The Ultimate Summer Staycation


By: Natalie Garrett 

For those like myself who crave adventure and thrive on planning trips, the summer season is an optimal time to pack the calendar with all things travel and exploration. In between those excursions, however, we’re often left wondering how to best fill the void when it’s not always feasible or affordable to drop what we’re doing and sail off into the sunset. Through my attempts at soaking up every bit of summertime and sunshine, I’ve outlined a few ideas to help set you and your family’s sights on being intentional and content all summer long…

For the Littles

Before settling into the career world, much of my time was spent with little ones. My most treasured stint of childcare was the summer I spent as a nanny to a sister-brother duo, ages 6 and 10. As enthusiastic and energetic children, their social calendars were filled with play dates, summer camps, and swim team practices and meets. These activities typically kept us on the move, but we certainly still had off-days with down time. Too creative and too smart for their own good, I knew I needed to utilize these breaks in the schedule to exercise their imagination. I decided to grab a box of popsicle sticks and write a random activity on each one. I placed them in a jar and every time one of the kiddos started to claim boredom, I’d have them draw a stick from the jar and we had to complete whatever activity it read. It was a spontaneous way to keep us occupied and laughing! Here are a few activities to help get you started on a jar for your family:

Have a Water War
HINT: A few bucks on water guns and balloons at the local dollar store can go a long way.

Build an Epic Fort
PRO-TIP: Wrap some chairs with a fitted bed sheet and place a box fan blowing inside so the fort is filled with air and forms a dome.

Hunt for Treasure
LEVEL UP: Using riddles as clues makes the game more interactive and takes longer to complete.

Create a Backyard Obstacle Course
IDEA: Use pool noodles to create obstacles and end with a splash into a kiddie pool… the options are endless!

For the Not-So-Littles

Once they outgrow the popsicle stick phase, it becomes more and more challenging to come up with adequate entertainment. Chances are, whatever the family is doing isn’t very “cool” and they’re searching for something that can be done with their friends. Keeping in mind activities that are manageable for a group of younger people, try:

Backyard Camping
Sometimes kids just need a sense of independence to boost their confidence and self-esteem. Try letting them loose on setting up camp in the backyard and task them with preparing all the necessary supplies.

Hold a Video Game Tournament
I know, we’re trying to reduce screen time… but take this opportunity to turn their favorite solo activity into a face-to-face interaction. Move all your TVs into one space to create a gaming room and let them “battle royale” it out. Draw a players’ bracket on an oversized poster-board to amp up the hype!

For the Grown-Ups

Summer fun doesn’t have to stop when you’re an adult. There are plenty of opportunities to maximize on get togethers, like:

Wine Tasting
Delectable and easy to execute? Double win! Everyone shows up with a bottle of wine and assortment of cheese to mix and match. Try the selection together as a group to make it more interactive and offer index cards for tasting notes!

Themed Cookouts/Dinner Parties
Outdoor barbecues and dinner parties are a favored activity throughout the summer. Put a spin on your next event, whether it’s big dresses and hats for a Derby theme in May or posing as characters from your friend group’s favorite TV show for an end-of-summer bash.

Sweet Summertime

No matter where the coming months may lead you, it’s destined to be well spent if it involves making memories. I might be biased, but an important criteria in making memories in my book involves tasty treats along the way. One of my favorite (and easiest!) desserts to make this time of year is this incredible blueberry cobbler cake, topped with vanilla ice cream, of course! Desserts consisting of fruit already scream summertime, but it also looks festive for all of the patriotic summer holidays. You can’t go wrong!

Blueberry Cobbler
Courtesy of

– 1⁄4 pound (1 stick) of butter, melted
– 1 1⁄4 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
– 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
– 1 cup milk
– 2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and patted dry

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 3-quart baking dish. In a medium bowl, whisk 1 cup of the sugar with the flour, baking powder, salt and milk. Whisk in the melted butter. Pour the batter into the baking dish. Sprinkle the blueberries evenly over the top of the batter. Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar over the top. Bake for 45 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar over the top and return to oven; bake 10 more minutes. Serve warm, topped with ice cream or whipped cream. Enjoy!


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