Jetting off to an exotic destination in the Caribbean may sound like the perfect family vacation, but there are many other ways to rest, relax and spend quality time together as a family this summer. If an expensive trip is not in your family budget, why not consider a vacation that is a little (okay, a lot) closer to home?
With some thought and creativity, you can plan a spectacular staycation right here in St. Louis, one that requires minimal travel, yet still allows you to make plenty of special summer memories.
What Is a Staycation?
As the name implies, a staycation is, essentially, a vacation that revolves around staying home. Some families choose staycation activities that don’t even require them to leave the house, while others prefer to get out and about and explore their local community.
No matter what type of staycation works best for your family, there are a few guidelines you can follow to make sure it feels like a true vacation for everyone involved.
• Take time off from work. Yes, this means you, Mom and Dad. Whether your staycation lasts for a full week or just a long weekend, resist the urge to check in with the office.
• Unplug. Your staycation does not have to be entirely screen-free, but put away the smartphones and tablets in favor of games, conversations and connections with loved ones.
• Make a meal plan. Take a vacation from your kitchen too by stocking up on sandwich fixings for simple, no-cook meals or dining out at restaurants where someone else will do the dishes.
• Avoid non-essential household tasks. Fight the urge to do laundry or clean out your closet. If it isn’t a task you normally do on vacation, you shouldn’t be doing it on a staycation either.
• Think about what you want to achieve. Is your goal to have a relaxing, do-nothing staycation that is all about staying home? Or do you want to get out of the house and enjoy new experiences together?
Staycations are supposed to be fun, not stressful, so be sure to customize yours to meet the unique needs of your individual family. Here are a few ideas to help you start planning.
Bring the Beach to You
When you live within driving distance of the ocean, a staycation can be as simple as packing up the whole family and heading out to enjoy the sand and sun. Here in the ‘Lou we’re a little more landlocked, so we have to get creative.
Fill a kiddie or blow-up pool with water in your backyard, and then surround it with several bags of sand from the local hardware store. Add a few beach balls for playing catch and pails and shovels for building sandcastles. Bring out the lounge chairs and sunscreen, and don’t forget to whip up some fruity drinks with tiny umbrellas for the ultimate beach day experience.
Don’t want to haul all that sand into your own backyard? You can always dig for seashells at Sandcastle Beach at the Magic House from May 20-June 28 instead.
Have an Outdoor Adventure
Summer is the ideal season to explore the great outdoors, so why not plan a family staycation that is all about outdoor adventure? Reserve a campsite or cabin in your favorite local park and spend a few days fishing, hiking and geocaching in the fresh air and sunshine. If your kids are strong swimmers, plan a family float trip down a nearby river or creek.
Prefer to stay at home for your staycation? Pitch a tent in your own backyard and spend a couple of nights sleeping under the stars. Spend your days going on outdoor scavenger hunts to collect objects like leaves and insects and your evenings roasting marshmallows and telling spooky stories around the campfire. In this scenario, you also enjoy the added benefit of indoor plumbing when nature calls.
Be Tourists in Your Own Hometown
With so much history and so many parts of town to explore, few families can ever manage to take advantage of all St. Louis has to offer. So why not take some time off and pretend to be tourists in our amazing hometown for a couple of days?
Make your staycation feel more like a vacation by booking a room at a local hotel (preferably one with a pool where the kids can swim) and ordering breakfast in bed each morning. Then, fill your day with visits to some of our area’s favorite family-friendly activities and destinations. See a show at The Muny. Take in a game at Busch Stadium. Enjoy a community festival. Go on a quest to find your favorite local farmers’ market or sprayground. And don’t forget to browse our Things to Do calendar for even more ideas!
Enjoy the Comforts of Home
Sometimes, the best staycations are all about staying at home. Turn your house into a spa by lighting aromatherapy candles, sipping on spa water infused with fruit and mint and pampering each other with mud masks and massages. Or throw a pajama party and spend a few days lounging on the couch in your most comfortable jammies, enjoying a movie marathon. You could even host a family board game tournament or backyard field day with prizes for the winners.
Conclude your at-home staycation by throwing an epic block party with the neighbors. Get creative with a Mexican fiesta or Hawaiian luau theme, or keep it simple by planning a few fun games like kickball and water balloon toss and making it a potluck. Either way, you will be creating special summer memories for your whole family.
Alyssa Chirco is a freelance writer, mother and margarita lover, not necessarily in that order. In addition to writing for STL Parent, she is Contributing Editor at Parenting Squad, and covers parenting, health and lifestyle topics for publications across the country. She recently moved from the suburbs of St. Louis to a small town in rural Jefferson County, where she is learning to survive with no Target or Starbucks in sight. Follow her on Twitter @AlyssaChirco
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