Just because every family you know is on a plane to some place beachy and exotic, it doesn’t mean you have to spend the entire March Break spring cleaning or (gulp) prepping your taxes. There’s loads of stuff for families to do in and around home base. Fantastic staycations are about getting out of your comfort zone and shaking things up. It’s about doing things you and the kids never do in your regular routine. It’s about throwing caution to the wind and having a grand ol’ time.
You’re going to have so much fun that the people laying on the beach will be green with envy. We promise.
1. Hop On, Hop Off
Play tourist by taking a sightseeing tour on a double decker bus. Bonus points if you sing wheels on the bus on the top deck.
2. Book A Hotel
3. Eat Out
Try a restaurant you’ve never been to before. Be on the look out for daily money-saving coupon deals. Promise the kids they can have dessert and maybe they’ll dress up.
4. Scavenger Hunt
Print up a list of things for your kids and their friends to find. These can be people, places, or things, then let them loose in the ‘hood. The winner gets a prize.
5. Beat The Staycation Blues (Literally)
Wish you were in Mexico? This sun piñata craft is easy-peasy. Plus, you can beat the crap out of it at the end.
6. Make A Park Pilgrimage
Chances are there are a zillion parks in your area that you’ve never been to.
7. Ride The Rocket (or the STM, TransLink, ETS, Halifax Transit, etc.)
Choose one bus or streetcar and ride it from one end of the city to the other.
8. Master Chef: Family Edition
Choose a veggie you know nothing about (the uglier the better) then try building a meal around it. Get the kids to chop, pour and sizzle.
9. Go Out For Dim Sum
There’s nothing better than eating from a trolley, we promise.
10. International Pot Luck
Invite a few other families for brunch and ask everyone to bring a dish that reflects their heritage. Yes, poutine counts.
11. Go Classical
Google “free classical concerts near me” and you’ll be surprised by how much there is on offer. A bit of culture will do everyone some good, even if you have to bribe them with ice cream.
12. Make it a Spa Day
Book the cheapest service at the fanciest spa in town. There are usually tons of amenities, and you can stay the whole day.
13. Take The Train
VIA Rail offers short trips of an hour or two. Pack a lunch and enjoy the scenery.
14. Dance Party
Despite best efforts, it’s unlikely you’ll have reached the end of March Break without a whole lotta sugar coursing through young veins. Get them to shake their sillies out with a family-friendly dance playlist.
15. Indoor Camping
Set up a tent in the living room, fill it with sleeping bags, make s’mores, tell ghost stories. For the full effect, turn off the wifi and play 10 straight hours of forest sounds. Best part about camping at home? The gleaming bathroom just a few feet away.
16. Foreign Movie Marathon
Break out the popcorn and throw on a subtitled flick that won’t make your kids cringe (much). Our picks? Amélie, Cinema Paradiso, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, or The Red Balloon.
17. Theme Night
Make dinner from another culture (where you wish you were holidaying). Dress up in costume, have the kids make decorations. Anything that fits the theme will rev things up.
18. Go Sugaring Off
Take a horse-drawn sleigh through the woods, watch sap being boiled down, then eat pancakes lathered in maple syrup. This Canadian tradition never gets old.
19. Visit An Ethnic Grocery Store
Let each person choose an exotic fruit or veggie, pick up new spices, then get recipe ideas and cooking tips from the staff. Just the tastes and smells alone will make you feel like you’re in another world.
20. Umbrella Drinks
Break out the club soda and let everyone design their own exotic drinks, because everything tastes better when you add a paper umbrella and maraschino cherry.
21. Trade Houses
If another family you know is also staying in town, why not trade spaces for 48 hours? Your kids will enjoy playing with ‘new’ toys and you can enjoy someone else’s beer.
22. Say Nice Things To Each Other
Cut out stacks of paper and have each member of the family write down what they like most about each other. Take turns reading them out loud or keep for later when you’re negotiating peace talks between warring siblings.
23. Walking Tour
Sign up for a guided neighbourhood walk in your own city or town. FYI, your kids will probably find a ghost tour more interesting than the Irish immigrant experience.
24. Breakfast In Bed
Everyone in the house gets a turn being served toast and juice on a tray. This positively screams life of leisure, doesn’t it?
25. Practice Random Acts of Kindness
Wash the neighbour’s car, pick up garbage, volunteer at a homeless shelter. Things you don’t normally do will be the best thing you do together all week.
26. Museum Day
Whether it’s a science centre, railway or natural history museum, there will be activities for families all week long. Look for group rates, and choose off-peak times to avoid the crowds.
27. Mystery Road Trip
Get in the car and let the kids decide which direction you’re going in. You never know where you’ll end up (it works by bike or on foot too).
28. Ice Cream Party
Invite some pals over and have everyone bring a different flavour. Mix-and-match, throw on some sprinkles or make your own.
29. Go Glamping
Parks Canada’s very affordable oTENTiks are part cabin/part tent with grills, bunk beds and Adirondack chairs. It’s not Puerto Vallarta but the mattresses are cushy.
30. Make A Movie about “your trip”
If you’re feeling extra ambitious, try making your own animated film. There’s nothing like a group project to bring everyone together (if this fails, see 22).
31. Have A Pyjama Day
Choose one day of the week where everyone spends the entire day in their jammies. No showers allowed and eat pancakes for dinner. This screams vacation!
32. Get Your Skit On
Write a short play and perform it together. Set up folding chairs, invite friends and hand out popcorn and programmes. You’re on Broadway baby!
33. Hire A Cleaner
Sound decadent? It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than 4 tickets to Belize.