Staycation Ideas That Don’t Suck

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Staycation ideas don’t have to play second fiddle to out of town trips. If lack of money is keeping you home, make the most of it with a staycation.

I have a confession to make – I started out this summer a little bummed. We usually try to take a trip to another city within 8 hours’ drive of us once a summer, but we aren’t doing that this year. That’s what had me bummed.

Then, we started brainstorming staycation ideas and my attitude brightened. I realized there’s a lot of fun things for our family to enjoy in our city. Plus, I remembered why we’re not going on vacation this summer. Mrs. Frugal Rules is from San Diego and we’re planning a family road trip out there next year.

We’ve been looking for last minute vacation deals on Expedia and frugal summer vacation ideas so we can afford that trip.

Anyways, back to this summer. After all our searching, we decided to ditch a summer vacation this year, no matter how much I felt like I need a vacation, and come up with some staycation ideas – fun things we can explore in our own city on a budget.

I’d like to share some of our staycation ideas with you in hopes that it will help spark your own family staycation ideas. Hopefully you’ll agree with me that these ideas don’t suck

First Things First – Unplug


Before I get to my staycation ideas I have to share something that I must keep reminding myself to do – unplug. When I go away on vacation it’s easier for me to truly disconnect from work. Maybe that’s because we run our own business from our home, so a staycation brings the temptation to keep working even just a little bit each day. I am going to literally unplug my laptop and put it underneath my bed. I can’t promise I won’t check Twitter or look at my blog each day but I won’t have my computer up and on because if I do, I’ll rob myself of the vacation we’ve been planning and looking forward to.

Six Staycation Ideas


This list could probably easily be three times this long but I’ll just give you six staycation ideas that fit my family.

Staycation Idea #1 – Geocaching


We’ve never tried geocaching but after reading about it, I decided we’ll give it a try. This inexpensive idea just requires GPS, time and a few toys. Our kids will love it as hunting for buried treasure is all they seem to talk about these days.

Staycation Idea #2 – Take a Dip in a City Pool


We have a few great public pools in our city. Mrs. Frugal Rules recently discovered one not far from us with two slides, diving boards, water features, a playground and a zero-depth entry area. You might want to check out your city’s website and look under the parks area to find ones you could include in your staycation.

Staycation Idea #3 – Beaches, Lakes, and Parks


If we still lived on a coast, a trip to the beach would definitely make it on our staycation ideas list. It’s funny when we go back to visit friends and family in San Diego, we want to spend as much time as we can at the beach and are always surprised when our friends who live within 20 minutes of the ocean can’t remember the last time they went. Unfortunately, we’re land-locked but this summer, we’re going to explore a new park or lake nearby on our staycation.

Staycation Idea #4 – Movies at Dusk & Free Music


While trying to come up with staycation ideas, we typed something like “free family fun Omaha” into Google and found a number of nice parks offering free movie screenings at dusk. A number also paired free local concerts and food from vendors as well. We’ll be taking a picnic basket, our lawn chairs and some cool drinks to one on our staycation.

Staycation Idea #5 – Visit A City Nearby


Within an hour’s drive there are at least half a dozen smaller cities  that can could easily get to and explore. Planning a staycation gives us a chance to visit our state capitol, pick apples, taste wine at a local vineyard, visit historical farms and go antiquing if we want to. Sometimes it just takes thinking outside the box a little to realize all that your city has to offer.

Staycation ideas don’t have to play second fiddle to out of town trips. If lack of money is keeping you home, make the most of it with a staycation.

Staycation Idea #6 – Museums


Art museums, children’s’ museums and cultural museums are all located within our city but we’ve never taken the time to visit any of them. Next week, we’ll take one day of our staycation to visit a local railroad museum, drive down the road to enjoy some authentic local Mexican food followed by a trip to a Latino museum and then will finish up with a jaunt through the sculpture garden at our local art museum. The art museum is free and the price of admission for the other two is relatively inexpensive.

I hope these ideas get you started imagining how much fun your family could have on a staycation in your city. We’ll end up spending less money and more time together with less stress by staying local this summer. While I didn’t feel this way initially, I can now honestly say that I can’t wait for our staycation to begin.


What fun staycation ideas do you have to share? What are your summer vacation plans?



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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.