15 Summer 'Vacation' Ideas for When We Can't Go Anywhere 

Deborah Cruz | Jun 11, 2020 Home & Garden
15 Summer 'Vacation' Ideas for When We Can't Go Anywhere 
Image: iStock


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Summer is almost officially here, and most of us are feeling like we need a vacation from life. For several reasons, many of us won't be traveling anywhere this summer whether it's because of finances, health reasons, or just a general lack of ability due to circumstances beyond our control. It's understandable. So why not explore creative staycation ideas instead?

The thing is just because we can't jet off to Bora Bora, take a train cross-country or frequent our favorite beach destination, or even entertain friends at home doesn't mean we have to be on summer lockdown in our homes with nothing to do. Everyone deserves a summer vacation -- this year more than ever. Here are 15 summer "vacation" ideas for when we can't go anywhere.

  • Spa Day

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    In desperate need of a little relaxation? How about an at-home spa day? All spa day supplies can be ordered ahead of time online. Block out a day, start with some yoga, a hot bath with essential oils followed by a mani/pedi and a face mask. Do it solo or as a family. The most important thing is to relax.

  • Beach Day in the Backyard

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    Missing the beach? Whether its a backyard in-ground pool or just a $25 blow-up pool, if it cools the kids down and splashing can be had, that'll do. A day at the beach is bigger than saltwater and sunshine -- its about forgetting obligations, unplugging, and letting go. That's it. Just add water. 

  • Camp Outside

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    Maybe hitting the campgrounds isn't an option this summer, but that doesn't mean the great outdoors isn't an option. For a change of scenery, set up the tent, build a fire, and make some s'mores. A night under the stars with family may be exactly what summer needs. 

  • Outdoor Movie Festival

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    A movie marathon is always fun but a movie marathon with the family under the stars in the backyard could be better than any dive-in or drive-in that ever existed. All the fresh air, none of the fees, and all the movie choices are perfection. Pop on Disney+ and let it go. Don't forget the popcorn.

  • House Swap

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    Need a change of scenery but a hotel is out of the question? How about a house swap? Everybody's been sheltering-in-place since March. Find a like-minded family friend who's also been isolating at home and swap houses for the weekend. 

  • RVing Trip

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    The ultimate memory-making family vacation that every family should take is an RV trip. No RV, no problem. Renting an RV for a few days to hit a secluded destination is an option, or why not take advantage of a stationary RV cabin? It's a thing. Same experience without driving the destination. An RV trip can be whatever it needs to be and the memories will last a lifetime. 

  • Explore a National Park

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    National Parks are currently an option again. A reservation can easily be made, a tent can be packed, and off the family goes. Or, pitch a tent in the living room and explore one of those awe-inspiring locations virtually. A personal favorite to visit IRL and to share with family virtually is Banff National Park in Canada.

  • Backyard Water Park

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    Desperate times call for desperate measures. The pool is nice. It is awesome. But after jumping in the same pool, day after day, things can get stagnant and kids, especially little ones, can get bored. How about incorporating the pool into a bigger "water park" experience? Add a slip-and slide, a unicorn sprinkler, water balloons and, if finances allow, add one of those giant inflatable water slides. It'll be unforgettable and the kids will be entertained while the parents can relax on the deck with a cool drink and some music.

  • Homestyle Coachella

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    Who doesn't love Coachella? At-home Coachella is the best because no one's "too old" or "too young" and it costs a lot less. It's simple, put on festival attire, spread out in the yard, pop a few decorative tents to keep everyone cool, turn on the speaker, blast all the favorite summer tunes, and dance like nobody's watching. It's a great stress reliever and soon, everyone will be laughing and all that tension will float away. Remember to drink lots of water and don't forget the foam glow wands.

  • Backyard Bird-Watching

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    Maybe something more low-key works better for the family. Want to commune with nature? Sometimes the best places are right underneath our noses or above our heads, as it were. Why not take a nature and bird-watching hike around the neighborhood? It might sound too laid-back, but unplugging as a family and taking kids on a nature scavenger hunt is fun for the entire family. Soon, little ones will be calling out names and identifying natural wonders that were never even noticed before.

  • Destination Imagination

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    There's no place we can't go when we let our imagination go free.  Can't leave the house? No problem. Use your imagination to go to travel to another city, state, country, or even planet. For a little extra inspiration, decorate the house, dress in traditional clothing, listen to the music, and cook the food for an immersive experience.

  • Disney Day

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    It's true, right now the most magical place on earth is not currently available for family fun. However, don't let that kill your Disney vibe. Everything you need for an at-home Disney experience is still available. Disney in your heart is not canceled. Disney Magic Moments are always there to be had. First, start with Disney bounding a favorite character of choice, then utilize the Disney Blog to find the recipes for Disney favorite foods, take a virtual ride on Splash Mountain and end the day with a virtual viewing of the Happily Ever After Fireworks nighttime spectacular.

  • Broadway Show & Dinner at Home

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    Planning a trip to NYC to let the kids experience a little culture and a Broadway show? Broadway has been postponing a lot of its shows this season thanks to some unforeseen circumstances, but that doesn't mean plans have to change. Try cooking a culinary masterpiece as a family and follow that up by getting dressed up and viewing a favorite Broadway show on Broadway HD from the comfort of home.

  • Visit a Galaxy Far, Far Away

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    Why limit this summer vacation when the sky's the literal limit. Maybe a family vacation to Star War's Galaxy's Edge was on the summer bucket list? You can still grab some of those Batuu-inspired recipes from the Disney Parks blog and take a virtual ride on Rise of the Resistance from the comfort of home. Or if real outer space is the preferred destination, log onto NASA live.

  • Climb Mount Everest

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    Want to take the family on the summer vacation of a lifetime from home? Everyone would want to climb and explore Mount Everest but for many, it's just not ever going to be possible. But it is virtually. By logging onto SI.com, anyone can make the trek, enjoy the adventure and even experience the summit of Mount Everest. Of all the things technology has brought the world, this could be the coolest. To create an even immersive experience, include the music and foods of the area.

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