Are you longing to take a vacation, but not sure that you have the time or money for it? Save money this year, pay down some bills to get your credit back on track, and take a budget friendly staycation instead. These staycation ideas will help you feel like you are still getting away from the everyday grind—even though you aren’t traveling that far!
This post has been sponsored by Lexington Law. Please know that all opinions are mine alone and are honestly conveyed.
12 Budget Friendly Staycation Ideas
Take a day at the museum
The Association of Science-Technology Centers offers a program that allows you to visit science centers and museums around the country for free for an entire year, with the purchase of a membership. This can be a great source of educational and fun entertainment for you and your family this summer. Over 250 science centers and museums are part of the program. Although you will have to plan where you buy your membership, because you cannot use it at other science centers or museums within 90 miles of the center which you are a member of or within 90 miles of your residence.
Visit a national park
While many national parks are free to visit, some are not—unless you have a fourth grader in the family. Every Kid in a Park is a unique program that offers fourth graders and their family’s free access to national parks and sites around the country for free! You may even want to check out Recreation.gov and search some of the cool places to go in your own state that are very affordable or free, such as campgrounds, tours, parks, or landmarks.
Go to the movies
Taking the entire family to the movies can get expensive—unless you take advantage of summer movie clubs. Cinemark and Regal both offer an extensive list of movies throughout the summer for kids—and admission for kids and adults is only $1! If you plan on going to all of them, you can buy a pass and save even more on admission. There are also snack specials so you can save big on getting a popcorn and soda too!
Go to a drive-in movie
While they are not as popular as they used to be, taking the entire family to a drive-in move can be a lot of fun—and quite affordable! Instead of paying per ticket, you pay per vehicle, so your entire family gets to watch the movie for one low price!
Visit a lighthouse
There are several lighthouses across the country that are not only beautiful, but are rich in history. Of course, the coastal states have several lighthouses, but you might find that one of the lighthouses on the Great Lakes is much closer to home.
When you think of going canoeing or rafting, you may imagine braving the whitewater rapids (which I would definitely recommend going with a guide!), but there are several rivers all across the country that are much calmer and allow self-guided rides down the river. This is a great way to get out into nature, get some exercise, and still be able to relax.
Visit national monuments
Did you know that there are national monuments located in 31 states throughout the country? Take a look at this National Monument map to find out where the closest ones are to you. Most are free to visit and you may just learn a bit about our country’s history too!
Go to the beach or lake
If you happen to live close enough to drive to the beach for the day, you can truly feel the relaxation of a beach vacation for the day. Of course, not everyone lives by the coast… but you probably can find a local campground, lake or park that can offer some fun in the sun and water. Do a little research ahead of time and you will find that many parks and campgrounds offer waterslides, swimming and other water sports at very affordable rates.
Visit a local campground
Besides roughing it for the weekend in a tent—or even unplugging and staying in a rustic cabin—campgrounds offer quite a bit more. Many offer day passes to come and enjoy all of the activities, without actually staying. You will find that many campgrounds have a lake for swimming or canoeing, but you can also go hiking, bike riding, go-kart riding, mini-golfing, or even horseback riding. Call ahead or check online for special pricing for groups or packages.
Sometimes we take for granted the area that we live in and don’t recognize all of the great things around us because we are so busy doing all of the daily routine things. A staycation is a great time to take a fresh look at what there is to do within a couple hour drive of where you live—you might be surprised at the interesting things you find! Do a quick internet search or even contact some a local visitors bureaus for the best suggestions.
Take the kids bowling
Did you know that your kids can go bowling for free all summer long? Just sign your child up at Kids Bowl Free and you will get coupons emailed to you each week. Times will vary by location, but many bowling alleys nationwide are a part of this program, so you might just find that you have this free activity close to home.
Host a potluck cookout
Okay, maybe you don’t have the money to take a trip to Hawaii this year, but you can host a little luau party with some of your closest friends and bring the island feel to your own backyard. There are great decorations for themed parties, such as a luau, at your local dollar store or discount party center. Just because you host doesn’t mean that everyone expects you to make all the food—ask guests to bring their favorite side dish or dessert to share. And don’t forget the island music. If you have a smartphone you can probably find the perfect music for your back yard party on a free app, such as Pandora.