25 Fun Staycation Ideas That Won’t Break the Bank

Louise Salas
Louise Salas

It’s no secret that planning a staycation instead of a vacation is a money-saving move.

You don’t have to shell out money for plane tickets and a rental car. You can sleep in your own bed rather than book a stay at a hotel or Airbnb. You can avoid the expensive tourist traps.

Best of all, you can still have fun. Having a staycation doesn’t mean just lounging around at home feeling bored.

Here are 25 fun — but inexpensive — staycation ideas.

25 Low-Budget Staycation Ideas

No matter what type of vacation you tend to gravitate toward — one where you indulge in the culinary scene, enjoy adventurous thrills, find your restful zen or take in cultural experiences — there are ways to recreate what you love while staying local.

Planning what you’d like to do during your staycation — and budgeting for it — will allow you to have an awesome escape from everyday life without any financial regrets.

If You’re a Foodie

  1. Try out new recipes. Crack open a cookbook or Google a dish you’ve always wanted to attempt making at home. Avoid recipes with a bunch of specialty ingredients so you don’t wind up overspending at the grocery store.
  1. Sign up for a cooking class. Check local event listings for cooking lessons hosted by nearby restaurants, community centers or culinary schools. Or peruse YouTube for online cooking lessons.
  1. Visit a farmers market. Snag some fresh produce and sample tasty prepared food from local vendors.
  1. Make your own charcuterie board. Get fancy at home with a DIY meat and cheese board that costs a fraction of what a restaurant might charge. Check out some tips from when we made a $25 charcuterie board by shopping at Aldi.
  1. Picnic in the park. Enjoy a change of scenery by packing up lunch, dinner or an assortment of snacks to enjoy at a nearby park. Bring a large blanket to spread on the ground and a Frisbee or lawn games for after you eat.
  1. Tour a winery or brewery. Research wineries and craft beer breweries in your region to see if any offer inexpensive tours. Or perhaps your city — or a nearby town — is home to a chocolatier or another food manufacturing operation that offers public tours. You get the chance to see how things are made — plus there are usually samples to enjoy!
  1. Have a bake-off. Recreate your version of “The Great British Bake Off” with your partner, roommate or kids. Or instead of fighting over oven space, bake ahead of time and make the competition all about who can decorate the best cupcakes or cookies.
Two boys use a tree trunk as a balance beam as the walk through a forest while hiking.

If You’re Looking for an Adventure

  1. Snag a Groupon for a fun local attraction. Try an activity like rock climbing, axe throwing, laser tag or an escape room — at a discounted price. Browse what’s available on Groupon in your local area.
  1. Take a hike. Get some fresh air and connect with nature while exploring a local trail.
  1. Go camping. Your staycation doesn’t have to mean sleeping in your own bed. Pitch a tent at a nearby campsite or in your backyard. (These tips will help you stay on budget if you choose the campsite route.) Tell stories and toast marshmallows over the fire pit, and enjoy a day or two unplugged.
  1. Go on a scavenger hunt. Get to know a section of town you don’t often visit by creating a scavenger hunt list. What you include on your list is up to you, but here are a few suggestions: Find a historical marker, take a photo of a quirky sign, identify the tallest building and search for a building with a red door.
  1. Explore a national park. Find a park near you for great outdoor getaway. There are several days each year that the parks charge no admission.
  1. Create your own field day experience. Have a three-legged race. Play catch with a water balloon. See who can walk the quickest while balancing an egg on a spoon. The whole family can get in on the fun.

If You Want to Relax

  1. Curl up with a good book. Your local library has literally thousands of options if you don’t have one lying around at home.
  1. Have a movie marathon. Spend the day in your sweatpants and binge watch all your favorite films on your streaming service of choice.
  1. Give yourself a spa treatment. Light some candles and put on relaxing music to set the mood for a DIY spa day. You can give yourself a facial or foot soak using ingredients in your pantry or bathroom cabinet.
  1. Practice yoga. Free yoga videos online will help you find your balance without having to step foot in a yoga studio — or pay any fees.
  1. Go for a walk on the beach. There’s nothing more relaxing than a leisurely walk along the shore while the waves kiss at your feet. If you don’t live near the water, a walk along another picturesque setting will do just fine.
  1. Tap into your inner artist. Many people find painting to be a peaceful activity, but adult coloring books tend to have the same effect. Plus a coloring book and a box of colored pencils cost less than paint, brushes and canvas.
A woman looks at wood pictures at a museum. Visiting museums is a staycation idea.

If You Seek a Cultural Experience

  1. Attend a concert in the park. Check your city’s calendar of events for outdoor shows. These types of events are sometimes put on free of charge.
  1. Go to a museum. Museum admission can end up being costly, but there are ways to save. Some libraries lend out free museum passes. Several museums nationwide offer discounted days for local residents. The Smithsonian Magazine hosts an annual free museum day with participating institutions all across the country. Bank of America cardholders can enjoy free museum admission one weekend a month with its Museums on Us program. Or you could always enjoy a virtual museum tour from the comfort of home.
  1. Attend a lecture at your community college. The money-saving benefits of community college go beyond lower tuition. Check out your local college’s calendar of public events for interesting guest speaker lectures or Q&As with notable book authors.
  1. Attend a community festival. Local festivals can be great venues to experience music, art and food from multiple cultures. And they usually have low-cost admission.
  1. Check out public art. Be a tourist in your own city, exploring the different sculptures, murals and architecture around town. You may even learn a little more about the place where you live.
  1. Take a dance class. Dancing is a great way to immerse yourself in another culture — whether you’re interested in African dance, Cuban salsa, German polka or country western line dancing. Look for local organizations offering lessons or search for free dance tutorials online.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance website that empowers millions of readers nationwide to make smart decisions with their money through actionable and inspirational advice, and resources about how to make, save and manage money.

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