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7 staycation ideas to save money this summer

Summertime is near and the desire to take a vacation is probably here, too. The question is, how do you enjoy some time away from it all when funds are limited? Chances are you don’t have to venture far from your hometown to have a vacation to remember.

Here are seven staycation ideas to help you save those vacation dollars and still create memories this summer:

1. Check out a national or state park

There are 58 national parks and 6,624 state parks in the United States. Use the opportunity to become a junior ranger (by checking in at a ranger station and picking up a list of activities to complete), test out your photography skills, take a hike, do some stargazing, track wildlife and more.

2. Have a campout in your backyard

Who says you need to have an RV to go camping or that you have to venture far? Grab some sleeping bags, a grill, a tent and some snacks and head outside for a rugged adventure. Telling ghost stories, making s’mores, cooking dinner on the grill and playing card games makes for an easy and affordable night of fun.

3. Check out your local museums, aquarium or zoo

Many museums, aquariums and zoos offer discounts or free days for locals. Check the Association of Zoos & Aquariums for facilities in your area, read up on the offers available in your community and plan a day of fun. Research exhibits ahead of time and list what each person would like to see. Pack your own lunch and snacks to minimize out-of-pocket spending on food.

4. Head to your local library

If your idea of a vacation is being able to snuggle up with a good book and enjoy some peace and quiet, head to your local library for a getaway. In addition, many libraries offer story time and reading events for children, which could be great activities to attend during the long summer days.

5. Attend a local sporting event

Even if you don’t live in a major city with a professional sports team (whose games can be pretty pricey to attend anyway), check out your local minor league teams and attend a game. Check the team calendar for special events and promos that line up with discounts or free giveaways and head out to cheer on your team (for a fraction of the price)!

6. Create a “build-your-own-adventure” day

Grab your bike, a kite, your bathing suit, a bocce ball set or your hiking boots and head out for a day of recreation and fun. Write down different activities on little pieces of paper and draw a new activity after each one is complete. Pack a picnic basket or a backpack full of snacks and make plans to stay out from sunrise to sunset.

7. Create your own film festival

If heading out to a film festival isn’t an option (or in your budget), create your own! Decide on a theme for the event (foreign films, comedies, thrillers, etc.) and then select a movie from each of the past five decades. Pop some popcorn and settle in for a day of entertainment. Get the whole family (and friends) involved by making scorecards for each movie and asking all attendees to give their reviews.