In this article I’m going to share 57 awesome and cheap staycation ideas.
Taking family vacations can be a wonderful way to spend quality time together and strengthen family relationships. And you don’t have to spend a ton of money to do it! You can save money on the travel, the accommodations, the food, and even the entertainment and activities on your next family vacation with these frugal and fun staycation ideas!
57 Fun and Cheap Family Staycation Ideas
With so many fun things to do and so many places to go, it is very easy to completely blow your budget on a fun family vacation. But you don’t have to! You can have a cheap but awesome family vacation by following the money-saving tips below to plan an totally fun and inexpensive family staycation instead!
One of the very best ways to save money on family vacations is to stay close to home. By planning a staycation, you save the biggest expenses of travel and accommodations. You can also eat many of your meals at home, as well, so you can save a ton of money on food too!
1. Pretend you’re a tourist as you consider staycation ideas.
As you consider different staycation ideas, plan as if you are a tourist in your city or area. What places and attractions do people come to your city or your state to see? What do they drive or fly miles to visit that you have virtually in your own backyard? What activities have you always wanted to do, but just haven’t done yet because you take having them nearby for granted? Or what have you not done for years that your kiddos would love to do (or do again)? Take some time to enjoy those places and activities during your family staycation.
2. Consider staycation ideas that might be a little out of the norm for your family.
Because you are staying close to home, you might feel more comfortable trying something you’ve never done before.
For example, maybe you have always wanted to go skydiving, but it is just a little out of your comfort zone. Maybe this is the year to do it! Make it a part of your family staycation. You might be able to more easily afford activities you haven’t done before because of the money you will save on transportation, lodging, and food.
3. Take a hike.
Our family are big fans of the outdoors, so we love to plan outdoor activities like hiking. Google the best hikes in your area or in your state, and plan one or more days of your staycation around that. Pack a tasty picnic lunch and enjoy the sunshine!
4. Go camping (in the backyard?).
If your family loves the outdoors, go camping nearby. If you have a canyon or lake near your home, those are likely great spots. You could even go camping in your own backyard. That way you’re just a hop away if you forget something. 🙂
5. Do a backpacking trip.
If you are up for a little more adventure, another fun staycation idea is to do a family backpacking trip to a nearby destination. Turn one of the favorite local hikes into an overnight backpacking trip. This is a great way to get your feet wet. If you are up to it, you could even do a two or three (or more) day trip.
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6. Go on a bike ride around your city or on a nearby trail.
Going on a family bike ride is another awesome day activity. You can plan to have a picnic for lunch, and make it an beautiful, fun-packed day!
7. Have a picnic in the park.
This is another classic summertime family activity. If your children are younger, let them play for an hour or two before or after the meal, and the day will be perfect!
8. Go to a (free) indoor or outdoor concert.
Summertime is packed with free outdoor concerts, so take advantage of them! And if it’s wintertime when you plan your family vacation, then enjoy one of the many Christmas and other holiday concerts going on!
9. Go to a play.
Again, summer is a great time to enjoy outdoor plays and pageants! Or go to an indoor play to beat the heat (or the cold)!
10. Go to your local zoo.
All kids seem to love animals, so plan a day trip to your local zoo as part of your fun family staycation.
11. Enjoy your local aquarium.
Another awesome family staycation idea is to go to the aquarium. If your aquarium is all indoors, like ours, than this is a great way to have an afternoon of shaded fun.
12. Go to a local children’s museum or other museum.
Do you know what children’s museums are in your area or your state? If not, start Googling! We have an awesome children’s museum just a few miles from our home. Our kids look forward to it every time I tell them we’re planning to go.
It can get a little expensive, though, so also look for free days and see if you can work them into your staycation. Our local children’s museum offers at least one free day each month of the summer!
Other museums, like the natural history (dinosaur) museum and art museum, can be other fun options for the the kiddos!
13. Enjoy activities at your local library.
We love our local library and go there all the time! They have awesome activities for kids throughout the year, but during the summer they do even more! In the summertime they do many games and other activities outside, like scavenger hunts and team sports and other games.
14. Visit a local historic landmark.
Another fun staycation idea is to visit a nearby historic landmark. One that is within an hour of our home is a state park to commemorate the first trains in our state. Children love trains (and anything that goes!), so the kiddos had a fun time when we went as they climbed around the trains and watched the presentations.
15. Go geocaching.
Geocaching is a fun activity that you can combine with other activities (like hiking), or it can be an adventure all on its own. Who doesn’t enjoy this modern twist on treasure hunting?
16. Go to a local festival.
During the summertime especially there are lots of fun festivals to participate in, from cultural festivals to food festivals and more!
17. Enjoy a farmer’s market.
Farmer’s markets are a fun way to spend a morning, even if you don’t buy anything! With all of the arts and crafts, you spend an hour or more browsing and enjoying the sights without spending a dime.
But you might also find awesome deals on locally grown produce and other items, so why not take advantage?
18. Fly kites.
Flying kites is another fun three-season activity. If the wind is right, grab your kites (or buy a few colorful, inexpensive ones), and enjoy this classic family pastime.
19. Spend a few hours (or all day) at your favorite nearby park.
The community and regional parks these days are so amazing! A few of the parks in our area are just huge, with tons of things to do to keep the kids entertained for hours! We love to take a short drive to visit them! But the kids are also totally happy spending a couple of hours at the neighborhood across the street from our home.
20. Do a scavenger hunt.
You can find tons of ideas for scavenger hunts on Pinterest or Google! If you have a larger family, you might even let the older kids help with the planning and preparing!
21. Spend a morning at the splash pad.
Another of my favorite staycation ideas is to spend the morning at a local splash pad. Over the last few summers we’ve made a dedicated effort to visit pretty much all of the splash pads in our county and the two counties next to us. It’s been a fun summer pastime! We’ve even gone splash pad hopping on a morning or afternoon, to visit a few close ones on the same day. And one week a couple of years ago we went to a different (new) splash pad every day for a week as part of our own staycation.
22. Enjoy a morning or evening at a local pool.
Spending a few hours at the pool is another great way to enjoy time with your kiddos, no matter the season!
23. Go to a nearby pond or lake.
Whether you’re skipping rocks, swimming, fishing, having a picnic, or just wading, your family can find plenty to do at the ponds or lakes in your area!
24. Enjoy the day at the beach.
If you don’t live too far from the ocean, make that a part of your perfect family staycation! Even if you live four or five hours away, get up early, and your kids will be delighted by this rare treat!
25. Visit a local waterfall.
I think waterfalls are some of God’s most beautiful creations. Many waterfalls involve a little hiking, but some in our area you only have to hike a quarter of a mile or less to see! And some of them have awesome wading pools at the bottom. If you are really enjoy the outdoors and hiking, like our family, then why not visit a few of them?
26. Go kayaking or canoeing.
Kayaking and canoeing are another way to enjoy hours of water fun! If you don’t have kayaks or a canoe of your own, no problem! You can rent kayaks and canoes pretty inexpensively from the rec departments of local colleges and universities.
27. Go river rafting.
If your family is a little more adventurous, rent a raft and hit the river, or pay for a guided tour. My husband and I love white water river rafting, and we’re excited to enjoy this activity with our kiddos when they get a little older. But river rafting doesn’t have to be white water to be fun! Just floating the river is an awesome way to enjoy the beauty of nature.
28. Go paddleboarding.
This somewhat newer activity is another fun way to spend time out on the pond or lake. If you haven’t done so already, give it a try! I tried it for the first time last summer, and I was able to pick it up pretty easily! And I’m pretty uncoordinated, so if I can do it, you for sure can!
29. Visit a local water park.
Enjoying a day at a local water park is another of my personal favorite staycation ideas! We have gotten season passes to our local water park (they are actually valid at two of them) ever since our older daughter was three and our twins were one. I think it is an awesome way to spend many hours of summer fun!
And we are able to get the passes for so cheap by buying them on sale from a local discount website! So before you go, find discount tickets, if you can.
30. Spend the day at your local theme park.
Another awesome staycation activity is to visit your local amusement park for the day. Your kids will love it! This can get kind of expensive, of course, so look for discount tickets and also pack your own lunch and snacks to save money! And forego the souvenirs—you can undoubtedly find whatever you want on eBay or Amazon after the fact for much cheaper! (And the urge to buy the souvenir will also likely pass once the moment is over, so then you’ll save even more money! :))
31. Go to a favorite restaurant for lunch or dinner (or try a new one).
While I would recommend that you eat most of your meals at home to save money on your awesome family staycation, it’s totally fine to splurge some of the time if you want to! Enjoy a meal at your family’s favorite restaurant, or try one you’ve never been to! To save money, go for lunch instead of dinner.
32. Prepare a meal you’ve never had before.
As a variation of the staycation idea just above, why not look through cookbooks or search on Pinterest to find a meal your family has never had before? And then spend an hour making it together. Each person could be put in charge of a different part of the meal, or you could team up and work on different dishes together.
33. Have your own friendly cooking or dessert competition.
If you want to make the stakes a little higher, you could even turn your meal preparation into a friendly competition, with a fun prize for the winner! See who makes the best main course, or have a dessert competition instead if you would prefer!
34. Have a potluck dinner or barbecue with extended family or with friends.
Inviting extended family or friends over for a meal is another great way to spend an evening of your family staycation.
35. Go to your favorite ice cream shop.
What better way to end one or more of your fun staycation activities than to stop by at your favorite ice cream shop on the way home? Or, again, why not try one in your area that you have never been to? You might find your new family favorite!
36. Play a team sport together.
If your family loves sports (or maybe even if they don’t :)), playing a team sport is a great way to get some exercise as you spend meaningful time together!
37. Go to a local sports event.
Another fun sports activity for your family vacation could be to go to a local baseball or soccer game or other favorite sports event.
38. Enjoy a day at the rec center.
Your local rec center has tons of fun things to do, so take advantage of it on your family staycation! Go swimming, play basketball, and even run around the track together!
39. Play outdoor games.
Enjoy fun outdoor games as part of your family staycation activities! Some of our favorite outdoor games are croquet, badminton, Frisbee and ultimate Frisbee (disc golf), sand volleyball, ring toss, bean bag toss, tag, three-legged and other races, and more!
40. Build a clubhouse or a tree house.
If you are up to a bit of a challenge, then building a clubhouse or tree house for your kiddos could be an amazing staycation idea! Not only will the kids have the end result for countless hours of fun, but even more important than that is the bonding you could do as a family as you build your clubhouse or tree house. You’ll build and strengthen your family relationship right alongside your awesome play structure!
41. Go to a local fun center.
If you have a fun center in your area, this can be another great staycation idea! Common activities at fun centers are arcade games, miniature golf, go karts, bowling, and more.
42. Play laser tag.
Your local fun center may have laser tag as one of the activities, or you can go to a designated laser tag center.
43. Play miniature golf.
Whether indoor or outdoor, miniature golf is a great family activity for younger and older kids alike. Even when your kiddos are younger, like two or three, they can still have fun golfing with your help.
44. Go bowling.
Of course bowling costs a little more than many of the other activities in this list, but it can be another part of a great staycation.
45. Go paintballing.
Similarly, if your family is a little more adventurous, then paintballing can be another fun morning or afternoon activity.
46. Tour a local candy or chocolate shop or manufacturer.
You know that kids and candy go together like peanut butter and jelly, so if you have a local candy shop, go visit it! It will be a treat (literally!) for your family. 🙂
47. Go to a hotel or stay at an Airbnb for a night or two.
If you have the money in your budget, you could still spend a night or two at a local hotel or bed and breakfast. If the hotel or Airbnb has a pool or hot tub or other amenities, this can be a truly fun part of your staycation.
48. Enjoy a movie under the stars.
Many communities offer movies at the park during the summer. Or host your own in your backyard!
49. Enjoy a movie marathon.
If you really love movies, you could even expand your movie watching to a true movie marathon! Make some popcorn and brownies or cookies, and watch your favorite trilogy!
50. Build (or buy) a fire pit and roast hot dogs and s’mores.
Since the weather has warmed up this spring, we’ve already had a couple of hot dog and marshmallow roasts with friends. Our kids love the roasting, my husband in particular loves to play with the fire :), and we adults love to let the kids run around the fenced backyards while we visit or play games.
51. Have a backyard barbecue.
Similar to the staycation idea just above, you could have a backyard barbecue with just your family or host a bigger gathering with extended family or friends. Grill hot dogs or chicken kebabs and veggie kebabs or similar things to keep prices low.
52. Have a backyard picnic.
Too hot to grill? No problem! Eat cold sandwiches and potato or macaroni salad instead.
53. Take the bus or train.
Make getting to the destination a part of the fun! Instead of driving, take the train, subway, or bus. Because it’s a novelty, my kids love it when we go on the bus. And eventually I want to take them on the train, too. There’s just something about trains that kids love.
54. Play board games or card games.
After a day of hard core staycation fun, relax after dinner with your favorite board game or card game. Or buy a new one or two (check your local thrift stores; just make sure the games have all the pieces!) to try out! You’ll likely find some new family favorites! Spend one or more evenings as part of your staycation playing fun family games.
55. Visit a state park or a nearby national park.
Our state parks and national parks truly are a treasure, so if you have them pretty close, consider visiting one or more of them as part of your staycation. Maybe choose one that is less well known and explore what it has to offer.
56. Go off the grid.
As another of my favorite staycation ideas, consider going off the grid as part of your staycation. Put your out of office email on, and don’t be tempted to check your work email. And if you need to, put an away response on your personal email, as well.
Also strongly consider staying off the internet during your staycation, and maybe even leave the smartphones at home or put away during your activities (except for one to take epic pictures, of course :)). Just getting away from your devices and focusing all of your attention on each other could be a monumental activity all on its own. 🙂
57. Hunt for last-minute deals.
Finally, you can sometimes find awesome cheap family vacation deals by hunting for them last minute. So it might be worth it to leave a day or more open in your agenda, and then a week or a few days before your scheduled staycation, look around for the best local deals you can find, and just see what bargains come up.
But do make sure you have a backup plan, in case the deals you find don’t really appeal to you or the kiddos.
With these staycation ideas you can plan awesome but cheap family vacations right in your own backyard (maybe literally)! Remember to price compare, and to look for deals on every aspect of your staycation, from the travel itself to accommodations (if you use them) to food and entertainment and more.
Whatever your plans, you can find tons of ways to save money on your staycation ideas by hunting around online and keeping your eyes and ears open for deals.
What fun staycation ideas do you have? What are your favorite family activities that would be perfect for an awesome staycation? Leave a comment and let me know! I would love to hear your tips!
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