Summer is only about a month away and you know what that means---Vacation Time!!! To children, this is just another wonderful perk of being off school and getting to travel and see new places. For parents however, this can be a pretty stressful time. With today's economy, many parents are having to adjust to living on a budget and some families are facing unemployment.The last thing on many families minds is trying to plan out a vacation. Taking a vacation requires alot of work after all right? There is finding a travel agent and going over the many pricey, although fun options they offer and booking everything in time. Maybe you're the more super organized type and have researched, planned, and made all the preparations yourself for a fun filled and memorable vacation that still will ultimately be costly.
If the current economy crisis has taught us anything, it's that we as parents have to be thrifty, and the best way to be thrifty is to get creative! Savvy families all over the country are entering the Era of Staycations! Staycations are mini vacations in or close to the area you live. Many cities have plenty of attractions that are free or inexpensive and center around family fun. One of the bonuses of staycations is generally you can enjoy visiting more attractions than you would on a typical vacation since your budget isn't largely consumed with hotel and food costs.
To give you a better idea of how you can make staycations work for you, I'm going to give you an overview of a possible staycation for my family. We live in Suffolk, Virginia which is about 30-40 minutes away from Virginia Beach. Virginia Beach is a definite tourist attraction during the summer and the hotels along the boardwalk are filled with families on vacation. We'll eliminate hotel costs completely since we are so close so that frees up a large portion of our staycation budget.
Virginia Beach is best known for their popular boardwalk and fourteen mile long public beaches. Tourists flock to these beaches every summer to soak up the sun, fish, or maybe just take a stroll or a bike ride down the boardwalk. The boardwalk is lined with hotels, restaurants, beach shops, and night clubs. There is definitely something to cater to everyone's needs!
If the beaches aren't your thing there is a wealth of historic points of interest. History buffs will enjoy checking out the Adam Thoroughgood House, The Lynnhaven House, Ferry Plantation House, and Francis Land House. Each of these historic homes have very reasonable admission rates that range from $4 for adults and $2 for children/students. Another great option is the Virginia Legends Walk. The Virginia Legends Walk is located directly across from the 13th Street Park and honors Virginians that have made contributions to our country. Some famous honored Virginians include Patsy Cline, Pocahontas, Edgar Allen Poe, Thomas Jefferson, and Ella Fitzgerald. Admission is free, and this will certainly be a great experience diving into Virginia's rich history!
Virginia Beach also boasts many wonderful museums that range from art, military history, and bird watching. The Contemporary Art Center of Virginia not only offers regularly changing exhibits but also studio art classes as well. Whether it is glass, photography, sculpture, or painting you'll be sure to find something to satisfy the creative artist in you! Admission is affordably priced at $7 for adults and $3 for children.
For those interested in military history, be sure to check out the Military Aviation Museum and the Old Coast Guard Station. These are sure to be a big hit especially with the boys in your family and a great opportunity to step back in history! The Military Aviation Museum offers the largest collection of World War II and Korean War aircraft. Admission is only $10 for adults, $5 for children, and preschool aged children are free! The Old Coast Guard Station is located right on the oceanfront if you want a break from the surf and sun. Here you can learn about the Coast Guards life saving history as well as several shipwrecks that occurred off the Virginia Beach coast. Admission is $4 for adults and $2 for children.
For the nature lover, Virginia Beach offers a wide variety of parks and outdoor activities. Whether you're interested in hiking, bird watching, fishing, or even just taking a leisurely stroll and getting back to nature, Virginia Beach has parks to fill every need. First Landing State Park is by far one of the best stops in Virginia Beach. First Landing State Park sits on roughly 2,800 acres of hiking and biking trails, picnic areas, swimming, and even campgrounds! Their campground area offers water/electric hookup for your tent or rv, but if you're anything like me and enjoy the camping experience without being too close to nature, they also rent out cabins! Other great parks that offer plenty of wildlife and trail opportunities are Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park. Whichever park you decide to visit, you'll be sure to have a wonderful time immersing yourself in Virginia's natural beauty!
A great stop that your children will be sure to appreciate is the Virginia Beach Amusement Park. Admission is free and tickets for the rides are very reasonable priced ranging from .70 to $1. The amusement park is conveniently located right off the boardwalk and is a great way to take a break from the sand and sea! Another great option the whole family is sure to love is Ocean Breeze Water Park. They have everything you could possibly desire in a water park from wave pools, to kiddie sections, water slides and everything in between! Tickets can be a little pricey ranging from $21 to $28 a piece but if you live local you may find that a season pass is a great investment and will be sure to keep your children occupied all summer long!
Virginia Beach also hosts a number of festivals and cultural events throughout the year. Past festivals have included the Latin Festival, Blues at the Beach, Panorama Caribbean Music Fest, Festa Italiana, and plenty more!
Virginia Beach is a excellent location for a staycation since it has many options that will be sure to please even the pickiest member of your family! Staycations are becoming increasingly popular with families who still want the vacation experience without the vacation price. And if you're worried your children will be disappointed that you didn't travel for vacation, you can rest assured that they will still have a fantastic time! Many children tend to get restless and bored during the actual 'travel' of vacations so by the time they get to the destination they are more likely to be burnt out and exhausted. Staycations have significantly less travel time so everyone is sure to arrive rested and ready to enjoy spending time together as a family.
If you are looking for a great way to enjoy 'getting away' this year without breaking the bank, I encourage you to look into creating a staycation for your family in your local area. You'd be surprised at all the great opportunities that you can find with just a small amount of research. Chances are you'll discover hidden adventures that you weren't aware of in your area and create memories that will be sure to last a lifetime!