This year, skip the airport restroom lines and cross-country road trip meltdowns, and take your family on a spring break staycation in your hometown.
There's nothing relaxing about a spring break vacation filled with travel delays, cranky kids, and overpriced food. This year, make your time off more enjoyable for everyone by investigating attractions close to your home. Fuel up the car, pack some snacks, and fill your week with a handful of these staycation ideas.
1. Connect with nature
You always whiz past the signs on the highway, now it's finally time to make the turn and see what's available at your nearby state park. Camping, fishing, swimming, horseback riding, nature centers, fire pits, trails, and playgrounds are just a few of the activities you can expect to find. If you have an RV, park it for a few days so you can soak in all the park has to offer. And, don't forget to pack the marshmallows.
2. Play all day
Sure, you've probably visited the local children's museum, but have you spent the entire day there? Did you let the kids try all the hands-on exhibits? Submerge yourself in a full day of play at the museum by taking tons of photos and stopping to enjoy a picnic lunch or snack outside the building when it's time for a break. Wrap up the visit with a quick trip to the souvenir shop for some cool stickers or a T-shirt.
3. Take a ride
Does your community have a bike trail system? Pack up the family, dust off the bikes in the garage, and plan a day of exploring the entire path. Or, rent a tandem with a baby seat. Look at a map before you go to plan plenty of stops for taking bathroom breaks, snacking, and admiring the views.
4. Enjoy the river
When you live in a river community, it's easy to take it for granted. Spring break is the perfect time to reconnect with the natural wonder by going for a local boat cruise, renting a paddle boat or canoe, or spending the afternoon fishing. If your family has a boat, dig it out of winter storage and take it for a spin.
5. Explore your creativity
Community colleges, art centers, and local organizations offer pay-as-you go art classes. As a family, try your hand at painting, making pottery, or taking photographs. Any of the activities help you bond as a family, and you end up with cool handmade mementos of your spring break staycation.
6. Plan a movie-a-thon
Is it a rainy, yucky day? Convert the TV room into a plush movie theater, complete with pillows, bean bags, and extra blankets to keep the whole family cozy. Prepare a menu of theater treats, such as hot dogs, nachos, shakes, and of course, hot buttery popcorn. You can even invite a few friends over and make it a daytime party for the neighborhood kids. Having trouble deciding what to watch? Check out our "20 Best Movies for Families" list.
7. Make some crafts
You can fill a morning with glitter, colored paper, and scented markers. If it's nice outside, you can try one of these "10 Awesomely Messy Outdoor Activities for Kids" on the deck or patio, or if you're stuck inside, try one of these "9 Easy-to-Clean-Up Crafts for Kids." Or, encourage your children to create their own masks, drawings, or artwork to give to a neighbor. You can release your inner child and join in on the creative fun, too.
8. Take a tour
From bakeries to pizza places, several businesses in your community offer tours. After you see how things work behind the scenes, put what you learned into action at home. For example, if you saw a baker making huge batches of cake batter and cookie dough, show your kids how to make your famous chocolate chip cookies from scratch as you get messy together in the kitchen.
9. Try new food
No vacation is complete without eating something totally unexpected. Your staycation is the perfect time to book a table at that new Indian restaurant or try the pizza place with 101 toppings. Splurge and order the fancy mocktails for the kids and a decadent dessert for yourself.
10. Make a splash
It's probably too chilly for the local water park just yet, but you can book a night at a nearby hotel with an indoor pool and water recreation area. Take along the kids' favorite beach toys and a book to enjoy while they mingle with other kids in the water.
11. Do a park-hop
Do you have super energetic kids? Plan a day-long park hop, where you visit multiple playgrounds all in one day. Don't forget to incorporate parks with special features, like petting zoos or majestic fountains. Pack sunscreen and changes of clothes for little ones who tend to get extra messy.