What to Do on Your Family Staycation | Frugal Fun for the Whole Family

My family adores travel. We are always looking for places to go and new things to do.

The problem is family vacations can get expensive! Between, food, lodging, event tickets and gas/airfare you can be out thousands of dollars depending on where and how far you go. The best alternative? A family staycation!

Frugal Staycation Ideas for families

You don’t have to go far or spend a ton of money to find a great time for your family! Here are some great fun family staycation ideas to jump start your frugal fun without breaking the bank.

Find a local water park or amusement park to stay at for the weekend or visit for the day.

Waterparks and amusement parks are fun for the whole family. Some amusement parks incorporate a variety of activities for families to enjoy. Rides, petting zoos, shows, etc. 

A great option to check to help with the price is Groupon or Living Social. You can find massive discounts on tons of activities. I always check both these sites before I book anything.

You can also stack the savings by clicking through with Rakuten (formerly Ebates) and Swagbucks. Yasssssss! I love saving money and I love cash back rewards. So. Much. Win!

I’ve gotten things like cheap tickets to the zoo, painting classes, local waterpark, indoor trampoline park, karate classes and more!

If you are a new Rakuten (formerly Ebates) customer and sign up using my referral link and you spend $25, you’ll get $10 cash back. If you don’t know what Rakuten is, it’s a cashback website that when you click on their link, they give a percentage of cashback on your purchases. For a list of the vendors they use, you can check their website, but it’s quite an extensive list. 

If you are new to Swagbucks, you earn “Swagbucks” and can redeem them for gift cards or cash.  

Fun at the Drive-In. 

We have a drive in not too far from our house. We pack sleeping bags and camp chairs, bring a picnic– my kids love it. Our drive-in usually offers a double feature, so you can two movies for the price of one.

We go out a little early, pick out our spot. Bring bubbles, balls, etc to let our kids play a bit before the movie.

This is always a family favorite!

What’s Happening in your City?

Check your city’s website, the local paper, local theater. There’s usually something happening. Art shows, special performances, parades, etc.

Camp out in your backyard or living room.

My kids always feel like its a special treat to get to camp out and what could be easier (or cheaper) than doing it in your own backyard.

Bonus: You get to skip the whole pesky business of packing!

Visit new areas around the city for parks and playgrounds.

It’s all too easy to get stuck in a rut in your own city. Venture out to places you’ve not been. Find a new playground or park. It puts the shiny back on a free and fun activity for your kids.

Visit a  local museum.

Most larger cities have some sort of museum. Check out what your city has to offer. Again, don’t forget to check out Groupon and Living Social to maximize savings.

Host a progressive dinner in your neighborhood.

Get together with your neighbors and share some food and fun. In our last neighborhood, the last house (where they hosted dessert) we also had games and movies set up for everyone to enjoy.

Cooking yourself, not to mention sharing food and movies= fantastic frugal fun.

Urban Scavenger Hunt or Treasure Hunt

With a little preparation, you have the potential for all day fun. Go around your city and pick out about 10 different spots or people, get your clues together and have fun!

Want to spice things up a little?? You can split your family into teams, have everyone video the different checkpoints of the hunt. The team that completes the most objectives within the allotted time (or the fastest) wins!


Get back to Nature.

Get outside! Go to the beach, the lake, a trail walk, national park– whatever you have in your area.


Movie Night.

In our house, we have a movie marathon about once a month. We load up on snacks and pick a few of our favorites or a series and snuggle in for the day. This is a fun, low-cost way to spend a day.


Does your city (or one close by) have a Minor League?

We have baseball, hockey, and soccer in our city and usually, these tickets are quite a bit cheaper than major league events. You can also sometimes find “family packs” which include tickets and snacks!

family staycation


Stay in a hotel

You can find great (read: cheap) hotel deals online. We usually try and find one with a pool and “name your own price” through Priceline and can usually get by with spending less than $100. Maybe not something to do super often if you are looking for frugal, but every once in awhile is nice!


Air BNB in your own town.

If you are a larger family or just looking for something different, Air BnB is always a great option, to get away, without spending a fortune!

OR- if you have friends that might need house sitting, even better, its free and it’s different. Win, win!


Visit a neighboring city or town. 

Take a short road trip to a nearby city. You won’t need to spend a ton on gas, you don’t need to pay for lodging and can find a new list of fun things to do!


Organize a group activity like laser tag, miniature golf, bowling, etc. 

Chances are you will have a least a few of these in your city. If you time it right, you can sometimes find coupons, family deals, and promotions. To up the fun, consider inviting other families and friends!

Visit Your Local Library.

Did you know that libraries carry more than just books? Most now carry kid friendly DVD’s and audiobooks as well. Why not take a quick trip, pick up a few new books, a DVD for family night and maybe a couple audiobooks for your road trip. Best of all, it’s free!

Tour your own city. 

You’d be surprised all that you are missing in your own town. Another great idea is to get your family members together to play tourist for a day and really dig into the city you’ve been calling home.


The Take Away on Family Staycations

Cutting on the cost doesn’t have to mean cutting down the fun! With a little creativity and planning, you can enjoy some really fantastic low-cost family staycations.

Whether you are trying to get away for the Christmas holidays, need a few ideas to get you through summer vacation or simply want to spend time with your family– you don’t need to spend a ton of money.

I’d love to hear from you! Do you have any creative ways to save money while you staycation? Please comment below.

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Kristen is the founder and content creator at Mom Managing Chaos where she teaches busy moms how to simplify and organize their life and finances. She writes about frugal living, budgeting, productivity and organization.