Staycations have become more and more popular as the pandemic has had such an effect on the travel industry. With regulations constantly changing, more families and couples are looking for fun ways to use their vacation time without leaving home. Enter the staycation. We’ve pulled together the ultimate list of perfect staycation ideas for every budget. You’ll find options that won’t cost a penny, plus a few opportunities to splurge and spoil yourself and your family a bit.
For whatever reason you decide to have a staycation, you should enjoy the special memories and change up the routine just slightly so it feels like a nice break from normal life. It’s always the perfect time to try something new and have some fun with your family and friends, so try these ideas out.
Enhance Your Staycation with Adventures from Scratch
If you’re looking for ideas to take your staycation to the next level, check out Adventures From Scratch! Each book has over 50 challenges in store, as well as tear-out surprises and other interactive elements. Whether you choose the family or date edition, you’ll be sure to experience new things with the people you love. Grab your copy today!
Fun Staycation Ideas to Try From The Comfort of Your Own Home
If you want to do try out some new fun things at home for the whole family, we’re starting with a list of staycation ideas that you can do without leaving your house.
Order Some New Puzzles and Board Games
Plan for some nights around the kitchen table putting together a brand new puzzle or learning the rules for a new board game. Each year, there are dozens of new best-selling games introduced. You can find two-player games or new party games, depending on who you are inviting to play along with.
Games like Pandemic and Harry Potter: The Battle at Hogwarts are perfect for groups that want to work together to beat the game instead of competing against each other. There also might be some classics you haven’t played before like Sequence or the Game of Life.
Puzzles are another great option for a staycation. You can put on some music or a movie in the background and spend hours just searching through pieces looking for the edges and trying to sort it all out. There are puzzles with thousands of pieces, so you don’t have to worry about finishing too quickly and not having anything to do.
If you’ve got a stack of old puzzles and games that you’ve played or put together over and over, drop them off at the donation bin or a little free library for someone else to get the chance to enjoy.
Try New Takeout Spots Each Night
One of the best parts about vacation is being able to eat out more and not have to clean up dishes or do the cooking every day for yourself and your family. For your staycation, embrace that same philosophy. Make a plan to order takeout for at least one meal a day for your entire staycation.
Not only will you be supporting local businesses in your area, but you’ll also be able to try new things and all you have to do is throw out the takeout containers at the end of your meal. Maybe have each member of your family pick the restaurant for one meal or try a different global cuisine each night.
Start a Book Club
If you have a staycation planned with the family, or maybe you’re just taking a few days for yourself off of work, you might be excited to get some reading done. Consider reading a book at the same time as your family members or friends or even your spouse. Reading is such a healthy activity for the brain, but so often, you read a book and want to discuss it.
There are plenty of online reading groups and discussion boards you can explore and utilize, but see if you can recruit anyone close to you to read something at the same time. Set time aside each day to talk about the characters, the story, what you’re learning, and how the book is making you feel. This can work with your children and can be a fun way to see how they process. Or go the other direction and do this with your parents or grandparents. Connecting over a book is fun and eye-opening.
Who knows? It might turn into a monthly thing you all do together. Even if it isn’t, you still got the chance to read a book and spend some time with someone you love and care about.
Go Camping in Your Own Backyard
If you want an experience that feels like a vacation but requires a lot less planning, consider pitching a tent and camping in your own backyard. This is the preferred style of camping for many people because it’s easy to run inside to a comfortable bed if the weather turns or there are too many noises. Maybe you even have a treehouse that you all can stay in.
Set up a spot for a bonfire so you can make s’mores. Pitch your tent and unroll your sleeping bag. Prepare ghost stories and campfire games. Then, you’re ready. Head out when the sun starts to set and enjoy an evening stargazing and hanging out with a TV or phones, just a good fire and a tent (and comfort and safety a few feet away.)
Sign Up for a Virtual Class in a New Hobby
Websites are popping up left and right featuring courses you can take from anywhere in the world at any time. Masterclass is one example. It features experts in their field teaching viewers about something they have mastered. President Bill Clinton teaches a course on inclusive leadership and Alicia Keys teaches songwriting. You can choose from hundreds of courses and hear tips and tricks from the best of the best.
Skillshare is another option with thousands of classes from creators that will teach you anything from how to use Photoshop to how to do a charcoal drawing to how to build a website. People are constantly turning to the internet to share their knowledge and wisdom with the world, and it’s all available at your fingertips. Use part of your staycation to learn a new skill. This is an easy task to do individually or include your family or a friend.
Make a Bucket List of Future Vacation Dreams
Many studies show that planning vacations can boost your mood. Use your staycation as a time to plan out all the dream trips you’d love to go on in the future. Watch the travel channel, read through travel websites, and make a full dream list.
If you’re ready, you can even rank the options and book your next vacation to give yourself something to count down to. Enjoy the planning process and make it something fun that you set time aside for on a regular basis. Use your staycation to put your full travel bucket list together.
Take a Cooking Class or Teach One
Are you a wiz in the kitchen with your own specialty? Consider teaching your friends or family how to make your favorite dish. You could set it up virtually to engage loved ones far away or make sure everyone has enough space (if you’re working with a small kitchen.) Maybe you specialize in a certain sauce recipe or type of baked good. If you got really into sourdough early in the pandemic, you could share your skills with others.
If cooking is still something that feels tricky, do the opposite and take a clooking class. There are tons of free and paid options online that cover any type of cuisine and skill level. Whether you want to learn more about Indian food, master new recipes, or you want to become a grillmaster, you’ll be able to locate a class online to help you get closer to your goals.
Watch Movies in Your Own Home Theater
Most of us don’t actually have a full movie theater in our homes, but with a little imagination and the right supplies, you can put together a really fun spot in your living room to watch a movie marathon for your staycation. Bring as many pillows and blankets as you can find and add them to your couch. String up some twinkle lights and turn off all the other lights. Pick out which movies you’ve been wanting to watch or rewatch and settle in.
Don’t forget to stock up on snacks. Whatever your favorites are at the theater, make sure you have them at home. The beauty is that at-home snacks are cheaper and you can have as much as you want. Popcorn, candy, pizza delivery, and some beverages are a great start. There are no rules, so pick up your favorites and refill as often as you want.
If you don’t have a list of movies you want to watch for a movie night, you can also binge a show on Netflix or another streaming device or try a marathon of Harry Potter movies or Disney movies. If you want to take this outside, it’s easy to find affordable projectors now on Amazon where you can project the movie onto a wall or blanket.
Bake Something Fun to Share With Your Neighbors
Giving back can be the best cure when you’re in a funk because spreading kindness is an instant mood booster. Keep it simple for your staycation and bake some treats for your neighbors or friends. A simple surprise like a plate of cookies can be so exciting for people.
It’s also a great time to drop off any donation bags you have laying around so things can go to people that need them. If you have books you no longer want, stick them in your neighborhood’s Little Free Library (if you don’t have one close, you can build one yourself.) Take a few hours and do something kind for someone else and it will be a great memory of your staycation and great use of your time.
Enjoy Breakfast in Bed
You can even make it an entire day in bed if you want. Part of a staycation is getting to enjoy the relaxation and a few days off from responsibilities. Giving in to indulging things like breakfast in bed will really help take your staycation to the next level. Even if it’s just a hot cup of coffee and a new book or the Sunday paper. Give yourself time to be slow and intentional in the morning.
If you don’t have someone to prep this for you, you can get all the supplies ready the night before. Cut up some fruit, get some hard-boiled eggs prepped, pick up pastries and have everything ready to throw on a tray, and crawl back under your sheets for a slow morning.
Get Crafty and Make Something New
Many people have some hobby that they started in the past and for whatever reason, they never completed a project. See what items you have in your cabinet that might be unfinished projects and use your staycation to finish them. If you don’t have anything like that laying around, it’s a great time to try something new.
Head to your local craft store and pick out a premade packet of supplies with instructions. You can find everything from knitting a hat to a paint-by-number. Even if you don’t normally consider yourself a crafty person, take advantage of the spare time and see what kind of creations you can come up with.
Put Together a DIY Spa Day
Sure, resort spas are wonderful, but they also come with a high price tag. On your next staycation, set up your own spa day at your house with the supplies you already have, plus maybe a few new extras.
Start with a scrub and then take a nice bath. If you don’t have a bathtub, enjoy a nice, long hot shower. Pick up some new soap or oils to make the experience feel special. Even a few cucumber slices over your eyes and a nice candle will make you feel like you’ve been transported to a fancy all-inclusive somewhere. Afterward, pull out all the skincare and body care you keep in your bathroom and experiment.
Most of us acquire skincare because we see an ad or it jumps into our cart at Target, but we don’t get into the habit of using it. Pull out the masks, lotions, serums, and treatments and see which one fits your mood.
Once you’ve treated your skin, give yourself a fresh manicure and pedicure. Take your time and enjoy the experience. Many people don’t realize that you can massage your own hands and feet and give yourself a little more love. Finish by putting on your coziest socks and pajamas and have a nice glass of champagne or a hot cup of tea.
Bonus points if you have a massage chair or Theragun where you can also enjoy an at-home massage. Maybe you can get one for next time because you’re sure to repeat this process.
Virtually Tour a National Park or Museum
During the pandemic, many of the world’s most famous tourist destinations took their tours online to help keep people occupied during lockdowns and keep the excitement for their establishments alive. Those resources are still available.
Visit a National Park virtually like the Virgin Islands National Park where you can take a 3D tour of the historic plantation on the site and learn about the plants and animals that live there. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History offers virtual tours if you want to see museum exhibits from your own couch. There are so many more famous spots from all over the world, so don’t hesitate to take advantage of these resources and do some exploring.
Great Staycation Ideas to Help You Explore Your Own City
The best staycation ideas are ones that allow you to see your normal environment from a new perspective. See parts of your own town that you’ve never seen, try local restaurants you’ve never tried, and just find some new favorites around town. These ideas will help you enjoy a great staycation and get a bit of fresh air.
Let Yourself Be Surprised By New Adventures
It’s hard to plan to be surprised, but there is actually one way where you can successfully do both. The Adventures from Scratch books come with 50 adventures hidden by a scratch-off surface. You’ll have a few clues ahead of time so you can make sure you have the right supplies and time set aside, but you won’t know what you’re doing until you reveal it.
Choose between a family edition and a couples edition depending on the adventure partners you have. Each book has dozens of choices and each adventure has some space where you can write down special memories or add in some memorabilia.
Create Your Own Local Food Tour
Does your city have a specialty food item? New York City has pizza, Philadelphia has the steak sandwich, and Texas is known for its BBQ. Even if your city doesn’t have one specific item, you can still do a little comparison of a similar dish. With a little google sleuthing, you can put together a really solid list of the best places to try. Map them out and see if there’s a good route to take. You can bring some friends or family along with you so you can split the servings and not fill up too much at the first spot. Once you’ve tried everything, share your findings with some pictures to help others who are visiting your city.
Another fun option that you can try is a progressive meal. You’ll pick out five restaurants or cocktail bars. At each separate spot, order a different course. You can do an appetizer, a salad or soup, a main dish, and a dessert with a cocktail or two mixed in to give yourself time to digest the food. This is a fun way to get out and try more restaurants with just a sample. This is another fun option to do with friends or family.
Take a Quick Road Trip Adventure to a Nearby Town or City
Just because you’re having a staycation doesn’t mean you can’t leave your city limits. Take a little day trip to a neighboring town or city and explore it like a tourist. Even if it’s just a suburb, find Main Street and walk up and down checking out the shops, local spas, museums, and restaurants. You never know what kind of gems you might uncover. You might even find a spot where you want to go and stay for a longer period of time to explore more on a weekend getaway.
See a Movie at the Drive-In Movie Theater
Drive-in movie theaters are becoming less and less common. If you still have one in your area, take advantage of a night out at the theater while you can. Drive-ins usually show a double feature, so find a night on the calendar showing something good. Pack your car full of comfortable blankets and head to the movies.
Most theaters have snack stands, so you can purchase concessions at the movies. You just get to sit back in your car (or the bed of your truck) and watch the movie. Each parking spot has a speaker so you can hear the movie. The screens are big enough that you’ll be able to watch from anywhere in the lot and you can sit back under the stars and enjoy the show.
Who knows how much longer you’ll be able to attend a drive-in movie, so make it happen on your next staycation. It would make a great family outing or a romantic date night.
Plan Out a Mini-Golf Tournament
How many mini-golf courses are located in your town? If you have more than one, you can organize your own PGA tour miniature style. Pick your number of games and then make a plan to visit each course on your list. Keep your scorecards for each game and at the end of the visits, you can add up all the scores and crown a winner. This is fun to do with kids or a group of adult friends.
If there aren’t enough mini-golf courses for this to be interesting, you could also try a new sport. Pickleball is gaining popularity currently and it doesn’t require much equipment. If you want something reminiscent of childhood, set up a game of dodgeball or capture the flag and have some old summer vacation-style fun.
Check the Agenda at the Neighborhood Library
Libraries are a popular spot for readers because you have free access to a huge selection of books that you can take home and enjoy. But the library does so much more than that. Check the schedule during your staycation and see if there are any events, activities, or programs that you can check out.
These range from expert speakers to authors to community outreach programs. You can meet more of your neighbors and maybe try or learn something new in the process. Even if nothing aligns with your dates, make sure to look beyond the books at the library and see what else they offer. Try listening to an audiobook or renting a movie. Enjoy the incredible resources that these community spaces offer.
Experience Some Thrills at an Amusement Park
Pack up the family and plan a day at whatever local park you can. Most cities and towns in the US are within a day trip from an amusement park or water park. Bring the family for a fun day of thrill rides, water slides, arcade games, and fun. Even if the park may seem geared for younger kids, there is also something for all ages to enjoy.
If you aren’t in a warm-weather spot, consider looking for indoor water parks. There are lots of them throughout the country and you can stay the night there and splash away in wave pools, lazy rivers, and more. Just because they are indoors, it doesn’t mean they are small and cheesy.
Rent a Kayak at a Local Lake or Beach
Kayaking is a fun way to get some exercise and explore from a new vantage point—the water. Kayaks are easy to maneuver and very affordable to rent from many locations. You can explore areas along the shore, and even bank the boat for a break if you find a good spot.
Pack a small cooler with some drinks and snacks and plan to spend a few hours paddling around. Paddleboards are another popular option for cruising around calm waters. Get yourself out on the water even if it’s not quite hot enough yet to go swimming. You’ll be ready to plan a longer trip by the time you get back to the dock.
Hike a New Trail
Thanks to apps like AllTrails and the Hiking Project, you can use your phone to locate a whole long list of the hiking trails near your home. There are probably dozens you didn’t even know existed. Check out the app and filter by distance, difficulty, and even check the trail conditions from recent hikers.
Hiking requires a sense of direction and some decent footwear and that’s all. Spend at least a little time on your next staycation appreciating the beauty of the nature around us and you may even find a new favorite spot to revisit each season. Explore a new park or trail system and enjoy all the endorphins that come with exercise.
Take in an Exhibit at One of the Local Museums
Maybe you’ve been to most of the major museums in your town, but use the time on your staycation and check what rotating exhibits are available to check out. Most of the major museums are constantly changing and you can take your time moving through any of the visiting exhibits. Usually, these are temporary displays that deep dive into one specific topic. Its common practice in history, science, and art museums.
If you want something completely new, see what specific, smaller museums are in your location. Most cities have one or two museums that deep dive specific topics. For example, in Minneapolis, you can visit a museum completely dedicated to the grain industry that helped the city boom. In New York City, you can visit the Tenement Museum that deep dives the lower east side and how immigrants lived in the past. Tour a historic home or learn about a local product by touring the factory. Learning something new is always fun and worth your time.
Stroll through Your Local Botanical Gardens
Most cities have some type of public garden or botanical garden. If you’ve never visited before, add it to your list. It’s one thing to cruise through public spaces while trying to get from one place to another, but it’s a completely unique experience to go with the intention of moving through the space slowly. Bring your camera and practice your photography skills or take the time to read every single plaque and information panel.
Pedal Through a New Neighborhood
Hop on your bike and spend the day cycling through new neighborhoods. Maybe you normally commute to work on the bike, but how often do you just set out with no real destination in mind? Pack some snacks or plan to try some new places as you explore.
On a bike ride, you are able to take in your surroundings a little more because you can slow down and stop as much as you’d like. Bring your bike lock with you and you can stop and explore any stores, cafes, or fun spots along the route.
If you are plotting out your route beforehand or as you go, you can use the Google Maps app and change the icon to the bicycle to see the best route if you are riding your bike instead of driving. It figures in bike lanes for safety and how many giant hills there might be. You may already know all of this, but it can be really helpful when you’re exploring new areas.
Visit a New Farmer’s Market
Most large cities have a farmer’s market in each neighborhood and each one features several vendors and farm stands. By visiting a market that you don’t usually shop at, you’ll have a whole other experience. Stock up on some fresh seasonal produce and goodies. It will be a fun change of scenery for you, help you cook something outside the norm, and you’ll be supporting local small businesses and farmers.
Book a Hotel for a Night
Being on a staycation doesn’t mean you don’t get to enjoy the perks of a nice hotel stay. Look up hotels in your city and find one that looks fun and book a night stay (or two). Order room service, sleep in a fluffy giant bed, and enjoy a change of scenery away from chores and all the things on your to-do list at home.
Many hotels offer discounts to locals, so make sure to call when you’re ready to book and see if they have any staycation specials. You usually just need to provide your driver’s license or proof that you live in the area and you can get a discount or some extra perks thrown in.
If you don’t have any hotels that excite you, check Airbnb or other vacation rental sites to see if there are any fun rentals you can experience. Maybe you find something with a fireplace or hot tub that you don’t have access to at home.
This is the perfect way to see your own hometown from a different angle. You might stay in a neighborhood you’ve never seen after dark or have views of the city from a downtown spot that you’ve never seen before. It’s the ultimate staycation idea that mixes the best of both travel and staying home.
Frequently Asked Questions
Family-friendly staycation ideas include scratch-off adventures, camping in the backyard, hosting an at-home movie night, or experimenting with different types of takeout.
A staycation is when you use vacation time but stay at home or in your own area. You can seek out new things in your hometown or try some tried and true staycation ideas!
Check out Adventures from Scratch! These interactive scratch-off books should give you some unique ideas that you can do with your family or your partner during your staycation.