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How to plan a kid-friendly summer staycation

Jessica Padykula is a freelance writer and editor in Toronto, Canada covering a wide range of  topics for several online lifestyle publications. She is a regular contributor for SheKnows, covering travel, style, relationships, health and...

Stay put this summer

Summer vacation doesn’t have to mean piling the whole family into the car for a road trip or the annual trek to the cottage. You can make the most of summer simply by staying put. You may be wondering how on earth you’ll be able to keep the kids busy by remaining in your own town or city, but we’ve put together some helpful tips for planning the ultimate (kid-friendly) summer staycation.

Little girl at petting zoo

1Choose age-appropriate activities

Just like your teens probably won't be overjoyed with a trip to the local playground for a family picnic, your 3-year old probably isn't going to get much from an art gallery. The trick to planning a successful family staycation is to build an itinerary featuring age-appropriate activities. For the younger set (ages 3 to 6), think playgrounds, petting zoos and anything interactive but not too hard to understand. For older kids (7 to 10), think about getting more active – family Frisbee tournaments or another spots-filled day, checking out local attractions and getting involved in community events like parades or fairs. Teens are trickier, but if you have water slides or amusement parks close by, that usually keeps them happy.

Find staycation activities for your toddler >>>

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Spread out the fun

Don't exhaust everyone by packing too much into a short amount of time. If your schedule permits, space out your staycation activities over a few weeks or better yet, the entire summer. Before summer officially arrives, look at your workload and vacation time and plan out when you'll be able to take time off for family fun. From there, create a summer staycation itinerary so everyone can start getting excited about all the fun to come!

3Do something you'll like, too

As much as it's important the kids have a good time, you shouldn't choose a bunch of events and activities you're going to dread. There may be a few things you aren't overly thrilled about but the majority of your staycation schedule should please the whole family – including Mom and Dad. If the grownups are miserable and merely counting the minutes until dinner, the kids will know, so make sure to pick activities you'll enjoy, too.

4Explore the unknown

So many of us get so used to a familiar routine – the same restaurants, shops and activities – that we don't ever explore what's beyond what's close by. Use your summer staycation to really get to know your town or city. Are there neighborhoods you rarely visit? Museums or galleries you've never been to? Make a list of all the things you have yet to see and do where you live and plan a day of exploring. Create a route – including stops for cold beverages and lunch – and get going. You might be surprised at what you discover.

Find local hotspots in your city >>>

5Let the kids choose

Once you've created a list of several staycation activities you think the family would enjoy, let the kids have a say in what makes the final cut. Getting them involved will help make the whole process more enjoyable for everyone, and they'll get excited knowing they had a hand in the planning. You can always veto something that isn't doable, but letting the kids choose is a great way to make your staycation a true family affair.

Here's to a safe, fun and happy summer!

More family vacation ideas

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