24 Great Staycation Ideas
“I need a vacation… but I just don’t have the money.”
Have you ever found yourself saying this? Who doesn’t dream about a magical place where you leave all of your worries and trouble far, far away? How many of you get sticker shock when you realize that your dream vacation costs more than your car?
The cold, hard truth is that vacations are expensive. And many times, life happens, and the vacation fund gets eaten up by a roof leak, a hospital bill, or a car repair. When you boil it down, “vacation” really means “paying for transportation, maybe airfare, restaurants, hotels, vacation homes, and everything else that comes up.”
Sometimes it’s not even about the money. Maybe you can’t go on vacation because you can’t get off work. Or maybe someone is pregnant and can’t travel or be far away from home.
Whatever the reason, it doesn’t mean that you need to be stuck inside saying “I’m bored” all summer, or saying to yourself “I need a vacation!” You can still have a great time by planning a vacation in your own backyard!
A true “Staycation” is more than just another week at home. It’s a time set aside simply for relaxation and fun for the whole family. And if you have young children, you might even find a staycation to be more relaxing than a full vacation! With or without kids, a Staycation can be just as relaxing and refreshing as going somewhere far away.
Before we get started, here are the rules:
The whole point of a Staycation is to make it feel like a vacation from real life. That said, it’s important to set some rules about what you can and can’t do on your Staycation.
When does it start and end?
Saturday to Saturday? Monday through Saturday? Friday through Monday? Whatever works for you, set a plan just like you would for vacation. You can’t just wake up one morning and decide that you’re going on a week-long trip to somewhere 8 hours away, the same thing applies for a Staycation. Set the timing, and stick to it.
Ready for the big list of Staycation “nos”?
- No screen time (phone, Facebook, email, video games, TV… etc.)
- No working (bloggers, that means you too!)
- No going off by yourself
- No cleaning
- No laundry
Make plans for fun!
Ever go on vacation and just say “meh… we’ll just find something to do when we get there”? No! Just like a real vacation, you need to plan different ways to have fun on your Staycation!
Set a budget and stick with it!
Set some money aside for activities, dining out, and anything else you might want to do on a real vacation. If you can, pay for housekeeping at the end of the week, so when you “come home” from your Staycation, your house is spotless!
Make the actual plans!
How many of us have said “I’ve always wanted to go there” about some place in our own towns? I know I have! Get the whole family involved, too. Ask each person to come up with a few ideas for things they’ve always wanted to do. If you have young children, you can decide for them based off of their personal interests.
Put all of the ideas together and make an itinerary for your whole Staycation. Set up the activity and make it happen!
Don’t forget to plan for food!
Use the same pattern for deciding what to do for the Staycation when you decide where to eat. You can cook at home and try something new (if money is tight, you can still go out on a budget LINK), or you can make a list of “I’ve always wanted to eat there” or “I’ve always wanted to try this type of food” places and try one each day.
If you do cook at home, make the meals easy so that you limit the mess and dishes (because who wants to have to deep clean a kitchen on vacation). Maybe you could make some freezer crockpot meals for the week; very limited mess, and all you have to do it put it in the crockpot first thing in the morning and it’s ready for dinner by the time you get back from your daily activities. If you don’t have a dishwasher or just don’t want to deal with dishes, look into getting disposable plates, cups and utensils
Deep clean before your Staycation begins
Remember to think of your Staycation the same way that you think of a real vacation. The day before you go on vacation, you clean the house to make sure that you don’t come home to a mess. The same thing applies for a Staycation! Set a time to make sure that you’re not even tempted to address the mess while you’re in vacation-mode!
I might be a weirdo, but I do laundry on vacation. I hate coming home with a week’s worth of dirty clothes! Just make sure that you’re only doing “maintenance” laundry and not deep cleaning. Do all of the towels, sheets, slipcovers, pillow cases, and everything else before your Staycation starts. Feel free to wash all of your clothes from the week once you have enough for a full load of laundry.
Chances are there are tons of fun things to do in your own hometown that you either never have time for, or don’t even think about because they are so close by.
Here are 24 fun and creative ideas to get you started:
- Check out your local leagues: Minor League Sporting Events are a blast for the whole family at a fraction of the cost of the Majors! While major league events are a lot of fun, they can get pricey quickly, especially for a family. Luckily almost every city has a minor league team, and they are usually much more family-friendly and a just as much fun. If little ol’ Lancaster, PA has a baseball team, I’m sure that your city does too! Don’t forget to check out giveaway days, dollar dog nights, and fireworks displays!
- Go to the library: Long gone are the days of just borrowing books and leaving the library. You can find family activities all summer at your local library. You can even rent a movie that you haven’t seen yet! Check your local library’s website for all of their information.
- Do a Family Project: This one isn’t for everyone! But if you’ve had something on your to-do list for ages but have never gotten around to it, consider taking it on one day. Do you want to make a playroom for the kids? Repaint a room? Redecorate? These can all be fun “family projects” to do. They’re not chores, but it’s something that the whole family would benefit from.
- Spend a Day on the River or Lake: If there is a river, lake, (or ocean!) nearby, rent a canoe or a kayak and have a fun day on the water.
- Try Out Laser Tag or Paintball: Nothing says “teambuilding” like good ol’ competition! Personally, I love laser tag; it’s a lot of fun for the whole family, it builds teamwork, it doesn’t hurt, and it’s inside! If it’s a swelteringly hot day, you’ll want to stay in the air conditioning as long as possible! You can find the closest field to you on Google.
- Visit a National Park: Find a National Park near you and spend a day exploring it! There are so many things to do at National Parks all over the country. You can also check out find free entrance days for extra savings! When you go to the park, go to the Ranger Station and get a Junior Ranger kit, then complete the activities and get a cool badge.
- Take a Virtual Museum Tour: You might not be able to visit the Louvre this year, but you can take a virtual tour! You can virtually tour many different museums around the world, like the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican!
- Find local music: There are concerts in local parks all summer. Does your town host a music festival every year? Check it out! Maybe go to open mic night at a local restaurant. I don’t know about you, but my kids go nuts for music. And while I won’t be taking them to any big shows anytime soon, they love listening to music live.
- Visit a Local(ish) Amusement Park: There are more amusement parks in the world than just Disney World! What amusement parks are near you? Check it out and spend a day at the park! We’re spoiled here with Dutch Wonderland, Hershey Park, Dorney Park, Six Flags, Kings Dominion, Knobels and a few more all within a day-trip!
- Check out a Local Children’s Museum: When you have young children, it can be hard to find activities that the whole family can enjoy. But a Children’s Museum can really be fun for everyone! Find one near you and look into purchasing a membership or a family pass (that pays for itself in 2 visits)!
- Visit the Aquarium or Zoo: Kids love the zoo and aquariums! Not sure if there’s a zoo near you? Find one here! Consider buying a membership, as it’ll pay for itself in 2 visits. Money too tight for the zoo? Check out your local pet store! My kids could spend hours making faces at fish!
- Camp in Your Backyard: Set up a tent and sleeping bags, build a fire (or use the grill) to cook s’mores, and spend the night under the stars in your backyard! Make sure you get the SkyMap app to learn about the stars, planets, and constellations!
- Go camping for real: No backyard? No problem! Spend a night out at a local campsite. You can find a local campsite here!
- Tour a Local Factory: Did you know that you can tour the Crayola factory? Or see how Herr’s potato chips were made? Lots of companies will let you tour their facilities to see how your favorite products are made! Most offer samples of their products at the end of the tours. Check your local factory’s website for details!
- Treat Yo Self: Get a massage, a pedicure, a facial… anything to pamper you and get you to really relax on your Staycation! You can even try out some great DIY spa recipes.
- Paint Your Own Pottery: Go to a nearby paint-your-own pottery place and make your own works of art. You get to have fun and get to take home a memorable piece from your vacation!
- Host a BBQ: Barbecues are a lot of fun for the whole family. Plus, they give you a reason to get together with friends in a very casual setting. For added fun, add some board games! Apples to Apples is a family favorite!
- Go to the Pool: Or anything else to make you spend the day in a bathing suit! Check out the best local pool in the area for the day. Find a waterpark in the area. Go to the beach if it’s close-by (lucky you!!)! Or, if that all sounds like a disaster, set up the slip-n-slide for the kids, break out the tanning oil, and just relax in the yard.
- Have a Theme Movie Night: Watch a fun movie and dress up and decorate for the occasion! Do you love old movies? Borrow a few Gene Kelly movies from the library, and have everyone dress in period clothes for the movie. For added fun, set up an outdoor movie screen! You can get a projector to plug right into your phone.
- Find a Local Festival-Check your local newspaper or chamber of commerce website to find out what is happening in your town or towns nearby the week of your Staycation. Depending where you live there are often events happening almost every weekend!
- Go Golfing: Hit up the local driving range or mini golf for a day of fun! If someone is really into golf and wants to play a full round, make sure to make it a family affair and bring everyone along!
- Visit a Tourist Spot in Your Own Town: Does your town have a local attraction that always brings in tourists, but you always try to avoid it because it’s always packed? Check it out sometime and see what all the fuss is about! It’s fun to be a tourist in your own town! Go “full tourist” and make sure to go to all the “cheesy” stops and take pictures!
- Go Bowling: Bowling is great for the hot days of summer! It’s a lot of fun, and it’s air conditioned! You can even find places where kids bowl free and parents pay a little extra. Bowling alleys also have theme nights that are a lot of fun; glow-in-the-dark bowling is a lot of fun for everyone!
- Get Outside: Take a hike, a leisurely walk, go for a bike ride, fly a kite… anything to get outside! If you’re adventurous, try out some local hiking spots. Find some great trails near you!
Need more ideas? Check out 50 fun, free and cheap family activities!
Don’t Forget the Most Important Things: Relax and Enjoy!
The biggest problem with a Staycation is trying to relax and break out of the everyday routines at home. Moms especially have trouble relaxing in the house! But the key to having the best Staycation has nothing to do with the activities you do, but with your commitment to making your Staycation a time of relaxation and family fun.
The chores will all be there next week, don’t worry! Give yourself permission to enjoy the break from daily life, and to relax. Create memories that you will cherish for a lifetime. No matter where you go or what you do, make the most of it!
Have you ever planned a Staycation?