Staycation Ideas: Activities for an Outdoor Adventure at Home

We’re all being asked to stay home right now, but there’s no reason we can’t still get away. If an outdoor vacation is on your mind, use this together time to embark on a “staycation” that brings outdoor adventures to you. Draw inspiration from the following outdoor activities, experiences and ideas.

Camp at Home in Your Living Room or Backyard

With a little preparation and a sprinkle of imagination, your family can create a camping trip in your own home, no open fire required.

Gather your gear: Challenge yourself — and add excitement — by trying to collect everything you need before you begin your “campout,” so you won’t have to leave your “campsite” for much and your kids won’t be tempted by TV and other technology. Have your children pack their own bags for the adventure.

Consider these items for your at-home camping trip:

  • Sleeping bags
  • Air mattresses
  • Pillows
  • Pajamas
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen and hats, if you’re day camping
  • Water jugs
  • Cups or mugs
  • Cooler with ice for drinks and snacks
  • Warm layers, if it will get cold
  • Flashlight or lantern
  • Trash bags
  • Wet wipes
  • Games (see “Play games and have fun” below)
  • Camera for capturing memories

Pitch your tent: Set up in the backyard or wherever you have space, such as your living room. If you don’t have a tent, don’t worry! You can create a shelter using ropes to hang a tarp or blanket over your camp area, or you can spread a sheet on the ground and cozy up without anything over your head. With your tent or shelter established, enjoy looking up at the night sky, the lights you’ve strung up or the stars you’ve made and stuck to the ceiling.

Play games and have fun: Power down your electronic devices and have some quality unplugged family time.

  • Bring a deck of cards to enjoy the family’s favorite games or discover new ones.
  • Print out activity sheets like Trav-Libs, Vacranium or Travelgories and let your imagination run wild.
  • Go on a scavenger hunt: Print out a ready-made sheet online or make your own including objects such as a feather, a butterfly, a flower, a large leaf or a bird.
  • Gather leaves and flowers and press them for a memento of your at-home camping adventure.
  • Tell stories, sing songs or crack jokes around your “campfire.” Talk about a favorite travel memory or a place you want to visit.
Turn your living room into a campsite: Set up a tent or make your own, and string up lights overhead to create a night sky.

Go on a Treasure Hunt

Unleash your sense of adventure by seeing your home or backyard as uncharted territory full of hidden treasures. Everybody in the family can get in on the hunt.

Make the treasure: Have your children search outside for small rocks to paint gold or decorate with fun colors and stickers of their choosing. Or create a treasure chest by filling a small box with plastic or chocolate coins and other “valuables.”

Create the map: With your children’s help, start with a piece of paper — a panel of a brown paper bag looks great — then tear the edges for a tattered look. On the paper, draw the rough border of where you’ll be exploring, whether it’s your backyard or a room or two in your house. Add landmarks: A flower bed might be a forest, or a kitchen table might be a big rock. Add features — such as trails, ocean waves and a compass — to your heart’s content.

Hide the treasure: Have an adult place the treasure somewhere in the search area and then mark the location on the map. Tip: If you use a sticky note for “X marks the spot,” you can easily remove it and point to a different location next time.

Go!: Instruct the players to fully explore the area before zeroing in on the treasure location, for maximum fun. If you like, add clues to solve along the way.

Your backyard or inside spaces can be the stage for a family treasure hunt. Make a map, hide the prize and have fun exploring.

Take a Virtual Vacation at a National Park

You don’t have to leave the house to experience the natural wonder of our national parks. Let these virtual tours lift you to a faraway place — and maybe even inspire your next national park vacation.

Western national parks: Take a virtual tour of Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Glacier national parks and Grand Canyon National Park on your computer or mobile device. Zoom in on a satellite map and click around to see breathtaking 3D views of the parks, including hiking trails, lakes, mountain peaks, canyons and valleys, experiencing them almost as if you were really there.

Crater Lake National Park: Watch a 360-degree video showcasing the spectacular scenery of this glacial lake in southwestern Oregon. Click here to watch the three-minute YouTube video and see yourself standing at the water’s edge or sitting on a boat bound for the lake’s enchanting rock formations.

Yellowstone National Park: Gather the family around this livestream in anticipation of Old Faithful’s eruptions, which occur about every 90 minutes. When this famous geyser finally puts on its water show, celebrate with “oohs” and “ahhs,” just like park visitors do.

Visit a national park from the comfort of your couch: Fly over points of interest on a satellite map and experience them almost as if you were really there.

Stay in for a Family Cookout

To cap off your family “camp in,” make a meal to match your rustic mood. Here are some dinners and snacks you can easily prepare at home that taste great and keep you in an outdoors state of mind.

Chili with White Beans and Scallions: This crowd-pleasing recipe uses only a few ingredients to chop and prep and one pot to clean up. Serve in bowls to enjoy around your cozy “campfire.”

Microwave Risotto with Tender Pea Shoots: This flavorful dish can be made right in a mug, perfect for easy transport from the kitchen to your camp area.

S’mores Popcorn Balls: This quick and easy snack features classic campfire ingredients — chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers — and is fun for the whole family to make.

Make-Your-Own Trail Mix: Protein, potassium, healthy fats and a bit of indulgent sweetness — enjoy this trail mix during your explorations of home. You could buy a bag of trail mix from a store, but where’s the fun in that?

Preparing camp-style meals will add to the authenticity of your outdoor activities.



We’d love to see your creative staycation! Tag @alamorentacar on Instagram using the hashtag #StaycationCreation for a chance to be featured on our channels.

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About the Author

Matt Morgan is a former longtime Phoenician and current Chicagoan who’s been editing and writing for more than 20 years. He shares a love of the outdoors with his wife and two young children. Follow him on Instagram @gomattmorgan.