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10 Easy Staycations You Can Take Before Summer Ends

staycation ideas, last-minute vacation ideas

My daughter at one of our favorite staycay spots!

If you haven’t been able to enjoy a proper family vacation this summer, it’s not too late to get away – or at least feel like you’re on holiday for the weekend.  Thanks to the never-ending recession, money is tight for most of us, but it’s easy to do something wonderful on the cheap if you keep your plans simple and close to home.  These 10 creative mini-staycation ideas aren’t European tour or Disney-level fabulous, but they’re just as likely to create fun memories you and your family will cherish in years to come.  Bonus – they’re also a lot easier to plan and execute on the fly.


  • A Day at the Beach 1 of 10
    A Day at the Beach
    As you can see, my daughter loves the beach! I do, too - and the best part about a trip to the ocean? It's free and always feels like a vacation.
  • Take a Hike! 2 of 10
    Take a Hike!
    If you don't live near the water, try hitting the trail instead. You don't need mountains to take a hike - any wooded area seems magical in the eyes of a child. And the exercise is good for Mom and Dad. Photo via Flickr.
  • A Carnival of Fun 3 of 10
    A Carnival of Fun
    One of the best things about living in New York City is all of the various forms of free and affordable fun at your fingertips. A trip to the beach for me can also mean a visit to the Coney Island amusement parks. But you don't need to live in the Big Apple to run away to the circus! August is a great month for church bazaars and state fairs everywhere.
  • Happy Camper 4 of 10
    Happy Camper
    Kids love any kind of adventure, so even if you can't leave your town, you can always camp out in the backyard, or even in an area of your house. Photo via Flickr.
  • Drop the Kids Off with Grandma and Grandpa 5 of 10
    Drop the Kids Off with Grandma and Grandpa
    Look, a vacation should be fun for everyone, right? If camping out in the yard sounds too high maintenance for you, ask Grandma and Grandpa if they can take the kids for the weekend and relax as you putter around the house, wrapping up all those loose ends you can never get to with kids underfoot. Grandma and Grandpa will love the opportunity to bond, your kids will get to eat candy for breakfast, you will get to eat something other than Goldfish snacks and cheese sticks. Win-win! Photo via Flickr
  • Do Some Volunteer Work 6 of 10
    Do Some Volunteer Work
    I know it might not seem like a "vacation" activity, but kids LOVE feeling useful and learning about the environment, so volunteering to clean-up outdoors could coincide with your trip to the beach or the hiking trail, making the day even more memorable. Plus, you'll feel great about yourself afterwards! Photo via Flickr
  • Take a Cooking Class 7 of 10
    Take a Cooking Class
    I hate to say it, but I'm really not a great cook, so I stand to learn as much from a cooking class as my 5-year-old. If a cooking class seems too expensive or there isn't one in your area that caters to children, try making some of these kid-friendly recipes on the Kraft website. Photo via Flickr
  • Visit a Farm 8 of 10
    Visit a Farm
    If you're tired of the zoo or don't have one near you, see if you can spend a few hours at a local farm. Kids love farm animals, and many farms allow you to pick your own fruits and vegetables (for a nominal fee). Some even have classes on how to can or freeze your produce. Others sell homemade products like jam and honey, a healthy and inexpensive souvenir. Click here to find a pick-your-own farm near you. Photo via Flickr
  • Tour Your Local Museum 9 of 10
    Tour Your Local Museum
    You don't have to live in an urban area to have access to great art and culture. Even the smallest of towns have some type of local history museum or art collection you can peruse, usually for free or at very low cost. If you live on the East Coast, consider visiting the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA (pictured). Photo via Flickr.
  • Hold a Scavenger Hunt 10 of 10
    Hold a Scavenger Hunt
    Who needs to go on safari or digging in ancient ruins when you can discover treasure in your own yard? It takes a bit of effort, but creating a scavenger hunt is a sure-fire way for your kids to have a blast - and if they're older, you can relax on the porch while they entertain themselves. (That's always a good thing!) Photo

Do you have any other great staycation ideas?  Share them in the comments below!

Make the most of the rest of the summer with Babble’s 2011 summer guide!

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