Fun Upscale Summer Staycation Ideas

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Are you looking for a way to have an upscale summer staycation? Here are some ideas that will help you make the most out of your summer staycation.

If you’re spending this summer on a tight budget, an upscale vacation to an exotic locale like Paris may be out of the question, however, an upscale summer staycation is not.  I’ve written here before about how to get the most out of your summer staycation monies, and I’ve written about cheap summer activities, but today we’re going to talk about how to have an upscale summer staycation for a whole lot less than jetting off to Paris or Milan will cost you.  Here are some of my favorite ideas for planning a staycation that doesn’t feel cheap.

Upscale Summer Staycation Food at Home

Once a week or once a month, depending on your budget, put together a lavish meal for yourself and your spouse/family.  Make lobster and steak served with twice mashed potatoes and your favorite Merlot.  Search online for authentic Italian recipes such as Gnocchi with Duck Sauce, or French recipes such as Escargots à la Bourguignonne (Snails in Garlic–Herb Butter), preceded by an authentic salad and a true authentic dessert from the country of your choice.

The goal is to step outside your comfort zone, just as you would if you truly were in another country, and make meals that are different from what you have at home.  A quick Internet search will bring up hundreds of options for appetizers, main courses and desserts from the cuisine delights of your favorite countries, so start browsing and see what kinds of fun and different meal options you can cook up to give you a taste of life in those countries you’ve always wanted to visit. Put on some French music and convince one of your kids or adventurous friends to dress up like a mime. Heck, you could even connect locks to a nearby chain link fence and imagine yourself in front of Notre Dame.

Choose Different Entertainment Options

Instead of going to a concert, go to the opera or see a performance at a nearby Orchestra Hall.  Spend the summer at wine tastings instead of at your usual favorite chain restaurant.  Or, once a month, visit an upscale restaurant in a nearby big city.  Visit an art museum or see a live show at an upscale theatre.  All sorts of upscale entertainment options – and often at discount summer prices – await those willing to step out of the norm and do something different.

Are you looking for a way to have an upscale summer staycation? Here are some ideas that will help you make the most out of your summer staycation.

Go on a Vacation Without Really Going Out of Town

If you don’t live in a big town, visit a nearby city and stay a night or two at a fine hotel.  Enjoy the upscale area attractions and food, and choose to spend some money on “the best of the best,” without traveling to another country.   Most all big cities offer fine restaurants mimicking the foods of your favorite dream vacation country.  Check out your state’s tourist website or read a nearby big city’s monthly magazine for potential mini-vacation ideas, and don’t forget to dress up for the occasion!

Just because it’s not in the budget to go to Italy, France or your other favorite vacation destination countries, doesn’t mean you can’t have a little slice of upscale at home this summer.  Take some time today to plan your upscale summer staycation, and work some out-of-the-ordinary fun and fancy into your usual summer vacation plans.


What is your dream vacation destination?  If you could visit any country, where would it be and why? Have you ever tried preparing an upscale meal from that country at home?



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Laurie is a wife, mother to 4, and homesteader who blogs about personal finance, self-sufficiency and life in general over at The Frugal Farmer. Part witty, part introspective and part silly, her goal in blogging is to help others find their way to financial freedom, and to a simpler, more peaceful life.


  • Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way says:

    My dream vacation is to spend 3 months staying in a white sand beach, where I can go scuba diving, kayaking and different activities. And I really wanted to visit Paris and Singapore hopefully I will have a chance to visit that country. And I totally agree that once a week or once a month, we should prepare a special meal, usually I do that every Sunday after attending a mass with my family, I cooked some special dishes.

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      I think that’s great that you prepare special meals on Sundays. We did that for a while, but now I’ve gotten out of the habit. Gotta get back into doing that again.

  • Holly@ClubThrifty says:

    Our new neighborhood has two neighborhood pools and they make every weekend feel like it’s own mini-vacation. We swam 5 times last weekend! It keeps the kids busy and makes them tired and gives us some time to talk and relax.

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      That’s awesome, Holly! What a great way to feel like you’re on a vacation without spending any cash. πŸ™‚

  • Liz says:

    For memorial day weekend we had no exciting plans. Most everyone I knew was either going to the cabin or on some other type of excursion. We stayed in town and splurged on tickets to our local theater. We don’t go to the theater often (hardly ever) so it was a fun experience for us. Not something we normally do but made our long weekend a little more fun.

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      Love that, Liz!! This is what I’m talking about. Sometimes we have to splurge a bit.

  • MrsFinancialFreedom says:

    Most people don’t appreciate the city/town they live in as I know I don’t. I decided to change this and started to look at my town with tourists eyes and I have found a load of (mostly) free stuff to do. Visiting museums, going on walks and exploring new parks and gardens and acting like tourists in our own town is great fun.

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      That’s great, Mrs. FF! We plan on doing something similar. Love what you said about looking at your city through tourist’s eyes.

  • Lauren says:

    I think it’s a great idea to visit nearby cities and towns. We’re trying to do more of that this year. It’s always surprising to me to see how different the lifestyle and environment can be, even when you don’t travel very far.

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      So true, Lauren!! Things really can be very different, even if you’re not traveling very far away.

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach says:

    I need to get on making more recipes because Ive been eating grilled chicken and roasted veggies non-stop for three months! πŸ™‚ I’m such a bad cook, and even worse disinterested cook, so it’s a challenge! I’m in such a great area for a staycation. To me, it simple means I get to go to the beach every day and run, train for beach volleyball, or play beach volleyball. I just like having no solid plans. Very relaxing. My big trip will be next year though!

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      It sounds SO fun there, like a perpetual vacation, especially when winter rears its ugly head here. πŸ™‚

  • Will @ FQF says:

    Upscale foods at home is an excellent idea for breaking out of the norm!

    I find cooking good meals at home makes me not even miss eating at restaurants. So many amazing recipes can be found online, restaurants are now reserved only for ‘special’ occasions.

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      I agree, Will! We rarely miss restaurants now, but instead opt for making a higher end meal at home.

  • Aldo @ MDN says:

    Our friend has a pool and we just play some music from different countries on Pandora and pretend we’re on a different country. Silly, but it’s relaxing.

    We also love to go to Museums… some are free on certain days.

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      What a great idea, Aldo!! Love the museum idea too – we take full advantage of free days at places like that. πŸ™‚

  • Raquel@Practical Cents says:

    I’m planning a trip to Spain next year. I’m churning some credit cards to make it more affordable. I think exploring local spots is always good. You never know what you will learn or find.

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      Spain will be awesome, Raquel!! I agree about those local spots, too. There are always so many neat restaurants, clubs, etc. to be found.

  • Joshua @ CNA Finance says:

    Hey Laurie, my dream destination is Egypt. I’d love to go one day. I like how you put this together. I think the total point in all of these things is that if you do things you normally wouldn’t, you’ll feel like you’re on vacation. I like the idea!

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      Exactly, Joshua! By choosing upscale activities that you might not normally choose, you can “vacation” while still at home. πŸ™‚

  • E.M. says:

    I think we are going to try some Groupon deals to get better acquainted with our new city. I figured we might as well try and be “tourists” and have it be our vacation spot for the summer. If all else fails, we might be spending a week with my parents, as they’re only about 20 minutes away from the beach. I always feel like I’m on a mini-vacation there!

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      Great idea, E.M.! Your summer really could mean a great staycation this year: there’s so much new to explore. πŸ™‚ Love your idea about going to your parents’ too – the beach and come good company makes the perfect mini getaway.

  • Andrew@LivingRichCheaply says:

    Living in NYC is expensive but staycations can easily be done. So much to do. And you can eat as if you’re traveling internationally: Restaurants in Little Italy, Chinatown, pretty much any country, there will be authentic cuisine from natives of that country. And there are plenty of entertainment options in the summer time here.

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      Seems like there would be a plethora of choices for staycation activities in NYC, Andrew. You’ll have to plan some and then write a post about it. πŸ™‚

  • My Wealth Desire says:

    I believe we can adopt this technique. My wife love to cook pasta, BBQ and native delicacies. Before we spent a short vacation without kids in one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Boracay (In Philippines).

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      That sounds wonderful, MWD!! I’ve heard great things about the Philippines. Yes, with your wife loving to cook, you’ve got a world of staycation options open to you. πŸ™‚

  • Addison @ Cashville Skyline says:

    My dream trip right now is Iceland. I think I’d actually really love to go in the winter, when it’s dark and cold. Hopefully I’ll catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. I’ve enjoyed quite a few staycations over the past couple of years, but I travel quite a bit, so being at home is nice.

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      I like how you have a balance between staycations and vacations, Addison. I’ll bet Iceland is absolutely beautiful – can’t wait to hear the report when you go. πŸ™‚

  • Michelle says:

    I would love to travel to Italy to see where my family grew up. Luckily my husband can cook while I do all of the banking. Hopefully Italy is in the future somewhere down the line!@

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      Italy sounds SO beautiful, doesn’t it? Our dream vacations are Germany, Ireland and Norway. The kids want to see the countries of their heritage.

  • Phroogal Jason says:

    I really do think stepping outside your comfort zone is what vacations are about. You get to break from the norm and let’s you do things you don’t do everyday. I used to do combination of staycations or short trips to discover the next town over or a few towns down the parkway.

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

      That’s exactly what I’m talking about, Jason. Extravagance right in or near your own home town. Fun and elegant without being extremely expensive. πŸ™‚

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