MAY 30TH, 2023 | AAA
Sometimes you just need to get away. Whether you want to escape from the craziness of your daily life or go on an adventure, the urge to explore some new scenery can strike at any time. Unfortunately, most of us can’t swing impulsive travel without some time to save up.
When your need to get away doesn’t match your bank account balance, these 39 staycation ideas can help you experience the relaxing benefits of a vacation without the cost.
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A staycation is when you stay home and act like you’re on vacation. You participate in leisure activities you wouldn’t normally do to rest and recharge, just like you would on a traditional vacation, all while staying home (or close to it). With a staycation, you experience the relaxing benefits of a vacation without spending a lot of money.
The key to a good staycation is remembering that you’re on vacation, which can be hard to do when you’re staying home. Here are a few tips for planning the ultimate staycation:
Staycations are a great time to reconnect with your partner. Take a few days off work and treat your time together as a romantic getaway without the getaway.
1. Stay Overnight at a Local Hotel, Resort, Airbnb or Bed and Breakfast
Kick off your staycation with a romantic one-night stay at a local hotel, resort, Airbnb or bed and breakfast. Since you’re only staying for one night, splurge on a place you’ve wanted to stay but have never been able to. If you can, stay during the middle of the week to save money on your hotel room.
Enjoy some room service without worrying about doing the dishes afterward. Relax at the pool, get drinks at the hotel bar or just sleep in. Save money on your room with a AAA-preferred hotel.
2. Find Local Artists at an Art Gallery
Spend a romantic afternoon exploring the local art scene at an art gallery. Experiencing art by local artists gives you a unique insight into your local culture and community in a different way, and you may even find a souvenir piece to bring home.
3. Cook a Gourmet Meal at Home
Part of the excitement of going on vacation is trying new things, so level up your usual dinner with gourmet ingredients from Stock Yards or Vital Choice. Expand your palate (and your cooking skills!) with a new dish you wouldn't have time to try on a busy workday.
4. Swap Houses With a Friend
Sometimes you just need a change of scenery to relax for a bit. Pick a weekend and switch houses with a friend. Maybe they live one town over, or maybe within walking distance — regardless, you’ll get a change of scenery without spending a dime.
5. Tour a Local Brewery or Winery
No matter where you live, you’re probably within driving distance of a local brewery or winery. Spend the day sipping adult beverages and eating appetizers with your partner. Just make sure to travel safely with a rideshare or stay at a nearby hotel.
6. Attend a Local Festival
You don’t have to attend a big-name festival like Coachella, Burning Man or South by Southwest to enjoy the festival vibe. Attend a local festival instead! Whether it’s to celebrate your town’s pumpkin farms or the local music scene, spend some time celebrating what makes your town unique. Enjoy fair food and the best local culture has to offer.
Use AAA Tickets to snag discounted tickets to festivals in your area.
7. Watch the Sunset
You don’t have to be beachside to catch a gorgeous sunset. Look up the best places in your area to view a sunset for inspiration, or head out to a local park, beach or hilltop. Bring a blanket and romantic snacks like chocolate-covered strawberries from Shari’s Berries and turn off your cell phone to take in the beauty of the sunset with your significant other.
8. Eat Breakfast in Bed
Nothing screams “vacation” like the indulgence of breakfast in bed. For a more relaxed vibe, get up and make it with your significant other while dancing in the kitchen in your PJs. If you want to mimic room service, order breakfast from your favorite local spot or some pastries from Wolferman’s Bakery.
Either way, put the food on trays, add a sprig of flowers from the backyard garden and head back to bed to enjoy.
9. Dance the Night Away
Spend the evening dancing with your partner. Go to a local club and dance with strangers, or invite some friends to join you. Learn a style you haven’t tried, like salsa or line dancing. If you prefer, dance to all your favorite songs in the privacy of your living room or spend a few hours learning the latest TikTok dance craze.
10. Go Stargazing
What’s more romantic than looking up at the stars and contemplating how lucky you are to have found each other? Check out a local observatory or just grab a blanket and head out to a deserted part of town where light pollution is limited. Rent a convertible and put the top down to enjoy the starts in style. Pick a clear night and bring a blanket if it’s chilly.
11. Have a Picnic in the Park
Pack a picnic lunch and drive to a local park. The picnic doesn’t have to be fancy — some sandwiches or a simple charcuterie board work just fine! Or step it up a notch and pack up your favorite meals or get sentimental with the food you ate on your first date. Bring a blanket, some bug spray (just in case!) and some chilled wine or sparkling juice.
Use Gopuff to save $12 off your first four grocery orders and get free delivery on everything you need for a delicious picnic.
12. Learn Something New Together
Pick something neither of you knows how to do and learn to do it together. Take a ballroom dancing class or a cooking class. Express yourself in an art class, or do something fun like kayaking. If you’re more adventurous, go skydiving or ziplining. Whatever it is, push each other outside your comfort zone and grow together.
When the family is home for the summer or a school break, you need something fun to do together. Here are some ideas for things to do on a staycation with your family, no matter the time of year.
13. See Your Town as a Tourist
Chances are, when you first moved to town you spent some time exploring, but if you’ve been there awhile, you probably don’t veer away from your regular haunts. Use a staycation to be a tourist without leaving your town. Check out all the local attractions as a family. Visit a museum, check out a monument or explore a local art installation. Consult your city’s tourism page for ideas.
14. Take a Day Trip
Just because it’s called a staycation doesn’t mean you can’t leave the city limits. Pile into the family car (or rent one with your AAA membership discount) and head out on a day trip. You don’t even have to go far — sometimes just making a day of a trip to the next town over is enough excitement.
To save money, bring your own food for the journey. If it’s a longer trip, play car games like I Spy and give everyone a turn controlling the playlist.
15. Spend a Day Giving Back
A staycation presents an excellent opportunity to give back to your community. Spend some time volunteering at a local food bank, animal shelter or other community programs you support. You’ll leave feeling better about the world and your place in it, which is part of what being on vacation is all about.
16. Learn Something New at a Local Museum or Science Center
Who says you can’t learn something on a vacation? If you went on a trip somewhere, you’d probably visit a museum to learn more about the area, so do that at home. Visit a local history museum or science center, or let the kids play at the local children’s museum — perfect for a rainy staycation day.
Use your AAA membership to save up to 30 percent on admission.
17. Camp Out in the Backyard
Pitch a tent in the backyard and sleep outside without leaving behind the comforts of running water and electricity. Leave the kids outside for a slumber party if they’re old enough, or join them for a night of fun. Play games, tell stories and munch on popcorn from The Popcorn Factory and s’mores. Just keep it quiet since you don’t want to disturb the neighbors.
18. Go Paintballing or Play Laser Tag
A little healthy family competition won’t hurt anyone! Spend an afternoon paintballing or playing laser tag. If your family is big enough, divide up adults vs. children or boys vs. girls for ultimate bragging rights. If your family isn’t big enough to divide into teams, invite some family friends to join you!
19. Play at the Local Arcade
Playing video games at home all day isn’t exactly staycation material since you can do that any day of the week. Instead, spend an afternoon playing at a local arcade and earn tickets for prizes. Pool the family’s winning tickets for an ultimate prize to commemorate the day, or let everyone walk away with something small.
20. Splash at the Local Water Park or Pool
Many popular vacations involve water, be it the hotel pool or the beach. Add vacation vibes to your staycation with a day at the local water park or pool — perfect for those hot days when you aren’t sure how to entertain your kids and everyone just needs to cool off.
Get discounted admission to select water parks with your AAA membership.
No local water park or pool? Buy an inflatable one and fill it with water from the garden hose.
21. Catch a Flick at the Drive-in
The point of a staycation is to do things you normally wouldn’t do, and catching a movie at the drive-in probably isn’t on your weekly to-do list. If you have a drive-in nearby, pack up the kids and some snacks to enjoy a movie with a hefty dose of nostalgia for simpler days.
Some staycation ideas are so great you’ll forget you haven’t left home. Here are a few guaranteed to get you in that vacay mood.
22. Relax at the Spa
Relax on your staycation with a day at a local spa. The best part is you can do this alone, with your significant other or with your closest friends. While relaxing during a facial, massage or mani-pedi — or all three! — you won’t be able to tell you aren’t on a full-fledged vacation.
23. Host a Potluck or Progressive Dinner With Friends
Good food always correlates with good times, so organize a potluck or progressive dinner with your friends. Everyone can bring a dish, or you can travel between houses for different courses. If you want to skip the meal prep and the dishes — it is a staycation, after all — order your favorite foods from Landry’s Kitchen.
24. Take a Yoga Class
While exercise isn’t typically on a vacation itinerary, yoga’s relaxing qualities make it the perfect staycation activity. Take a class you normally wouldn’t have time for at the community center or a local studio. Or grab your mat and run through some sun salutations in your backyard before your morning coffee.
25. Root for the Home Team
Take the family to a local sporting event. The level doesn’t matter — college, minor league, the pros — as long as you spend a few hours rooting on your favorite team and stocking up on stadium favorites like gooey nachos and gourmet hot dogs. Use your AAA membership for discounts on memorabilia at participating team stores.
26. Take in a Show
Splurge on movie tickets or enjoy your local symphony. Take in a touring Broadway show or watch your favorite comedian bring down the house. Use your AAA membership to purchase tickets from AAA Tickets, which can save you up to 30 percent on tickets to your favorite shows.
27. Explore Your Creative Side in an Art Class
Let your artistic side shine in an art class. Go by yourself and make new friends, or bring a few friends to drink wine and learn to paint. If painting on a canvas isn’t for you, think about painting some pottery instead.
28. Eat Your Way Through Town
Eating out at new restaurants is one of the best parts of vacation, so it should be a crucial part of your staycation plans. Hit up new local spots you’ve been meaning to explore, or a spot popular with tourists you don’t normally visit, like Hard Rock Cafe or a Landry’s restaurant chain like Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. or Rainforest Cafe. Be sure to ask if the restaurant offers a AAA discount to save money on your meals and nonalcoholic beverages.
29. Get on the Water
If you have a local body of water, go play in it. Relax in a canoe or kayak and take in the scenery at your own pace or get some thrills boating and tubing. Build sandcastles on the beach if you have one or relax with a book in the sun. Don’t forget sun protection, from hats to sunscreen to sunglasses.
30. Listen to Some Live Music
Whether it’s a local musician or your favorite band in town for a concert, live music can transport you away from the troubles of your daily life. Grab a friend or two to enjoy music at a stadium or amphitheater, or enjoy a more intimate performance at a bar.
Keep your staycation under budget with these fun, cheap staycation ideas.
31. Host a Movie Marathon
Make watching movies at home extra fun with a movie marathon. Pick a series to watch straight through or select a theme and let everyone pick a movie to watch. Set up camp in your living room with blankets, pillows and a mix of sweet and salty snacks or hook up a projector and watch movies in your backyard under the stars.
32. Explore a local, state or national park
Spend a day exploring a local, state or national park. Pack a picnic lunch, bring the family dog and make a day of climbing jungle gyms and hiking trails. Check the park’s website to see if there are any interesting educational activities you can participate in to make the trip even more memorable.
33. Get Some Fresh Air
Get in touch with nature again by unplugging the television and stepping out your front door. Take the dog for a walk around the block or bike to your favorite coffee shop instead of driving. Lace up your Reebok running shoes and go for a run while listening to your favorite podcast or take the grandkids fishing at the neighborhood pond. Whatever you do, get some fresh air in your lungs. Just don’t do any yard work — a staycation is still a vacation, and no one does yard work on vacation.
34. Take a Virtual Tour
Thanks to COVID-19, many museums and other attractions around the world have put virtual tours online so you can experience everything it has to offer from your couch. Pick your bucket list destination and do a Google search for available virtual tours. Some may be free, while others will charge you a small fee, but it’ll be less than getting there in person.
35. See What the Local Library Has Planned
Libraries are community hubs, so they always have something happening. Visit your local library in person or check out their website’s event calendar to see what’s coming up. From story time for little kids to anime club for teens to displays of local history for grown-ups, there’s sure to be something to entertain everyone in the family.
36. Take a Scenic Drive
Hop in the car, start your favorite playlist, roll the windows down and just go. Follow your GPS to a specific destination or follow your heart to discover someplace new. Take your scenic drive to another level by renting a car like that convertible you’ve always wanted, and don’t forget to fill it up before you return it. Link your AAA membership to your Fuel Rewards Program at Shell to save 5 cents a gallon and drive farther for less.
37. Unplug From Technology
Technology is a great tool, but a digital detox can help you get in the staycation mood. Dedicate one day of your staycation to a digital detox — leave the TV show marathon until tomorrow, read a paperback instead of scrolling on your phone and don’t even think about firing up your laptop. Your brain will thank you.
38. Hold a Family Board Game Tournament
Challenge the entire family to a board game tournament. How you structure it is up to you — play all the games in one day or play one a night for the duration of the staycation. Have prizes available for the winner of each game and an ultimate prize for the person who wins the most games throughout the tournament.
39. Host a Family Talent Show
Don’t go out for entertainment — host a family talent show! Get the entire family to participate and ask a friend or extended family member to serve on a judges panel. Pick up a fake trophy or award ribbon from your favorite party store and give the winner bragging rights.
Join AAA today to see how AAA’s Discounts & Rewards® program can make your staycation more affordable. With more than 20 discount partners, your AAA membership can save you money on everything from overnight hotel stays to food to tickets.