“Vacationing In Your Hometown”

My work year snuck passed me this time around. Before I knew it, I had a stock pile of vacation to use in about a 2 month time slot, no plans to go anywhere, no money set aside yet for travel purposes, and it’s our busy season at work. You know what that all adds up to? Several four day weekends, not much time to plan, and no money to go anywhere. Yikes! But, I thought, this might not be so bad. I figured I’d finally be able to visit some local spots that I keep meaning to visit, and not hurt my budget. The ideas started rolling in, and the more I looked around town, the more I found to do. All 6 of my four day weekends are now packed with family fun on the cheap!

I am going to to take you on a quick tour of my city, so you can see what I have planned for my vacations at home. Maybe your city has similar amenities! I live in a larger city, over 300,000 residents. Good old Stockton, CA. My city has a not-so-hot reputation. But, when you look around, there’s actually lots of family friendly (and cheap) things to do.

#1 Parks

We have a pretty good amount of city parks here, but we also have some regional parks as well. Regional parks usually have a small parking fee (our is five dollars per car). But, there’s lots to do inside. Check out what Oak Grove Regional Park has to offer.

  • Oak Grove Lake, a 10-acre lake stocked with seasonal Catfish and Trout, paddleboats and aqua cycles available for rent (weekends only April – October).
  • Oak Grove Nature Center, offering educational programs and exhibits detailing the flora and fauna native to the Park, San Joaquin County and the San Joaquin Valley.
  • Two nature trails; a 1.5 mile walk among old grove trees plus a 1/4 mile handicapped accessible trail.
  • Rental facilities including the indoor Boat House plus outdoor picnic shelters.
  • An 18-hole disc golf course, children’s playgrounds and a youth campground available for youth group camping.

Plenty to do for an afternoon. It was fun to walk around the park, push my daughter in the swings and down the slides. We had a picnic, and walked around checking out the geese. Stockton has 7 other regional parks, all with different things to do. So be sure to check out your cities park system.

#2 The Zoo

We have a cute little zoo at Micke Grove park. Another place with cheap admission during the week and lost of fun things to do inside. $4 for adults, and children under 2 are free! Man, my kid loves animals, so this is perfect for her. The zoo is surrounded by more giant park space with lots of outdoor room for kids to run and play. There’s even kid sized amusement rides within the park! You can easily spend a day there. Find the closest zoo to your house, and see when their best deals are.

#3 Camping

There’s several places to go camping in or around my city. Camping is a cheap activity, especially when you do it close to home. You don’t have to bring as many extras. And, you won’t have to spend a fortune on gas to get there. For the most part, you can just toss stuff in the car without thinking about it too much. Most cities, big and small, have at least one or two campgrounds somewhere nearby. If the weather is good, why not?

#4 Museums

We have a Children’s Museum here in town, and I still haven’t taken my daughter to it! Since I haven’t been there yet, I can’t say much about it. But I am looking forward to going and checking out what they have to offer! Check our your area to see what types of museums you have. A train museum would be really cool, or an old farm museum. Whatever you can find.

#5 U-Pick Farms

Being located in the Central Valley of California, I have access to some of the freshest produce in stores. But, what’s better than that? Picking your fruits and veggies yourself! We have several self serve farms around here. One of them is Country Side Farms, and I can’t wait to take my family out to spend a day picking our own fresh vegetables! If you have picky eaters, this might be a fun way to get them interested in eating their veggies too. If you have local farms nearby, this is sure to be a hit.

#6 Stay At home

That’s right. Relax at home. Have a family game/movie day. BBQ and put your feet in a kiddie pool while the kids splash around. Sip some refreshing drinks and just enjoy the weather and the time you get to spend together, instead of being at work.

Those are just a few of the things I found to do around my city. I will be making the most of my time with my family, while sticking to my budget. My advice is, don’t take your own home town for granted! You might be surprised at how much your city has to offer. Vacation at home and save some cash!




  • Jessica on June 30, 2011

    Great post Bex! I can’t believe you have extra vacation time, great idea to take 4 day weekends though…. !


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