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Inexpensive staycations your kids will love

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

No need to pack a bag

When the thought of packing up the family for a vacation brings you stress rather than delight, it's time to plan a staycation instead! Keep your budget under control with one of these 10 inexpensive and family-friendly staycation ideas.
Family staycation

First things first: A staycation only works if you set a few ground rules. Try your best to unplug your electronics and stay away from your daily obligations as you relax in the comfort of your hometown.

1

Visit an indoor
water park

Regardless of what the weather is like outside, your kids will love splashing and sliding in an indoor water park! You can check out Family Vacation Critic for a roundup of the 10 best indoor water parks in the country. Chances are, there's a pretty decent one within an hour or two of your house. Book one or two nights for a high-energy retreat.

2

Pick a theme and run with it

Where would your family choose to go on vacation if finances weren't an issue? Whether they'd want to go to Hawaii or on a Kenyan safari, you can incorporate a theme into your planning. Make macadamia-nut pancakes and host a luau if your family would love a tropical vacation, or treat the kids to a trip to the zoo and a picnic if they're bent on a safari theme.

3

Cross things off your to-do list

Most cities have tourist attractions and hot spots that locals rarely visit. If your family's tourist to-do list is still untouched, put a few interesting attractions on your calendar. Check out a museum or aquarium, or purchase tickets for a pro sporting event. It's really up to you.

4

"Priceline" a fun hotel

If your hometown doesn't have an indoor water park, don't give up hope! You can always check out Priceline for a last-minute hotel deal so your family can enjoy an indoor pool. (And you might even be able to sneak away for a massage.) If you time it right, great hotels are available for under $100 a night.

5

Indulge in a cinematic retreat

Create a memorable and relaxing retreat by having a movie-marathon night or spreading your family's favorite flicks across several nights. Make it special by having a popcorn bar and making sure everyone's favorite drinks are available at the showings.

6

Pitch a backyard
tent

Nothing says "staycation" quite like a retreat into the backyard for family camping. For a special evening, pitch a tent in the backyard and enjoy your loved ones around a campfire with s'mores.

7

Enjoy the bounty of
spring

Picking fresh fruit and produce sounds so quaint and delightful, right? It probably is, but it's one of those activities that seldom occurs to the typical busy family. Check out PickYourOwn.org to find the best picking orchards and farms for your own staycation harvest. The site allows you to find locations near your hometown, so you'll be munching on fresh spring fruits before you know it.

8

Teach your kids the art of pampering

Ah, pampering. Frankly, it's an art that needs to be learned at a young age so our children don't grow up into overworked and exhausted parents like us. If you have girls, take the time to have them enjoy pedicures, facials and long soaks in the bath on your staycation. You may need to be a little more creative to pamper boys, but they'll also benefit from relaxation rituals.

9

Host an art camp

Kids love getting messy while creating things, so consider hosting an art camp. The kids can go wild with their imaginations over the course of a whole day or weekend by taking photographs, making collages, painting pottery and even decorating your family's outdoor living room.

10

Drive into serious fun

Drive-in movie theaters are a sweet mixture of nostalgia and genuine fun. Load the family into the car for an evening of laughter, snacking and bonding. Not sure where to start? Visit Drive-ins.com for listings of drive-in theaters that are close to your hometown.

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