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16 Staycation Ideas for a Great Getaway Close to Home

Here's how to have an amazing vacation close to home.

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Mother And Daughter Playing In Home Made Garden Denmonkeybusinessimages/Getty Images

Vacationing from home

Vacations are one of life’s best pleasures, but sometimes your mini-vacation is not an option. Maybe it’s not in the budget this year, you don’t have enough time off, or you’re trying to limit travel with the coronavirus raging and the Delta variant on the rise. Whatever situation you find yourself in, don’t give up on your vacation. You have all the fun with way less hassle by trying one of these staycation ideas.

Willing to leave home for a little R&R? Check out these family vacation ideas, road trip ideas, best train rides in America, best places to spot fall foliage, small-town bed and breakfasts, and weekend getaways in every state. But if you’d rather hunker down at home while still having some fun, read on for more than a dozen great staycation ideas.

Family Camping in the BackyardLOUISE BEAUMONT/Getty Images

Go backyard glamping

Best for: Couples

Glamping is like camping but better—you’re outdoors but with all the comforts and amenities of a hotel. You can pay to go on a glamping destination vacation or just set up your own in your backyard. Pitch a tent, fill it with pillows, cozy blankets, comfy chairs, bean bags—whatever you’ve got! Get takeout at your favorite restaurant (a genius staycation idea all around) and enjoy it together while you snuggle in and talk. Bonus: Unlike camping, there are clean bathrooms nearby.

mother and son playing in a pillow fort at homePeopleImages/Getty Images

Have a pillow fort sleepover

Best for: Families with young kids

Don’t just build a pillow fort; build the best pillow fort ever! Tote a Fort’s Blanket Fort Kit makes that super easy. Go all out, draping sheets over furniture and building an indoor adventure. Hang fairy lights. Bring in a TV. Whip together recipes for a picnic. Break out the classic board games. The dress code is strict: Jammies only! Then when it’s bedtime, you have the perfect setup for a sleepover. The best thing about staying home this year? You can avoid travel mistakes like packing the wrong shoes. In the blanket fort, shoes are unnecessary.

cheese fondue close upDavid Buzzard - media-centre.ca/Getty Images

Have a fondue night

Best for: Seniors

Eating a fondue meal is a unique culinary experience, and it’s one you can bring to your home. Heat up a fondue pot (or two!) and lay out a spread of dippables. Start with savory dishes like meat cubes, bread, and blanched vegetables dipped in melted cheese. Then finish with dessert, dipping fruit, pound cake, pretzels, and marshmallows into melted white and dark chocolate. Missing that international trip you had to cancel because of COVID-19? Check out these U.S. destinations that feel like a vacation abroad.

A mother and her son hiking in Sequoia National Park.Jordan Siemens/Getty Images

Visit a nearby national park

Best for: Nature lovers

Our national parks are underrated treasures. With over 400 of them, there’s bound to be something for everyone. There’s plenty of hiking, but most national parks have other things to do as well, including museums, reenactments of historical events, guided star tours, wildlife spotting, and swimming. Plan on visiting more than one? It’s worth buying a National Parks Pass. Many parks are wheelchair accessible, and if you have a disability, you can apply for the National Parks & Federal Recreation Lands Access Pass, which offers lifetime free entry to more than 2,000 federal recreational sites.

couple watching a movie outside in the backyard while drinking winesvetikd/Getty Images

Set up an outdoor movie theater

Best for: Movie lovers and families

Projectors have gotten better and cheaper, making it easier than ever to set up a DIY backyard movie theater. Pick a blank side of your house (garage doors often work great), set up your laptop and projector, and pick a vacation-themed movie. Invite your neighbors to bring their lawn chairs, add popcorn and soda, and you have a perfect night out, err, in. It’s a fun activity even if you’re traveling; just set up the projector at your Airbnb rental instead.

Rear view of a man with backpack admiring modern skyscrapers in Bangkok, ThailandAlexander Spatari/Getty Images

Tour your own city

Best for: City dwellers (and those who live nearby)

Every state has some must-see tourist attractions. When people come to visit, you probably have a list of sights they should see and things they should do. Now is the time to use that list yourself! Visit a museum, go to a concert, check out historical buildings, walk on the boardwalk, or hike those hills. View your city as a tourist might. Heck, you can go so far as to buy the souvenir mug. If CityPass is available near you, it’s a great way to check out multiple attractions for a lower price.

teenagers taking a selfie while at a drive in movieLanaStock/Getty Images

Go to a drive-in movie

Best for: Teenagers

With the pandemic raging (and keeping everyone from traditional movie theaters), drive-ins have been making a strong comeback. Staying in your car allows you to avoid germs while still enjoying a show on the big screen. Find a drive-in movie theater near you, check show times, and stock your car with goodies like Mike and Ikes and other candies. Or find a friend with a pickup truck and put a mattress in the back for more comfortable viewing. Even if you’re heading out of town—say, on one of these East Coast vacations—you might find a drive-in near you for a fun nighttime activity.

woman riding her bike through the mountainsamriphoto/Getty Images

Take a bike tour

Best for: Athletes

Riding a bike is a great way to see your city or a destination. It’s faster than walking, but you don’t have to worry about parking a car or finding an Uber. Plus, you get to be in the fresh air. Many places offer guided bike tours, or you can come armed with a list of sights to stop. A couple of favorites? Cycling to the best graffiti art in the city or riding to one of the best wineries in your area.

young woman wearing a bath robe filling the bath tub up with water for a spa dayAriel Skelley/Getty Images

Indulge in a spa day

Best for: Tired parents

Tired moms will love getting a day to relax and pamper themselves, although this is definitely one of the staycation ideas that most people will enjoy. You can schedule a full day at a local spa and get the deluxe treatment, or you can put one together at home. Get a fluffy bathrobe, stock up on sheet masks for your face, and choose a new nail polish. Then top off your glass of wine and fill the bathtub for a relaxing soak. For some extra-glam pampering, see if one of the most luxurious spas in the world is located in your neck of the woods, then book a treatment.

ferris wheel at coney island amusement park in new yorkEd Freeman/Getty Images

Visit an amusement park

Best for: Adrenaline junkies

Staycation ideas have to include some excitement for thrill-seekers. Ride the rides and see the sights while still staying mostly outdoors by visiting one of your favorite amusement parks. Even if roller coasters aren’t your thing, you’ll love the gentler rides, the carnival games, shows, and fresh churros. Make it an all-day affair for the whole family.

group of girls having dinner on a terraceAleksandarNakic/Getty Images

Have a girls’ or guys’ night in

Best for: Friend groups

Some of the best types of vacations are guys’ or girls’ weekend getaways. Don’t want to risk it during the pandemic? Host your pals at home for the night. Invite a small group friends for a girls’ or guys’ night in. Mix a signature drink, play a fun game (Cards Against Humanity is a great party game for people over 18), watch a movie, or just talk. Or set up the guest room and make a weekend of it.

Couple dancing at backyard dance partyGranger Wootz/Getty Images

Host a neighborhood dance party

Best for: The whole neighborhood

Dancing with others is fun and good for you. But going into crowded dance clubs probably isn’t at the top of your to-do list right now. Thankfully, all you need for your own dance party is an outdoor speaker and a flat spot for dancing. String up some lights, fill a couple of coolers with drinks, and invite all your neighbors. For more fun but safe ideas, check out these crowd-free vacations you can book at the last minute.

Two men stand by a campfire and watch the starsDavid Trood/Getty Images

Camp under the stars

Best for: Stargazers and nature lovers

Avoid crowds, stay close to home, and take in the night sky by going camping. Keep it simple and head to a nearby scenic spot for one night. For more of an adventure, check out one of these iconic American camping spots. Pack a light backpacking tent, but if temperatures are mild and skies are clear, you may not even need it. Sleeping under stars is one of those life-changing experiences that we’ve nearly forgotten about in modern society, making it one of our favorite staycation ideas.

smiling friends holding prepared food for a potluck dinnerThe Good Brigade/Getty Images

Host a dinner around the world potluck

Best for: Families

Everyone comes from somewhere. Look up your heritage and learn how to cook a dish from that part of the world. Invite your friends or neighbors to do the same, then bring the dish to a multicultural potluck. Ask everyone to bring a few fun facts to share about their culture. Staycation ideas like this one let you still have a cultural experience and learn something new about a far-off place without traveling overseas during a pandemic.

family walking down to the beach on a sunny daypixdeluxe/Getty Images

Hit the beach

Best for: Sun worshipers

This is one of the most popular staycation ideas and for good reason. A day at the beach is like its own form of meditation. If there’s a body of water nearby, chances are there’s some type of beach. Bring a beach picnic, set up a sun umbrella, lay out your towels, and spread out the sand toys. Oh, and don’t forget the sunscreen. Need inspiration? See if any of these budget-friendly beach destinations or lake house rentals are near you.

Man and woman arriving homeTony Anderson/Getty Images

Take part in a house swap

Best for: Young couples and seniors

Got friends that live in fun places? Skip the hassle and uncertainty of a hotel and just swap houses for a weekend. Each of you gets to check out a new place with a comfortable home base to come back to at night. Be sure to also swap lists of the must-see sights in your areas. Just be aware of these things to consider before doing a house swap.

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, BS, MS, has been covering health, fitness, parenting, and culture for many major outlets, both in print and online, for 15 years. She's the author of two books, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast, and also does freelance editing and ghostwriting. She has appeared in television news segments for CBS, FOX, and NBC.

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