Staycation With Kids! Ten Awesome Ideas For Families

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Not going anywhere during your school holidays? Why not try a staycation with kids!

Now that my daughter is a school-ager, our vacation days are often determined by the holiday schedules outlined by our daughter’s school district. Gone are the days of taking an impromptu weekend road trip or splurging on an overseas trip.

We are now confined to planning our vacations based on the following schedule: a week in February, a week in April, two and a half months in the summer, a week in the fall, and two weeks at the end of the year. Parents of school-agers, does this sound similar to your situation?

This post was updated on December 6, 2019.


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A child petting a sea anemone at an aquarium during a staycation with kids
Having fun at the Seattle Aquarium (May 2016)

Planning a staycation with kids

While adding up those days gives you over three months’ worth of travel days, it also happens to be pretty much the same time that almost every other family is traveling, which means that prices for most travel destinations are through the roof! We often prefer to travel during off-peak days, but now that we can’t do that we have to think of other ways to save money on travel.

To top it off, we just bought a house late last year, so our availability of travel funds for this year is a bit on the low side.

So what’s a family to do when they’re faced with a school holiday and not a lot of money to spend on travel? Plan a family staycation, of course! A staycation with kids is a great option for the budget-conscious, travel-loving family. And they can be a great way to get to know your city.

If you’re planning on staying put during your next school holiday, here are ten awesome staycation ideas for families.

Visiting the Gum Wall at Pike Place Market (May 2016)

Visit the tourist spots

We’re lucky to be living in Seattle. There are so many activities in Seattle for families! But even if you live in a small town, there are most likely one or two spots that are meant to draw out of town guests.

Spend the day playing tourist and visit places you wouldn’t normally visit as a local. Here in Seattle, we like visiting the Space Needle or Pike Place Market.

The Great Wheel, a large ferris wheel in downtown Seattle, where families like to visit during a staycation with kids
The Seattle Waterfront (June 2018)

Take a foodie tour

Speaking of markets and food, another great family staycation idea is to take a foodie tour of your city. If your city’s listed on Yelp, you can check out the top rated restaurants in your city.

You can also build an itinerary of restaurants to visit in your city based on a theme. We love frequenting restaurants that are recommended by local magazines like Seattle magazine or Seattle Met. We also visiting restaurants that are recommended in the Seattle travel guide book.

My son eating ramen in Portland, Oregon (September 2016)

Go swimming during your staycation with kids

If the weather is warm enough, why not visit a local pool? One of the things I love about Seattle is that there are several different places to go swimming.
Many of our city’s community centers have swimming pools open to the public.

There are also several public beaches with areas for swimming, as well as public parks with wading pools for the little ones. On those hot summer days when all you’re wanting is a place to cool down, head to a local swimming area and let your kids splash around during your family staycation.

Enjoying water play at a park (July 2015)

Get cultured

Another great thing about Seattle is the abundance of museums, from art to pop culture, natural history to technology. We love all the Seattle museums! A staycation with kids is the perfect time to visit one of the museums in your city.

If museums aren’t your thing, why not try attending a live theater show or a concert? Seattle has a great Children’s Theater that offers shows for young audiences. How about checking out your local cultural scene?

Learning about calligraphy at a museum in Spokane (August 2018)

Stay at a hotel

Who says that you need to stay at your home for a family staycation? Why not treat it like a vacation and stay at a hotel? Check in to a hotel for the night with your family and pretend like you’re actually visiting the city.

If you want to add a bit of luxury to your staycation with kids, splurge and stay at a fancy hotel. Or you can choose a hotel that’s in an area that you’ve always wanted to explore.

Splurging on a hotel room in India (June 2016)

Rent an Airbnb or vacation rental

Another option is to rent an Airbnb or vacation rental. It will give you a chance to get the feel of another neighborhood, and maybe even give you ideas for how to decorate your own home.

Unique accommodations, like tiny houses or houseboats, make it fun for your kids. We love Airbnb, and think staying at these properties make for some memorable staycation ideas for families.

Inspecting the view from our Airbnb in Seattle (April 2016)

Explore a new-to-you neighborhood

A family staycation is an excellent opportunity to spend time in a neighborhood that’s new to you. If there’s a part of town that you’ve never really been to, take a day to explore it and get to know it.

You can look up the popular restaurants and attractions in the local area, just like a tourist would do. Or you can spend an afternoon strolling through the streets and frequenting the local businesses.

A view of downtown Seattle from Smith Tower (February 2018)

Park-hop during your staycation with kids

If your city is like Seattle, there are probably plenty of local parks with playgrounds for your kids to explore. Spend a day visiting public parks in your city that you haven’t been to before.

We’re still just discovering the parks in our new neighborhood, and it’s been a blast exploring the local park scene. We think “park hopping” is a fun option for staycation ideas for families.

Playing at the Japanese Gardens in Seattle (February 2018)

Camp in your backyard

If you have a big enough backyard, why not set up a tent and have a backyard camp out? Pitch a tent, roll out the sleeping bag, and eat some s’mores under the stars. The best part is, you still have access to your house for late night bathroom breaks.

Our backyard tent setup (June 2016)

Ride the local transport

If your city has a good public transportation system, spend the day exploring new routes. We love riding the bus, and on long bus rides, it’s fun to look out the window and see the changes in scenery as you go through town.

Riding public transportation in Rome (June 2019)

Getting creative with your staycation with kids

These are just a few of my staycation ideas for families. The best way to make the most of your staycation is to be creative. Find ways to experience your city from a new perspective!

So the next time your kids have a school holiday, why not take some time to explore and get to know your city!

Do you have any awesome family staycation ideas? Share them in the comments below!

Staycation With Kids! Ten Awesome Ideas For Families | The Wandering Daughter | Creative ideas for families to spend a staycation with kids in their home town. Pinterest pin. Photo of a girl in front of a wall with wads of gum stuck to it.

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10 Responses

  1. Oh these are such great tips! It’s definitely harder to just get away when kids’ commitments start taking over. I love a good staycation and Seattle is such a fantastic city!

  2. I love backyard camping! We used to do that all the time when we were little and it was so much fun and we didn’t go anywhere!

    1. We like it too. It helps that we have a fenced backyard, otherwise, I would feel a bit exposed.

    1. Thanks Leanne! I’m sure you’ll have plenty of fun activities for both your vacation and staycation.

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