40 Fun Staycation Ideas for Families

Kayla Boyd | May 11, 2018 Home & Garden
40 Fun Staycation Ideas for Families
Image: fotostorm/iStock

mom and son making lemonade

During the summer months and at school breaks, many families take advantage of the kids being out of school and go on elaborate vacation trips. However, after the plane tickets, hotel expenses, food costs, and transportation while at the destination, family vacations can become really expensive really quickly. Plus, sometimes the travel (especially with kids) is more time and stress than it's worth! But, taking a fancy trip is not always necessary to bring everyone together and have some fun, which is why a staycation is a perfect idea for families who want to enjoy a vacation without the travel.

In fact, sometimes the best memories can be made together right in a family's hometown. Whether everyone gathers together for a movie night, plays some fun games together, or drives down the road to the closest museum, there are so many kid-friendly ways to enjoy a staycation.

Most people we know who decide to staycation are happy they did. Think about it this way: When is everyone home without somewhere obligatory to rush off to? Almost never! Staycations let families enjoy time off without packing suitcases. They usually involve day trips to local places, attending events, or even just doing some fun and creative activities right at home. This summer, make an effort to try some new things together as a family. Pretend to be a tourist in the home state. Or even just unplug and enjoy each other's company for a couple of days. 

Here are 40 awesome staycation ideas that the kids will really enjoy -- parents will too!

mom and son making lemonade

  • Have a Beach Day

    family staycation at beach

    Families fortunate enough to live near an ocean or lake can make the most out of it and have a few beach days! If not, there are also local pools. So, grab some snacks and juice boxes and make a day out of it.

  • Go on a Bike Ride 

    family staycation bike ride

    Take the whole family on a bike ride, either through the neighborhood or a park or on a trail. Bike riding is not only good exercise, but it's also a fun activity to do together.

  • Have a Movie Night

    family staycation movie night

    Make some popcorn and pick out a good family movie on Netflix! Movie nights are perfect for a relaxing night in the house, and cuddling up on the couch is more comfy than sitting in the theater.

  • Go See a Live Show 

    family watching live show

    Check local event calendars to find a kid-friendly concert or a local theater troupe that's putting on a show. There's nothing like live entertainment to inspire and elicit enjoyment.

  • Go Shopping at a Local Mall 

    family shopping

    For a family that enjoys shopping, budget a fun little trip to the mall. Make sure to hit everyone's favorite store -- oh and stop at the pretzel stand for a special snack! 

  • Take a Hike 

    family hiking

    A fun way to get outdoors during a staycation is to go for a hike. Look up a trail close to home, put on some sneakers or hiking boots (and bug spray!), and explore the woods together!

  • Camp in the Backyard 

    backyard camping

    Camping doesn't have to be done far from home. In fact, it can be done at home! Pitch a tent in the backyard and sleep under the stars. The kids will love it.

  • Spend Time at a Bookstore or Library 

    mom and daughter at library

    Go to the local library or a bookstore and spend some time there with the kids. Flip through books, read a story together, and just enjoy the environment. Many have toys, puzzles, computers, and/or activities for kids -- consider planning the trip around story hour or a reading from a children's book author.

  • Have a Family BBQ 

    family bbq

    Summertime was made for a good barbecue! Invite other family members over and grill up some hot dogs and burgers. Kids can play games, run around, or catch fireflies as the sun sets. Something about outdoor eating makes any meal feel extra special. 

  • Have a Game Night 

    family game night

    Gather up everyone's favorite board games and make an evening out of it. Consider switching up the usual repertoire and teaching the kids a game they've never played before.

  • Have a Picnic 

    family picnic

    Pack up some sandwiches and fruit and go have a picnic at a nearby park. This is a hit with kids because they don't have to sit still like they do at a restaurant. They can run around, blow bubbles, and play tag while adults relax. After everyone's done eating, consider tossing a football or taking a stroll together. 

  • Dance Around the House 

    family dancing

    Blast some music and have a dance party! Better yet, make a staycation playlist and have each family member add their favorite songs to it. This is a simple idea that always ends up being a ton of fun.

  • Take a Nap 

    family nap time

    Vacations were meant for extra sleep! If the kids are young enough and willing to have some afternoon quiet time, then take advantage of it and get some rest too.

  • Visit a Local Landmark 

    family site seeing

    Sometimes pretty cool landmarks and sights are right in our own city, but we don't take the time to go see them. After all, we're locals! A fun family activity can be exploring a nearby historical building, learning about a cool bridge, or checking out a nearby monument. There's nothing wrong with being tourists in our own towns.

  • Go to an Art Museum

    family at museum

    Why not expose the kids to some art? Most of them love creating it, so this could inspire some future masterpieces. There are plenty of museums with exhibits or activities made for families and kids, so look up fun options close to home and plan a visit.

  • Have a Sports Tournament 

    family playing basketball

    If the family is into basketball, football, soccer, or pretty much any sport, then get outside and have a tournament! Boys vs. girls? Parents vs. kids? Winners get to choose the restaurant for dinner!

  • Make Lemonade or Smoothies 

    mother and son making lemonade

    Have the kids help make some fun drinks like fresh lemonade or fruit smoothies. Look up creative recipes on Pinterest for ways to make the drinks more colorful, fun, and tasty!

  • Play Some Yard Games 

    family yard game

    Games like croquet, badminton, or ladder toss can all be played right in the backyard. It can also be fun to set up multiple games and invite the neighbors over. 

  • Make S'mores 

    family making smores

    Start a fire in the backyard, roast some marshmallows, and make s'mores. That sounds fun and delicious!  

  • Stargaze 

    Steve Debenport/iStock

    If there's a particularly clear night, then relax and look at the stars! Try to spot some constellations. If the family is really into stargazing, then use a telescope for a closer look! 

  • Go out for Ice Cream

    family out for ice cream

    Almost everyone loves ice cream or fro yo! Have a sweet after-dinner outing by driving or walking to the closet ice cream shop. This trip is a real treat, whether the family eats indoors or out. 

  • Go Fruit Picking 

    berry picking
    Alina Demidenko/iStock

    If there is a local farm or orchard to go fruit picking nearby -- berries in the summer, depending on the region -- then get out there and collect some fresh fruit. It can also be fun to try new recipes (pies! cobblers!) as a family with the fruits that get collected.

  • Play in a Sprinkler 

    family playing in sprinkler
    Alina Demidenko/iStock

    If it's a hot day and a family doesn't have a pool at their home, then a sprinkler can be a good alternative. In addition to running around in a sprinkler, water balloons can also be a fun way to cool off.

  • Try a New Cuisine 

    family dinner

    Order in a foreign cuisine that the family hasn't tried before. Or make something totally new! (But maybe have some chicken fingers as a backup in case the kids refuse to eat it.) 

  • Do Yoga 

    family yoga

    Yoga is a fun way to relax and exercise. Go to a yoga studio for some professional assistance or do it from the comfort of the living room. 

  • Go Canoeing or Kayaking 

    family canoeing

    If there's a nearby lake or river that allows canoeing or kayaking and the kids are old enough for it, then that can be a really fun thing to do as a family. The kids will probably have a blast out on the water.

  • Have a Photo Shoot 

    family photoshoot

    Gather up some cute sunglasses and scarves or other props, and have a little at-home photo shoot! Take some Polaroid pictures or use a cellphone or digital camera. Of course digital pictures can be posted to social media, but make it a point after the shoot to go print them out and frame and hang them somewhere in the house.

  • Attend a Kid-Friendly Art Class 

    family art class

    Check local recreation centers or painting studios for family art classes. If there aren't any, then just grab some art supplies and paint some pictures together. Drawing, clay molding, or just grabbing a coloring book are also fun ideas!

  • Go to an Amusement Park 

    family at amusement park

    For families who live close to an amusement park, it can be a really fun way to get out of the house. Games, rides, and junk food ... sounds like a blast! 

  • Do a Science Experiment 

    family science experiment

    There are tons of kid-friendly science experiments to try at home. Try simple ones like a tornado in a bottle or the ever popular slime!

  • Help Out a Local Charity 

    family doing charity
    Steve Debenport/iStock

    Community service can be a really rewarding way to spend some vacation time together, so look up some charities that are looking for volunteers of all ages. Charity work gives kids a valuable lesson in giving back.

  • Go to a Petting Zoo

    petting zoo

    Most kids love touching, feeding, and interacting with animals. Petting zoos and petting farms can be fun places to teach younger kids about caring for animals.

  • Do Some Gardening 

    family gardening

    Get out in the garden and plant some new flowers or vegetables. Let the kids get dirty and hands-on with the plants. No yard? Find a community garden or a good place to go plant some trees. 

  • Attend a Local Festival 

    family at a festival

    During the summer, many areas have different cultural festivals, food festivals, and state fairs that take place. Make it a family affair and go taste, play, and ride together!

  • Have a Home Spa Day 

    home spa day

    Looking for some relaxation at home during a staycation? Make it a spa day! Do some face masks complete with sliced cucumbers for the eyes, give each other mani pedis, and just lounge around. 

  • Have a Scavenger Hunt 

    kids scavenger hunt

    Make the kids a scavenger hunt that takes them searching for items around the house, yard, and/or neighborhood! They'll have a blast following clues and searching for things. and it's bound to keep them busy for a while.

  • Build a Fort 

    build a fort

    Make a good old blanket fort. Decorate it with some fairy lights or fuzzy pillows and climb in with the kids and read a story together. 

  • Do Some Crafting

    family doing arts and crafts

    Have a whole Pinterest board full of DIY projects? Find one that the kids can do and work on it together. It could be something as simple as making cards for each other or more advanced, like repurposing old kids' clothes into doll clothes. 

  • Go to an Aquarium 

    family at aquarium

    If aquatic animals have the kids' interest (and usually they do -- who doesn't love watching sharks and penguins?!), then visit a local aquarium. It's a fun way to learn and explore without having to go too far. Plus, this outing works well even on a rainy day.

  • Decorate Cookies 

    mom and daughter decorating cookies

    Bake some cookies (or buy some at the store) and have a decorating party. Deck the cookies out with frosting, sprinkles, and candies of each kid's choice. Cupcakes work too. It's an activity that is both fun and yummy!

  • Pin It!

    Fun Staycation Ideas for Families Pinterest image

    Pin these awesome staycation ideas to your Pinterest boards to gain some inspirations that you and your kids will really enjoy!

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