We think Vancouver is the best during the summer months. It’s hard to beat the weather, the beaches, and awesome family-friendly activities. That’s why we like to take a family staycation during the summer.
But what, exactly, is a staycation? It’s time that you choose to spend together as a family, just as if you were on vacation, but instead, you stay at home or in your hometown. It’s fun because you get to spend time together doing extra special activities beyond your typical daily routines. It’s a great way to make some fabulous memories, save a ton of money, and get to know your city a little better. Bonus – no long car rides or anyone uttering the words “are we there yet?!”
Here are some tips for planning your family staycation in Metro Vancouver, and a few ideas on things to do to make sure the whole family has fun.
Take a peek at your family calendar and pick a day, a weekend, or a week where there are no summer camps, work meetings, or extracurricular activities planned. Staycations work best when the whole family can commit to spending time together. That means unplugging from work and not worrying about who is shuttling kids off to their next playdate.
Once you have the date for your staycation picked, take a look at what might be happening around your neighbourhood during that time. Catch an outdoor movie, hit up a summer festival, or watch a play under the stars. Treat this staycation like it’s an actual vacation – book tickets, schedule activities, and write it on a calendar. Need some guidance? We have a few event and activity roundups that will help with your planning:
- 100 free or low-cost summer activities in Metro Vancouver
- Summer festivals in Metro Vancouver
- Fun family things to do in July in Metro Vancouver
The most important part of a staycation? Make sure you feel like you are on vacation. If that means letting some house rules go a little, go for it. Maybe it means ice cream after dinner each night. Maybe it means eating out for every meal. Or how about letting the kids stay up late? Or stay in their pj’s until noon? Remember to take photos of your activities; the kids will love looking back at all the fun you had together.
So you’ve got your staycation dates picked, and perhaps you’ve selected a couple events to attend, but what else are you going to do? We’ve got you covered! Here are some fun ideas.
Kids Choice Day
Give the kids the vacation reins and let them tell you exactly how they want to spend a day as a family. Maybe they want to go to their favourite playground, eat five popsicles, and have a water fight. We say go for it! If you want to have slightly more control over the activities for the day, write out ideas on pieces of paper and have your kids select a few from a hat for a fun mystery adventure day.
Create a list of items to find, and head out the door to explore your neighbourhood. The first person to find everything on their list wins a prize! Looking for an easy printable? We love this Sights and Sounds Summer Scavenger Hunt from CBC Kids.
Act Like a Tourist
A staycation is a perfect opportunity to explore Metro Vancouver as if you were a tourist. It’s a great chance to go see that exhibit you haven’t had time for or discover a new area of town that you haven’t had a chance to visit. Like Deep Cove, Fort Langley, or Port Moody. Head to the Aquarium, the Capilano Suspension Bridge, or Science World. If you can, visit these venues during the weekdays when they tend to be a little less busy.
Host a Movie Marathon
Let your kids play Movie Theatre and have them select new or old favourite movies to screen at home. Make movie tickets, number the seats on the couch, and serve heaps of popcorn and Twizzlers. This is a fabulous staycation activity to save for a not-so-nice day.
Spend the Night at a Hotel
So this isn’t the most frugal of options, but a night or two at a nearby hotel is a lot cheaper than flights and a week at a hotel in a tropical resort. But we bet your kids will be just as pumped to jump on the beds, splash in the pool, and order room service. Keep an eye out for mid-week, last minute deals, and you’ll be laughing all the way to the continental breakfast.
If your kiddos usually get shuttled around in minivans and SUVs, they will get a kick out of the SkyTrain and SeaBus. Hop on and ride the rails for a few stops. Get out and explore, or head all the way to Waterfront Station to transfer over to the SeaBus. Spend the rest of the day exploring Lower Lonsdale, the Quay, and the shipyards.
Buy a Few Extra Special Goodies
We bet that when you head on vacation, you hit up the local dollar store or your favourite local toyshop and select a few new toys and activities to keep your kids busy. So why not do the same for your staycation! Select some new activity books, maybe a new puzzle or board game, and surprise your kids each morning with something new and fun to play with.
We hope these tips and tricks have inspired you to try out a summer staycation with your family this year. What would be part of your ultimate staycation? Let us know in the comments below.
Yo, mama! Looking for more summer fun? We’ve got you covered:
- Outdoor pools in Metro Vancouver
- Water spray parks in Metro Vancouver
- Top family beaches in Metro Vancouver
- Sign up for emails to receive our weekly weekend event guide, full of awesome family-friendly activities in Metro Vancouver
By: Michelle Hughes