25 Staycation Ideas That Are Low in Cost but High in Fun

Relaxation
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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.

It’s no secret that planning a staycation instead of a vacation is a money-saving move.

You don’t have to shell out money for plane tickets and a rental car. You can sleep in your own bed rather than book a stay at a hotel or Airbnb. You can avoid the expensive tourist traps.

Best of all, you can still have fun. Having a staycation doesn’t mean just lounging around at home and feeling bored.

No matter what type of vacations you tend to gravitate toward — one where you indulge in the culinary scene, enjoy adventurous thrills, find your restful zen or take in cultural experiences — there are ways to recreate what you love while staying local.

Planning what you’d like to do during your staycation, and budgeting for it, will allow you to have an awesome escape from everyday life without any financial regrets.

Here are many fun — but inexpensive — staycation ideas.

1. Try out new recipes

KarepaStock / Shutterstock.com

First, we have several ideas for foodies.

Crack open a cookbook or Google a dish you’ve always wanted to attempt making at home. Avoid recipes with a bunch of specialty ingredients so you don’t wind up overspending at the grocery store.

2. Sign up for a cooking class

Women meal planning
Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com

Check local event listings for cooking lessons hosted by nearby restaurants, community centers or culinary schools. Or peruse YouTube for online cooking lessons.

3. Visit a farmers market

Busy farmers market scene.
Songquan Deng / Shutterstock.com

Snag some fresh produce and sample tasty prepared food from local vendors.

4. Make your own charcuterie board

Preparing a charcuterie board with meats and cheeses and fruits
hkalkan / Shutterstock.com

Get fancy at home with a DIY meat and cheese board that costs a fraction of what a restaurant might charge. Check out some tips from when we made a $25 charcuterie board by shopping at Aldi.

5. Picnic in the park

Family having a picnic
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Enjoy a change of scenery by packing up lunch, dinner or an assortment of snacks to enjoy at a nearby park. Bring a large blanket to spread on the ground and a Frisbee or lawn games for after you eat.

6. Tour a winery or brewery

Andris Tkacenko / Shutterstock.com

Research wineries and craft beer breweries in your region to see if any offer inexpensive tours. Or perhaps your city — or a nearby town — is home to a chocolatier or another food manufacturing operation that offers public tours. You get the chance to see how things are made — plus there are usually samples to enjoy!

7. Have a bake-off

Evgeny Atamanenko / Shutterstock.com

Recreate your version of “The Great British Bake Off” with your partner, roommate or kids. Or instead of fighting over oven space, bake ahead of time and make the competition all about who can decorate the best cupcakes or cookies.

8. Snag a Groupon for a fun local attraction

Pavel L Photo and Video / Shutterstock.com

Now, for the adventurous set.

Try an activity like rock climbing, axe throwing, laser tag or an escape room — at a discounted price. Browse what’s available on Groupon in your local area.

9. Take a hike

Grand Canyon National Park
Maridav / Shutterstock.com

Get some fresh air and connect with nature while exploring a local trail.

10. Go camping

Three kids in a tent
oliveromg / Shutterstock.com

Your staycation doesn’t have to mean sleeping in your own bed. Pitch a tent at a nearby campsite or in your backyard. Tell stories and toast marshmallows over the fire pit, and enjoy a day or two unplugged.

11. Go on a scavenger hunt

Tour guide
Syda Productions / Shutterstock.com

Get to know a section of town you don’t often visit by creating a scavenger hunt list. What you include on your list is up to you, but here are a few suggestions: Find a historical marker, take a photo of a quirky sign, identify the tallest building and search for a building with a red door.

12. Explore a national park

Yellowstone National Park
margaret.wiktor / Shutterstock.com

Find a national park near you for a great outdoor getaway. There are several days each year that the parks charge no admission.

13. Create your own field day experience

Kids playing tug-of-war
zagorodnaya / Shutterstock.com

Have a three-legged race. Play catch with a water balloon. See who can walk the quickest while balancing an egg on a spoon. The whole family can get in on the fun.

14. Curl up with a good book

Man reading by flashlight
New Africa / Shutterstock.com

Let’s talk up some ideas for people who vacation to relax more than anything else.

Your local library has literally thousands of options if you don’t have one lying around at home.

15. Have a movie marathon

couple watching tv
Stock-Asso / Shutterstock.com

Spend the day in your sweatpants and binge-watch all your favorite films on your streaming service of choice.

16. Give yourself a spa treatment

Woman lighting a candle
ALPA PROD / Shutterstock.com

Light some candles and put on relaxing music to set the mood for a DIY spa day. You can give yourself a facial or foot soak using ingredients in your pantry or bathroom cabinet.

17. Practice yoga

Woman meditating in grass.
irina owl / Shutterstock.com

Free yoga videos online will help you find your balance without having to step foot in a yoga studio — or pay any fees.

18. Go for a walk on the beach

Happy woman at the beach
Shift Drive / Shutterstock.com

There’s nothing more relaxing than a leisurely walk along the shore while the waves kiss at your feet. If you don’t live near the water, a walk along another picturesque setting will do just fine.

19. Tap into your inner artist

Man using an adult coloring book
Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com

Many people find painting to be a peaceful activity, but adult coloring books tend to have the same effect. Plus, a coloring book and a box of colored pencils cost less than paint, brushes and canvas.

20. Attend a concert in the park

Young women listening to guitarist
golubovystock / Shutterstock.com

What about if you seek a cultural experience? These last few ideas are for you.

Check your city’s calendar of events for outdoor shows. These types of events are sometimes put on free of charge.

21. Go to a museum

Omaha, Nebraska
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Museum admission can end up being costly, but there are ways to save. Some libraries lend out free museum passes. Several museums nationwide offer discounted days for local residents.

The Smithsonian Magazine hosts an annual free museum day with participating institutions all across the country. Bank of America cardholders can enjoy free museum admission one weekend a month with its Museums on Us program.

Or you could always enjoy a virtual museum tour from the comfort of home.

22. Attend a lecture at your community college

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

The money-saving benefits of community college go beyond lower tuition. Check out your local college’s calendar of public events for interesting guest speaker lectures or Q&As with notable book authors.

23. Attend a community festival

South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival on March 17, 2017
Photo_Grapher / Shutterstock.com

Local festivals can be great venues to experience music, art and food from multiple cultures. And they usually have low-cost admission.

24. Check out public art

Statue of King Neptune in Virginia Beach
JoMo333 / Shutterstock.com

Be a tourist in your own city, exploring the different sculptures, murals and architecture around town. You may even learn a little more about the place where you live.

25. Take a dance class

fizkes / Shutterstock.com

Dancing is a great way to immerse yourself in another culture — whether you’re interested in African dance, Cuban salsa, German polka or country-western line dancing. Look for local organizations offering lessons or search for free dance tutorials online.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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