Published March 25, 2024

Explore on a budget: Free activities to do in Barrie 

Free activities in Barrie Ontario

Barrie offers a wealth of experiences for visitors and locals alike, and the best part? You don't need a hefty budget to discover its charm. From scenic nature trails to cultural gems and unique finds, here are some fantastic free activities to do in Barrie …

Sunnidale Park Arboretum

Whether you're looking for a leisurely stroll beneath the shade of mature trees or a chance to learn about nature, Sunnidale Park Arboretum provides a charming experience in the heart of the city. Nestled within Barrie's Sunnidale Park, this arboretum features a variety of trees, shrubs, and colourful gardens, all labelled for easy identification. 

Catch a Free Movie Under the Stars

During the summer months, keep an eye out for outdoor movie screenings at Barrie's waterfront with Lawn Chair Luminata. Pack a blanket, grab some snacks, and enjoy a cozy movie night under the stars. 

Go Bird Watching 

Barrie's diverse habitats make it a prime location for birdwatching. From the open waters of Kempenfelt Bay, teeming with waterfowl like loons and grebes, to the forested trails of Bear Creek Eco Park where warblers flit between branches, there's something for every birding enthusiast. 

If you don’t have the equipment to go birdwatching, consider heading to the Barrie Public Library to borrow a bird watching kit. (And that leads us to our next free activity). 

Barrie Public Library

Immerse yourself in the world of literature at the Barrie Public Library.They have an extensive collection of books, magazines, and movies, but those aren’t the only free activities you can enjoy. 

The library organizes tons of amazing workshops, lectures, activities and events, many of which are free. They also have their Library of Things, which opens the door to even more free activities to do in Barrie. Borrow a disc golf set and head to the park, check out a ghost hunting kit and explore some paranormal locales, or take out an Ontario Parks Permit and explore different parks around the city. 

Other kits you can borrow for even more free fun include: 

  • Pickleball kits
  • Gardening kits 
  • Ladder toss
  • Spikeball kits
  • Tabletop games
  • Tennis kits
  • Wye Marsh Family Day Passes 
  • And more …

Check Out The Campus Gallery 

Take a look at the student art exhibits at Georgian College. These exhibits are a great way to see up-and-coming talent and admission is free. If driving, parking is $5. 

Visit the Simcoe County Archives

The Simcoe County Archives is a great place to learn about the history of Simcoe County. They have a variety of exhibits and resources available to the public. To access original records or reference materials, you can book a reading room online. Appointments are 2.5 hours long and available from 9:00 to 11:30 AM Tuesday to Friday and 1:30 to 4:00 PM on Monday to Friday. 

Take a Free Walking Tour

Barrie is filled with arts, culture and history. If you’re interested in learning more about the amazing city and some of its many landmarks, head out on a walking tour. There are many self-guided tour guides as well as audio tours for you to check out on the Tourism Barrie website

Unwind at Barrie Centennial Park

This sprawling park boasts beaches, playgrounds, splash pads, and walking/biking trails. Pack a picnic basket and enjoy a relaxing afternoon surrounded by nature.

Flying Monkey Craft Brewery 

Flying Monkey’s offers free weekend tours to check out the Brewhouse and see how their craft beverages are made. Tour times are Saturdays and Sundays at 1 PM, 2 PM, 3 PM, and 4 PM. No reservations are required but you should show up at least 15 minutes early to check in. 

Check Out A Festival

Barrie is alive with vibrant free festivals throughout the year! You can immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of Kempenfest, Ontario's largest outdoor arts and crafts festival. For music lovers, keep an eye out for free summer concerts in the park. The city has events on all year long. Whatever you're into, be sure to check the Tourism Barrie website or local event listings to discover the perfect festival to match your interests, all without spending a dime!

Explore Our Scenic Trails

Whether you choose the easygoing paths that hug the shoreline of Kempenfelt Bay or try something more adventurous, Barrie's trails cater to all levels. Breathe in the crisp air, take in the unique landscapes and try to spot some of the unexpected animals that share the city with us.

RELATED: 11 beautiful trails you need to hike in Simcoe County ...

BONUS - Visit the MacLaren Art Centre

The MacLaren Art Centre is a great place to learn about art and enjoy work from local, national, and international artists. Admission to the gallery isn’t free but it is by pay-what-you-can donation. That means no matter your budget, you’re welcome to pursue the gallery and go on free public tours with Gallery Attendants (weekends only) for whatever amount you’re comfortable giving. 

If you have a membership, you can enjoy free admission to the MacLaren, as well as many other galleries in Ontario, including Orillia Museum of Art and History, Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts, Penetanguishene Centennial Museum & Archives, and dozens more

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