Wednesday, May 18, 2011


With money matters always on mind lately I have tried to think up free and/or cheap fun things to do with Erik. There is a really great website that my friend Monique introduced me to called Atlanta on the Cheap that features deals from all over the city if you are looking for promotions, cheap tickets, etc. that I have used a few times to get movie tickets and ideas for future outings. It is one of I'm sure a thousand great resources out there for cheap-o's like me and definitely worth checking out. But websites and coupons aside, one thing that I thought would be really fun to do and relatively cheap (almost free actually) is to take Erik out and go Geocaching. Geocaching is an activity that I first discovered about 7 years ago and really, really, enjoy. Most people I have met have no idea what it is so I am always more than happy to introduce them. So blog world, consider this your introduction if you have never heard of this fantastic “sport.”

Geocaching is basically treasure hunting with a GPS device. “Caches” (usually metal or plastic containers) are hidden and GPS coordinates are logged in to the official Geocaching website. People who wish to find the caches simply log on to the website by entering their zip code to find coordinates of local stashes and then enter those coordinates into their GPS and begin hunting. The caches always contain a logbook of some sort for people to sign and leave a message and often times will have little trinkets people have left behind. The rules of geocaching allow the seekers to take anything from the cache they wish but they must always leave something of equal value in return.

Since its inception in 2000, Geocaches have been hidden all over the world and as GPS technology has gotten better this game has become accessible to just about everyone. When I first started Geocaching back in 2002-2003 I was using a handheld Garmin black and white GPS unit that was a couple hundred dollars. Back then I would I have to load maps from the computer into the GPS and manually enter the coordinates for each new cache I wanted to find. Talk about a pain! Now I am using a $10 iPhone App that connects directly to the geocaching website and instantly directs you to local caches. It’s pretty amazing.

Throughout the years I have tried to find at least one Geocache in each new city I visit. So far I have had successful hunts in Texas, Oregon, Louisiana, South Carolina, and of course my home state of Georgia. I’m telling you—these things are everywhere and it is so much fun to find them!

In terms of cost the only thing you really have to pay for nowadays is $10 for the App if you have a smart phone (which I think most people do or at least know someone who does) and gas if you have to drive to your start point. I’ve found that places like state parks are great to start out in because usually there are multiple caches and all you need are your own two legs and maybe a picnic lunch. But I’ve also been to very urban areas with multiple caches (think the campus of Georgia Tech) too so it’s very easy to find these things in your own backyard.

For Erik’s first time I took him to the same place I went for my first Geocaching experience: Arabia Mountain State Park near Lithonia, GA. It’s only about a 30 minute drive from my house and is a huge park with lots of trails, different landscapes, and of course multiple Geocaches. The caches we found in Arabia were especially cool because each one had a little history about that particular location of the park the cache was hidden in which made it really interesting. We ended up having a really fun afternoon hiking, finding a couple of caches, and having a picnic lunch in the woods by a lake.

Erik's first find.
Opening our second find of the day

The lake where we had our picnic lunch

In the last several years I have introduced many of my friends to Geocaching and it’s always fun to see their faces when they find their first cache. I know when I describe the sport to people I always feel like they are looking at me skeptically kind of like “yeah, uh-huh sure there are really all these hidden “treasure” boxes everywhere.” So it’s always a fun validation when that first cache is found and you can be like “see, I told you”!

If you want to learn more about Geocaching including all the rules, how to hide a cache, etc. click here. It really is a family friendly activity (for all you moms and dads out there) and always an entertaining way to spend an afternoon so go check it out. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Happy Hunting!


  1. We love Geocaching! We haven't been able to do much of it since Amelia was born, but now that she's getting bigger, hopefully we'll be able to get out more often. I especially love all the naysayers who think you're going to find a dead body or something. Once they figure out how much fun it is, I always want to say, "See? I told you so!"

  2. I know what you mean! It'll be so much fun to do with Amelia when she gets older. : )