Vacations can help us create lasting memories with our families. Unfortunately, because of timing or finances, it’s not always possible to go on a traditional vacation. Luckily, there are plenty of fun and affordable staycation ideas for families that can you can do, right at home! Let’s explore some exciting staycation ideas designed to keep your whole family entertained and engaged.
From creative indoor activities to outdoor adventures, my goal is to share a variety of options that cater to different interests and ages. Whether you’re looking to relax, bond, or simply try something new, these staycation ideas will help transform your time at home into a memorable family experience. Get ready to rediscover the joys of family time, as we embark on this exciting journey of exploring staycation ideas for families.
Tips for Planning the Perfect Staycation
Need helping planning the perfect staycation? Here are a few tips that can help!
Set a Budget
I always begin planning my family’s staycation by establishing a clear budget. I can sometimes get a little carried away and forget that the goal of a staycation is usually to save a little money. By deciding how much we have to spend, I can make informed decisions about the activities and experiences we can afford during our staycation. A staycation can easily stay budget-friendly by considering a mix of free and low-cost activities. Don’t forget to include factors such as transportation, food, and any special equipment or materials that might be required.
Write down your budget and then you’ll be ready to start planning!
Create an Itinerary
Once I have a budget in place, I start creating an itinerary for our family staycation. To make sure that our holiday is memorable and enjoyable, I like to include a mix of indoor and outdoor activities. I also check our local events to see what might be coming up during our time frame. Finally, I ask my family because even the littlest of kids might have an opinion about what they’d like to do over vacation.
Incorporate Family Interests
As you are planning your itinerary, ask yourself, “What does my family like to do?” By doing so, I make sure that everyone is excited and engaged in the holiday.
For example, my husband loves cooking, so I will sometimes plan a family cooking challenge. My kids also love water activities so I try to squeeze in a visit to a local pool.
The key is to create a well-rounded staycation that it considers everyone in the family. That being said, there is no possible way to keep everyone happy ALL of the time. As long as you are doing your best to consider each person in the family, don’t let yourself get hung up on planning the “perfect” staycation. It’s not possible! And it’s good for us all to try new things!
Adjust Your Routine
To make the staycation feel more like a holiday, I find it important to switch up our daily routines. Instead of following our usual day-to-day schedules, I try to plan unique activities that we might not otherwise do. This might mean letting kids stay up late to watch an outdoor movie in the backyard or getting everyone up at the crack of dawn to do a sunrise hike. Little adjustments to your routine make things feel fresh and new.
Indoor Staycation Activities
Not sure if you want to head into the great outdoors? Try a few of these indoor staycation activities!
Family Movie Marathon
One of my favorite indoor staycation ideas is hosting a family movie marathon. My family and I love to pick a theme or a series of movies to watch together. Whether it’s a classic Disney lineup, a superhero showdown, or even a marathon of the latest and greatest animations, this activity brings us closer together as we enjoy our popcorn and immerse ourselves in captivating stories.
Bonus points if you let your little kids set up a “drive-in” movie with laundry baskets and blankets!
Cooking Competitions and Themed Dinners
Cooking competitions and themed dinners are the perfect way to bring some excitement to mealtime during staycations. My husband’s family often hosts cooking sessions where they have mini contests, such as who can make the tastiest dish or the best presentation using specific ingredients.
We also love planning themed dinners inspired by various cuisines, time periods, or even movies we’ve enjoyed. For example, one year for spring break we hosted an International Eats week and made a new dish from a different country each night. These dinners encourage us to be creative and bond over our shared love for food.
Game Nights and Puzzles
Our indoor staycation activities would never be complete without game nights and puzzles. Alongside classic board games like Monopoly and Scrabble, my family also loves attempting to complete jigsaw puzzles or play charades. These game nights bring friendly competition, plenty of laughter, and memories that will last for years to come.
Read: 35 Games for 4-Year-Olds
Arts, Crafts, and Origami
Getting creative with arts, crafts, and origami is another staycation staple in my household. We find joy in participating in simple art classes, trying our hands at jewelry making, or following step-by-step tutorials to create origami masterpieces. One of our family favorites includes making tie-dye shirts or towels! It’s always fun to explore our artistic side and express our personalities through our creations.
DIY Spa Day
A DIY spa day is a fantastic way to unwind during a staycation. Last Christmas we set up our living room as a spa. We set up calming music, helped our kids put on face masks, and even did foot rubs for each other. It was such a fun day and the kids still talk about it!
From homemade face masks and pedicures to aromatherapy and soothing music, we transform our living space into a tranquil spa environment. Taking time to pamper ourselves allows all of us to relax and rejuvenate while enjoying the comforts of our own home.
Outdoor Staycation Activities
Head outside and enjoy the weather! Being outdoors can add fun to your staycation!
Backyard Camping and Obstacle Courses
One of my favorite outdoor staycation ideas is to set up a tent in the backyard and spend a night camping under the stars. I enjoy making s’mores over a fire pit, telling stories, and using flashlights for a fun and memorable evening. This summer our kids have been bugging us to do a campout on our trampoline!
Read also: Camping with Kids
Additionally, we sometimes like to create an obstacle course in the backyard that the whole family can participate in. This might include climbing over obstacles, crawling through tunnels, and balancing on beams.
Picnics and Outdoor Sports
Our family loves planning picnics in the park or in our own backyard. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors and have a relaxing meal. We pack a blanket, a basket filled with sandwiches, salads, fruits, and drinks, and enjoy some quality time with my family.
Outdoor sports are another fantastic way to stay active during a staycation. Basketball, volleyball, and tennis are just a few examples of sports that we play for fun and exercise. You could even combine a backyard picnic with a game like cornhole or water balloon volleyball.
Hiking, Biking and Fishing
Exploring nature by going for a hike or a bike ride are some of our favorite ways to spend time outdoors during a staycation. Just being outside can improve everyone’s mood and help us spend time together in a healthy way!
We also like to take the family for a fishing trip to a nearby lake or river. It’s a wonderful way to bond while enjoying the tranquility of the water. We don’t always catch a fish, but we always have fun!
Geocaching and Scavenger Hunts
Geocaching is a fun outdoor activity that kids love. It combines modern technology with the thrill of treasure hunting. Download a geocaching app, and search for hidden containers (geocaches) using GPS coordinates.
Another adventurous and engaging activity is creating a scavenger hunt. Create a series of clues and hide them at home or in the park, and the whole family races to find them all. This activity is always a big hit with my kids, but the whole family loves the thrill of the chase!
Local Attractions and Day Trips
One of my favorite ways to plan a memorable family staycation is by exploring local attractions and taking day trips. Here are a variety of options for you to consider:
My family and I love exploring national parks in our area. Whether it’s a scenic drive or a short hike, these trips allow us to connect with nature and each other. If you have a 4th grader (like we do) then you can also get a free National Parks pass here in the US. It’s a great way to squeeze in a little more vacation time without going on a long trip or vacation. Some quick tips for planning a successful day trip to a national park include:
- Research nearby national or state parks
- Map out a route with interesting stops along the way
- Prepare snacks and drinks for the car
- Bring a camera to capture memories
- Plan on sleeping at home, even if you spend a long day in the car. That way you save money on lodging and keep this a true “staycation”
Another fantastic option to consider for your family staycation is visiting local museums. Whether it’s a children’s museum, art museum, or a historical museum that aligns with your family’s interests, it’s a fun and educational way to spend the day together.
We have a pass to our local museum and they change over their exhibits a few times a year. It’s been well worth the pass to have something new to do every few months!
Aquariums and Zoos
My kids love visiting the aquarium and zoo, and it’s always an entertaining and educational way to spend a day together as a family. Exploring these attractions encourages curiosity and learning about the natural world.
Amusement and Water Parks
For a thrilling staycation experience, nothing beats the excitement of an amusement or water park. Riding roller coasters, splashing in water attractions, and enjoying delicious theme park treats make for an unforgettable family day. Check with your local amusement and water parks to see if they have any discount days and plan on visiting then if you can!
As a bookworm, I cannot stress enough the importance of including a visit to your local library in your family staycation plans. Libraries offer free resources, activities, and events for children and adults alike. Plus, picking out new books together is a great way to explore new interests and foster a love of reading.
Every time we go to our local library, my kids love it so much!
Gardens and Farms
Finally, for a more relaxing and serene experience, consider exploring nearby gardens and farms. A day spent strolling through beautiful gardens, picking fresh fruits at a local farm or visiting a petting zoo for younger children is an excellent way to unwind and connect with the natural world.
Remember, a family staycation doesn’t have to break the bank or involve long-distance travel. Focus on the experiences, and enjoy quality time with your loved ones by exploring the local attractions and day trips in your area.
Special Themed Staycations
Picking a theme for your staycation is a great way to guide your activities and help you plan fun! Try these ideas:
Holiday Staycation Ideas
One of my favorite staycation ideas is to create a holiday or themed event at home. I like to plan activities around the chosen theme, such as a Christmas craft extravaganza during the holiday season. We find several holiday themed crafts and then do one a day! It’s nice to have at least one big thing per day to look forward to.
Daily Themed Staycations
One year we did themed days for each day of our staycation. One day was a baking day, another a craft day, and yet another day we did a movie day. Just pick a theme for the week, or even a different theme per day. It helps you think of things to do and creates an excitement around the staycation.
Sports, Concerts and Cultural Events
More great staycation ideas for families include planning around local sports, concerts, or cultural events. I enjoy creating a sports day where my family can participate in various games and activities or even attending a sporting event. One year during a staycation, our family went to a minor league baseball game and our kids thought it was the best thing ever, even if an errant baseball did break the tail light on our van!
When cultural events or concerts are happening, I find ways to learn about and incorporate the culture into our staycation. This usually involves attending an event locally, then trying new recipes, learning about customs, and exploring art forms relevant to the event.
From the outset, a staycation may not be your family’s first choice for a vacation. But with a little bit of planning and work, you can create an amazing experience for the whole family. That might mean planning around local events, creating themed days, or even planning a few extra things like game nights or scavenger hunts. No matter what you do on your family’s staycation, the point is to be together and make memories!