6 Affordable and Family-Friendly Ideas for Your Backyard Staycation

The weather is warming up and spring break and summer vacation are around the corner. After being cooped up all winter, it’s time for busy families and pool owners like you to make the most of the sunshine and family time. Exciting vacations and family getaways are great, but why not make every day a vacation?  Schedules are busy, budgets are tight, and tourist destinations are packed. That’s OK! Who needs an expensive destination vacation when you’ve got an amazing pool and backyard? All it takes is a little imagination. We’ve got some ideas for a backyard staycation that your kiddos are sure to enjoy!

1. Backyard cookout or picnic.

Grilling out in your backyard is a fun staycation idea.

Exploring local restaurants and eating all sorts of delicious foods is one of the best parts about going on vacation. (Calories don’t count when you’re on vacation, right?) You can recreate that restaurant experience by grilling out in your backyard, cooking over your outdoor fire pit, or whipping up something delicious in your kitchen and having an outdoor picnic.

Consider a destination-themed menu. For example, try cooking different seafood you might find on a vacation to a tropical island. The idea is to get out of your comfort zone and try something different, just like you would if you were on vacation. You’ll score bonus points if you go all out with themed decorations around the kitchen or patio as well!  

Whether your cooking on the grill, over a fire, or in your kitchen, consider letting the kids help prepare the food (as much as is appropriate for their age). It will make the experience more fun and memorable for them.

2. Backyard camping trip.

Campgrounds and cabins fill up quickly once it starts to get warm outside. Avoid all the hustle and bustle by turning your backyard into a mini campsite. All you really need is a tent, sleeping bags, and flashlights for a solid outdoor adventure. Relax in the hammock, make some s’mores over the firepit (or in the microwave), tell some spooky ghost stories, and have some fun with it.  

Pool owners can have a little extra fun because you can pretend your pool is the “lake.” If the weather is warm, dive in and enjoy. You can also grab a paddle and “canoe” on your pool floats or “go fishing” in your pool using nets or toy fishing poles. When you’re done at the “lake,” you can kick back with a drink on the “beach” (aka your patio or deck). It may sound silly, but a little imagination goes a long way.

If the weather is less than ideal, don’t worry. Your living room is a great Plan B for a makeshift “campsite.”

3. Gardening.


Enjoy exploring the garden with your little ones.

There’s something about getting your hands dirty and connecting with nature that just feels right. Gardening is a great way for you and your kids to detach from technology for a while and spend some time enjoying each other’s company.

Consider visiting the local greenhouse and picking out some flowers, fruits, veggies, or even a tree. and planting together. After planting, you can continue to care for the garden as a family. It’s a great way to bond, teach your kids about nature and healthy eating, and instill a sense of responsibility as they help you care for the plant.

You could also try a garden scavenger hunt with youngsters. Simply create a list of things you might find in a garden — a shovel, rocks, weeds, etc. — and then search for them together. As the kids get older, you can make it more of a challenge by having them find and identify specific plants or insects.

4. Water or yard game tournament.

Swimming pool games can inspire a little family-friendly competition.

Many families like to take a vacation to visit stadiums and watch big sporting events. However, tickets and concessions are pricey and crowds can be rowdy. You can have just as much fun hosting your very own sporting event in your own backyard. From Marco Polo to Sharks & Minnows, there are tons of family-friendly swimming pool games. Why not turn those games into a little staycation competition? Recruit friends and neighbors, create your tournament bracket, pick some water games of challenges (like diving, relays, or laps), and let the friendly competition begin! The last team or player left standing gets a prize — or at least bragging rights.

Of course, you don’t just have to stick to swimming pool games. Depending on what you have on hand, backyard games like croquet, bocce ball, and bean bags are also good options — and good backup activities if the temperatures drop too low for swimming.

5. Backyard water park

Slip ‘n slides can help turn your backyard into your personal water park.

You don’t have to travel very far to get all the fun of a water park — especially if you’re a pool owner. You’ve already got a great start turning your backyard into your very own staycation water park — without waiting in lines or paying for overpriced concessions! In addition to your pool, add some slip ‘n slides, water guns, sprinklers, and water balloons and you’re good for hours of fun.

6. Arts and craft projects.

Encourage creativity and artistic expression by doing some outdoor craft projects. There are lots of fun craft ideas with pool noodles that you may have laying around. You could also grab some paint and stencils and create a fun pool sign for your backyard and patio area together. Of course, there’s always sidewalk chalk as an easy and inexpensive fallback option. Who needs fancy museums and art galleries when you can have masterpieces created by your very own kiddos?

Prepping for your backyard staycation.

Of course, planning for the perfect staycation starts with preparing your pool and backyard. Get your above ground pool all set for fun with our handy pool opening guide — and don’t miss our tips to make your backyard and pool safer for kids! Kick back, relax, and enjoy your staycation!

Affordable + Family-Friendly Ideas for Your