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Backyard Vacations

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Backyard Vacations

Most family vacation destinations in Minnesota include beautiful family vacation resorts, cabins, and dozens of state parks and many other top family vacations spots.

Backyard vacations in Minnesota have all the appeal of any other vacation. Use these cheap vacation ideas to enjoy a Minnesota vacation close to home.

It's easy to think we've been everywhere and done all there is to do in our own backyard...the area near where we live.

The truth is that most of us really haven't.

Millions of people come to vacation right where we live it's easy to forget what we have   here--right in our own backyard.

We have been Minnesota residents all of our lives and have yet to see hundreds of Minnesota attractions.

For hundreds of ideas about backyard vacations, or "staycations," read The Great American Staycation: How to Make a Vacation at Home Fun for the Whole Family (and Your Wallet!)

A Backyard Vacation in Your Home Town

Backyard Vacations

We have an entire page to get you started planning fun and exciting summer activities for kids.

Go Horseback Riding: Here is a listing of places you can ride your own horse as well as local stables and riding academies.

On weekends, we pick an area of Minnesota to visit and make a list of places and attractions we want to see. 

If we don't have the whole weekend, we can still enjoy day trips to see a few Minnesota roadside attractions some of the many many little-known "hidden gems" in our state.

Use coupons and discount offers for local attractions. Find some great offers on the Minnesota Deals page.

There are several great guidebooks to the hundreds of monuments, statues and out of the way spots around the state that commemorate the real, imaginary and quirky parts of Minnesota history.

Backyard Vacation Tips & Ideas

Have Some Family Fun

Here are some tips that will help you vacation in your own backyard no matter where you live:

  • Stop at your local Chamber of Commerce or Visitor Center and gather up a stack of the brochures they offer.
  • Research on the website of the town you live in, or want to visit. Most cities and towns list their local attractions.
  • Pretend you have never been to your town before. Use the same skills you would use to explore a new vacation spot if you were across the country or around the world!
  • Visit your town's museums and historical places.
  • Picnic in local parks; swim at local beaches or an indoor water park; visit nearby theme parks.
  • Shop in local gift shops, quaint and unusual stores, even local thrift shops and flea markets.
  • Eat in restaurants you've never visited before. Make it a point to try ethnic restaurants for new food experiences.
Backyard VacationsBackyard Vacations at Nearby Lakes

Enjoy Minnesota's Lakes and Rivers: Our thousands of lakes are one of the primary attractions in our "Minnesota Playground."

One secret to a successful backyard getaway is to find ways to have the same relaxing and fun experiences you would look for in any vacation. Some people think "beach" when they think vacation. Others think "great food" or "beautiful scenery." Make a list of the things that you want from a vacation and then surprise yourself by finding them near to home.

Top Things to Do in Minnesota

Backyard Vacations

A "One Tank" Backyard Vacation

A Staycation is another idea similar to a backyard vacation.

All it takes is a change of mindset and a spirit of adventure to see vacation opportunities in your own home state.

Start your one-tank backyard vacation by getting a map of the state and deciding where you can go from where you are on half a tank of gas or less. (The other half is for getting you home.)

Get some destination ideas from our list of the 10 Best Vacations Spots.

Visit Minnesota State Parks There is a Minnesota State Park within easy driving distance no matter where you live in the state. 

See what in your area is on this listLittle Known Minnesota

Minnesota Roadside Attractions are great places to stop for a quirky photo with the family.

There are several Minnesota State Parks within easy driving distance from anywhere in Minnesota.

We think that one of the best guides to things to see in Minnesota is our own Minnesota State Parks E-book: Minnesota State Parks: From Afton to Zippel Bay

Vacation In Your Own Backyard--Literally

When I hear the words, backyard vacation, the first thing that comes to mind is setting up a tent in our backyard as a child and spending the night out there with my friends. Sleeping under the stars as a family can be a new and unique experience. Do some of the same things you would do if you were camping in a campground:

Backyard Vacations 10Vacation in Your Own Backyard

  • Create your "campout environment" by setting up your tent as far away from the house as possible. Set up a picnic table nearby. Bring food to your campsite in a cooler and cook it on a grill.
  • Bring out lots of blankets and sleeping bags to keep everyone cozy.
  • Tell stories and sing songs around the "campfire" even if your campfire is the glowing coals of your grill.
  • Make s'mores or other favorite campout treats.
  • Watch the stars, listen to the crickets, talk to each other away from the distraction of the TV.
  • Enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the outdoors, in your own backyard,
  • You will likely have to have one deviation from avoiding the house--when you go in to use the bathroom!

In many small ways we can enjoy the benefits of a vacation without spending the money and time that a cross-country or global vacation requires. Instead, spend a bit on creating a stress-reducing atmosphere in which you can relax at home. You can take short day trips to beautiful locations nearby. You can pamper yourself with some time at a local spa or lying on the beach. Visit local Farmers Markets. Turn off the phone, the TV and the computer and spend the day with a good book. Speaking of good books, get to know your local library.

Make plans with friends or family to try new things, new foods, new sights that are close to home, maybe right in your own backyard!

A Few More Tips on How to Have a Successful Backyard Vacation:

  • Remember that you are on vacation. Don't do any of your normal household chores or errands. Pretend you are not at home.
  • Block out the vacation time on your calendar as if you really are out of the area and unavailable.
  • Eat out as much as your budget will allow. You shouldn't be cooking and cleaning up the kitchen while you are on vacation!
  • Consider staying one or two nights at a motel or Bed & Breakfast near home.
  • Take lots of pictures to remember how much you enjoyed your backyard vacation.

This summer, give yourself permission to take a vacation in your own backyard. It's affordable, family-friendly, and you're guaranteed to think afterwards: "I had no idea there was so much to do right here in Minnesota."

Three More Ideas:

Top Minnesota Attractions & Activities

Backyard Vacations

Related Pages:

Back to Cheap Vacation Ideas

Back to Minnesota Family Vacations

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Minnesota State Parks: From Afton to Zippel Bay