Staycation Ideas: Exploring Hidden Gems in Your Own City

ELIZABETH S. | November 28, 2023

In a world where the average vacation for one person in the U.S. can set you back about $1,919 per week, and the cost for two can easily reach $3,838, it's no wonder that families are on the lookout for alternatives. With a median household income in the U.S. hovering at around $75,143, the dream of an extravagant getaway might seem out of reach. 

But here's the good news – you don't have to break the bank to have a fantastic time. In this article, we'll show you how to uncover the hidden treasures in your own city and turn your staycation into a rejuvenating adventure. Let's embark on a local journey and maximize what's right in your backyard.

Woman sitting by her car with a map for her staycation

Staycation Secrets: Unearth City Treasures Around You

In recent times, the concept of a staycation (a clever blend of "stay" and "vacation") or its close cousin, the holistay (combining "holiday" and "stay"), has been gaining popularity. A staycation is a period in which an individual or family chooses to stay home and indulge in leisure activities within day trip distance, all without the need for overnight accommodation.

The joy of a staycation lies in rediscovering the often overlooked gems within your own city. It's a chance to see your hometown with fresh eyes, uncover hidden treasures, and embark on an adventure that doesn't involve packing bags or expensive plane tickets. Stay tuned for some fabulous staycation ideas that will transform your city into a vacation wonderland.

Illustration of a town event, perfect for a staycation event

Why Staycations are the New Trend

Staycations are the latest travel trend for a multitude of reasons, making them a superb choice for the modern explorer. The benefits of staying local are undeniable, starting with the substantial savings in both time and money. 

When you opt for a staycation, you avoid the hassles of packing, long flights, and expensive hotel accommodations. Instead, you can redirect your resources into exploring your own city, enjoying local cuisine, and diving into your community's rich culture.

What's even more appealing is the environment-friendly aspect of staycations. By not traveling long distances, you reduce your carbon footprint, helping to preserve the planet. So, not only are staycations budget-friendly, but they're also eco-conscious choices that allow you to enjoy a fulfilling vacation without venturing far from home. It's a win-win for you and the environment.

Unearthing Hidden Gems in Your City

Did you know that the staycation market is projected to reach an impressive US$758.1 million by 2033? It's no surprise, given that many people who have lived in cities for years have never explored all the great locations in their own backyard. 

Your city is teeming with uncharted wonders waiting to be discovered. Join us as we delve into the art of staycationing and learn how to transform your hometown into a treasure trove of adventures.

Local Parks and Nature Reserves

When you think of staycations, local parks and nature reserves are among the best local attractions for staycations and for a relaxing and refreshing experience. These green oases offer more than just scenic beauty. 

In addition to their anticipated recreational offerings, parks serve as a hidden gem for staycations, delivering measurable health advantages. These natural sanctuaries offer direct immersion in nature, promoting a cleaner environment while facilitating opportunities for physical activity and fostering social interaction.

The U.S. is home to an array of breathtaking state parks, national parks, and nature preserves that offer an excellent opportunity for outdoor adventure. If you're fortunate to live close to one of these natural gems, now is the perfect time to plan a visit. Here are some of the best to consider:

  • Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming: A geological wonderland with geysers, hot springs, and diverse wildlife.
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina/Tennessee: Rich biodiversity, scenic beauty, and historic cabins.
  • Zion National Park, Utah: Towering red rock formations, challenging hikes, and the stunning Zion Canyon.
  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona: Iconic vistas of the majestic Grand Canyon, perfect for hiking and photography.
  • Acadia National Park, Maine: Rugged coastline, serene lakes, and Cadillac Mountain for spectacular sunrises.
  • Redwood National and State Parks, California: Home to towering ancient redwood trees and pristine coastline.
  • Everglades National Park, Florida: Vast wetlands, unique wildlife, and water-based activities like kayaking.
  • Arches National Park, Utah: Over 2,000 natural stone arches and dramatic desert landscapes.
  • Olympic National Park, Washington: A diverse park with rainforests, mountains, and rugged Pacific coastline.
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio: Scenic beauty, waterfalls, and excellent hiking trails.

These natural wonders are beautiful and provide an opportunity to connect with the outdoors and discover the country's incredible landscapes.

So, pack a picnic and immerse yourself in the wonders of your city and surrounding area’s natural treasures.

City's Unique Cafes and Eateries

While you're on vacation at home, exploring your local culture can be as simple as venturing into the city's unique cafes and eateries. With an average of about 50,000 new restaurants opening in the U.S. each year, there's always something fresh to savor in your city. 

Here's a staycation challenge for you: try two or three new-to-you restaurants and relish the flavors of your hometown. Not only does this add zest to your staycation, but it also supports local businesses, making your exploration all the more rewarding.

Historical Landmarks Worth a Visit

In pursuing staycation treasures, don't overlook the historical landmarks that whisper tales of the past. National Historic Landmarks (NHLs) are invaluable gems that vividly illustrate the rich heritage of the U.S. 

With over 2,600 NHLs scattered across the nation, there's abundant history to explore. Here are five compelling reasons to visit these historical landmarks:

  • Living History: NHLs transport you back in time, offering a living, breathing history lesson.
  • Architectural Marvels: Marvel at a bygone era's stunning architecture and craftsmanship.
  • Cultural Insights: Gain a deeper understanding of the diverse cultures that shaped your city.
  • Educational Experience: Expand your knowledge and appreciation of local and national history.
  • Patriotic Pride: Celebrate the collective history and heritage that binds us as a nation.

Explore your city's historical treasures and let the stories of the past ignite your imagination.

Street Art and Murals - The Silent Storytellers

Street art, often painted with permission or commissioned, is our cities' silent storytellers. Distinguishing itself from graffiti, which is typically word-based, street art takes its narrative power from captivating images. The roots of street art run deep, with a history that extends back to the cave paintings of the late Palaeolithic era, the rock art of Ancient Egypt, and ancient Roman graffiti.

However, it was during the 1960s in New York that graffiti found its cultural foothold, emerging as a means of political expression and social commentary. By the early 1980s, street art had transformed into a conceptual art movement, with prominent galleries in New York showcasing the works of central players.

Take a trip downtown and experience these astonishing displays of artistry, where every mural and street artwork whispers its own compelling tale.

Local Cultural Festivities and Events

Dive into the heart of your city's vibrant culture by immersing yourself in local festivities and events. From annual festivals celebrating traditions to art exhibitions showcasing local talent, your city is a hub of cultural experiences waiting to be explored. 

These events not only offer a taste of the rich tapestry of your community but also create opportunities to connect with fellow locals. Discover the joy of celebrating your city's unique cultural identity right at your doorstep.

Tips to Make Your Staycation Feel Like a True Vacation

Staycations offer a delightful escape within your own city, but to truly savor the experience, some thoughtful planning and an open mindset can make all the difference. Here are tips to help you turn your staycation into a memorable adventure:

  • Planning Ahead: Craft an informal itinerary to guide your staycation. Look up the costs of various activities in advance, and consider budgeting for them rather than relying on credit cards, especially with rising interest rates.
  • Trying Something New: Embrace the spirit of adventure by creating challenges during your staycation. For instance, challenge yourself to explore local dining gems or try two to three new-to-you restaurants.
  • Digital Detox: Recent data shows that we spend an astonishing amount of time on our phones, often mindlessly. To maximize your staycation, consider a family challenge to reduce phone usage. Use this time to connect, explore, and truly be present.
  • Be Flexible: While planning is essential, the beauty of a staycation is that you can go with the flow. Leave room in your schedule to stumble upon unexpected gems. Be spontaneous and open to discovering things you might not have known existed right in your city. This flexibility allows for serendipitous moments and ensures your staycation is a true escape from the ordinary.

Staycation Packages and Offers

While staycations often involve enjoying the comforts of your own home, there's no rule against adding a bit of adventure by staying "away" for a couple of nights. If your family budget allows, consider indulging in a mini-getaway within your own city. 

Brands like Airbnb and Expedia frequently offer exclusive deals, transforming your staycation into a delightful stay-and-explore experience focused on local tourism. These packages can be a perfect way to relish the novelty of a temporary escape while still being close enough to take full advantage of your local gems. 

Whether you prefer a cozy cabin, a luxurious apartment, or a quaint bed and breakfast, these staycation packages can add a touch of luxury to your local adventure.

Woman enjoying her city during a staycation

Unlocking Staycation Secrets for a Financial Transformation

As Ralph Waldo Emerson wisely said, "Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not." The beauty of your staycation journey lies in discovering the treasures that surround you. 

Start exploring today, and let your staycation become a transformative experience that rejuvenates your spirits and uplifts your financial well-being. For more insightful tips and inspiration, follow the Cash Store blog. Your adventure awaits!


What are the benefits of a staycation?

The benefits of a staycation are too many to list. You can avoid potential travel headaches, such as flight delays and lost luggage. Minimize contact points, making your trip safer in uncertain times. 

By staying local, you'll stretch your travel budget, allowing you to explore more. Staycations focus on self-care, enabling you to unwind and rejuvenate. They encourage you to step outside your comfort zone, try new experiences, and enjoy room service without guilt. 

And the best part? You can escape to your own backyard, even bringing your beloved pets along for the adventure.

How can I make my staycation feel like a real vacation?

To make your staycation feel like a genuine vacation, a little planning goes a long way. Create an itinerary to guide your activities, exploring local gems you may have overlooked. Challenge yourself to try new restaurants or activities. 

Consider a digital detox to truly be present. Stay flexible in your plans, allowing for unexpected discoveries. And if your budget allows, explore staycation packages or exclusive deals for a touch of luxury within your own city.

Are there any local apps or platforms to discover hidden gems in my city?

Certainly! Exploring hidden gems in your city is more accessible than ever with the aid of local apps and platforms. Google is a reliable tool for discovering local attractions, and Viator offers a range of local tours to choose from. 

These platforms help you unveil your city's best-kept secrets and make exploring hidden treasures a breeze.

Can I find exclusive deals for staycations in my city?

Certainly! You can discover exclusive deals for staycations in your city through various channels. Popular travel and accommodation platforms like Airbnb and Expedia frequently offer special promotions and packages for local getaways. 

Additionally, consider exploring deals on Groupon and checking out resources like "Living on the Cheap" for cost-effective staycation options. By monitoring these platforms, you'll find a variety of offers to make your staycation both enjoyable and budget-friendly.

The content on this page provides general consumer information or tips. It is not financial advice or guidance. Each person’s circumstances are unique. The Cash Store may update this information periodically. This information may also include links or references to third-party resources or content. We do not endorse the third-party or guarantee the accuracy of this third-party information. There may be other resources that also serve your needs. 

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