Frugal Fun for Ottawans

No dough for a family getaway this summer? The good news is there are plenty of cheap — or better yet, free — things to do around the nation’s capital to keep all ages entertained throughout July and August, reports KAREN TURNER.

Sun & Sand

Nothing screams summer like a day at the beach. From building sandcastles to playing beach volleyball, it’s the perfect way to spend quality time outdoors with your family. Just don’t forget to slather on the sunscreen.

In Ottawa, there are four public beaches open till Aug. 19 with lifeguards on duty daily from noon to 7 p.m.

Cost: Free

Info: ottawa.ca/beaches

Shakespeare in the park

Company of Fools, Ottawa’s longest-running independent professional Shakespeare company, will be performing Henry V in parks across the city this summer. Directed by Geoff McBride and starring Margo MacDonald as Henry, the production promises “blood and battle, bravery and romance, all with the Fool-ish twists audiences have come to know and love.” All shows start at 7 p.m.

Cost: Pass-the-hat donation

Info: fools.ca

Pomp and pageantry

Every morning at 10 a.m. until Aug. 23, the Governor General’s Foot Guards and the Canadian Grenadier Guards assemble on Parliament Hill for Changing the Guard. The traditional ceremony begins with a parade from the Cartier Square Drill Hall on Queen Elizabeth Drive to Elgin Street, then continues to the east lawn of the Hill. The Ceremonial Guard then performs military drills and a band and pipers play music.

Cost: Free

Info: ottawatourism.ca

No traffic zone

Until Labour Day weekend, the National Capital Commission ­closes more than 50 kilometres of parkways to motorized vehicles in Ottawa and Gatineau Park for the Alcatel-Lucent Sunday Bikedays.

It’s a great opportunity for the whole family to cycle, run, walk or in-line skate along the Ottawa River and Rideau Canal without worrying about passing cars and trucks.

In Ottawa, Colonel By Drive, the Ottawa River Parkway and Rockcliffe Parkway are closed Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. In Gatineau Park, the Gatineau, Champlain and Fortune Lake parkways are closed from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Cost: Free

Info: canadascapital.gc.ca

Light up the night

Or more specifically the ­historic Parliament Buildings during the Mosaika Sound and Light Show (10 p.m. daily in July, then 9:30 p.m. until Sept. 3). Through music, colourful lights and imagery projected onto the Centre Block, Mosaika explores Canada through the eyes of its people.

Cost: Free

Info: mosaika-sl.ca

Picnic at Pinhey’s Point

On the Ottawa River in Dunrobin, Pinhey’s Point is an 88-acre historic site about 20 minutes north of Kanata. It includes an old stone manor called Horaceville, which was built in 1820 for Hamnett Kirkes Pinhey, a British settler who was a leading citizen of Upper Canada. The estate is open for tours from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday.

To get there, take Highway 417 to the March Road/ Eagleson Road exit and turn right (north). Turn right at Dunrobin Road, then right again at Riddell Drive and follow the signs.

Cost: Donation only

Info: pinheyspoint.ca

High-flying action

Even if you don’t have a daring bone in your body, it’s fun to watch those who do. With more than a dozen seasonal and permanent skateboarding parks run by the City of Ottawa, thrill-seekers of all ages can perform gravity-defying tricks on BMX bikes and skateboards.

Cost: Free at most locations

Info: ottawa.ca/en/rec_culture/park_facility/parks/skateboarding/index.html

Cheap Flicks

Going to the movies with a family of four — or six, in my case — can cost a small fortune even before you add in the popcorn, soda and candy. With movie admission costing a fraction of the price of mainstream theatres, Rainbow Cinema at St. Laurent Shopping Centre is an affordable alternative. The trade-off is that the movies have been around for a while.

Cost: $5 for all ages; $3 for 10 a.m. Early Bird movies and $2 on Toonie Tuesdays

Info: rainbowcinemas.ca

Connect with Karen Turner |Google+|@KTurnerRealDeal|kturner@ottawacitizen.com