Top 10 Stay-Cation Ideas: How To Have Fun With Your Family On A Budget


I know this isn’t the coolest thing in the world to say, but I love our stay-cations. Love them. Last summer, we went on our first ever family vacation to the beach and it was amazing. I loved every second of it. But, we can’t make that type of trip happen very often.

I am a firm believer in regularly building time into your schedule for rest and relaxation, though, and stay-cations allow us to do that without the price tag of a big trip. Most summers we plan a variety of local, low cost activities. It doesn’t have to be big and fancy. You don’t even have to drive far. All you need, is a little creativity and the willingness to let go – let go of expectations, let go of comparing what you’re doing to what you’re friends are doing, and (most importantly) let go of your worries.

Not too long ago, I thought I had to travel far, spend a lot of money, and be constantly entertained in order to have fun. Now, I realize that I’m fun. My husband is fun. My kids are fun. We bring the fun. What’s more, you don’t have to work hard to create the perfect get-away when you consciously work at being present in the moment and intentional about enjoying the life you’ve been blessed with.

Maybe you are looking for some fun, inexpensive things to do with your family this summer. Maybe you are wondering if it’s even possible to have fun on a budget! I hope this list will inspire you to think outside of the box. I hope it will inspire you make time for relaxation. I hope it will inspire you to have a little fun. 

His Girl Friday Top 10 Stay-Cation Ideas 

1. Become tourists in your own town. Visit stores you’ve had no reason to patron in the past, buy coffee or treats at local cafes, and allow yourself to see old, hum-drum sights with new eyes. Sometimes, we don’t notice how great our town is because we aren’t looking for it! See the tour I took of my town, here.IMG_6796IMG_6793IMG_6789IMG_6786IMG_6766

2. Go to a local baseball game. Local games are fun, inexpensive, and great for the whole family. You can read about our experience with the Akron Ducks, hereat Canal Park in Akron. take me out to the ball game


3. Have a dinner party on your patio or in your backyard. Nothing feels more festive than creating a simple meal, putting on a summer dress, opening a bottle of wine, and enjoying the sights and sounds of summer while dining al fresco with friends.

In the summer, you can trow together assorted goodies on a platter and call it a day, and you don’t look lazy, you look fancy!


What Every 30-Something Needs To Know About Entertaining

4. Take advantage of local events, such as live music, outdoor movies, festivals or kid’s activities. Summertime is the perfect time to let others do the planning. Check out your cities local events calendar and give something a try! (Note: I’ve found that our local calendar doesn’t have a complete listing. Instead, I routinely check out the websites/Twitter accounts of places we like to go to see if they have anything coming up.)







5. Visit you local farmer’s market or fruit farm. I love visiting a farmer’s market, but it’s almost even more fun to stop by a local fruit/veggie farm where you get to pick your own produce! Involve the whole family in everything from picking your food to going home and turning it into something happily. a day with my boylive happily. a day with my boyIMG_4625


6. Ride bikes someplace new. If you don’t have bikes of your own, most bike shops offer rentals. If that doesn’t work, borrow some from friends and family! Stay-cations require you to be creative with resources, but that is also what makes them so affordable!
Most cities have bike paths, but if you have kids then your options for “new places” open up even more. Read more about our “bike aboard”experience with the Cuyahoga Valley Railroad, hereIMG_2147IMG_2150IMG_2145

7. Picnic. You can picnic in the park. You can picnic in your backyard. Heck, you can picnic almost anywhere! Take the opportunity to pack up some of your favorite foods, grab a comfy blanket, and soak up the sun or shade depending on your preference. If you are with friends or a special someone, bring a fun old-school board game like checkers or chess. If you are with your kids, bring along a few books or a simple game. If you are by yourself, bring a book, or a pillow! (We do this one a lot :-).)IMG_2894For me, one of the best parts about having kids is that you get to participate in all the things you've become too old to enjoy on your own. I love dressing the boys up and living vicariously through their excitement and joy. Kids are natural born fun-makers, and if you allow them to, they'll suck you right into the good times!   For Halloween, Mike took Theo out trick or treating and I stayed back with Oliver to pass out candy. I love passing out candy to trick or treaters! I love having kiddos come to our door all dressed up in adorable costumes. I love seeing how shy they get to be around someone they don't know, yet how eagerly they plow through your candy bowl. It's so much fun. Oliver was pretty disappointed to be left behind, however, as you can see from the photo below. Summer Walks, Picnics, and Creek ExplorationIMG_5425IMG_5433IMG_5175What We Do For Fun As a FamilyWhat We Do For Fun As a FamilyWhat We Do For Fun As a Family

8. Do the things you would do on vacation, just do them locally. Sleep in late. Go to the pool. Go out for breakfast. Go to dinner at that new place in town you’ve been dying to try. Take a hike at a state park. Give yourself permission to let go and have fun. You don’t have to leave your state in order to enjoy the things you would do on vacation. It might feel like you are breaking the rules to sleep in late, go out for breakfast at noon and then accomplish nothing the rest of the day other than reading a good book and eating foods you love, but sometimes it pays to live dangerously. Go ahead. Break the rules. I dare ya.IMG_3279IMG_6253



9. Explore a new town nearby. Pull out a map of your state. Pick a town you’ve never been to or explored before that isn’t too far away. Research a few notable restaurant/coffee shop/sights before hand, or not…it’s up to you! The going and the exploring is the fun part! We love to do this. Recently, we explored a town in Cleveland that we had never been to before. We saw a different portion of the lake, ate at a new burrito place, and enjoyed a lovely little coffee shop that I can’t wait to return to. IMG_1434IMG_1455IMG_1445

10. Get ice cream. Get it often. Invite others to come along. This, is not only a great stay-cation idea, it is a recipe for happiness and success in your life. Just joking…not really.  We have a couple of favorite places to go for ice cream, and we usually try to invite others to go with us. It is just more fun that way! You can read more about our recent experience at Sweet Moses (pictured below), hereIMG_3115IMG_3109IMG_3106IMG_3098

I hope you’ve enjoyed my top 10 stay-cation ideas and have been inspired to try a few out this summer. We’ve enjoyed our simple yet fun adventures over the years and I can’t wait to see what all we do this summer. What stay-cation ideas do you have?

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