Staycations – fun at home!

With summer’s arrival, families turn to the age-old question: “What should we do for a summer vacation?” Well, there are the usual answers and then there’s something that is fairly new to our vocabulary – staycations.

According to Webster’s Dictionary and Wikipedia, staycation is a newly coined term for a period in which an individual or family stays and relaxes at home, possibly taking day trips to area attractions. They became popular during our country’s recent financial downturn as families sought inexpensive ideas for spending time together.

So, what things might you do during a staycation? Certainly the North Dakota Tourism Department would suggest you visit sites within our borders, some more well-known and some not quite so touristy. If history is your thing, consider a day trip to some of the state’s Native American heritage sites; my favorite is the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site near Stanton. Be sure to take a walk along the Missouri while you’re there. Breathtaking!

Perhaps you enjoy theater. North Dakota is host to numerous productions, including some outdoor amphitheaters, during the summer months (Note: this is not an all inclusive listing): Frostfire Theater near Walhalla; Minot State University Theatre in Minot; LaMoure County Summer Musical Theater near Grand Rapids; Dakota Prairie Regional Center for the Arts in New Rockford; and, of course, the Medora Musical in scenic Medora. All of these theater companies and their offerings can easily be found on-line.

Staycations can also revolve around a theme. Take fishing as an example. Learn about all the different kinds of fish in a nearby lake – What do the fish eat? Where is each fish type found in the lake? What kind of fishing techniques do you need to catch them? Finally, how do you prepare a fish for eating? What are some different methods of cooking the fish?

Always wanted to visit Paris? One of the more unusual ways to do a staycation is to immerse yourself in another culture. If Paris/France is your destination, you and your family could prepare French food, watch French movies, read books set in France, learn some key French phrases (perhaps even take some lessons from a local tutor) or visit a French museum (think Louvre) via an on-line tour.

Finally, there is the staycation where you simply stay home, go to bed and get up when you want, read books, go for long walks, or visit friends and family. Sound relaxing? And, it costs very little.

You choose. Busy or slow time. Either way, take the time to enjoy the summer months. They go by pretty quickly up here on the Northern Plains!

By Ellen M. Bjelland,Barnes County Extension Agent/Human Development & Family Science, North Dakota State University