Cheap Summer Fun in TorontoWe all like to take nice summer vacations. But long car trips, travel abroad, cottage rentals and even camping can strain the pocketbook. If you are trying to save money this summer, why not stay in the city and enjoy some of its pleasures?

Yes, Toronto has lots of pricey entertainment options. But it also provides many inexpensive and free choices for the budget conscious. For example, you can enjoy:

Cheap Shakespeare
For  yet another summer Canadian Stage presents its popular Shakespeare in High Park series. To take in the Bard under the stars with a blanket and picnic, you can pay what you like at the gate or reserve tickets online. This year the lighthearted As You Like It and the intense Titus Andronicus are performed on alternate nights. Gates open at 6 p.m. and the plays start at 8 p.m.

Cheap Laughs
Toronto has its share of inexpensive standup and sketch comedy and improv nights. Here is a listing of some of best places to get a laugh in the city, ranging from stalwarts like Yuk Yuks and Second City to up-and-comers that include the Rivoli and Black Swan.

Cheap Board Games
Like to play games? Good, go to the Snakes and Lattes Board Game Café, where you’ll pay a paltry $5 cover charge, order something to drink (for as little as $2) and the pick a game from the more than 2,300 choices that line the shelves. Don’t know what to play? Then ask one of the café’s “Game Gurus.” As its site explains, they “are like wine sommeliers. Not only will they try to help find you the right game for your group, they’ll go on and explain how it’s played.”

Cheap Drinks
Drinking at bars can be an expensive pastime. Thank goodness for Nirvana . . . as well as other cheapo swilleries  such as The Rhino, Einstein’s and Java House. Yes, you’ll find $10 jugs of draft, two-for-one specials, $3 mixed drinks and more. You will also save on gas, because you should drive to these high-volume, low-cost joints, which are listed here.

Cheap Movies
Not just cheap but free. Toronto has an abundance of outdoor venues to enjoy film screenings, ranging this summer from Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot to The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Venues range from Harbourfront to Yonge-Dundas Square to Christie Pits.