A vacation is a great way to escape the monotony and responsibilities of everyday life and to have fun, explore new places, and try new things. Unfortunately traveling for vacation isn’t always realistic if money’s tight or you have time restrictions. Despite such obstacles, there are plenty of ways to enjoy a refreshing break and memorable staycation.

1. Camp Out or Make a Fort

Who says you have to head to the mountains to camp out? You can easily recreate the camping experience in your own backyard (or living room, if you prefer). Just pitch a tent or make a blanket fort using a clothesline and stakes. Grab lots of pillows and blankets to make it cozy! Build a campfire in a fire pit or fireplace. If that isn’t an option, light a few big candles for ambiance. Also, plan and cook a special camping meal, and don’t forget to roast marshmallows for yummy s’mores. While you’re camping out, tell spooky stories and play games. And don’t forget about stargazing. Just download a phone app that tells you which stars or planets you’re looking at. If you’re camping indoors, use a star-gazing machine that projects on the ceiling.

2. Travel Into a Book

Is there a particular time or place you’d love to travel to? In books, the universe is the limit. You can visit imaginary places such as Treasure Island and enter its world of pirates or go to Hogwarts with Harry Potter. You could also experience growing up in Kabul in The Kite Runner. Have you ever wanted to live in Denmark? Pick up a copy of We, The Drowned. Want to visit Africa? Read Dark Star Safari. For a family vacation, decorate and dress up, cook special foods, and plan activities to match the theme of the book. Read part, or all, of it together, or watch a movie based on the book.

3. Enjoy the Magic of Disney or Other Theme Parks

Visit your favorite theme park without ever leaving home. Draw or print pictures from your computer and hang them indoors and outdoors to create the theme park atmosphere. Make some of your favorite themed foods, like Disneyland’s churros, beignets, or dole whip. Disney offers many of its official recipes online. You can also find recreated recipes with a quick online search. Make up a few fun carnival games, and don’t forget to pick up some prizes. Have everyone dress like they’re going to the park. Then watch YouTube videos of your theme park’s favorite rides, shows, and fireworks for a more authentic experience.

4. Take a Trip ‘Round the World

If you’d like to travel to a different country or a particular place, have a theme day or week. You could even travel the world and tour a different area each night. Just don’t forget your (homemade) passports. To prepare for this staycation, learn about the place and the culture, and research what unique things there are to do, see, or eat. Print out pictures of the location you choose and the landmarks you’d like to see. Research the type of regional or international eats you’d find there. Then prepare one, or even a day’s worth of meals, snacks, and beverages to bring the experience to life. Or order carryout from a local restaurant that serves the fare. Don’t forget to play the music that’s traditional in your area of travel. Also, learn a new game that’s popular there, flip through tour books, and watch travel videos or movies that were filmed there.

5. Lap in Luxury With a Spa Day

A home spa day is a perfect way to enjoy the benefits of a vacation while staying at home. If you have kids, involve them, or have another adult be in charge so you can have some time to yourself. Put on a soft robe and slippers, then draw a bath with all the works for a mani, pedi, facial, and hair treatment. Add to the ambiance by creating a steam room with the shower. Then light candles, play relaxing music, do massages, or try aromatherapy. Incorporate whatever helps you relax and feel refreshed.

6. A Day at the Water Park

Recreating a water park experience is a fun and easy way to enjoy a staycation in the heat. If you have a pool, add some water toys and games. If you don’t have a pool, fill up baby or splash pools. Some come with fun features like a blow-up slide or an attached bounce house depending on your budget and space. Slip-n-slides and sprinklers are another fun way to spend hours running around getting wet. You can even just attach a hose to a plastic bottle with holes in it for some quick, cheap fun. Add some extra excitement with a water balloon or water gun fight!

7. Explore Your Local Area

Staying at home isn’t the only way to have an exciting staycation. Often, we’re so busy and caught up in our daily routines at home, that we forget to take advantage of the special things to do in our local area. So, exploring your hometown can be a fun adventure, too!

Treat your hometown like a tourist would. Research it online as if you’re planning to visit there. Also, ask locals for ideas, and even check with your local library, chamber of commerce, or parks and recreation departments for suggestions. Cities and towns usually have special events throughout the year, which you can incorporate into your staycation plans.

This is an excellent opportunity to visit any particular landmarks, museums, historical parks, or other places unique to Central New York.

A vacation isn’t complete without enjoyable eating experiences. Try local restaurants you’ve never tried before, as well as coffee shops, ice cream places, or anyplace else that you love or haven’t tried. You’ll enjoy a delicious meal while supporting your local businesses.

Outdoor activities are often part of a fun-filled vacation. So, look up nearby parks, preserves, rivers, lakes, hiking, or other outdoor sites. Things to do include bicycling, hiking, picnicking, flying kites, swimming, kayaking, and more. Check out our summer family guide for ideas!

Regardless of your budget, situation, or time constraints, there are plenty of fun, memorable staycation ideas to enjoy at home.


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