How To Have A Fun, Simple And Cheap Staycation this summer

Last summer TJ had taken his vacation, but we decided we were going to have a staycation. We wanted to fill our days with things we could do without spending too much money. As I’m sure everyone has dealt with, we have gone a little over budget and the timing wasn’t perfect as it was the week of my husbands vacation that we became a little short. That’s okay, we still made due with what we had and had some fun.

Here are just a few inexpensive things you can do with your kids while on vacation or when you have a family day.

Find a New Park!

My husband did a little research and found a park (Blue Lake Park in Fairview, Oregon) that had tons of fun things for us to do. So we packed a picnic lunch and headed to the park for the whole day.

We had to pay $5 parking at the park, but it was so worth it. The park had play structures, fishing, a water play area, and a lovely exploring garden which the boys only had time to glance at as the day was coming to an end. We had so much fun and will be putting this park on our day trip list for sure!


  • Search your local parks and find at least one or two that you have never tried before
  • Make sure and pack a lunch and snacks to save money

A Day in the Backyard!

One day my husband took the boys on a walk to the store for donuts for breakfast and to the nearby park to play off the sugar while I had a conference call with a client. Then we spent the day filling up the pool in the backyard and just enjoying the sunshine. Sometimes just staying home is so much more enjoyable than getting all your stuff together and throwing the kids in the car for a long tiring drive.


  • Create a fun list of things you can do in your backyard like camping, marshmallows in the fire pit, etc
  • Take the money you saved not driving somewhere and buy some fun things like balls, chalk, and water balloons

Visit the Local Zoo or Children’s Museum!

There was a charge to attend the zoo, but we saved a little money by leaving the zoo to eat and coming back with our hand stamps. We may have paid close to the same amount for the food, but their was more food and when you are doing that much walking it was worth it. Plus when we got back we got a better parking spot!

The boys don’t get to go to the Oregon Zoo very much, so this was a big treat. I was torn between the Oregon Zoo, Portland Children’s Museum, and OMSI. But with the perfect zoo weather we had to be outside!


  • Research specials your local museums and zoos have like 1/2 price day
  • Bring a packed lunch or leave the park to have lunch

Have a Potluck Party with Friends


My birthday landed on our special staycation week and to celebrate we just had a few friends over. It’s been a long time since we have had friends over so the boys were so excited to see their “aunties” and “uncles”. We enjoyed the warm summer evening after the boys went down and played board games. We used to have friends over almost every month long ago, I think we will have to start a game night with our friends again.


  • Choose a theme for dinner and assign food for people to bring
  • Have some board games, coloring books, toys, and video games for entertaining kids and friends

Going to the Beach

This is our favorite trip of all. We made it through the week with a tight budget so the beach was a little bit more of a splurge. We love going to Seaside, OR. I love it because I’m just not a sand person and the beaches in Oregon aren’t really about swimming and water.


But Seaside is great because you have the aquarium, the boardwalk, the carousel, and the arcade. Oh and you can’t forget the candy shops and toy store too!

Splash Park

One of our favorite things to do when the backyard pool isn’t filled is going to the local Splash Parks. They are a great way to have fun for free, especially on a hot day. This was actually at the same park that we went too with fishing and fun play structures. But we also have a local splash park that we love to go to as well


  • Make sure and bring sunblock, towels, and extra clothes
  • Search for a few different splash parks and plan a park hopping day

Fishing at a Stocked Pond

The most recent activity my boys have gotten into is fishing. Zane loves fishing and has already caught three fish this summer. Zarek likes getting into the action too, though its just safer to not put a hook on his pole! The boys have been enjoying going to Small Fry Lake. I didn’t get to go with the boys this time round (darn work), but my mom did and they had a blast!

  • You can search on the web where they have recently stocked lakes so the fishing is a little easier and faster for new little fishermen

What do you do when you are a little short on money but want to have some family fun?

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Written by

Pepper Ferguson

Hi I'm Pepper. My family and I are sharing pieces of our lives.
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