INSIDE: Looking for new ways to have some family fun this season? With these good staycation ideas, you’ll have lots of budget-friendly things to do together.
A summer staycation is a great way to step out of your family’s routine and have some fun this season – without all the hassle and expense of travel.
We’re sharing tons of things you can do together! (Before you plan your staycation, don’t forget that you still need a staycation budget!)
WHAT IS A STAYCATION?
Think of a staycation as a summer vacation at home. Rather than packing your bags and traveling somewhere for a few days, you spend your time away from work at or close to home. You can do things that are free or might be more cost-effective than what you would do on a traditional vacation.
A staycation is a perfect way to enjoy time off from work without blowing your budget. And it’s great for this summer, no matter whether you’re social distancing, don’t have a ton of vacation days saved up, are trying to get out of debt or just don’t want to spend money this year. And there are tons of good staycation ideas.
WHAT TO DO ON A STAYCATION
Below you’ll find a list of fun and unique staycation ideas. These will work on any budget and are enjoyable for families and couples alike. You might even get inspired to come up with your own ideas along the way.
Have some good staycation ideas that your family has done? Please share your brilliant own suggestions in the comments!
Photo Credit: Scott Webb
BE A HOMETOWN TOURIST
You could plan an entire vacation as if you were visiting your city for the very first time!
Visit your city’s tourism page for ideas, such as a self-led walking tour of historic neighborhoods, a visit to a park or garden you’ve always been meaning to visit, a food tour of popular restaurants (grab a take-out picnic / dessert / ice cream cone) or a ride down a new-to-you bicycle path.
If you need to pay admission to any local venues, one of my favorite ways to save money is to purchase a Pogopass. You can find them for cities around the South and Midwest, and when you buy, you get discounted admission to parks and other attractions. It’s a simple way to save money and still have fun with your family.
SET UP YOUR OWN WATER PARK
Another fun staycation idea is to make a water park at home! Use your own pool, slip ‘n slide and/or sprinklers. Arrange them in an obstacle course for the kids to run and play and stay cool. Be sure to make some popsicles, because it isn’t a water park without frozen treats!
TAKE A HIKE
No matter where you live, there are probably trails all around your city – both paved and dirt. Check your local park authority to learn more and get out there – good staycation ideas often happen at the park. Plan a route and go on a short hike, complete with a picnic with the kids. It’s an easy way to get outside and enjoy nature.
If you’re up for something farther afield, consider visiting your nearest National Park. These parks are sprinkled throughout the U.S. and showcase some of the most spectacular land you’ll ever see. You can just drive through the park or get out of your car to hike, bike or camp, depending on the location.
PLAN A FRONT-YARD BBQ
Plop your chairs, cooler and paper plates in your front yard and eat dinner outside. You can ask your neighbors to do the same in their yard – or just enjoy waving to anyone who passes by during your meal. Maybe you’ll even get to KNOW your neighbors a little better!
BRING THE BALLPARK HOME
Let’s face it, baseball tickets can be out of your budget’s reach, so why not bring baseball home? Don your favorite team’s apparel, cook all your favorite baseball park fixins’, such as hot dogs and nachos, and add soft drinks. Then turn on the tube! Summer’s the perfect time to watch (or re-watch) Field of Dreams, The Sandlot and A League of Their Own for a family movie night.
Read more: How to Save Money at Your Ballpark
CAMP OUT IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD
When you’re looking for good staycation ideas, backyard camping is certainly one of the best! We’ve done it many times. Just grab the camping gear, pick up the makings for s’mores, tell stories and try to catch a few fireflies before we climb into our tent for the night. (Mom hack: You don’t need a fire to make s’mores.)
PICNIC IN THE PARK
My kids would live in the park if I let them. One thing we often do on staycation is have a picnic! We pack a lunch, head to the park, and get out and play ball, run and just have a great time! Who says a staycation idea has to be elaborate? The simplest ideas can often be the most fun.
If you’ve never heard of geocaching, it’s like a giant treasure hunt outside using a GPS device. And if you have heard of geocaching but haven’t tried it yet, what are you waiting for?! The Geocaching website has everything you need to know to get started. This is a creative, fun, FREE way to spend time together outside exploring new places.
WORK ON A FAMILY PROJECT
Who says your staycation can’t be productive? Is there something that needs to get done around the house? Does the shed need to be painted? Is the pantry begging for a makeover? Does the family room need some fresh family photos? Get everyone involved together, and you’ll all enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Photo by Lubomirkin
GET YOUR ART ON
YouTube is your friend here! Find a how-to video on whatever kind of art you want to try, such as watercolor painting, charcoal drawing or sewing. Grab enough supplies for everyone, then clear off the dining room table to create a mini art studio for the day.
FOLLOW THE ALPHABET
I love this idea for a staycation (and even date night). Grab some Scrabble tiles, and turn them all over so the letters are hidden. Then pick up one tile. The letter tells you what you have to do that day! So if you draw an “H,” you may need to hike, play with the hula-hoop or draw a hopscotch court in the driveway.
OUTDOOR SCAVENGER HUNT
You’ve probably done these at parties, and they can be a lot of fun. You can spin this idea around and create an outdoor scavenger hunt, where your kids have to find things in nature. It turns a regular walk into something fun!
Read More: How to Plan an Outdoor Scavenger Hunt
GET INVOLVED IN “MY TOWN ROCKS”
One of the newest sensations taking the nation by storm is My Town Rocks. When you’re talking about good staycation ideas, this is really unique one. Look for painted rocks around your city. The idea is that when you take one, you leave another. It’s a fun way to explore the area where you live!
Read More: My Town Rocks
HAVE A BAKING DAY
Most people do a lot of baking in November and December but forget about it in the summer. Look for some simple summertime treats, and plan a day of baking. You might even try making these fun watermelon krispie treats or a red-white-and-blue kids trifle!
BOARD GAME TOURNAMENT
When the rain comes (or the heat is too much for you to be outside), take the fun indoors with a family board game tournament! Get some snacks and drinks, and settle in for a ton of family fun. If you want some new games to try, check out the Amazon Best Sellers list for inspiration.
VISIT A FARMERS MARKET
Your local farmers market can produce a lot of great family fun! You’ll find good food, music and amazing vendors selling freshly grown produce and homemade wares.
SO WHAT WILL YOU DO?
No matter what you plan to do this summer, the most important thing is just to have fun and do it as a family, and these good staycation ideas will help you do that. Your children will love spending quality time with you – no matter WHAT you decide to do. Have other perfect staycation ideas? Share them with the Penny Pinchin’ crew in the comments below!
Here are other ideas from our partners:
At-Home Vacation Ideas
First published in July 2020. Updated April 2021.