Sometimes the very best family vacation is right in your own city! Instead of spending a mint on airfare or driving for hours, spend a little time brainstorming with your family and plan a load of fun right where you are. These ideas can be strung together for a fun-filled week or used for family time anytime on holidays or weekends.
Planning Can Be Part of the Fun
Have a picnic lunch (in the living room if it’s beastly hot outside) or go out to your favorite spot for dinner. Bring paper and pen for each family member. Ask each person to write down:
1. Things they’ve never done before but would LOVE to do. If there’s something on everyone’s list, that’s an easy place to start! If you’ve all chosen different activities, talk about each and choose one from every person’s list.
2. Themes for a day on your vacation. Remember, it’s brainstorming. Themes could be a favorite sport, movie or even a color!
These are the building blocks for time together that will offer something for everyone.
Now, use the Family-Time Formula:
Part 1: Learn about your topic/theme from others.
Part 2: Remember to rest.
Part 3: Hands on! Time to do it yourself.
Part 4: Wrap up. What did you learn, what were each person’s favorite or least favorite parts?
Let's See It In Action
Say that Kayaking showed up on everyone’s “would LOVE to do it” list.
Before kayaking day, pick up a local book on the subject. Make a reservation for a kayaking lesson, boat rental or tour.
Start your day with a leisurely, healthy breakfast together. Talk about the kayak - what are the different parts? What will be important for safety? How is everyone feeling? It’s okay to acknowledge any apprehensions! Watch a YouTube video about the type of kayaking you’ll do.
Pack the right kind of food and drink. Not only are they important for your health, a good snack break is a great time for everyone to share their thoughts on the day.
Leave plenty of time to find your way. Since none of you have ever done this, eliminate stress by leaving plenty of time to get lost, pack your gear in, or to stop and breathe.
Prepare for your post-fun meal at home. Presume that you will be hot and tired after your day of fun, so make plans for and easy lunch or dinner.
Use meal time to see what the family thought. Here are a few fun openers: “On a scale of 1 to 10”, “Would you do it again tomorrow?”, “Favorite Part/Least Favorite Part”, “Did anything happen that you didn’t expect?”
Some Theme Days We Like
Arts Alive: Choose a local art museum to visit in the morning. Learn about the artists whose work you’ll be seeing. In the afternoon, visit a local art studio or set up your own on the kitchen table and create a work in the spirit of the artist you saw. Pottery can be a fun family experience. You’ll appreciate the symmetry of master works...and then discover how challenging it is to create a work of your own! Abstract painting is also a blast. Remember, this is vacation - it’s okay to make a mess, just plan for it!
Nature in the Neighborhood: Start with a trip to a nature or science center. What are the natural features where you live? Then visit a local park and explore the sites. The best choices are parks with trails or specific features like creeks, waterfalls and rock formations. If your parks are more green space than wilderness, take favorite books or magazines, a blanket and a pitcher of lemonade. Or take a ball, frisbee and a hula-hoop. Invent a friendly competition or game. If you’re lucky enough to live near a National Park, discover the Junior Ranger program. Many feature “bug hunts” - a walk through nature where you carry an insect net to catch, observe, discuss and release the many little critters you find along the trail.
City Day: Take time to learn more about your city! Start online with the Chamber of Commerce or Visitors Bureau, where you can often find coupons and discounts to local attractions. Plan to visit City Hall (call ahead for open hours or information on tours). Talk about all the “services” a city provides. Call ahead and visit a local firehouse or police station. How is your family also like a city? What rules do you have that are like city ordinances? Is there something about your city you’d like to change? What could you do together as a family? Research and visit a few city landmarks.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. Have you ever taken a family staycation? What kinds of things did you do? Share your tips and memories below.