12 Staycation Ideas to Enjoy With the Whole Family

There’s no doubt that taking some time off to have fun and relax close to home can be just as rewarding as going away for vacation, and it’s certainly thriftier. When you vacation close to home, you can eliminate a load of stress and expense. Consider that when you go on vacation, you have to pay for transportation, meals, lodging, and attractions. A “staycation” can involve little to no spending when you’re staying close to home, cooking your own meals, and ending the day in the comfort of your own bed. People who have mastered the art of the staycation generally like to set a start and end time, plan their activities ahead, and mix up their daily routine so they get the feel of a real vacation. Expert staycationers have a ton of fun and finish their staycation relaxed and recharged for only a fraction of the price of a vacation away from home.

These staycation ideas are fun for the whole family and in most cases involve no more than the price of an admission charge. Doesn’t it sound amazing to have a vacation without the packing, long drive in the car, wait at the airport, or jet lag? Skipping these things are just a few of the many benefits to enjoying a staycation. No matter how far you want to roam from home, there’s likely the perfect spot for some fun and relaxation in your hometown or even in your own backyard. These suggestions are some of the most low-cost activities so you can staycation in style and on a budget. When you have some leisure time, consider one of these 12 activities that won’t take you far from home.

Backyard Camping

Kids will absolutely love a backyard camping experience, and parents can enjoy the convenience of making camp right in the backyard, where food is a few steps away and “homesick” little ones don’t need to fret if they miss their beds come nightfall. A backyard camping staycation can include all of the fun activities of a typical camping trip, like a fire, s’mores, songs, and scary stories, but you’ll be able to eliminate the expense of renting a camping spot. If you have a tent, sleeping bags, and flashlights, you’re all set to start your own backyard camping adventure. Explore some camping games that kids will have a blast with. The backyard can be so much more exciting than they imagined!

Explore Your City

Have you taken advantage of everything your city or town has to offer? Check again! Most libraries are good sources to look to for upcoming community events. If you can’t find something that catches your interest, think about local museums and tourist destinations. Maybe there’s a place you’ve never been to or haven’t visited in a while. Exhibitions change regularly, so revisiting a museum can be rewarding, but you might also want to try out local planetariums, botanical gardens, and historical attractions. You could find a restaurant you’ve never tried or seek out performances by a local band. Ever played the Mystery Road Trip game? Let your kids take the wheel! (Metaphorically, of course.) As you come to intersections and traffic lights, let them choose which direction to turn and see where you end up. Maybe you’ll even discover something new in your hometown.

Movie Night

This activity is so simple and so cozy. No matter the weather or the time, you can enjoy a movie marathon with the family. Prepare your favorite snacks and a movie lineup and you’ll be ready to go. If you have a projector, you can make this an outdoor event on a summer evening and pretend you’re at the drive-in. Or you could snuggle up on the couch in your favorite PJs with a pile of blankets. Either way, this will be a fun and relaxing evening for the whole family. Lower the lights for some ambiance and ponder some popular movie theater snacks, like nachos, popcorn, or ice cream. If your family is a decorative bunch, you could consider going all out and adding some backdrop curtains or making some theater snack boxes and tickets.

Fun in the Park

There’s no better way to enjoy a beautiful day on a budget than to take a trip to a local park. Whether you have an urban park or a nature preserve in your area, you’ll get to spend some time in the sunshine. Bring a Frisbee or a football along with a picnic. Or bring along a book about bugs and see how many you can spot. A pair of binoculars can help you go bird-watching. Visit the dollar store for a small bag of prizes and objects, hide them around, and send your kids on a scavenger hunt. You can also have them spot things found in nature. There’s so much to do at the park!

Visit the Skating Rink

Get your skate on! Check your local rink time for free skate hours. This can be a fun new skill to learn or a great way to exercise and relieve stress for practiced skaters. Your rink might even offer lessons for beginners, and most rinks offer skate rentals if you don’t have any. An ice-skating or roller rink is an inexpensive and overlooked location for hours of family fun.

Game Night

The family that plays together stays together! Gather up all of your board games and card games, and fire up your competitive spirit! Games are good for hours of play. Include some of your favorite snacks and you’ll have a fun-filled day or evening ahead of you. If your family has been feeling bored lately, it might be time to dust off those old games and remember why you loved them so much.

Go on a Hike

A little research will show that a good hike might be closer than you think. Whether you aren’t far from the mountains, the beach, or the desert, there’s likely a nice walking path or hiking trail close to home. If you live in the city, try straying to the outskirts and taking in some nature. If you live in a more rural area, hikes are probably everywhere you turn. Ask around, buy a map, or search the Web for ideas, then pack your backpacks and you’ll be ready to take a break from the real world for a bit and enjoy a hiking staycation.

Take a Dip

On a warm summer day, nothing sounds better than some time by the water. If you live by the ocean, why not take some time to enjoy the beach? Many people travel miles to get some ocean time. The same goes for any local lakes. Pack your swim trunks and a good book so you can enjoy the water and the shore. No natural water nearby? Never fear: You may have a neighborhood pool, and if not, check out your local gym or rec center for a pool with public hours.

Go Geocaching

If you have a portable GPS, this is an adventurous and inexpensive hobby. Why not get started? Learn more about this fun hobby and make a free account to find the coordinates for geocaches in your area. Once the coordinates are in, the GPS will guide you. Explore the area to find your prize and log your victory. Bring along some goodies of your own to replace what you take from the cache for the next party that finds the prize.

Visit the Zoo or Aquarium

Enjoying some animals and learning about wildlife never gets old. Your local zoo or aquarium can be a great location for some family time. To prepare your kids for this experience, think about stopping at the local library and checking out some books on animals. They’ll have a great time spotting the creatures that they read about. While you’ll have to pay the admission price for the zoo or aquarium, you can save by packing a picnic lunch instead of visiting the concession stand.

See Your Local Minor-League Team

Most cities have minor-league sports teams, and you can have a great time seeing a professional game for a fraction of the price that you will spend at a major-league game. Take a look for local soccer, basketball, baseball, and hockey teams. Many of them have theme nights, fireworks, or other special events to make the game even more exciting. You can make up your own cheer before the game, make a sign to bring, or put on some face paint to show your team spirit.

Miniature Golfing

Challenge your family to a game of mini-golf! This is a fun outing that will get you outside and occupied for a few hours. Many mini golf courses also have other attractions, too, like a go-kart track or laser tag. Think about making the most of your day outdoors by going for ice cream afterward: It’s a great match with mini golf, and a lot of courses have an ice cream stand right on the property.

When staycationing close to home, don’t let the fear an unexpected financial emergency keep you from enjoying the time you have to recharge. TitleMax may be an option for those faced with unexpected expenses.

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