Treat weekends like vacations: How to have the best summer staycation

We are in the heart of summer here in the northern hemisphere. As part of our ongoing effort to spend less and do more, we planned a summer staycation of sorts, where we would treat every weekend like a mini vacation. We are on track to reduce our travel spend by half this year as compared to last year. This has meant making changes. But we never want to sacrifice fun. 

With only one trip planned at the beginning of summer (Vegas!), we wanted to make every weekend feel like a respite from the workweek, without the expense of traveling far from our metro area. It helps that great beaches aren’t far away. Our region also sees its best weather during the months of May to October. We’ve put together a list of ideas for your own summer staycation. Weekend staycations are perfect to get more out of your summer, without using vacation time. Here are some of our ideas.

Take advantage of long days

For those of us who spend the best parts of our day in an office, getting outside is a special treat. This also applies for those of us in climates with longer winters and shorter summers. Summer offers up long days, extra sunshine, and warmer temperatures. We take morning coffee and evening cocktails on our patio. Even the smallest outdoor space counts! I’ll go for a run when I feel like it or when the weather is most favorable. A summer goal this year is to practice yoga outdoors–either on our patio or the pool deck. Our city also offers community yoga in a local park. We might stroll through a city park, maybe pack a picnic. Watch Independence Day (or any other occasion) fireworks displays. If we have a little more time, we’ll drive to some excellent hiking trails or head to the beach. Our building has an outdoor pool for residents and you can usually find us there on any sunny weekend day.

When the weather doesn’t cooperate

For those weekends where the weather isn’t ideal for spending the days outside, check out the cultural attractions in your city or town. Many of these are free. Our town has several museums. Libraries are always a good choice. Often these are architecturally significant buildings. If you live close enough, try taking a bus or walking (with an umbrella if it’s raining). We love putting the car away for the weekend and taking it slower when we don’t have meeting times or other time pressures. 

Local restaurants and cafes are another place to spend a rainy day. Use the excuse to check out a new restaurant you’ve been eyeing. Or, a cafe can be an inexpensive place to spend a few hours people watching, reading a book, or online surfing. 

If you’re feeling more frugal, try cooking at home. Weekends are the perfect time to flex your culinary muscles. We’ll usually make a large brunch with breakfast potatoes, bacon, and eggs. That’s something we never have time for on a work day. If locally grown cuisine is your jam, check out a farmer’s market to buy ingredients. Getting to know your farmers can be fulfilling and you’ll learn more about what’s in season in your area. 

Don’t be afraid to make time consuming things like bread. We also like to render lard or make bone broth on weekends. For those who don’t enjoy cooking, but want to save on restaurant spending, buying convenience foods or pre-cooked meals at the grocery store can be a good option. Convenience foods aren’t the most frugal option, but it will probably be cheaper than a restaurant.

Other adventures

The art of an all summer long staycation is finding distinctively local adventures. Does your region have a local “trail” — e.g. bourbon distilleries, wineries, or some sort of food? The linked trails are all food-centric. But, many regions have clusters of some type of attraction. Oak Park, Illinois has a group of Frank Lloyd Wright homes. Bostonians could explore the Freedom Trail. The Civil Rights Trail has many stops clustered in Alabama and Mississippi. A quick search can provide many ideas. You can take off a day long road trip and play tourist in your region. 

Local festivals are popular in the summer. Many cities have art festivals or other types of cultural festivals. If your city has a drive in movie theater, you can pack up the popcorn and catch a double feature at a much reduced price from the multiplex.  

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