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As much as you may want to take your family on a camping trip, play for days at an amusement park or settle in at the beach for a long trip away from home, sometimes it's just not that easy to escape. If finances, a lack of vacation days or too many other commitments are holding back your travel plans, your family can have a spectacular staycation instead.
We know what you're thinking: "Staycations" are just a fancy way of saying you're stuck at home. Technically, that's true. But they can actually be a lot of fun if you infuse them with some of these suggestions. Trust us.
Roll back the clock and introduce your family to things you used to love to do as a kid. Rent a pair of roller skates and hit the neighborhood rink or pack into the car for a drive-in movie. Does your town have an old-school soda fountain? Now's the time to try it out.
2. Learn something new as a family
What has your family always wanted to do but never had the time to learn? Your staycation is a great opportunity to take up geocaching, learn how to play paintball, give stand-up paddle-boarding a go or dip candles for the very first time.
3. Seek out family friendly events
Many communities hold free festivals and events—and many more people have no idea they even exist. Grab a copy of your town's free weekly newspaper for more information on movies in the park, live music, hands-on art festivals, local parades and more.
Use your staycation to explore these natural treasures right in your own backyard.
4. Take a tour
Everything is made somewhere and chances are there is a factory of some sort not too far from your home. A couple of top tour picks: Learn how metal whistles are made at the American Whistle Corporation in Columbus, Ohio, and get to the heart of the teddy bear at the Stuffington Bear Factory in Phoenix.
5. Host a party
Pick a theme (Christmas in July, favorite fairy tales, super heroes … whatever tickles your fancy), invite friends and host a party or barbecue in the backyard. Add props and a fun background to create a homemade photo booth to capture your event.
6. Pack a picnic
Take advantage of those long days of summer with a delicious picnic lunch. Don't forget to pack a variety of easy-to-assemble yard games or a football or Frisbee to pass time before dessert.
7. Explore a new park
How many of us live near a local, state or national park but have never bothered to check it out? Guilty as charged. Use your staycation to explore these natural treasures right in your own backyard.
8. Play a new board game—or rekindle your love for an old one
Turn off the electronic devices and pull out your family's collection of board games for a day of play. Be prepared with snacks ahead of time because things could get competitive.
Sometimes the fun in travel isn't what you do but where you stay.
9. Be a tourist in your own town
When people come to visit your city on vacation, where do they go? Play tourist for the day and enjoy those attractions, restaurants and sites that other people travel to your hometown to visit.
10. Sleep somewhere different
Sometimes the fun in travel isn't what you do but where you stay. Is there a funky hotel in your neighborhood you'd like to check out? (Bonus points if it has a pool.) You might also find a cool place to stay through a rental listing like Airbnb or VRBO. And you can always pitch a tent in the backyard for a night under the stars.
11. Support a local sports team
Even if your city doesn't have a major league sports team, chances are there are sports clubs that would be happy for you to cheer them on. If you already have season tickets to the baseball or football stadium, scope out a new-to-you sport.
Pump up the tires on your bike, pull out those dusty golf clubs, visit the local climbing gym or tie on a pair of hiking boots. Use your staycation to try a new sport or share one with your kids that you used to play.