Staycation ideas for a budget-friendly winter rejuvenation

Savings Angel

This article, entitled "Staycation Ideas for a Budget-Friendly Winter Rejuvenation," comes from

Right now winter is unseasonably warm, but getting out for fun can still be a challenge. Colds and budgets sometimes force us to stay home when we’d rather be rejuvenated by family fun and adventure. While we can’t do much about suffering through colds, we can find budget-friendly ways to escape the everyday hum-drum that makes us long for spring.

By far my favorite method is the Local Staycation. To set one up, look within a 1.5-2 hour radius around your home for things to do, see, and experience. Anything you can drive to and from in one day.

Suggestions of what to look for:

– Nature centers or just the great outdoors: Typically free, nothing beats the winter blues like fresh air.

– Indoor or outdoor skating, both roller and ice: Admission and skate rental is typically budget-friendly.

– See a game: Whether it’s hockey, basketball, volleyball or something else, you can usually score tickets to games at a family-friendly price. Pro games too expensive? Try semi-pro or even high school matchups.

– Play a game: Go bowling (weekday prices are usually cheapest), or try indoor court games like Wallyball or Pickleball.

– Movie special pricing days: Nearly every movie theater chain has at least one day a week when admission is low and they may even offer concession deals.

– Visit some animals: We don’t usually think of going to the zoo during winter, but many of them are open. And don’t forget to look for animal sanctuaries, aquariums, and butterfly exhibits as well. Hunt for low-price days or family ticket specials.

– Try a museum, planetarium or art exhibit: Some museum and art exhibit admissions can add up, so search for ones that are always free, or have special pricing days. Try colleges for inexpensive planetarium shows.

– See a live show: This time of year is great for stage plays, comedies, magician’s acts, and more. Sometimes tickets can be pricey, so shop around and use, Groupon or LivingSocial.

– Eat adventurous: Find a quirky restaurant with fun traditions, see a dinner show, give a culinary school restaurant a shot, or just try an unfamiliar cuisine.

– Join a local festival or event: Not all festivals take place in summer. See what’s going on near you.

– See points of interest or historical sites: Often these are free and can be educational. Some in your group find these boring? Make a game of them by researching ahead of time and preparing clues or a seek-and-find that they need to figure out. Plan a small prize when all the clues are solved.

The financial benefits:

– Adults that absolutely have to work can still be included. After work, they can drive to catch up with the rest of the family at an activity or special dinner out.

– If needed, you can skip a day in the middle of your staycation then pick back up.

– Minimize food expense by having breakfast at home, packing lunches and snacks, and only eating dinner out.

– Avoid other expenses, like washing at coin laundries or buying snacks and drinks at high prices.

– Group together activities by driving distance to save gas and time.

Need inspiration? Try, Groupon or LivingSocial; the Chamber of Commerce or Visitor’s Bureau; or even the website for your state, such as

My most important piece of advice: Plan and prepare ahead to ditch normal routines. It won’t feel much like vacation if you do what you always do before leaving each morning and after arriving home each night. To help with this, limit phone calls, email checks, and hovering around on social media. Let people you aren’t available. Don’t say yes to baking those cookies or running that meeting even if you might be back home in time. And, yes, I’m going to say it… let the laundry pile up for a few days. You would if you were gone on a full-blown vacation, so why not?

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