10 staycation ideas to make the most of summer

Maryalene LaPonsie | Improvement Center Columnist | August 10, 2015

The summer is quickly slipping away. If money or time is making you feel as though a vacation is out of reach this year, it's time to consider a staycation.

For a truly fabulous staycation - that would be a vacation spent close to home - all you need is a day or two off work and a commitment to power down your laptop and put away the phone. Once you've unplugged, try one of these ten activities for either solo fun or memory-making with the family.

1. Camp in your backyard

A staycation doesn't get much easier than pitching a tent in the backyard. This may not seem like much of a vacation to you, but for some reason, sleeping in the backyard is almost a magical experience for many kids. If your area allows it, have a backyard campfire, complete with s'mores. Then catch and release a few lightning bugs and read stories by flashlight to cap off the night.

2. Camp at a local park

If you have a little money to spend on camping, head to a local park or wilderness area where you may be able to put up your tent practically for free. Then, spend the day exploring or try your hand at fishing if there is water nearby.

3. Try geocaching

Head to Geocaching.com for more information on this activity, but it's essentially a treasure hunt where you are looking for a cache someone else has hidden. When you find it, you may sign a log book or leave a trinket to show you were there. The only downside to this staycation idea is that you'll need to pull out your phone (no peeking at your emails!) to use an app or GPS to locate geocaches.

4. Head to the museum, zoo, or other local attraction

Another tried and true staycation idea is to be a tourist in your own city. Think about where you would recommend an out-of-town guest visit and then go there yourself. If it's a place you already frequent regularly, look for another attraction that's more new-to-you.

5. Check out a local festival

It seems as if practically every county in the nation has their own fair, festival, or carnival in the summer. Historical reenactments are also popular across the country. Look for something you've never attended before and plan your staycation around that event.

6. Look for a local hotel with a waterpark

A surprisingly large number of hotels now boast indoor water parks, and these aren't all necessarily destination hotels like Great Wolf Lodge either. Budget hotel chains are adding waterparks too. You may be able to buy day passes to the park, but a better deal might be to spend the night and book a deal that includes both the hotel and park passes. Find a hotel close to home to eliminate travel expenses for a budget staycation.

7. Plan a block party

This staycation idea might seem like a lot of work, but it doesn't need to be. Talk to your neighbors and find a day when everyone is available. Designate one or two families to be the grillmasters and ask everyone to bring some food for the grill and a dish to pass. Then pull out all the lawn games hiding in your garages to serve as entertainment. Voila! Instant and easy block party.

8. DIY a film festival

If you're more of a homebody, you could spend your staycation binging on Netflix. However, make it a little more special by selecting a line-up around a particular theme. Maybe you have a beach movie marathon or watch last year's Academy Award winners. If you want to go all out, print up a schedule, invite friends, and make some snacks or finger food to accompany the flicks.

9. Treat yourself to a spa day

Everyone likes to be pampered so turn your staycation into a trip to the spa. Head to Pinterest to find some DIY ideas you can use to turn your bathroom into a home spa or check out daily deal sites like Groupon or Living Social for discounts on massages, pedicures, and facials from the professionals.

10. Stay at a bed and breakfast

Not everyone wants to sleep in their own bed during their staycation, and a local bed and breakfast may be an inexpensive way to get out of the house for the night. Consider going midweek when rates may be low. It may not be the cheapest staycation idea, but it could give you the rest and relaxation you need to recharge for the weeks ahead.

Photo credit to Myryah Shea

About the Author

Maryalene LaPonsie has been writing professionally for more than a decade on topics including education, insurance and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Western Michigan University.