Here's How to Have the Best Family Staycation Ever

By: Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RDN, LD

This summer is like no other that we’ve experienced before. The pandemic has impacted so many aspects of our lives, including our ability, or inability, to take family vacations. In addition, kids are spending much more time at home, since day camps and sleep-away camps alike have been cancelled. But that doesn’t mean summer has to be boring – or that you can’t use your creativity to have the BEST family staycation ever! What’s more, you can also leverage these ideas to engage your family in new and fun ways that lead to closer relationships through play, while stimulating your kids to keep learning this summer. Use these ideas to spur your own creativity. While I’ve themed each day differently, you could use just one or two of these theme day ideas for a whole week of fun. If you use these ideas for your own family staycation, be sure to tag us to let us be part of your family’s fun!

Day 1: Hawaiian Island Fun
  • Start the day with leis and banana pancakes. Remember to say, Aloha!, all day.
  • Watch a Fun Facts About Hawaii video on the internet
  • Build a model volcano
  • Draw the Hawaiian Islands in chalk outside and talk about how they were formed
  • Have pineapple with lunch
  • Learn to Hula Dance using a fun tutorial you found online
  • Watch one of the great children’s cartoon movies featuring Hawaii as the setting
  • Drink piña coladas (or topical fruit smoothie or shave ice) with dinner
Day 2: Construction and Building Fun
  • Watch a video online to see how toy bricks and mini construction toys are made
  • Make build challenges throughout the day that you have pre-planned 
  • Build then race cars made from bricks down the driveway on a chalk raceway
  • Turn the sandbox into a construction site with all the building and construction toys you have on hand
  • Watch a toy brick-themed movie
Day 3: The Grand Canyon
  • Watch a video and virtual tour of the Grand Canyon on the internet, like this one from the National Parks Service
  • Draw Chalk Grand Canyon in the driveway
  • Build a model Grand Canyon out of modeling clay
  • Go on a pretend hike through the Grand Canyon – be sure to wear appropriate clothing and bring plenty of water and snacks 
    • make GORP to take with you (good old raisins and peanuts + whatever you like to add)
    • make binoculars from 2 empty rolls of TP & string (just search for it, it’s easy!)
Day 4: American Safari or Zoo
  • Check out the National Park Foundation’s virtual tour and website about Yellowstone National Park
  • Visit the Cincinnati Zoo Facebook page (or your town’s zoo) and watch some of their daily zoo encounter videos
  • Write a story or draw a comic book called “If I had a zoo…”
  • Take a pretend safari in the back yard or around the neighborhood (don’t forget your binoculars & take some peanut snacks for the “animals”!)
Day 5: Mars (Since we’re pretending, we can staycation anywhere, right?!)
  • Learn about NASA’s Mars Exploration Program at their website
  • Build a Mars landscape out of dirt or modeling clay
  • Build a rover out of toy bricks and drive it around the Mars landscape you built
  • Build or draw a model of the solar system (great ideas from NASA here)
  • Imagine what someone from another planet might be like
    • What would they look like? Draw a picture
    • What would they eat?
    • Would they speak our language?
Day 6: Washington, DC
Day 7: Paris/Louvre
  • Take virtual field trip to Paris via an online video
  • Learn about the Eiffel Tower via the official website
  • Build your own Eiffel Tower from popsicle sticks or other household items
  • Have an outdoor picnic lunch including traditional ham and cheese on baguette (with butter), pickles or olives, peanuts and grape juice (or wine for the adults – cheers!)



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