Summer Staycation Ideas for Families: How to plan one in 2021

  • By: Nikita
  • Date: July 6, 2021
  • Time to read: 11 min.

The official vacation season has arrived and families are still skeptical about traveling far. With the risk of flight bookings, lockdowns, and travel restrictions, a staycation is the best way to make the most of this summer. Whether it is driving to the nearest national park or virtual tours from your couch, sunbathing by the beach, or fun backyard activities, there are so many ways to plan a staycation. Pick your preferences based on your family size, budget, and what you are looking for. Once you know what you want, the next steps are very straightforward. 

Here is the detailed list of activities, staycation ideas, and destinations. Keep reading to know everything about a family staycation in 2021. 

Where To Go on a Staycation with Family in Summer 2021 

1. Denver, Colorado 

Denver is an extraordinary city for family staycations, it has zoos & museums for kids, great fine dining & bars for adults, and exciting & adventurous activities for the family. If you’re a family with young adults and teens, Denver is a great location with spots that match everyone’s needs. The central location of this city makes it a passage to some of the greatest American locations. 

Top attractions in Denver for families: 

The Denver Zoo, Children’s Museum of Denver, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and open-air Denver Trolley. 

Summer in Denver: 

Denver comes to life in summer with tons of festivals, free events, and outdoor activities, there are plenty of things to do in Denver in summer.  

2. Riviera Maya, Mexico 

Riviera Maya offers an impressive array of activities, from snorkeling in the freshwater cenotes, swimming with manatees to climbing ancient Mayan ruins. It also hosts world-class concerts, festivals, and shows; features lively nightlife in Cancun and Playa del Carmen; and offers exquisite Yucatecan and Mayan cuisines. 

Top attractions in Riviera Maya for families: 

Xcaret Eco Theme Park, play with dolphins, manatees, and even sea lions, ruins in Tulum, and water sports. 

Summer in Riviera Maya:

Summer months are the Riviera Maya’s rainy season. The place is less crowded (better deals on accommodation) than the other seasons and can still be a good time to visit. Moreover, it is the best time for swimming with whale sharks. Summer in Riviera Maya is the best time to visit for warm, breezy, and perfect weather. 

3. Orlando, Florida 

One of the most kid-friendly staycation destinations, Orlando is sprawling with theme parks, exciting activities, and unending entertainment. One of the most happening places, this central Florida city is filled with fun for families with kids of all ages. Filled with entertainment, Orlando is a lively city with a charm like no other city in the USA. 

Top attractions in Orlando for families: 

Walt Disney World, Hollywood Studios, Disney Springs, Wizarding World of Harry Potter,  SeaWorld, and Orlando Circus School. 

Summer in Orlando:

The summer months in Orlando are a little crowded and the weather is hotter than usual. Plan a trip in early April or late September for a better experience in Orlando. 

4. Portland, Oregon

A charming city for staycations, Portland offers a range of engaging things for Family staycationers. A destination more suited for older kids, there are plenty of activities for everyone. Portland is home to several indie bands, gorgeous city parks, and casual food carts. You can spend days enjoying the food and vibe of this city with your family. 

Top attractions in Portland for families:

Cannon Beach, Willamette Valley, street murals, food carts, Columbia River Gorge, and Mount Hood.

Summer in Portland:

June to August are the perfect months to visit the outdoorsy city. Planning a staycation in summer is the perfect way to avoid crowds and higher rates of accommodation in Portland. 

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Brooklyn, New York 

Brooklyn is the perfect place for a relaxed summer staycation in New York, with easy availability of rental places for families. It boasts beautiful beaches, an upbeat vibe, easy accessibility to amazing attractions, and tons of activities for kids and adults. From amazing street art, flea markets, best views of Manhattan, to history splashed all over the county, Brooklyn is the best place for a staycation in New York.

Top attractions in Brooklyn for families:

Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Heights Promenade, -321º Ice Cream Shop, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and Coney Islands. 

Summer in Brooklyn:

A popular time to visit Brooklyn, summer sees a lot of family travelers. Hotel prices remain pretty steady during this period but the temperatures tend to get hotter. There are outdoor festivals to enjoy during the summer staycation. 

Beach staycations ideas for Family

With the summer heat approaching rapidly, it’s time to put on the swimsuit and sunscreen to enjoy the breezy, tropical beach life. If you live in Florida or California, a beach staycation is a fantastic pick for you. However, if you live far from the coast, plan a staycation to off-beat beach destinations to avoid crowds and to stay safe. Here are the top choices for beach staycation in 2021: 

Virginia Beach, Virginia 

Full of great places to explore, relaxing spa retreats, and a myriad of activities for families, Virginia Beach also has amazing beaches, mouth-watering seafood, and a vacation vibe. A perfect destination for long stays, all seven districts offer something for everyone and you can plan a trip to all to experience the unique vibe of each one. From walking along The Boardwalk to exploring the Vibe district for local art, hiking at First Landing State Park to savoring fresh seafood, a family staycation in Virginia is all you need this summer. You can plan a day out to Neptune’s Park for kids or take a ride in an open cockpit biplane at the Military Aviation Museum. 

Tampa, Florida 

If you are looking for quieter beaches in Florida, Tampa is a tropical paradise for staycationers. The blue skies and golden beaches; breezy bay areas, a laid-back beach-town vibe, world-class cuisines, impressive craft beers, and a century-old Cuban culture, make Tampa one of a kind travel destination. With plenty of must-visit attractions for families, you can easily spend a long-time exploring and relaxing in Tampa. From picnics at the Busch Gardens to touring at the Florida Aquarium and ZooQuarium, petting the big cats at the Big Cat Rescue Sanctuary, or cruising on the Tampa History Cruise, Tampa offers so much to all kinds of staycationers, that you will never run out of things to do. 

San Diego, California 

With plenty of activities and a family-friendly vibe, San Diego is a perfect fusion destination for adults and kids. The proximity to beaches, the beautiful tropical weather, and the laid-back staycation feel of the city make it a go-to destination among staycationers. Though a year-round city, San Diego in summer is a delight, with events, festivals, and more. From visiting the world’s best zoo, the San Diego Zoo, to taking your kids to the beach for water activities, from taking a trip to SeaWorld San Diego to spending an afternoon at LEGOLAND California, you will never be short of things to do in San Diego.

Best National Parks for Family Staycation

Visiting the national park across the USA is one of the greatest adventures for everyone. If your family is up for a rugged adventure away from the buzz of the city, the crowd of the top tourist destinations, and the hyped vacation vibe, a national park trip is the best staycation for you. 

During the current times visiting national parks is a safe bet. Summer is the shoulder season for most parks, you can find secluded spots, empty trails, and easy permits into the parks. Here’s a list of the most family-friendly national parks:  

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Glacier National Park

An adventure-filled staycation amidst dense forests and alpine meadows, Glacier National Park offers the wilderness experience at its best. From rugged mountain terrain to pristine lakes, Glacier national park boasts awe-inspiring natural vistas along with 700 miles of hiking trails, countless adventure activities (mountain biking, camping, wildlife watching), and scenic drives. The ‘Going to the Sun Road’ is the crown jewel of the US. Climb up to Logan Pass (2026 meters) for phenomenal views and an ethereal experience.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park 

If you’re planning a staycation in Hawaii, a visit to the Volcanoes National Park is a must. Volcanoes National Park is one of the most kid-friendly national parks in the US. With the best hikes, family-friendly sights, and attractions to visit with kids, the National Park also has the perfect accommodation for kids and is easily accessible from anywhere on Big Island. Kilauea and Mauna Loa are two of the most active volcanoes in the world and a sight to behold. If you don’t want to go island hopping on your staycation in Hawaii, Volcanoes National Park is a great getaway on your family staycation. There are various activities and must-visit places within the park that you can enjoy with kids. 

Yosemite National Park 

One of the most iconic national parks in the USA, visiting Yosemite National Park with family, is a memorable experience. Home to magnificent sights like Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park is also known for its stunning waterfalls. The trails are kid/toddler friendly and you can walk with a stroller. You can also go around Yosemite Valley in a shuttle. All five entrances to the park offer spectacular views while the Big Oak Flat entrance is the most direct one. 

Road trip ideas for Family Staycation

Road trips are one of the safest and most reliable ways to travel right now. With lockdowns still in place in some countries, international travel may not be the safest option for a staycation. Take road trips instead of flights for more flexibility with domestic destinations. Moreover, the summer weather is perfect for family road trips. Ideally, plan a trip within a few hours of your home base. Here are the top family road trips across the USA for 2021: 

Pacific Coast Highway Drive

The entire route is along California’s coastal cliffs, high above the ocean. The Santa Cruz Boardwalk or Monterey, Big Sur State Park, or Hearst Castle, you will cross many more amazing spots en route including Santa Monica Beach, Malibu playground crammed with beach homes, and Santa Barbara. 

Blue Ridge Parkway National Park

The drive from Virginia State Line to Blowing Rock, North Carolina, along the famed Blue Ridge Parkway stretches from Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With spectacular mountain views and several hiking opportunities, you can also stop for water sports and adventure activities. 

Vermont Route

The Vermont Route drive is as scenic as road trips get. On the drive along the eastern edge of the Green Mountains, you’ll pass some of the state’s famed ski resorts and top attractions. With phenomenal scenery, innumerable mountain passes, and stunning towns on the way, this road trip is perfect for a family staycation in the summer. From history to panoramic views, from winding roads to charming towns, you will find everything you’re looking for on this route. 

Fun Activities for Staycation at Home

If it is still unsafe to travel in your state or you want to keep things low-key this year, there are plenty of activities you can do on a staycation at home. The only rule is to stay offline from work, school, and anything that will rob you of some enjoyable family time. If you’re ready to have fun with your family this summer, here are some activities you can plan for a stay-at-home vacation

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Virtual tours 

If your family vacations lean towards exploring art, history, and culture, virtual museums and art gallery tours are a great way to spend the weekend on your staycation. If you’re tired of browsing Netflix for newer shows that you can watch with your family, opting for virtual tours is a great alternative for you. Several museums around the world are offering virtual tours, you can visit some of the most spectacular museums while sitting on the couch in your pajamas. Here are the top museums that are offering virtual tours: 

  1. British Museum, London
  2. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
  3. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
  4. National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul
  5. Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Backyard activities 

Your backyard is full of possibilities. Whether you have a pool or a treehouse in your backyard, there are so many ways to get creative on a staycation. Organize a sleepover in your treehouse or pitch a tent in your backyard. Plan a small pool party or a sizzling barbeque evening. It is so easy to create a staycation vibe by revamping the space. Decide the menu, the music, the movies, and the activities for a fun weekend/evening on your staycation. 

You can plan a picnic during the day to just sit in the backyard on a breezy day, and camp in the evening to sleep under the stars. There’s so much to do just in your backyard and a stay-at-home vacation is a perfect opportunity to explore it.

World Kitchen day at Home 

If your family loves to try different cuisines and food travel is a big part of your trips, then plan a world kitchen day at your home during the weekends. Pick a country every week, plan the dish you want to prepare, and involve everyone in the process. It is a fun and engaging way to spend time together and make the most of it. Create a gastronomic experience at home with aromas from the kitchen, experiments with textures, flavors, and more. Make tweaks in the decor to create a more immersive and delightful experience. 

Game/Movie Nights 

Be it a good game of Jenga or a go-to Disney movie, family-time activities are always fun-time activities. Be it board games, physical activities, or creative events, game night is a simple but brilliant family staycation idea

You can also recreate the cinema experience at home by getting yourself a big bowl of popcorn and a perfect drink. Create a perfect staycation experience with your family with a little imagination and planning. 

Learn a skill together 

Learning becomes fun if you do it together. Find what you all love doing or something that you can all benefit from and take a class together. For example, if you’re planning a trip to Spain next year, start learning Spanish together. It’s a good motivation and makes it easier to learn the language. Check out platforms like Alison, Udemy, or Skillshare to find courses that suit your needs.  

2020 has been a pale year for travel and family vacations. Though you can already feel the summer breeze and beach calling, traveling even in 2021 needs more precaution. The tourism industry is adapting to the staycation trend and now (more than ever) it is easier to plan a staycation with your family. Plan a safe and exciting staycation on a beach or in the national parks, along the lakes, or in the city, with your family in summer 2021.