Disneyland, the beach, camping … just a few of the many places your kids would nominate as a vacation destination this summer. But staying home?
So how do you sell a staycation to your little ones? And not spend a ton of money? Fill it with fun and adventure.
Check out these eight kid- and budget-friendly ideas that will make your summer staycation just as lively and memorable as any trip.
Camp out in your backyard
Pitch a tent, grab the camp chairs and roll out those sleeping bags. It’s time to go camping – in your backyard!
Study the local flora and fauna, practice wilderness skills, roast marshmallows over a fire pit, tell scary stories and spot constellations in the night sky.
Get your chef on
Let your little chefs put their skills to the test with a “Top Chef” competition. Introduce a mystery ingredient, work in teams and see what you can come up with.
If competition isn’t your style, simply head to the farmer’s market or grocery store and pick out a unique ingredient and see what your family can come up with to put in a dish.
Have a sweet tooth? Throw a bake-off and create your favorite cookies, cupcakes or cake. Share the snacks with friends and neighbors too.
Create your very own town fair, and bring your friends and family members in on the fun. Serve up classic carnival food like corn dogs, french fries, funnel cake and cotton candy.
Set up DIY games like ring toss, cake walk, corn hole, balloon darts, a fishing hole and more.
Finish off the night with an outdoor movie by stringing up a sheet and using a projector.
Learn something new
Take an online course to learn a new skill or craft, or figure out how to play an outdoor game like bocce ball or croquet. Practice a different language with books from the library, or hit the zoo to learn about a new animal.
Build a fort
Wrangle all the cardboard boxes, blankets, chairs and pillows you can find and build the ultimate playhouse or fort.
Construct tunnels with boxes (bonus if you can snag a large refrigerator box), create rooms with blankets and chairs, and arm your fortress by building a pillow moat. Play castle or just snuggle up in your cozy den and watch a movie – don’t forget the popcorn.
Keep the fun going into the night: Add twinkle lights and have a sleepover in your new castle.
Cool down with water play
Hot summer day? Cool down by making your own backyard into a mini water park.
Break out the sprinkler and burn off some energy by splashing around. Fill the kiddie pool and hop in with your little ones, or wage a water balloon or squirt-gun fight for an afternoon that’s guaranteed to cool you off and make you feel like a kid again.
Live in an apartment or don’t have the water gear? Head to your local splash pad or community pool. To save money, look for free or discount promotions at the pool or water park.
Find your inner artist
Arts and crafts are a great way to get those creative juices flowing, make fun memories and create cool pieces to treasure for years to come.
Tie-dye some plain T-shirts, create your own modeling clay using flour and salt, make beaded bracelets, or try your hand at loom weaving.
Keep things even simpler by drawing with some sidewalk chalk, building a birdhouse out of Popsicle sticks, or simply getting messy with some finger paint.
Plan a treasure or scavenger hunt
Set up a string of clues for your kids to follow that lead them all around the house, yard and even the neighborhood. Make up your own clues or check online for clever rhymes or location ideas.
End the hunt with a fun prize, which can be anything from a chest full of faux gold coins, a long-desired toy or trinket, or a plate of fresh cookies or cupcakes. Add a dash of extra fun by dressing up as pirates or explorers.
Whether you have a lot of free time or a little, a chunk of change to spend or a limited budget, there are plenty of fun staycation ideas to make your summer special.
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Originally published May 2016.