It’s been another crazy, hectic summer, filled with unexpected twists and turns. Isn’t that the way it always goes? It seems like we have good intentions to slow down, relax, spend more time as a family, every year, and yet, the end of the summer rolls around and we’re left wondering where the time went. The good news is, it’s not over, yet, and there is still time to make some fun vacation memories with your family, without breaking the budget.
Our family did a “staycation”, this year. We stayed, one night, at the Embassy Suites in the city, only 30 miles from home. It was a fabulously fun time and a truly budget-friendly option. Here are some tips and ideas, that you can use to plan your own family staycation and finish off your summer, making some fabulous memories and enjoying a simple, relaxing time with the whole family.
- Instead of spending your vacation budget on gas for a long roadtrip or airfare for far away travel, conserve your cash and use it for some actual rest and relaxation, enjoying meals out and fun activities. “Staycations” are short trips, close to home that cut your spending and help you explore local attractions and sights that you might not have known about before.
- Check your local newspaper for listings about festivals or fairs that are happening in the area. Many have free, or inexpensive, admission and will offer a wealth of activities to choose from.
- Visit a local museum or your state capitol. We have a great history museum on the college campus in our city and the admission charge is only a couple of dollars per person. Our youngest hadn’t visited our state capitol building, yet, so that was another fun, free activity on our list, too. She loved it and took TONS of pictures!
- Most cities have walking trails, bike trails or nature areas where there is no charge to enjoy the amenities. We have Pioneer Park, which includes some fantastic nature study trails, a swinging bridge and habitats for bison, wild turkeys, foxes, and other wildlife. It also includes a large pond habitat for geese, ducks, turtles and more, plus has a great science learning center where the kids can interact and learn. There is no charge for this activity either.
- Have you ever been geo-caching? I’m excited to try and incorporate this activity into our homeschool map studies this year and if someone in your family has a smart phone or a GPS, this is another totally free and ridiculously fun activity. Who doesn’t love a treasure hunt? Learn more about geocaching at Geocaching.com.
- We also visited and toured the Sunken Gardens, a beautiful area filled with flowers, trees and plants of all shapes and varieties. We explored the winding paths through breathtakingly beautiful floral displays, waterfalls and statuary displays; and we watched the koi in the large lily ponds, filled with lilies in so many different colors. Again, there was no charge for this self-tour and we had a tremendous time, identifying different plants and flowers and snapping pictures.
- If your family is more of the indoor-type, plan a movie marathon, complete with popcorn, movie candy and sodas or a family video game challenge. Break out your favorite board games or cards.
- Select a quality hotel, with lots of family-friendly and budget-saving amenities, that will top off your plans in style. Our choice, and it turned out to be a FABULOUS one, was Embassy Suites! It’s the perfect travel-hub to return to from all your activities and outings, plus for you indoor families, the two-room suites (with two TV’s) offer tons of space to spread out, hook up your video games and/or enjoy movies. Each suite also has a mini-kitchen area with a fridge, sink and counters, microwave and coffee maker, so you can make some affordable food choices for meals and snacks in your room. The exercise room and gorgeous swimming pool with hot tub are amenities that are also included in the price of your suite. To top it off, staying at Embassy Suites even saved us money on dining out! Each evening, there is a Manager’s Reception with free beverages and appetizers. A full, made-to-order breakfast that included things like custom omelets prepared by a chef, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, bacon, sausage, fresh fruit and melon, yogurt, cereal, muffins, bagels, doughnuts and pastries is also INCLUDED in the price of the suite and served each morning. In our area, the two room suite we stayed in typically rents for about $150 per night, but when I checked online, I found specials as low as $101!