Spice Up Staycation with Cheap, Creative Thrills

You aimed to rent a beach house the Big Island this summer for your family, but alas, the economy has downsized your plans to include only cold showers at home.

DFW Staycation ideas

That said, you and your kids can substitute a costly vacation with a smashing staycation  here in Texas. All it takes is a little imagination and perhaps some phone calls. And just think: You ™ll have the luxury of your own washing machine, which, when enjoyed with a frosty margarita, is a beautiful thing.

Here are ten things you can do locally when the weather heats up.

Send your children to Mom Camp.  Invite four or five parents to form a co-op for a week-long camp.  Each adult takes one day then plans and oversees a themed play date for a four-hour block of time. Each day includes a craft using recycled household goods, traditional games like hide-and-seek, outdoor free play, a story borrowed from the library and a snack. Consider themes like the ocean,  outer space,  circus,  or summer.  For inspiration on crafts and games, see www.familyfun.com. Budget: $30 per kid.

Spend a week rating ice cream parlors. Take your kids to sample the wares of our community's ice cream shops. Have your children draw up a chart then assign points to each shop for their store's variety, product quality, atmosphere, etc. Then, have your foodies write a review of the stores. (If they don't have the endurance to write yet, you can play secretary for them.) Budget: $25 per kid.

Host a spontaneous bike parade. Invite the neighborhood clan over to decorate their bikes and trikes then peddle the creations through the streets for their adoring fans (ie. parents). Use recycled Christmas ribbon, latex balloons, old toilet paper rolls, streamers and other craft box floatsome and jetsome to personalize every ride. Designate one child to carry the boom box to broadcast summer tunes. Non-riders can carry pom-poms, twirl batons or march. Budget: $1 per kid.

Design a puppet show. Put all those lonesome socks hanging out in the laundry room to use by making hand puppets. Use paper, pompoms, yard, etc. to decorate each character. No puppet stage? No worries: Have your children stand on the couch and raise their hands above their heads to display their puppets. Take the show further by making tickets and selling popcorn. Budget: Free.

Create an outdoor kids ™ museum. String an old sheet up on a laundry line and fill spray bottles with watered down tempra paint. Have your children spray the sheet to make innovative designs. Warning: The paint will sprinkle the kids, so be sure to have everyone wear old clothing. Bonus: When the project is done, have everyone run through the hose then leap into the swimming pool or a warm mid-day bath. Budget: $5 per kid.

Take advantage of free trials. Sample classes at local gyms like WinKids, Gymboree, the Little Gym and Excite as well as dance studios all of which offer complimentary trials. Your kids will get exercise in an air-conditioned environment, you ™ll get an hour off duty, the hosts will receive free publicity when you tell your pals how much fun you all had. Budget: Free.

Help lost animals. Many of the area's shelters welcome children who can gently pet wayward dogs and cats in an attempt to keep them socialized. This is a great opportunity to discuss the idea of home  with children, the concept of adoption and the importance of volunteering. Be careful, though. If you get too involved in the project you might bring home a beagle. Budget: Free, but donation recommended.

Strive for a strike. Even three-year-olds get a kick out of pushing a big, black bowling ball down the wooden lane if there are bumpers to help guide it. Older kids will enjoy putting their Wii skills to use in a real-world adventure. You will get a kick out of remembering high school as Belinda Carlisle and the Go-Gos sing Vacation  while you slide across the floors in those killer sueded shoes. We like AMF in Lewisville for their less-expensive rates and retro feel. Budget: $10 per kid.

Roll with it. Once you ™ve mastered bowling, your ready for roller skating. At Interskate Roller Rink in Lewisville, your little ones can get their sea legs atop four-wheeled skates in a special tyke rink that includes guard rails. This hidden gem even offers a live DJ who takes requests. They might even play Fruit Salad  by The Wiggles if you bring your own CD. Budget: $3 per kid on Bargain Night plus skate rental. Check www.interskate.net for coupons and free skate nights.

Request a tour. It is amazing how many local businesses provide educational tours of their facilities if you simply ask nicely and/or beg. Pull together a group of five playmates and visit the city's recycling plant, the Great Harvest Bread Company, a local shoe cobbler, Grapevine's glass blowing studio or the DFW airport where gearheads will enjoy riding the trams from terminal to terminal. Most intriguing is a trip to Flower Mound's lone alpaca farm called Nana's Pacas where Nana and her husband will teach you about on the cousin of the llama. They ™ll let you pet the animals and show samples of the goodies that alpaca fur makes. Budget: Treasures or treats cost up to $20 per kid.

Julie Blair is a freelance journalist based in the Dallas area. She loves to roller skate with her four-year-old twins. Her personal blog can be found at: www.chocolatecoveredpajamas.blogspot.com.

What is YOUR favorite staycation activity?


  1. Another AWESOME Stay-Cataion destination is either BassPro or Cabelas! We spend about 4 hours there on our trips…we

    *play putt putt with the kid-sized putters on the putting green in the golf section
    *watch the fish in the tanks & catch feeding times if they’re doing it that day
    *play “camping” in the tents that are set up…there’s always lots of tents set up and many have cots in them
    *go to the shooting range…a few dollars goes a long way…this is NOT the real shooting range 🙂 it’s the laser-gun type shooting range
    *Cabela’s has a “sweets shop” upstairs by the food court that sells stuff like homemade fudge….I love to grab a square
    *see ALL the mounted/stuffed wildlife…talk about parts of the world they came from…Cabela’s has a bunch of exotics
    *explore the ski boats & pontoon boots. Bass Pro has steps that lead into the boats so you can get in them and pretend you’re boating. Daddy & I usually end up outside the boats as sharks…
    *eat lunch…both have food courts…Cabela’s serves exotic meats such as ostrich, elk, etc.
    *we are a hunting family, so we spend time in the gun section…
    *on Saturdays (check online to be sure) Bass Pro has free fishing for kids in their pond in the front of the store…they provide poles and bait too…
    *we pretend play on the ATVs that are outside on display
    *the fishing lures are a neat way to spend sometime…checking out all the gooey plastic worms & such
    *BassPro has a huge fake shark hung by the bathrooms as if you caught it…fun place to pose for a picture of your day

    I think you get the point. It’s all FREE, except for lunch, poopcorn, & fudge…but we can easily spend the HOT afternoon there indoors!

  2. Another fun, cheap outing to fill up a day are the city’s water parks. There are two…Old Town Waterpark & Sun Valley Waterpark. They are big enough to be entertaining, without the MASSIVE size of a waterpark like NRH2O. They have slides, water playscapes, flat splash areas for babies, shaded places to eat a picnic lunch, and admission is only a few bucks per child and even cheaper if you are a Lewisville resident.

    We love going to Old Town waterpark, but I would suggest getting there when they open, or coming after 1:00. Daycares seem to frequent the water park and it can get very, very crowded on some days.

  3. You’ve nailed it with staycations. Behind-the-scenes tours are a really great idea. My kids love them, and even if a place doesn’t have a formal tour, if you’re nice, you can get one.

  4. […] Spice Up Staycation with Cheap, Creative Thrills | Burbmom.net […]

  5. Tee Hee Hee “Poopcorn”…..

  6. Great ideas! I love the ice cream one and sure my kids would too :). We’re going to make a list of stuff we want to do this summer and I know the first thing is to ride our bikes to the donut place for breakfast the first day of summer. It’s a small thing, but my kids will love it and it could turn into a fun annual tradition.

  7. Ok – you are just FULL of good ideas! We’ve actually been doing the ice cream sampling thing this summer!

  8. bowling balls are dangerous on the foot if you mishandle it.`;,

  9. I really enjoyed your list of things to do in the DFW area. We will be staying near the FW convention center next summer for a convention and will be taking this list of things for us to do while we are there. Thanks! Enjoy reading your blog.

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