Staycation Ideas: How to Have the Vacation Experience in Your City

staycation ideas

It’s that time of the year again; the kids are out of school; your friends are posting their incredible vacations on Facebook… summer is the perfect season for a vacation. But, with work schedules, budget restrictions, and everything that goes into planning a weekend getaway, vacations aren’t always a viable option.

There is no need to sulk, however, with a little imagination and creativity, planning a “staycation,” a vacation in your own city, can be just as fun and rewarding. Staycations are a great way to relax and enjoy the vacation vibes without the hassle and expense of an out of state (or country!) vacation.

Even if you know your city like the back of your hand, a little pre-planning and exploration can turn your average weekend into memories that will last a lifetime. Unpack those bags and put the savings back in the jar, these budget-friendly and easy staycation ideas are all you need.

1. Bring the beach to your backyard.

staycation ideas 1

Craving the sandy shores and the ocean wind in your hair? Create your own oasis in your backyard. A small kiddie pool or even a larger above the ground blow-up pool is a great summer investment.

Throw in some pool toys, a toy shark fin, and plenty of sunscreens, and you will hardly be able to tell the difference. Set up a sunbathing corner with beach towels and umbrellas for you to relax and read a book under while the kids splash away the afternoon. For an extra special day, make a pitcher of one of these cocktails to keep the adults refreshed and in the vacation mindset.

When the sun goes down, fire up the grill for a Hawaiian barbeque. Tiki torches, pork sliders, and flower leis are all you need for the ultimate summer staycation.

2. Create a scavenger hunt throughout your city.

staycation ideas scavenger

For a full day of fun for the family or a team of friends, plan a scavenger hunt throughout your own city. This is a great opportunity to explore places you have yet to see and engage with local businesses.

Start by mapping out the locations you’d like to visit and make sure they are accessible by foot, or you have the means of transportation ready. City landmarks, popular bakeries or cafes, quirky murals or popular street names are all a great place to start. If you really want to go all out, connect with local businesses and see if they would like to participate.

For example, you can include a donut shop in your search by hinting at the name of a popular treat the shop offers, and participants have to purchase the sweet snack in order to receive the next clue from the baker.

You can also surprise the participants at the end of the hunt with a special gift or activity, like a picnic at the park or movie. This is a great team building and family bonding exercise that lets you explore parts of the city you may never have seen before.

3. Plan a romantic evening.

staycation ideas romantic evening

While this may not be the cheapest option on the list, it is still a great way to surprise your significant other without taking much time off of work or flying halfway around the country.

Plan a romantic evening by making reservations at their favorite restaurant, or splurge and try out an expensive establishment you’ve had your eye on. Even if you don’t spend a fortune on dinner, make the evening special. Bring her roses, or pack a small yet meaningful gift for him.

After dinner, you can catch a movie, or share a dessert at a local sweet spot. If you really want to go all out, book a night at a local hotel, or for a more affordable option, spend the night at a local Airbnb. You may be surprised to see what swanky homes are in your city!

4. Host the ultimate movie night.

staycation ideas movie night

This isn’t your typical couch-locked Saturday night – this may become your next family tradition. Grab this great package deal for the family; it includes a coupon for one Redbox movie and more popcorn and snacks than you can imagine. Before you break out the movie and snacks, set up the living room with all the blankets and pillows in the house.

A comfy movie fort is the best way to watch any flick. Before the movie begins, hold a quick trivia game about the film; winner gets an extra sweet snack. Make potty breaks fun and easy by refueling the drinks and snacks while the movie is paused. Those who don’t need to go can continue to answer trivia questions or make predictions about the film, as long as there are no spoilers!

5. Set up a campsite.

staycation ideas campsite

Planning a day trip or overnight camping trip is an inexpensive and also one of the best staycation ideas for both the family or you and some close friends. Don’t have any nearby campgrounds? Set up the tent in your backyard. Make sure to pack the essentials – smores, flashlights, ghost stories, and extra toilet paper (if you’re not at home).

If you’re able to get away from the city lights, download the app SkyView. When you aim your camera at the sky, the app tells you the constellations above you, a unique and engaging educational experience.

6. Tour a local factory, brewery, or winery.

staycation ideas brewery

If you have a weekend without the kids, a winery or brewery tour is an excellent way to support local business while letting yourself unwind. You may find your next favorite wine or beer! Check the brewery and winery schedules ahead of time; some locations host special events with live music, food, or other fun activities.

If you’re with the kids or don’t feel like drinking, touring a local factory is a fun and informative way to learn how some of your favorite products are made. You may also check out these kid-friendly vacation ideas on the cheap from our previous post. The best part about tours – you always get to sample the product.

BA in Accountancy, he entered the entrepreneurial world by starting his first online marketing business in 2004. Passionate about personal finance, the stock market and a digital marketing addict. I also love to read books on entrepreneurship and technology and always on the lookout for new opportunities. I'm an avid golfer and currently a 15 handicapper.

    Moneylogue articles delivered straight to your inbox

    Disclosure: This site uses affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, we sometimes receive a small compensation if you purchase through the links within our articles.