Are you looking for a way to keep your kids busy over the summer or on school breaks? If you don’t want to spend money on a big vacation, we love the idea of planning a great Staycation by finding fun places to go with kids right in our own city and fun things to do with the kids at home. I think any memorable staycation includes a mix of visiting new places and engaging activities at home. Let me help you plan your staycation with these 40 staycation ideas your whole family will love. You’ll be so glad you stayed home!
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40 Staycation Ideas for Families in Any Season
Fun Places to Go with Kids
Just because you’re on a staycation doesn’t mean you need to spend all your time at home. There are tons of things to do with kids in your local area. Have fun exploring your own home town and getting to know your city better. Check out these Staycation ideas you can find in any town.
Visit your local library to check out new books for the staycation and attend a kids programs. Most libraries have kids programs planned whenever children are out of school and they are usually free. Check your local library website to find out what’s going on at a library near you.
Local park districts often have movies in the park in the summer or free concerts to attend. This is a great free way to spend an evening with the kids. Check your local park district website to see what other fun free events they have going on while kids are home.
We love to explore museums with the kids when they are not in school. Take a day to visit a local children’s museum or history museum in your area. Don’t forget to check out any small town museums showcasing the history of your area. Often these are free and a great way to spend an hour or two out with the kids.
If you are in the Chicago area here are our favorite Chicago Museums to Visit with Kids.
A New Park and Playground
Visit a new playground or park you have never been to. Often in the summer, we try to plan and visit a new park each week. It’s always more exciting than the one you go to all the time. Bring a picnic and make it a full afternoon out.
Hike Your Local Forest Preserve or State Park
Go on a hike in your local forest preserve or state park. Check their websites before you go to see what free events they have going on while you’re on your Staycation. We love to go on guided nature hikes with the kids at our local state park. Get some tips on taking a family hike in my Ultimate Guide to Hiking with Kids.
Be a Local Tourist
Pretend you’re a tourist in your own town and visit the local attractions. Often when we live in a city, we forget how many cool things there are to see in our town. Do a little exploring and go somewhere you have’t visited before. If you’re in the Chicago area, here are 7 Can’t Miss Things to Do in Chicago with Kids on Staycation.
To save money visiting local attractions in big cities, check out CityPASS. They bundle together several attractions to save you up to 50% off. Check the link below for details or read my City Pass Review.
Local Book Store
Visit a local book store and find some new books to read on vacation. Look at their calendar of events to see when they have story time for kids. This will give you an extra activity to do while you’re there.
Do you have a zoo to visit? What kid doesn’t love seeing new animals and learning all about their habitats? If you don’t have a big zoo, see if there is a local petting zoo you could visit.
Have you ever gone to a local farm with U Pick produce? It’s a really fun experience to pick your own fruit and you leave with some yummy food. In summer, you can pick blueberries and strawberries while in the fall there is apple picking. Let the kids experience a day on the farm while picking your own food.
Visit a local waterpark or spray park on a hot day in the summer. Nothing is better than playing in the water on a warm day. If you need a winter staycation, see if there are any nearby indoor waterparks to visit. We love the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells if you live in the Midwest.
Beach / Community Pool
Another great way to stay cool on a summer staycation is to visit a local beach or community pool. What better way to spend a summer day than swimming!
Do you have a local amusement park in your area? Who needs to go to Disney when you have a fun park near you to ride roller coasters and kiddie rides.
Sledding & Skiing
Over a winter break head to a local snow hill and take the kids sledding. If you live close enough to a Ski Mountain take the kids to learn to ski.
In the winter months take the kids to an outside ice skating rink. You could rent skates or I usually buy the kids some used skates to use for the winter from somewhere like Play it Again Sports. If you’re in the Chicago area try the outdoor ice skating rinks at Maggie Daley Park or Millenium Park.
In summer months head to an indoor skating rink and enjoy the break from the heat.
Take a Train Ride
Do you have a local commuter train in your city? Kids love getting a chance to ride a train. It doesn’t even matter that much where you go, it’s just the fun of riding the train. If you live in a bigger city, ride the train to town and have lunch or visit a local attraction, then ride the train back home.
Try a New Restaurant
Try a new restaurant in the area with the kids. It would be fun to try an ethnic restaurant with a new type of food you have never tried before. The worst thing that can happen is the kids don’t like the food and you pick up McDonald’s on the way home. But at least they get exposed to something new and different and you don’t have to leave the country.
Check out your city’s local events calendar for festivals in the area. See if there is something your family would have fun attending.
If you want to get out of the house on your staycation, book a local hotel for a night. Let the kids swim in the pool and order room service. Your whole family will feel like your away on vacation for the night.
Volunteer at Local Charity
Have a day for your family to help others by volunteering together at a local charity. Make sure when you research your local charities to check if they accept kids as volunteers. We love to volunteer at our local food bank and help at a used book donations place for kids.
Find a local lake or pond to take the kids fishing. It’s a great way for the family to hang out for the day and chat while you wait for the fish to bite.
Go on a Local Ice Cream Tour
Want the kids to be really excited about your staycation? Do a local ice cream tour with the kids. Check out over a couple of days all the local ice cream shops in your area. What could be sweeter than that?
See a new movie at your local movie theater. Find the day or time with the discounted rates and head over with the family. Tip: In the summer months or winter breaks, many theaters run kids movies that have been out for a while at discounted rates.
Play or Musical
Go to a local play or musical with your kids. It can be a big production or just a local one the kids at your park district are putting on.
In the summer or during spring training, head to a baseball game. It doesn’t have to be a major league game, the local minor league team can be just as exciting for kids. Look for family deals that include food or days when the kids can run the bases. Running the bases is always a huge hit with the kids!
Head to your local bowling alley to play. This is a fun activity for both kids and parents to play together. Tip: If you have some younger kids, make sure to ask for the bumpers to be put up. This will keep the balls out of the gutter.
Fun Things to Do with Kids At Home
When you’re not exploring your city on a staycation, keep busy with these fun things to do with kids at home. Everything from camping in your backyard, relay races, family game contests, and arts and crafts. Find a staycation idea everyone in your family will enjoy.
Plan a camping staycation in your own backyard. Set up the tent, tell some camp stories, and roast some marshmallows. Do everything you would on a real camping trip with all the convenience of home.
Board Game or Minute to Win it Marathon
Have a family Board game or Minute to Win It competition. Keep it exciting by buying one new board game to play and use a few you already own. If your kids are a little bit older and like competition, make it a family challenge. Do a bunch of small minute to win it type games in a row. Create a chart with each family member’s name and see who wins the most games. You could even have a small prize for the winner.
Find a new fun recipe the kids want to make and bake or cook together. Create a great new dessert or snack they will love to try after working so hard to make it. The fun and memorable part is creating this new recipe with you.
Relay Race or Obstacle Course
Create a relay race or obstacle course in your own back yard. Use things you have in your garage for the obstacles such as old boxes, cones, a piece of wood to balance on, or swing set. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just something the kids can run around and laugh. Have them get involved coloring old paper towel rolls for the relay sticks or helping to figure out how the obstacle course should run. When we do this, we usually invite over some neighbor kids to join in on the fun.
Arts and Crafts
Have an afternoon of creating arts and crafts. If it’s something messy like painting, have them do it outside, and then there is no stress. One of the most popular things to make right now is slime. This can keep your kids busy for hours. Get some more easy art project ideas and crafts on Pinterest.
Create a fun scavenger hunt in the backyard or around the house. A scavenger hunt can be as simple as giving the kids a list of things to find around the house or in your backyard. If you want more of a challenge, you could hide a few things and give them clues on how to find the items. I find giving some type of list makes it easier and they can do it on their own.
A nature scavenger hunt is also a great way to get out and take a walk around your neighborhood with a purpose. Or even a hike in your local forest preserve. I love this free printable Nature Scavenger Hunt from Edventures With Kids.
Build a Fort
Do you have fond memories of building forts as a kid, too? Use blankets and furniture to create your own little getaway. Let your kids use their imagination and create their own cool fort. Bonus, tell them it’s their reading nook while they’re out of school. It’s so much more exciting to read in the fort you built.
Paper Airplane Race
This includes two parts of fun for the family. First, you need to create your super fast airplane and color it. Next, line up and race your airplanes. See who in your family can make the fastest plane.
If you need some help creating your paper airplanes, here is a great kit. It comes with easy to fold planes with a bunch of different designs to make it a little more exciting than just folding your paper at home.
Water Gun Targets
Kids love to play with water guns on warm sunny days. Creating a target is a great way to make a game out of it. You can easily create targets with what you have around your house. It can be anything lightweight such as empty pop cans, pringles can, or cut up a pool noodle from the dollar store. Make different heights for the targets by placing them on a ladder or boxes.
Do a family science experiment together. It’s a great way for the kids to see something cool and learn a little science while they’re not in school. Pair it with a visit to the Science Museum and you have a perfect day out. Get some science experiment ideas for kids on Pinterest or get the book below with easy to follow science experiments for kids.
Lego 10 Minute Challenge
We love to do a Lego challenge at our house. It’s perfect for those times the kids are bored and need something to do. There is no preparation needed, just box up a bunch of random Lego pieces you have around the house and give the kids 10 minutes (or however long you want) to build. You will be amazed at the cool creations your kids come up with!
Teach the kids to be an entrepreneur by making their own lemonade stand. This is an entertaining way to take up an afternoon with the kids. They will need to color a big sign, set up a table, make the lemonade, and then help customers. The kids will have fun and learn what it takes to make a business run.
If your staycation is in the winter months or on a rainy day, plan a movie marathon with the kids. Let everyone pick out one movie they want to watch. Order some pizza, pop some popcorn, and settle in for a relaxing day.
Want to get everyone up and moving? Have a fun Dance Party! Crank up the tunes and dance around laughing and having fun.
While on staycation, get some work done in your garden while having fun with the kids. Let them plant some seeds, pull weeds and look for worms and bugs. Enjoy being outside as a family while getting your yard work done.
Are you a family that loves to play sports? Have a family sports tournament. Choose a few sports they like and create short games out of them, such as a basketball shooting contest, catching contest for baseball, sprinting contests for track, and most soccer goals made. Anything that the kids love to play can be turned into mini competitions.
If you want something other than sports, here are a few outdoor games our family really enjoys playing. All four will keep both kids and adults busy for hours. Perfect games for kids parties and barbecues, too.
Do you have a budding artist? Break out the sidewalk chalk and let the kids color the driveway. Jump in with a few designs of your own. When you’re done, draw a hopscotch game and have fun skipping and jumping.
I hope out of this list of 40 things to do with kids on a staycation, you have found a few things your family will love. All you need are a couple of new activities to keep your time at home exciting. Try these out on your next staycation and you will be amazed at all the fun places to go with kids in your own town.
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