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Ahh, summer. The sunshine, the warm weather, the open road…or not. Among the many changes brought on by the novel coronavirus is the likelihood that your family has had to rethink (and by rethink, we mean cancel) your 2020 vacation travel plans. We could all use a break from the day-to-day now more than ever.

Well, lucky for us, we live in an ideal location for a great at-home vacation any time of year! And by “staycation,” we’re not talking about checking in at a local hotel. The ultimate 2020 family staycation is a fully immersive, all-inclusive at-home experience. Replace the open road with an open mind and some creative planning, and you can achieve a road trip’s worth of exhilaration, relaxation and joy without leaving your hometown (and maybe even without leaving your own backyard).

Ideas for Your Ultimate 2020 Family Staycation Planning Guide

Brainstorm and plan activities for turning your home into a vacation resort by thinking about the things your family looks forward to the most when you travel. Or, think about the fun things you had in mind for your next trip and plan to do them at home. Challenge family members to come up with the most creative and inexpensive staycation ideas for your vacation season.

  1. Bring the World to You

Download, stream or borrow international films from the state or country of your choosing. Learn a few phrases from a mobile language-learning app like DuoLingo or Memrise. Explore online or check out cookbooks from your local library (many offer curbside pickup) and research recipes to cook together at home. Build a music playlist, set up an outdoor dining area with a string of lights or a candle and dine al fresco. Want some company in your staycation café? Stream in friends or family via video chat.

  1. Soak Up the Sun

Don’t set aside that paperback you were saving for the sand. Pack a cooler with snacks and icy drinks. Fill up the kiddie pool, lay down your beach blanket in the sunniest corner of the yard, slather on sunscreen and find just the right ambient sound on an app like Naturespace and listen to the waves crashing on your own, manmade beach while the kids stay cool with a water fight. (Be prepared to duck!)

  1. Host Your Own 2020 Fami-lympics

The best part? You pick the sports! Kickball, croquet, cornhole, round-the-block footraces, board games and even push-up competitions—ask family members to devise and schedule the events, design and update leaderboards, and even make medals for your winners.

  1. Get Back to Nature

Put your camping gear to work! Pitch the tent, hang the hammock and sing songs around a campfire (make sure you get a permit if your municipality requires one). Break out the hot dogs or pudgy pie irons, toast a few marshmallows and sleep under the stars. Use a sky map mobile app or a telescope to learn about celestial bodies, constellations and the myths they inspired.

  1. DIY Spa Time and Room Service

Enjoy a long soak in the tub with a relaxing playlist and some bath salts, followed by a DIY face mask and pedicure (go ahead, let the kids paint your toenails). Stock up on snacks and order in from your favorite local restaurant, then munch away in bed while watching a movie.

  1. Garden Retreat

When was the last time you stopped to smell the roses? Maybe you’re up for digging in and tending to your own backyard. But if that sounds more like work than a staycation, how about a walk-by tour of some of the most beautiful gardens in your hometown? Historic neighborhoods and parks provide great places for a garden walk. Afterward, enjoy a refreshing lemonade or tea and some meditative time to color in a floral design or two.

  1. Destination Hometown

Playing tourist in your own town is one of the best staycation ideas there is. Imagine you have guests coming from some faraway place. What would you want them to see? Think about the landmarks, historic sites, public art, natural beauty and best ice cream in town. Are the museums closed? Check out websites for virtual tours and events, and make plans to visit when they open once again. Take long, lingering walks through historic districts, paying attention to architectural details. Collect your city’s best sunsets with your phone’s camera. Set up in a park with art supplies for a little plein air painting. Catalog the sounds of town or country with a recording app on a smartphone or tablet.

  1. Hit the Trails

We’re fortunate to live in the Midwest, a region that’s rich in natural beauty with lots of access to the great outdoors. State and county parks, recreational trails and city green spaces offer plenty of opportunities to get a little exercise, enjoy the fresh air and sunshine and see some amazing wildlife. You don’t have to go very far to glimpse a bald eagle, hear a sandhill crane, watch a momma goose and her goslings or maybe see a snapping turtle laying eggs along a pond.

A healthy and happy family staycation is Verve’s hope for all our members, and we’d also like to remind you to observe recommended practices for safe distancing whenever you leave home and keep up that frequent handwashing. Share your best staycation ideas in the comments and share this post with friends to spread a little joy.