27 easy staycation ideas and tips for planning yours
October 20, 2022 11 min read
If you’re like lots of people, you might’ve grown up taking a yearly vacation—packing up the family car, hitting the road and making lots of memories. But a new kind of vacation has also taken hold in recent years: the staycation.
Going on a staycation—or not going, more appropriately—involves skipping big trips and staying at home, or close to it. So give one a try. You might find that a staycation is a different—but equally awesome—type of adventure.
- Staycations are a modern twist on the traditional weeklong family vacation.
- There are all kinds of reasons for taking a staycation—like saving money, relaxing without the whirlwind of travel and working on home improvement projects.
- Ideas for a staycation are nearly limitless, from camping out in the backyard to learning a new language.
What is a staycation?
First things first: What does a staycation mean? Basically, it's a vacation that involves staying at home. A staycation can also include taking day trips in and around your town or city.
What is another word for staycation? You might have also heard the term “holistay.”
It doesn’t really matter which word you use. The point is that it offers an alternative to a traditional vacation.
Why you should consider a staycation
Why consider a staycation? You might be short on cash and avoiding travel for now—even to a cheap vacation spot. You might want to tackle some stuff around the house. Or you might just want to enjoy life at a slower pace for a week.
When you do it right, a staycation can be one of the best family vacation ideas ever. You won’t see Paris, Dubai or the Grand Canyon—but you might see your own town in a whole new way. And free time to connect with the town you love means free time to connect with the people you love, too.
Ideas for a staycation
What is an example of a staycation? There are many. In fact, a staycation may be limited only by your imagination.
Here are 27 ideas to get you started:
Tune up your fitness
- Take a group fitness class: Get moving with a group fitness class, whether it’s yoga, Pilates, Zumba, water aerobics, boot camp or HIIT—that’s high intensity interval training. Exercising with a group of people can be motivating. Plus, you could meet a new friend with a shared interest.
- Cool off with some ice skating: You can cool off during the summer with ice skating—and enjoy it during cooler weather, too. Check out indoor and outdoor ice skating rinks to see what’s available in your area. If ice skating isn’t an option, maybe there are roller skating rinks instead.
- Get on your bike: Biking can be an enjoyable workout, whatever level of intensity you choose. So hop on your bike and take a low-key ride along a city bike path—or go mountain biking and get a more serious workout.
Dive into new foods
- Sign up for a cooking class: Whether you already love to cook or want to learn, a cooking class can be a fun challenge during a staycation. You can up your cooking game in nearly endless ways: Learn to make homemade pasta, perfect the art of Texas-style barbeque and more. If you want to stay close to home, look into online cooking classes.
- Explore unfamiliar local restaurants: Maybe you’ll want to get adventurous during your staycation and try a few restaurants that are new to you. But how do you find them? You could ask family and friends for their picks or read restaurant reviews in local publications. You could also drive around an interesting part of town and look for restaurants with a great vibe.
- Sample local coffeehouses: Like the idea of greeting the day with a latte at a neighborhood coffeehouse? As with restaurants, friends can be a good source of information on places you haven’t tried before. So can local publications—as well as the social media accounts of organizations tapped into the local scene.
Staycation activities for the whole family
- Find great playgrounds: Find a new playground where your kids can spend a fun afternoon. Did you know there are apps for finding and reviewing playgrounds? They can include lists of offerings—like swings and slides—as well as photos.
- Explore nearby water parks: Pick a hot day and head to a nearby water park. Spend a few hours zipping down water slides and cooling off in swimming pools. Might be best to make other plans if you’re taking a winter staycation. Maybe polar plunges are your thing, though?
Explore cultural attractions in your town
- Discover local museums: Staycations can be a great time to expand your horizons at local museums. You’ll want to visit one of the major science, art or history museums in or around your town. Check out some less-expected choices, too—a museum that explores the life of a celebrated local author, for example.
- Relax at a movie theater: Visit a local movie theater and spend an evening being transported into another time or place. You could see an independent film at an art house theater, a blockbuster at your local multiplex or a comedy while you’re having apps at a dine-in theater.
- Check out live theater performances: Look to your town’s newspaper and independent publications for information on stage performances in your area. You might find everything from small community theaters run largely by passionate volunteers to major national productions coming to a venue near you.
Get some fresh air in your own city
- Enjoy a hike: Love the idea of backpacking through Europe? Do some backpacking close to home and you can enjoy the same connection to the great outdoors. Check out online sources like the American Hiking Society for information on trails and difficulty ratings. You can also use apps that deliver trail ratings and maps directly to your phone.
- Try backyard camping: If you’re truly dedicated to the “stay” in staycation, you could give backyard camping a try. Find a shady tree, pitch a tent under it, build a campfire, drink hot chocolate and tell ghost stories into the night.
- Organize a scavenger hunt: Put together a scavenger hunt the family can enjoy together. You could do one based on Halloween, for example, with the kids searching the neighborhood for items like black cats and carved pumpkins. Or tailor your hunt to a group of adult friends and have them search for items all over town by car. Have groups prove their finds by taking photos.
- Walk around downtown: Spend a day walking your city’s downtown area. Downtown districts can be some of the most interesting places, filled with shops, museums, restaurants, coffeehouses, landmarks and eclectic neighborhoods.
Check out your local shopping
- Locate the best thrift and vintage stores: Finding a great deal or a hard-to-find item at vintage and thrift stores can be a bit of a thrill, right? So check out local shops online, grab your wallet and see what great finds await you.
- Explore the big local malls: With their “everything under one roof” approach, America’s big malls make shopping super convenient. Spend a day at one and you could do everything from finding bargains to having lunch to seeing a live music performance.
Book a day for self-care
- Enjoy a day spa: Practice proactive self-care by treating yourself to one of life’s major luxuries: time at a day spa. You can choose from a range of services, including a facial, massage, body treatment, manicure and pedicure. And you may just leave feeling like a brand-new person.
- Head to the local barbershop or salon: Want a basic haircut and shave? Or maybe you’re looking for a stylish cut and some color. Head to either a community barbershop or a high-end salon in your area for some well-deserved pampering.
Keep your staycation at home
- Start or finish a DIY project: When things are hectic, it can be tough to find time for DIY projects around the house. So devote your staycation hours to home repairs and upgrades that could make your home safer and more comfortable—and maybe even add to its resale value.
- Do a major cleaning: Cleaning your home from top to bottom can be amazingly satisfying. And when you’re on a staycation, you’ll have time to do it right. So sweep, mop, dust, vacuum, clean the windows, disinfect the countertops and make the bathroom sparkle.
- Catch up on streaming shows: Pop some popcorn, hit the couch and binge-watch some of the hottest shows on today’s steaming services. You’ll have plenty of genres to choose from—comedy, drama, thriller, science fiction and futuristic dystopian fantasy, to name a few.
Learn new skills during your staycation
- Workshops and classes: Think you might want to learn something new? Check out what’s being offered through local organizations, community colleges and online platforms. You might find everything from science for the everyday person to global economic dynamics to how to live a happy life.
- Start learning a new language: The world is full of fascinating languages—so why not work at becoming multilingual? Time off during a staycation could be the perfect time to get going. You could go low-tech by taking a class at a community organization or regularly speaking with friends who speak the language you're interested in. Or you could use web-based options like online classes, virtual chat groups and apps.
- Find a maker space: These “collaborative workspaces” are for making and learning with others, both adults and children. They can take place in schools, public libraries and other local facilities—and they may provide equipment like 3D printers and sewing machines.
Leave your house for a night or three
- Head to a local hotel: Elevate your staycation by spending time in a local hotel. To get a good deal, you could check online sites that compare hotel prices—or you could use a service like Capital One Travel, which can help you get the best prices.
- Chill out in a vacation rental home: If you want to escape the ordinary but stay close, a vacation rental home might be your thing. Start your search on an online vacation rental website and enjoy!
Staycation ideas in a nutshell
Staycations are a modern twist on the traditional family vacation. They can be a more economical alternative to vacations—and give busy people a week of much-needed downtime.
When you’re taking a staycation, you could use some of your “me” time to brainstorm your next traditional vacation. Maybe driving up the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible? Teaching the kids to ski in the Swiss Alps? Surfing in Maui?
You might want to consider a Capital One Venture rewards travel credit card for your future travels—and your staycations, too. With every purchase, you’ll earn unlimited miles for unlimited possibilities.