All Ages

The Best Staycation Idea Ever

Kids play in aqua park. Children at water playground of tropical amusement park. Little girl at swimming pool. Child playing at water slide on summer vacation in Asia. Courtesy of Famveld/Shutterstock

Looking for a summer vacation that doesn’t involve a long car trip or hauling heavy suitcases to the airport? Why not create the ultimate vacation experience right in your own backyard?! We’ve compiled the most amazing staycation ideas that will transform your outdoor space into a fabulous vacation destination where your gang can camp under the stars while creating lasting memories.

Funny laughing little girl in a colorful swimming suit playing with toy ball garden sprinkler with water splashes having fun in the backyard on a sunny hot summer vacation day. ; Courtesy of Famveld/Shutterstock

Transform Your Backyard into a Water Park

Start your staycation with a splash-tastic adventure by setting up a 25-foot-long Slip ‘n Slide, which come with the soft sleds that make the ride more slippery. Then, lay out a bunch of super soaker pump guns and a big bin of self-sealing water balloons for the kiddos. Turn on your hose and watch the fun begin! When it’s time to dry off, grab a four-pack of super absorbent, quick-drying microfiber terry towels. They come in a handy zippered carrying case, plus the package includes an extra mesh bag—no more stinky, wet towels lumped in the grass!

Related: 10 Best Indoor Water Park Resorts in the U.S.

wo kids are waiting for the shuttle come down; Courtesy of DNF Style/Shutterstock

Host a Lawn Games Tournament

Serve up some sporty fun with a carnival-like twist. Set up a few classic outdoor lawn games like a combination bean bag and washer toss, giant Jenga and bocce ball. Pick up some bright spray paint and create a life-size Twister game in your grass for hilarious fun the whole family will enjoy.

group of kids sitting on a picnic in the woods in the evening rays of sunlight are feed each other; Courtesy of UfaBizPhoto/Shutterstock

Prepare the Perfect Picnic

Lay down a waterproof picnic blanket, fill up an oversized cooler that can hold 95 cans of icy-cold beverages, and have an alfresco lunch, including cold sandwiches, pickles, fresh fruit and chocolate chip cookies. Bonus: The cooler doubles as sturdy extra seating, for when friends pop by. Get a rolling bar cart to hold melamine dishware, cups and silverware, so you can wheel it to wherever your picnic is. Or, if you’re handy, it’s easy to build your own. Speaking of which…

Two little happy girls in a wooden tree house on a sunny day. Sisters rejoice in the summer. The concept of summer.; Courtesy of UfaBizPhoto/Shutterstock

Take on a Family DIY Project

The family that builds together, laughs together! Why not gather all hands on deck to create something everyone can later enjoy, such as a treehouse, a fire pit or a hanging swing? Check out one of the many online tutorials available, pick up the basic supplies at your local big-box store and spend the day getting crafty.

layful children playing under the blanket, jumping and dancing together. ; Courtesy of Yuricazac/Shutterstock

Set the Stage for a Mega Dance Party

As the sun starts to fade, it’s time to jumpstart the outdoor dance party with a waterproof Bluetooth speaker that can withstand outdoor conditions. Hang a set of waterproof solar string lights that can be set to eight different modes of flashing or twinkling to create the perfect mood. Add another layer of entertainment by bringing out the karaoke machine so everyone can belt out their favorite tunes.

Smores dessert ingredients on wooden table. Picnic or camp concept. Courtesy of Ekaterina Markelova/Shutterstock

Snack on Some Classic Camping Treats

No open fire? No problem! You can make delicious snacks with an electric S’mores Maker, which features a flameless heater, four trays for the graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows, plus two roasting forks. Even the littlest ones can toast their golden treats safely. Set it up on a picnic table, along with cubes of fruit so everyone can enjoy dessert outdoors.

outdoor theater; Courtesy of pockethifi/Shutterstock

Create Your Own Outdoor Film Festival

Enjoy your own movie theatre on the lawn with a 14-foot inflatable projector screen that’s simple to set up. It comes with popcorn bags ready to be filled with fresh, crunchy snacks. But instead of heading to the microwave, try this outdoor popcorn popper than can be used on your barbecue to make popcorn in minutes. Bonus: The popcorn kit includes corn, oil and seasoning samplers. Snuggle on the grass together on a pile of camping pillows for happy viewing!

Related: 12 Real-Life Disney Movie Destinations

children play in the hike. the tent lights at night from the flashlight. dark silhouettes of children. Courtesy of Ivan Kovbasniuk/Shutterstock

Have Sweet Dreams Under the Stars

Now that you’ve tired out the kids, they’re ready for one more adventure before nodding off to sleep: Download the Night Sky app on your GPS-enabled device and point it up to the sky to identify planets, stars and satellites. Then, tuck everyone into a family-sized tent, which features an electrical access port that lets you run a cord to an outside power source if you need it. The kids will doze off comfortably when settled into their lightweight, roomy sleeping bags on top of cushy inflatable air mattresses that feature a built-in pillow. Hang up a couple of collapsible solar-powered lanterns for story time or ghost stories. Give each child their own colorful mini LED flashlight, which features a glow-in-the-dark handle in case of nighttime bathroom visits. If you’re camping out on a very humid night, a tent ceiling fan will keep everyone cool. Bonus: This model even repels mosquitos when you add essential oils on its foam pads.

Montreal-based Wendy Helfenbaum is a journalist, content strategist and TV producer who writes for dozens of digital and print magazines, as well as many brands. Wendy loves cruising, adventure travel and venturing off the beaten path with her husband and teenage son, and she can pack a carry-on bag like nobody’s business. Follow her @WendyHelfenbaum.

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