Whether you’re short on vacation time or can’t venture far from home, a family staycation is a great way to reconnect and explore the area you live in. If you have wanderlust you can even go on safari and discover places around the world without ever leaving home. Our list gives you some ideas to keep the family entertained throughout the year without a long car ride or breaking the bank.
Visit area parks
Parks are a great way to get kids outside to burn off some excess energy. Whether it’s going for a walk or hike through a park in your town or city, or traveling to a nearby state or national park, this (mostly) free activity is perfect for all ages. When winter hits and the snow starts to fall, find a nearby park to go sledding, have a snowball fight and then drink some hot chocolate!
Check out local museums or other attractions
No matter where you live, chances are there are some museums or other places like aquariums or zoos. And if you haven’t explored them with the family yet, maybe now is the time. Look online for kid-friendly art museums, children’s museums, science museums or planetariums. If they have limited hours or are not open, it’s possible they have a virtual tour so you can explore and look forward to visiting in person. If there’s nothing local, check out larger museums like the American Museum of Natural History or the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York that each offer virtual tours of their exhibits.
Go to a drive-in movie
Did you know there are more than 300 drive-in movie theaters across the United States? Even if you live in a city, chances are there is a drive-in theater not too far away. While drive-in theaters play new movies, they also often show classic family movies perfect for piling the kids in the back of the car. Bring your own snacks or buy a bag of popcorn at the concession stand and have some quality family time.
Experience the culture and foods of a foreign land or virtually tour a U.S. city or national park. You can find travel videos of just about anything online and feel like you’re taking a trip without leaving the couch. Let the kids take turns choosing a place they want to “visit” and read a book or watch a video about it. Maybe you’ll even find your next family travel destination!
See wildlife from afar
Go on an African safari without leaving your home with the virtual options offered online. You can view live feeds showing wildlife in their habitat, or go on a virtual safari at one of several parks or conservation areas. You can see wildlife do its thing in South Africa or watch gorillas in their forest habitat in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some offer virtual safaris during certain hours, while others have a live webcam up 24/7.
Have a scavenger hunt
If the kids in your family are old enough, why not set up a scavenger hunt to get them away from the phone and TV screens? You can do it in your home, or around the neighborhood for extra difficulty. Give a prize at the end to reward solving the clues!
Grab a tent and sleeping bag and have an outdoor adventure that’s perfect for the whole family. You can find a local campsite, camp in your backyard, or even put up a tent in the living room for the ultimate staycation. Bring along some games and books, and be sure to have the ingredients for s’mores on hand.
Have a food adventure
If your kids are a bit older and have adventurous palates, you can travel around the world by cooking. Older kids can help cook, while younger ones can learn about the country of the food you’re cooking. Have a Mexican food feast, an Indian food adventure or try making your own Japanese sushi. If cooking is not your family’s thing, then simply try restaurants with food from around the world.
Visit a farm
Outside many towns or cities are farms where you can visit and pick your own fruits or vegetables. In summer you can can pick strawberries or other fruits, while in fall you can go to an orchard and pick your own bags of apples. Many of these farms also offer activities like hayrides and sell food, so you can make a day of it with the family.
Have a family Olympics
This one is fun both in warmer weather and in winter. You can even have both a summer and winter family Olympics! Play cornhole, frisbee, hide and seek or other outdoor games, or have a running or bike race. In winter you can have a snowball fight, sled race, ice skating competition, or even snow angel making. For extra fun, have the kids help make medals or awards to give out.
Get out a blanket or bundle up and take older kids for an evening stargazing adventure. Find a website or app that show different constellations and try to spot all of them. While it’s good to go a bit outside of a town or city to get away from the lights, you can also easily do this in your backyard.
Explore your town or city
No matter where you live, there’s probably an area or specific destination that you’ve always been meaning to check out. Maybe there’s a neighborhood you want to visit for its houses or a certain restaurant, or a park with sculptures you’ve always wanted to see. Put the kids in the car and finally check these places off your list!