This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. #Save4Summer #CollectiveBias

Ahhh sweet summer time! As a child, summer seems to fun and magical… until about 3 minutes into school break when you feel like you’ll die of boredom… But really, even as adults we usually look forward to summer. Warm days, picnics, swimming, no shoveling snow, and VACATION!

Summer vacation seems to be the expected thing to do for most American families. And yet, sometimes the big vacation trip just isn’t possible. Maybe the budget is tight or maybe a new job isn’t allowing for more than a long weekend off and so travel is not logical. Whatever the reason, not being able to take a summer vacation is a big bummer!

For all of us in the “can’t travel this summer” boat, lets STAYCATION! Seriously, it can be just as fun, relaxing, and memorable as a typical away from home getaway.

For some, a staycation just means time around the house to get projects done. That’s all well and good. But if you have kids at home you really need to make staycation an exciting week/weekend for making memories and bonding as a family.

Ready to plan your staycation? Let’s do it!


  • Throughout the year, look for ways to save money for staycation. Cut back on your phone bill (more details in this post), eat out a little less, start a saving jar for all coins and $5 bills that anyone in your family ends up with, save a small amount from each paycheck and deposit it into a savings club account at your bank, etc.
  • Meet as a family to discuss what each person wants to do during the staycation. What priorities does each person have? Make a list so the parents can then plan out a week/weekend that will be enjoyable for everyone.
  • Create a schedule for the staycation. Don’t pack it too full; leave some room for relaxation. Make the schedule look fun and colorful, then print it out to share with the family so they know what to expect.
  • Make all reservations and ticket purchases ahead of time.
  • In the weeks leading up to staycation, try to get ahead on all chores you would normally do during the week. This way you can go into staycation feeling good about your house being clean, fridge being stocked, no bills to pay that week, etc.
  • Make sure everyone close to you knows you’ll be on a staycation and to pretend you’re not even home, just like a regular vacation.
  • Talk with your family about any boundaries ahead of time. Can friends be invited to any part of staycation, or is the week family only? What phone calls are ok to answer? What work duties need to be put off for after staycation?
  • Make a budget. Make an envelope for each day with the cash needed for that days activities and meals. At the end of the day, any leftover cash can be rolled over to the next days envelope.

  1. Come up with a theme for your staycation and decorate your house to build excitement, have a little extra fun, and just be plain silly!
  2. Visit a local zoo, petting zoo, or farm. Bring a nice picnic lunch because these type of places often have a picnic area.
  3. Spend a day (or two!) at a water park in your area. Outdoor water parks are awesome, but also consider indoor water parks if you have one nearby; then you won’t be sad if it rains! (well, maybe… some indoor water parks also have to close if there is lightening.)
  4. Spend an evening swimming at a friends pool. It’s so fun to swim at night!
  5. Take a nature walk or hike. Encourage each family member to take pictures of things they find on the walk and compare them all later to see who saw what (animals, cool leaves, big rocks… nature-y stuff like that).
  6. Make tie-dye t-shirts in the yard like you’re kids at camp. Then insist the family wears them on an outing together. It’s fun to be silly! Get pictures, for sure!
  7. Have a food fight. You know you’ve always wanted to!
  8. Spend a day or two at your nearest amusement park.
  9. Go horseback riding.
  10. Visit a town festival if you can. Eat a funnel cake for me.
  11. Go swimming at your local community pool or make your own backyard water park with little pools, slip n slides, sprinklers, and water guns.
  12. Camp out. You can do this in your back yard, a friends back yard, or at a camp ground.
  13. Let every family member choose their favorite restaurant and eat there at some point during the staycation. 
  14. Have a blast with your little ones at a children’s museum.
  15. Take in a minor league baseball (or other sport) game.
  16. Find a safe bike path and go for a long ride as a family. Stop half way for a picnic!
  17. Lazy Day – take one day of staycation to actually plan to be lazy! Stay in comfy clothes all day, sleep in then take a nap, only eat food that can be delivered to your door, turn your living room into one huge bed with all of the pillows, blankets, and sleeping bags in the house and watch movies or a TV series together as a family. I feel like I would like to do this every Saturday!
  18. Visit local museums. While you tour a museum, randomly video interview your family members about what they’re seeing/learning.
  19. Go bowling.
  20. Go to a drive in movie theater. Or make one at your own home.
  21. Visit your library as a family and rent movies, books, and magazines.
  22. Hold a family game night and play some fun board and card games together. Have plenty of yummy snacks on hand and maybe even invite another family to join you to make the competition even more fun.
  23. Make a staycation bucket list of ice cream places you want to eat at in your town. My town is small, but my list would still be long!
  24. Plan a family 80’s night complete with big hair and roller skating.
  25. Go to the movies.
  26. If any fruits or berries are in season in your area, visit a farm that allows you to pick your own. When you get home, make some special treats with the produce you’ve picked.
  27. Cook hot dogs and s’mores over a fire one night for dinner. Or every night… I won’t judge.
  28. Go Geocaching.
  29. Are you lucky enough to be near a beach? Go there!
  30. Find a place to play laser tag or paintball.
  31. Play mini golf as a family.
  32. Visit a national park.
  33. Go shopping at your favorite mall.
  34. At the end of your staycation, have each family member make a little movie with a cell phone to share about their favorite part of the week. These will be fun memories! Get together and watch them as a family and enjoy some bonding time before getting back to “normal” life… whatever that is.

Here I am using my ZTE ZMAX phone from Walmart Family Mobile ($29.88 a month unlimited talk and text plan!) to capture my daughters thoughts about that days fun activities:

Speaking of my Walmart Family Mobile phone… this is a great way to cut family expenses so you can save more cash for summer fun!

Buying and setting up this phone is so simple! We found ours right in the electronics section at our local Walmart and an associate was really helpful with answering my questions about it. For only $179 for the phone, I am incredibly pleased! I use my phone a LOT for social media and taking pictures and videos. Probably the best part is that the Walmart Family Mobile service is $29.88/month (for the first line) and includes unlimited talk, text, and a data service plan plus up to 1G of 4G LTE data.

Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to or your local Walmart for current pricing.

How do you save money for family vacation? What are you doing for vacation this summer?


13 Comments on 34 Fabulous Family Staycation Ideas Plus Planning Tips

  1. Jennifer DeFrates/Heaven Not Harvard
    June 12, 2015 at 5:21 am (3 years ago)

    Lots of great ideas here. We're military, so we don't have a lot of money or chances to travel. Staycations are a must for us. One thing we do is the national food holidays. We celebrate as many as we can all summer long. It is so much fun to bake brownies, apple pie, BBQ ribs, whatever the holiday is. We make the food as a family when possible, and it has become a tradition.

  2. Jen Stults
    June 12, 2015 at 1:27 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi, Carissa, I'm stopping by from the CWB group facebook page. What a great list! I'll be sharing it around, thanks! 🙂
    Jen @ Being Confident of This

  3. Jen Stults
    June 12, 2015 at 1:28 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi, Carissa, I'm stopping by from the CWB group facebook page. What a great list! I'll be sharing it around, thanks! 🙂
    Jen @ Being Confident of This

  4. ginabad
    June 12, 2015 at 2:10 pm (3 years ago)

    What an EXCELLENT post! We actually can and are doing a vacation this year, but still, that's only ONE week of summer, and summer camp is over at 11:30 am, so I'll need these ideas. We are actually buying a tent too, to do the backyard camping, first time!

  5. Brandi Davis
    June 12, 2015 at 9:49 pm (3 years ago)

    Great list. We are not doing a summer vacation this year. So I'll be referring back to this list for more ideas.

  6. LindseyLoo
    June 15, 2015 at 3:24 pm (3 years ago)

    This is a great list! And it IS fun to swim at night.

  7. Clare Speer
    June 16, 2015 at 1:05 pm (3 years ago)

    Wonderful ideas – I LOVE summer – even though my kids are grown up now – but still so much locally to do – you captured a wonderful list!

  8. Danielle Wells
    June 16, 2015 at 1:39 pm (3 years ago)

    I'm always looking for new ideas to do with Hubby that don't cost an arm and a leg! These are great ideas!

  9. Anxious Toddlers
    June 22, 2015 at 2:49 am (3 years ago)

    Great list of ideas! Sometimes it is hard to think of things to do locally – this is a great jump start!

  10. Echo A
    June 27, 2015 at 2:37 pm (3 years ago)

    I often prefer staycations to vacations! Thank you for sharing these awesome ideas at the #SmallVictoriesSundayLinkup!


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