Q&A: How will you tour your city this summer?

Two summers ago, our family took a staycation instead of a vacation.  We stayed in our home, went to the neighborhood water park a few times, enjoyed leisurely picnics for our dinners, and had a few later nights watching movies and popping popcorn.

Staycations are super popular now because of the economy; more and more families are opting to save money and tour their own hometown. It’s a great alternative when you don’t have the finances allotted for a traditional vacation, yet you’re in need of some quality family time.

June’s theme for Simple Living Media is travel and family time, so today’s question is perfect for this topic.

Visiting your own city

metal type letter q ampersand & A

Staycations are a great idea for a frugal, relationship-centered family.  Today’s discussion question requires you to brainstorm some ideas and share them with us:

What is one thing you’ve always wanted to see or do in your hometown but haven’t done it?  Is it something you can do as a family this summer?

Be specific — tell us about something cool or unusual in your city, and make a date to explore it in the next few months.

And then tell us your vacation or staycation plans for the summer.
If you haven’t yet marked your calendar, I highly encourage you to put something down.  These kinds of family events are what memories are made of, and it’s a great time to bond, enjoy, and catch up with each other.

I look forward to learning about your city and hearing your ideas!

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Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. On Canada Day (July 1) all Parks Canada attractions offer free admission! So we’ll be taking advantage of that and going to a nearby restored 18th century fortress. My husband and I have been there before, but our 2 year old son hasn’t. There are lots of neat buildings you can tour, set up like they would have been then, but I don’t think our 2 year old will be too into that. I think he’ll enjoy just walking about seeing everyone in costume… they also do some acting in the streets (things like bringing a thief to be chained up in the town square as punishment), and fire cannons.

    We’re not sure when my husband will take his actual vacation from work this year… we might end up saving it for some things in the fall/winter. But, we’re definitely planning to do lots of staycation type things throughout the summer on weekends… I have a list of beaches we want to visit, we want to try camping at a nearby campground with our son for the first time – and there are lots of local festivals with kids activities we plan to attend.

  2. Seattle has just a TON of free festivals throughout the summer that I’ve never been to — but this year is the year for changing that! I’ve been to the Cherry Blossom Festival (April) and the Folklife Music Festival (May) this year so far. I’m going to go to SeaFair and Bumbershoot at the very least as well!
    .-= Rae´s last blog ..Write For Mix It Up! =-.

  3. Our city is Heidelberg in Germany, we have a castle on one of our taller mountains which we have been to, but we always drive up there. This summer I want to take my son on the funicular railway which runs up the mountain to the top of the castle gardens. He loves trains so I think he’ll really enjoy it!

    We’re also going to spend a lot more time in our local gardens and nature reserve.
    .-= Satakieli´s last blog ..Lemon, Thyme and Mushroom Linguine =-.

  4. We have a huge brass band festival with all sorts of fun things every summer. I have lived here for nearly 6 years now and I still haven’t been a single time. Something always comes up. I would love to go this summer but I am due to have a baby at the same time the festival is going on. 🙁 Maybe next summer…

  5. We live in Western North Carolina. In our area, we have so much we can do. What I haven’t been able to do and plan on doing this summer is visiting the Biltmore Estate. We also plan on taking the kids to Sliding Rock near Brevard as well as the Cradle of Forestry. We also enjoy going to the Great Smoky National Park as well as the Blue Ridge Parkway. We are only 15 minutes from both of those. We also plan to take out kids to the Oconaluftee Indian Village and Unto These Hills Show put on by the Cherokee Indians. We are truly blessed to be able to live in an area filled with a lot of things we can do without having to go far to do it.
    .-= Joy Ellis´s last blog ..Memorial Day =-.

  6. Almost 4 years ago, we moved to Maine and its official slogan is Vacationland! So we figure we’ve got summer vacation covered. With all of the beaches to the south and the mountains to the north, we never lack something new to “discover”. We are very much hoping and saving to go on a vacation in February – when we REALLY need to get away.
    .-= Jennifer Tankersley´s last blog ..list of foods to have available for summer lunch options =-.

  7. We live in Brooksville in Florida. The actual center of Brooksville is very historical and has a “walk Historic Brooksville” map . I’ve always wanted to do this but we never have. The walk itself is free and this part of town is very beautiful. Also, on July 19, Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa is having a $5 day. All tickets are brought down to $5 and children 2 and under are free.
    .-= Suzette´s last blog ..Simplicity: My Simple Pleasures =-.

  8. We’re in the middle of our staycation right now! So far this week we’ve picked berries, made jam, and gone camping. I find it’s also a good time to do those little projects that you want to do, but never seem to get around to.

    This is our second year staycationing and we love it!
    .-= Jamie ~ Simple Homeschool´s last blog ..Keeping up with the Homeschooling Joneses =-.

  9. I want to take my little boys to ride the swan boats in Boston’s public garden. He’s read “Make Way for Ducklings” about a gazillion times, so I know he’d adore doing it. This month! We’ll make it happen. Perhaps we’ll pack a picnic and make it an afternoon.
    .-= Mary´s last blog ..Pearl Jam – Hunger Strike =-.

  10. Here in Kansas City, we staycation all year round. 😉

    I really want to take my kids into the city more this year – when my son was a baby, we went all of the time, but with two kids and a bulky stroller, I hesitated going urban (we primarily do Union Station, the Plaza and Crown Center). Now, they are walking talking humans and I want to show them the parts of the Kansas City that made me fall in love. The gritty parts, the little restaurants.

    This year’s goals are the Farmer’s market on a Saturday (when it is CRAZY), Steamboat Arabia, the Firemen’s Memorial (my grandpa is on it), Browne’s for a cookie, Succotash, etc. I also would like to make the Jazz Festival in Corporate Woods.

    Sidenote: Alphamom has done a city guide series in the past “50 Things to do with your kids before they grow up” guides for several cities. (link: http://alphamom.com/tag/city-guides/) It quite helpful!
    .-= cagey (Kelli Oliver George)´s last blog ..‘Tis a tragedy that a blinking cursor is not motivational. =-.

  11. We never have the money to go for a “real” vacation, but we always try to do fun things in the summer with our kids: berry picking, festivals, trips to the beach.
    .-= Laura´s last blog ..Dandelion greens. =-.

  12. Never a shortage of things to do in Austin – I just wish we would take some time off and enjoy it! This weekend is Night of the Bat, which I want to check out, but the Austin Children’s Museum is also great, and our son is just now getting to the age where he would enjoy it (nearly 1 year old!).

    • I’m in Austin, too, and my oldest loved the bats when she was about 2. We’ll probably go again sometime, later in August when they really come out in droves. We love the museum as well — wish it wasn’t so pricey.

      • I’m in New Braunfels, just a bit south of y’all — we count both Austin and San Antonio as our staycation destinations.

        This summer, we’ve joined the SA Zoo — not just because we love the zoo, but because beginning last weekend, members can enter at 7:30 a.m., which allows us to avoid the heat while seeing the animals and then spend a bit of time playing in the toddler zone beach area.

        We spend a great deal of time at the rivers (in San Marcos and New Braunfels) and we really like the Children’s Museums in both Austin and New Braunfels. We’re also really enjoy the Thursday evening concerts in the park at Landa Park in NB.

        So many fun things to do in this area!

      • tiffany says:

        We are also in Austin. Just last weekend (it was a long weekend) we went to the greenbelt, twin falls, Zilker Park, Lady Bird Lake, Barton Springs, Alamo Drafthouse and of course Sno Beach (twice:)).

        Austin is so fabulous for hanging out checking out free music, plays, parks and art. Our playgroup does something different each week and we never run out of new things to do (next week the free Umlauf Sculptor Gardens). We try to make trips to the capital in August when the heat is awful. I truly can’t say enough about the many options we have when we stay close to home! I love Austin :)!

    • Sarah, you’re right, there is never a shortage of things to do in Austin! We have two boys who love adventure. This makes Inner Space caverns (a few miles north of Austin, in Georgetown) a great place to take them to. So is Natural Bridge Caverns near New Braunfels! We also went to see the bats at the Congress Ave. bridge. What a spectacle that is to see!

  13. We are moving across the country this summer, so our actual vacation is going to be a cross country drive in the car followed by Dad driving the moving truck. We don’t have much time, but we do plan to stop lots (we will have a 10 month old and a 3 yr old, so not much choice) and visit family and friends along the way. So I imagine we will be exploring lots of rest stops across Canada, and may even do a series of photos by giant monuments along the way or something similar.

    As for the first part of the summer, we will probably spend lots of time at the local park, where they fill a big wading pool every day of the summer, and do lots of walks to the bakery and picnics in our tree fort.
    .-= jill´s last blog ..Blogger’s Quilt Festival — Star Play Quilt =-.

  14. Ramadan this year falls through August to September – most people (expats) escape because the city shuts down during the day – we’re staying put because my husband gets to work shorter hours because of fasting – why would we want to go away when we’re getting FREE bonus Daddy time? – sure the museums and parks will be shut – but it’ll be 50 degrees C out anyway so we’ll stay in and hang out, and cook and play games and do all the fun family stuff most people do on rainy or snowy days – I love Ramadan for the way it makes us focus on our family.
    .-= Kirsty-Abu Dhabi´s last blog ..Hello Boys | Abu Dhabi Twins Photographer =-.

  15. In June our city offers so many local events! My post today features several fun options we’re hoping to do before we travel up to Ohio and Canada next month.
    .-= Julia´s last blog ..Living on Less: 17 Strategies We Use to Save Money =-.

  16. First off – who took the picture of Hey Cupcake? That’s my hometown! In Austin there is so much to do. Go to the Wildflower Center, Barton Springs, Alamo Drafthouse…

    • I’m in Austin, though it’s a photo from Flickr. Honestly, I haven’t gone to Hey Cupcake yet, but I think that’s on our list for the summer. All those places you mentioned are definitely great. 🙂

  17. It’s funny to me that staycations are popular now, because when I was growing up we always staycationed, and people used to make fun of us.

    Sometimes we stayed in our own house, in a small town in AZ, but there wasn’t much to do there. Usually what we did was stay in my grandparents’ house in Tucson. Every year they go to CA for 2 weeks, and we would spend one of those weeks in their house. We’d play board games, hike in the nearby mountains, visit Tucson attractions like the Sonoran Desert Museum and the Flandrau Science Center, and swim and swim and swim. It probably wasn’t as much of a vacation for my mom, who mega-mealed everything the week before, and brought a bunch of frozen dinners with us so we wouldn’t have to eat out, but we kids LOVED it, mostly because of the access to grandpa and grandma’s pool, but also just because it was nice to be somewhere else, even if it was only 75 miles from home.

  18. The Austin Symphony has a free summer concert series that is played every Sunday evening throughout the entire summer. It’s great because we get to enjoy beautiful evenings on the banks of Ladybird Lake with a spectacular downtown view of Austin. We pack a picnic dinner and my husband and I kick back, enjoy the music while our boys not only get an up-close music experience, but even better, dance to their hearts content.

    • We honestly haven’t done that yet! We do get to the Zilker summer musical each year, but we’ll definitely need to add the symphony to our list. Austin really does have a lot of great things to do… Wish it wasn’t so hot.

  19. I’m thrilled there are so many Austin-ites on this site! It is such a small world. One of my favorite things about living in Austin is that we are so close to the Texas Hill Country. Last weekend, we went peach-picking at an orchard outside of Fredericksburg. We got the perfect size box of peaches for $5, but you could definitely pick more. We left Austin in the morning, picked peaches, and were back before naptime. We plan on going back multiple times over the summer.

  20. Our parks department hosts a weekly Family Movie Night in the park — they set up a big screen in the park and play family movies after sunset, I think my boys might be getting old enough to enjoy it. We aslo plan on attending local festivals in neighbooring cities. The cherry festival is coming soon, and I’m really looking forward to doing u-pick cherries again this year.

  21. Where do I start? We live in Tidewater Virginia, so there is so much to do and much of it is free:

    1. Virginia Beach Beach and Boardwalk
    2. Chesapeake Bay-our favorite spot, not as crowded as the Oceanfront, the waves are gentler than youngster, and there are no parking meters.
    3. Norfolk Botanical Gardens-there is a wonderful childrens’ garden complete with water features to play in.
    4. Virginia Zoo-also a great venue to the pre-school crowd, currently the Asian exhibit is under construction.
    5. Towne Point Park in Norfolk- every weekend there is a festival going on, name your interest.
    6. Aquarium- our “go to” destination on a rainy day.
    .-= Mary @ A Simple Twist of Faith´s last blog ..Now I lay me down to sleep… =-.

  22. Sarah W. says:

    We live in Alaska- known as a great vacation site, and yet there is so much I haven’t done here! We plan on exploring some local hiking trails that we’ve never done, now that our kids are old enough to tag along. We’ll do some letterboxing (you can do that just about anywhere- lots of fun! google North American letterboxing), go to the botanical gardens, the newly remodeled museum and imaginarium, the zoo, go camping in Homer, take the oldest for his first fly fishing trip, and more…

  23. We live in Savannah, GA. There are a lot of tourists visiting the historic downtown area, but I’ve actually only done one or two tourist things while living here. This summer, we plan to go to the birthplace of Juliett Gordon Lowe (founder of the girl scouts) and the Telfair Museum. I hope to make it to the beach several times for play dates for my 2 year old son since it’s only a 30 minute drive away. My husband’s family is renting a beach house for a week for their vacation. It’ll just be our staycation…we’ve never actually spent time at the beach without coming back home before. So it’ll be nice to “get away.”

  24. I live near Scranton, PA and we have an underground coal mine tour that is very well-known. I’ve lived in this area all my life and never took the tour before the summer of 2009. We enjoyed it one Sunday afternoon and can’t believe we didn’t take the time before.
    .-= Tina@RideOnToys´s last blog ..The Power Wheels Ford Mustang Convertible =-.

  25. Heather says:

    We live on the north side of Atlanta and aren’t going to have a vacation for the foreseeable future due to our financial situation – so we have to be frugal! No going to the GA Aquarium for us. I’ve been researching blueberry picking this afternoon. Also, since I can’t go to the beach, we’ll go to the lake beach!

  26. There’s a free outdoor movie series downtown this summer, I can’t wait to catch some of those! Also, we plan on checking out some of the nearby museums (childrens and otherwise). For anyone else in the military, there’s a program going on this summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day: free admission to a whole bunch of museums nationwide!!


  27. That photo looks like it was taken in Austin! 🙂

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