Staycation Ideas: Turn Your Home into a Beach Vacation

Home is more than just the place where you plan your next vacation; it is the destination to be right now. If a beach vacation was on your itinerary, or on your mind, there’s no better time to enter staycation mode. Use the following guide to invite the warm ocean breezes of California, Florida or the Caribbean inside and embark upon a beach vacation at home. 

Create a By-the-Beach Ambiance

Decorate with window drawings: One of the best parts about visiting a beach is the view, right? Re-create it in your home with a fun activity: Use dry-erase markers on your windows to draw the ocean’s waves, sea creatures like jellyfish, seashells, and oceanside staples like beach balls.

Transform a space: Convert a deck, patio or room with a big window into your family’s personal beachside cabana for a relaxing escape. Plug in a fan to replicate a sea breeze, hang a hammock in the backyard or bring in throw pillows from the bedroom to be your cushions, and serve beach-themed appetizers or treats like watermelon slices, snow cones or taffy. For those lounging in their backyards, turn on the sprinklers for a quick cool-off. 

Set the mood with music: Create a playlist with your favorite beach-inspired songs. Whether you ask a voice-activated device, find a channel in your music streaming service or task your teens with finding a song about each coastal state, a few songs can set the tone for your staycation. 

With a few dry-erase markers, you can make your own “beachside” view for your staycation.

Get Crafty and Play

Make and play with a beach-day fortuneteller: Not sure what to do? Print, color, cut and fold this beach-themed activity sheet. Choose either a seashell, crab, sun or fish and then pick a number to determine what you’ll do, from “I Spy” to tag. Feel free to adjust the options: For “collect seashells,” replace “seashells” with “shiny pebbles,” “ladybugs” or “dandelions.” Similarly, instead of “build a sandcastle,” make one out of blocks. 

Start a bullet journal: Grab a blank journal or notebook and several colored pens, pencils or markers and map out your top bucket-list beach vacations. Whether you’re California dreaming or love the idea of visiting Michigan’s lake beaches, when it’s time to start traveling again, your journal will serve as an inspired road map to chart your course — and a place to capture memories along the way. Tip: Get your kids more involved in planning your family’s future vacations with these five strategies, which you can tackle without even leaving the house.

Make an under-the-sea magnet board: Keep the kids entertained by converting an old baking pan into an under-the-sea magnet board. Check out this tutorial for tips, but keep in mind that if you prefer to work with materials you already have at home, this craft is still totally doable. Skip painting your cookie sheet and use magnets of your own. Then, ask your kids to draw, color and cut out what they might discover under the sea — fish, turtles and crabs — and attach them to the magnet board. Each day during your staycation, your family can rearrange what’s swimming on display or add to your creature collection. 

Follow the instructions above to make this fortuneteller at home. Then pick from a crab, fish, seashell or sun to determine a fun activity to do during your staycation.


Build Your Own Boardwalk

Create stands for your boardwalk: From Myrtle Beach to Virginia Beach, boardwalks are iconic staples of coastal vacation destinations. Bring the boardwalk experience in-house by using cardboard boxes, scissors, hot glue, tape, markers and construction paper to create colorful stands (similar to this lemonade stand). Line up these stands along your “boardwalk” so your kids can sell, trade or gift something fun to each family member. 

“Sell” something: After you’ve built stands for each of your kids, help them decide what they’ll sell or give away. Is your daughter into making friendship bracelets? That’s perfect. Did your son enjoy drawing creatures for the magnet board? Have him sell new creature drawings for the family’s board. 

Play for prizes: Add a game stand to your boardwalk with activities like ring toss, pin the tail on the donkey or a memory game, and reward the winner with fun prizes that don’t require a trip to the store. Whether it’s a mystery bag of change, an extra 30 minutes of TV time, wearing mom’s special necklace for the day or choosing what costume dad has to wear to dinner, prizes can be fun and stress-free to create.

Include a food stand: Use this stand to distribute some of your favorite beach snacks, like popsicles, corn dogs, funnel cake or homemade fruit leather, which you can prepare with your little ones before setting up shop on the boardwalk.

Keep the kids entertained with staycation crafts that they can sell at their beach boardwalk stands.

Plan Dinners Like You Would on Vacation

Eat like you are by the ocean: Pick different beachside dinners and cook them as a family each night. Seeking a little inspiration? Check out these 99 recipes fit for any beach staycation. The list includes culinary coastal delights such as Baja fish tacos, Caribbean jerk chicken, pina coladas (still just as fun without the rum) and coconut cream cake. 

Host a luau: For a taste of Hawaii, plan a backyard or living room dinner event and cook pineapple, pork or a native fish, like mahi-mahi. During dinner, play tropical tunes and decorate with tiki torches or lighted candles. After dinner, get ready for a family hula dance — watch this video to learn what to do with your feet and hips.

With Baja California-style fish and shrimp tacos, families can get a taste of the coast without leaving home.



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

Lisa Zimmermann is a Washington, D.C.-based writer and has previously written for Boston magazine, Boston Home, Boston Weddings, The Dallas Morning News, The Jersey Journal, New England Travel and Atlas Magazine. She recently started filling a bullet journal with potential beach destinations to plan a honeymoon. Follow her on Twitter @lisazimm or Instagram @lzloveslife.