When it starts to feel like everyone but you is living it up on a fun summer vacation, take a deep breath, and then and get creative. There are dozens of ways to create a memorable staycation right at home, without breaking the bank. From hosting a movie night to renting a local Airbnb and hitting your city’s aquarium, these budget vacations will appease your kids and your wallet. Keep scrolling for our list of family-friendly ideas you can use when the vacation fund has run out!

Hold a Family Reunion

Invite family members over that you don’t see often or invite the grandparents to a slumber party! You'll have a special day without even leaving the house. We've even got the best games that'll keep everyone laughing. 

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Go to the Theatre

If you're staying home, let the kids dress up, put on a play, sign autographs and take movie star photos! Venturing out on the town? Scope out discount websites like Groupon for deals on theatre tickets or local performances that your kids will get a kick out of! 

Plan a Sports Night

Chances are your town has a team (baseball, hockey, football) with less-than-big-league pricing to take advantage of! 

Go International

No passport required for this family vacation. Get out the map and let your mini explorers choose a country, dress the part, and make food from the culture! It's a learning experience, loads of fun, and light on the wallet.

Go on a Nature Walk

Head to a local park and host a scavenger hunt of sorts where kids can check off items like a green leaf, rock, flowers, birds chirping, and more!

Aquarium Memberships and Discounted Family Days

Taking the entire family to an aquarium or museum can sometimes be pricey, but do a little digging and you might find deep discounts during a Family Day event! Whether it's your local children's museum or one of the best aquariums in the U.S., there are likely a few dates where you'll find admission slashed and opportunities to save a bundle by signing up for a membership.

Host an Ice Cream Social

We all scream for ice cream! It's true—everyone loves this frozen treat when the temperatures start to climb. Make your own ice cream, head to the store to pick out icy delights, or choose one of these 16 amazing ice cream sundae bars.

Visit a Free Zoo

You may not even realize you're near one of these free zoos across the U.S. until you do a little research! Your pint-sized animal lovers will flip as they watch the otters swim, the penguins' waddle, and the lion roar—without paying a penny!

Visit a Water Park Resort

A tropical getaway may not be in the cards when your vacation fund is low, but that doesn't mean you can't splash the day away in your own community—or a new locale within driving distance! Visit one of these resorts with epic water park features with giant water slides, lazy rivers and even outdoor hot springs! 

Rent a Family-Friendly Airbnb

If you can't get into proper vacation mode while staying home, why not head out to a local Airbnb? Look into this list of best vacation rentals for families, pack your bags, and get ready to explore your city in a new way!

Backyard Camping

There's a reason we did this when we were kids—it's fun and FREE! Teach your kids how to pitch a tent in the backyard, set up lanterns and sleeping bags, gather s'mores supplies, try these home camping activities for kids and spend the night catching fireflies or telling spooky stories.

Luau Party

Nothing says vacation like a grass skirt, a lei around your neck and one of these easy mocktail recipes. Take it one step further by inviting the kids to try hula dancing and lighting up your backyard with tiki torches!

Throw an Epic Pool Party

Spring for fun floaties and rafts, jot down a guest list, stock the freezer with popsicles and practice your cannonball! Throwing a sensational pool party doesn't take much, and even if you don't have a pool at home, you can take your pals to your local community center, splash pad or waterpark. Use our ideas for hosting the pool party of the summer or opt for your own!

Host Your Own Movie Night

Let the kids pick the flick, pop some popcorn, grab your sleeping bag, and snuggle in for a cozy movie night! Bonus points if you rent a projector and take your screening outdoors. We've got the best ideas on how to throw an epic movie night right here

—Kaitlyn Kirby

 

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The Best Aquariums in the U.S.