Summer Staycation Ideas: Have a great vacation close to home

Summer Staycation Ideas: Have a great vacation close to home

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summer staycation ideas

Summer Staycation Ideas — You’ll Never Get Bored

When I think of summer vacation, I think of crowded beaches, noisy campgrounds, expensive hotels, and frustrating airports. But maybe that’s just me. (Probably not.)

That’s why I look forward to my staycation every year. That’s right, my “staycation.” My vacation at home. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the beach and the mountains and flying off to distant lands, but over the years I have turned my home into my sanctuary and it would be a humongous waste to only use it a few hours a day and on the weekends when I’m not working.

So three years ago I made a decision: during the main summer vacation period I would stay at home with my family and we would do stuff. And talk! And eat together! And create things! And clean! (Cue the evil laugh)

And since I’ve been doing it for three years, I’ll tell you briefly about what we did each year to give you some summer staycation ideas, should you decide to follow my lead.

The first year…

My kids were not excited about staying at home, because, really, a kid’s life is pretty much a vacation all the time. So I had to make it interesting and come up with some good summer staycation ideas (and promise them something great for our Thanksgiving trip).

The local museums

Okay, I admit I have a bit of an advantage here, since our “local” museums are all located on The Mall in Washington, D.C. The Air and Space Museum is a great place to visit over and over, and not just for the kids. I think we’ve all got a little George Jetson in us. We also visited the Natural History Museum and the Corcoran Gallery.

If you don’t have the nation’s greatest treasury within an hour or so, check the local listings and see what you do have. Do a Google search for museums in your zip code and you might be surprised what you find.

The local lake

Been fishing lately? I hadn’t gone fishing in more than 20 years when one of my kids mentioned that his friend was going to Alaska for a week and would be fishing. Well, there was no time like the present, so we headed to the local sporting goods store and bought the basic, grabbed some worms from the garden (sorry guys), and headed to the nearby public lake.

I must say it was a truly educational experience for all of us. Lines got tangled, worms were wiggly, and a certain dad ended up in the water up to his knees retrieving a certain son’s hat.

Hiking Trails

Another day we headed into the mountains to the west. It was a short drive to some good trails that presented some beautiful scenic overlooks and a variety of terrain, streams, and wildlife. After a few hours, we stopped at some picnic tables and had a picnic. We even made a game out of collecting garbage during the walk back. My kids were quite happy after a full six hours being unplugged from the net.

The second year…

My kids knew what to expect, or so they thought. After last summer’s quiet, I decided we would spice it up and invite my sister’s family over to join us for the staycation. With five kids in the house ranging from 6 to 14, it was going to be a challenge. But at least we had enough adults to keep them in check.

The Water Park

There’s a nearby water park that’s open seven days a week within an hour of our house. We chose a Wednesday and found it was only a little crowded. The ticket prices were a little steep, but we made due and had a blast.

River Boat Dinner Cruise

Since my sister was in town, we decided to go down to the Potomac River and take an evening dinner cruise. The ride was calm and scenic and the food was tasty. Best of all, the kids loved it. They took pictures, ran around on the upper deck, and were exhausted by the time we got home. (A great time to open a few bottles of wine and be normal adults for a while.)

The BIG Barbecue

Again, with guests in town and a house full of mouths, we decided to have our blowout barbecue and invite what few neighbors were still around. Everyone pitched in and we actually extended it to a second day in hopes of consuming all the extra food. While we don’t have an actual swimming pool, we bought a couple of baby pools and lounged in them and got a slippy-slide for the kids and let them loose with their Super Soakers.


“I hope these summer staycation ideas sparked something in your imagination as well and will lead to some unforgettable times AT HOME!”


The third year was different…

This year I had different plans. We sent the kids to my sister’s, but we stayed home for most of the time. Here’s why:

The Kids’ Clubhouse Project

I’m sure you’ve all seen those “man caves” and “lady lairs” made from custom sheds from some of the bigger DIY stores like Lowes.com and HomeDepot.com. Well, we decided we would keep our two young ones happy and occupied no matter what.

We did most of the preliminary work ourselves, but outsourced for the electrical and – believe it or not – plumbing. We set it up for sleepovers with four small fold-down beds, two desks, some shelving, a TV and video games, a small sink to fill their Super-Soakers, a mini fridge, and other stuff. Oh, and a really good lock on the door!

When they got home at the end of the week, they went absolutely nuts. So, although my vacation was over, my wife and two boys had a blast decorating it and filling it with games, toys, and more.

The best part about building this shed with my wife was seeing how after all these years we’ve gotten so good at “being” together. We can read each other’s minds to some extent and were on the same page when it came to our kids.

(When they head off to college or get bored of the shed, my wife and I will flip a coin to see who gets to redecorate it as our grown-up clubhouse. Come on tails!)

I hope these summer staycation ideas sparked something in your imagination as well and will lead to some unforgettable times AT HOME!

To paraphrase (and butcher) a popular French saying, “Bonne Staycation!”

  • Steven L. Rhyner

    I can identify with this author for the most part although Europe and other locations are on my bucket list.

  • http://www.wildcashback.com CashBackQueen

    Awesome ideas for summer staycations! If you just look around where you are, there are likely a lot of awesome things to do that you weren’t aware of. For example, I live near Tulsa and you can actually go ziplining here! Who’d have thought it?