend a little time swinging. It's freeing and exhilarating! Climb on some monkey bars while you're there.

33. Put Together a Puzzle

Doing a puzzle is so relaxing, and the combination of having to think but not having to concentrate and keeping your hands busy is meditative in a way. If you don't have an area you can dedicate to putting together a puzzle, you can buy a puzzle mat.

You put the puzzle together on the mat, and it can be rolled up and moved out of the way when you need the surface for another activity.

34. Go Legend Tripping

Legend tripping means visiting the site of a paranormal event, an accident, or a cryptid sighting (examples of cryptid include things like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster). Most places have at least one legend associated with them.

A few examples are the Crossroads in Clarksdale, Mississippi (where legend has it the blues musician Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for musical genius), or the Bridgewater Triangle in southeastern Massachusetts, a 200-square-mile area where there is reportedly a lot of paranormal, cryptid, and cult activity.

If legend tripping sounds like ghost hunting, it's similar.

But the ultimate goal of ghost hunting is to find a ghost or some other evidence of the paranormal, while the point of legend tripping is just to visit the site where something strange, unexplained, or notable happened or is reported to have occurred.

Do be mindful of your safety and be sure you aren't trespassing on private property.

35. Go on a Haunted Tour

Many cities have locations that are purported to be haunted, and there are walking tours that specialize in showing the locations and telling the spooky stories attached to them. And because, as we all know, ghosts prefer to come out at night, these tours happen after dark. There may be nighttime cemetery tours available too.

36. Organize Your Photos

Now that we can keep thousands of photos on our phones and computers, it's harder to keep them all organized. Depending on how many images you have, this could be a long-term project. That's okay! There's no need to get overwhelmed.

Break the project up into small steps. Like deleting photos you don't want to keep, organizing them by broad categories and then more narrow ones, and printing out a few that you'd like to give to other people and frame for yourself.

If you have physical photos, you can start scanning the ones you want to keep forever. Any number of things could happen to physical pictures, so it's a good idea to have a digital copy of the ones most precious to you.

37. Start Planning a Trip

A big part of the pleasure of taking a vacation is the fun and anticipation you get during the planning. Start planning a holiday; it could be a realistic one that you'll take relatively soon or your once-in-a-lifetime, dream vacation that might not happen for a couple of years.

Pinterest is an excellent resource for planning vacations.

38. Attend an Art Opening

When an art gallery opens a new show, the opening is often held at night. Gallery openings are usually free, and sometimes there is free food and drinks.

39. Attend a Concert

Tickets to a big-name band may be costly, but local musicians may play in local bars, clubs, and venues where the tickets or cover charges are more affordable or even free.

40. Go to a Museum

Museums usually close in the late afternoon or early evening, but sometimes a museum will stay open later on certain nights. There may be reduced or free entry and sometimes special events like live music or a lecture.

41. Attend a Play

Tickets to a Broadway play are expensive, but many cities have small, local theaters that produce plays and musicals throughout the year, and the tickets are more affordable. If you don't have a local theater group, does a high school or college near you have a drama program? If so, you may be able to attend their shows.

42. Try Out a New Look

Find a YouTube tutorial for a hairstyle or makeup look that you like and follow along to recreate it. Do resist any urge to cut your own hair, though. DIY haircuts often end in disaster and an expensive trip to the salon to fix what you did to yourself.

43. Put Together Some New Looks

You'll need a friend for this one, preferably one with some fashion know-how. You wear your clothes the same way pretty much each time you wear them, e.g., you wear your white blouse with the black wool pants and black flats.

Ask your friend to go through your closet and put together some fresh looks from the clothes you have. Having a new eye on your clothes can give you outfit combinations that you may never have thought of.

44. Do a Clothes Swap

Invite a group of friends over and tell everyone to bring five (or every how many you choose) items of clothing, shoes, or accessories that are in good condition but that they no longer use or wear. Everyone can take turns choosing from the items.

It's a great way to make sure perfectly good items get a new home (rather than being dumped in a landfill) and to get some new items for yourself without spending any money.

This idea works well for kid's items like clothes and toys too.

45. Hit a Late Night Happy Hour

Some bars and restaurants will have two happy hour periods a day. One at the traditional late afternoon/after-work hours like 4:00 to 6:00, and then another several hours later, maybe 10:00 to midnight. You can score reduced-priced drinks and sometimes bar snacks or small plates too.

46. Join a Sports League

Some adult sports leagues have scheduled games a bit later than typical after-work hours that might work with your schedule.

47. Play Trivia

Some bars offer free trivia nights where you can play alone or as part of a team. And if you are alone, an already established team might not mind having an extra player join. Sometimes the bars will offer discounts on food and drinks to those participating, and there may be prizes awarded to the winners.

48. Go Bowling

When is the last time you went bowling? It's probably been years, but why has it been so long? Bowling is so much fun! And while it's not exactly exercise, it is a bit of activity that beats sitting on the couch.

49. Call Your Service Providers

There are so many companies that provide things like cell phone coverage, renters, homeowners and auto insurance, and cable television. Because they're competing for customers, we can pit these providers against each other to get a better deal for ourselves.

Do a little research on new customer offers. Then call your provider and ask to speak to the customer retention department.

They can provide you with deals without getting transferred around. Tell the representative that you're thinking of switching providers and want to see if they can offer you the same or better deal.

This isn't the most fun you'll have all year, but spending an hour or so doing it can save you a nice chunk of change.

While you're at it, call up your credit card companies to ask if they can lower your interest rates. You may be surprised at how often you'll get a "Yes," which is another excellent, low-effort way to save some money.

50. Go Dumpster Diving

Hear us out! You can find some great stuff in dumpsters. It does take some research, though. There is a whole dumpster diving community online that can provide you all the tips and tricks you need to make some terrific finds.

Dumpster diving is incredibly lucrative if you live near a college. College kids are famous for throwing away perfectly good items simply because they don't want to deal with packing and moving them at the end of the semester when they move out of the dorms. Find out when the move-out day is at your local college and start staking out the dorm dumpsters for about a week leading up to it.

If you're going to dumpster dive for food, be especially careful. There is nothing fun about giving yourself food poisoning.

Night Time Is the Right Time

There is a whole world available at night. There are just fewer people you have to share it with! We hope you found a few things that sound like a good time to you on our list of free and almost free fun things to do at night!

Write to Candice Elliott at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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