My fondest memories with my kids have involved staycations exploring our own town or neighboring ones. Each year we try to enjoy one staycation as a family, whether it is soaking in the downtown sites and eateries or taking a short drive to the beaches of Michigan. During the winter months, a staycation is a fantastic option because of affordability and ease of travel.
For me, the hardest part of a staycation is removing all the daily routines that prevent me from making the most of my time with my children. For the week, shut down the laptop, abandon the phone and neglect other chores as much as possible. Give yourself permission to truly be on vacation together. All of the other stuff can wait. Here are some of my favorite winter staycation activities that will hopefully inspire you to plan one of your own.
Get a Visitor’s Guide to Your Own Town: Each year we request a visitor guide to our own and neighboring states. These guides offer a wealth of information about new spots in town and are often accompanied with coupons for discounts at restaurants and hotels. Use these booklets as a guide for planning fun getaways within your own town, and explore just as a tourist would. The booklets can highlight hidden gems that you may have never known about or pass every day.
Try a Root Beer Tasting: Who knew there were so many varieties of tasty root beers on the market? One of our favorite activities has been ordering a variety of different root beers at a restaurant or retro soda shop, taste testing each, then voting for our favorite flavors. This is an inexpensive activity, and it can showcase your child’s palate as they report their critiques as though they are television cooking show stars.
Snag Free Passes to Local Museums: We rarely pay to visit museums thanks to free days that are offered. And did you know that your public library likely has memberships to local museums that you can check out for free to take in the sites? We live in a small town now with fewer museum offerings, but even when we lived in Boston, we always utilized a free pass from the library to take advantage of some of the most beautiful museums we’ve ever seen. It’s a small town secret that few people know about.
Explore the Great Outdoors: Winter is the perfect time to get out and explore the great outdoors. Activities like ice skating, sledding, building snow forts or a snowman family are always highlights for my kids and me. Enjoy being a kid again and take a ride on a sled with them, or help them build the perfect snow fort. They will always remember those special moments you create together.
Visit Another Country: Themed nights can be a lot of fun during a staycation. Has your family always wanted to go to Italy, China or Mexico? Check out cookbooks or visit recipe sites to learn about their cultures and how to make traditional dishes. Wherever you have been dreaming of visiting can be re-created for a fun night that your children will always remember. It can be as simple as preparing Chinese food one night or as elaborate as making crafts and costumes relevant to the theme.
Try a Docu-Pizza Night: In our family we enjoy a weekly homemade pizza and documentary night where we share a slice (or four) of pizza and then watch a documentary together. It has helped our children explore other cultures, learn about different hobbies, and even careers that they might like to try someday. Since documentaries are unrated, I recommend checking Common Sense Media to help you make the best selections for your family.
I hope this helps you as you plan your own staycation with your family this winter!