Staycation 2013 – Boston & Frugal Fun in Massachusetts

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Staycation 2013 Boston: Frugal Fun in Massachusetts

NOT IN MASSACHUSETTS, have no fear, check out these Staycation Ideas across the U.S.

Memorial Day approaches, HIGH gas prices remain and we are all looking for frugal summer fun.  More and more people will be sticking close to home for STAYCATIONS, but this by no means you are settling.  When is the last time you just took a look around you?  There are so many resources and fun things to do that we overlook daily.

A staycation does not need to be a “what we did because we could not afford to go away”.  It can be an adventure and you should plan it with as much excitement and vigor as you do a vacation.  Whether you are taking a full week off or using your days as a series of long weekends, it is important that you “pretend” you are actually away and on vacation.

  • UNPLUG – though this is tough with today’s technology, if you were on a cruise in the Bahamas, would you be checking email and texting all day?  I say NO, so do not when on your staycation.  The purpose of a vacation is to regroup, re-energize and spend quality time with the ones you love.
  • PLAN ACTIVITIES – Once you pick your staycation dates, plan the week with activities as you would a real vacation.  Even if you choose to have a down day and just relax, do not fill it with chores – you are on vacation.
  • BE CREATIVE – Think outside the box.  Camping in the backyard could be just as fun as going away.  Vacation is a mind-set and if you set your mind into having a fun, fulfilling week, you will.  Take pictures just as you would on a traditional vacation.  Eat ice cream, sleep in, stay up late and any other things you typically do on vacation.

Year of the Staycation 2013: Exploring Boston and Massachusetts

I am lucky enough to live in Massachusetts where over 12 million tourist pay lots of money each year to visit.  So why is it that we feel we have to travel for vacation?  There is so much to do in this state in addition to all of the obvious Boston and historical attractions.  It is really easy to forget what is around you when you live here.  As you begin to plan, be sure to check out BostonCentral as well as some great daily deals on local attractions through Groupon, Eversave, LivingSocial, and Amazon Local so keep an eye out for those as well.

Below are some fun activities and resources in Boston and Massachusetts to help you plan a wonderful staycation:


Check out the local National Park Services for FREE TOURS, guides and more in any state, but you can also narrow it down by Massachusetts and Boston.  A lot of the Ranger programs are free or have minimal fees used for the upkeep of these wonderful historical locations.  There are 15 National Parks in Massachusetts including Boston with the well known Freedom Trail, Paul Revere’s House, USS Constitution and more.  OR take the time to investigate the lesser known ones like Lowell, to look at the early story of America’s Industrial Revolution or Minute Man National Park to look at the opening battle of the Revolution in April 1775 or New Bedford Whaling.

There are even Park Ranger tours and activities on the Cape.  This is one frugal and educational resource that should not be overlooked.  I was shocked at the number of places right under my nose I knew nothing about.

There are also MANY other private tours available in Boston including Trolley tours and Boston Duck tours which are fun as well.

Start by checking your public library for FREE museum (and zoo) passes including the Museum of Science, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Children’s Museum or Easton Children’s Museum, New England Aquarium and more.  Also check with family and friends who may have memberships.

FREE Fun Fridays offered through the Highland Street Foundation offers FREE admission into over 60 museums and cultural venues on Fridays all summer.  There are 6 available each week from June 28 through Labor Day.

Also check out the 20 Family Outings for under $50 which includes other lesser know museums like the Sandwich Glass Museum, The Butterfly Place, The Ocean Explorium, the South Shore Natural Science Center and the Fruitlands Museum.

Most locals know of Franklin Park Zoo and the New England Aquarium for seeing animals, but there are many more Massachusetts zoos including Southwick and Capron Zoos.  What is your favorite zoo?

Hampton Beach

Of course there is Cape Cod, but did you know that in Massachusetts, there are more than 1,000 coastal beaches, parks, conservation areas, boat ramps, and other sea related access points.  Here is a basic list of New England beaches, which you can then google to get more information.  Make your beach day a two-fer by adding in some history as well in Gloucester.  Not only are the loads of beaches, you can learn about the rich whaling history as well.  What beaches do you like to visit and why?

You do not need to go anywhere to camp – camp in your backyard.  Set up a real camping adventure including cooking outside.  Try to use as few amenities as you can.  Plan outdoor activities, games, star gazing.  If the backyard is not for you, there are many places to Camp in Massachusetts along beach areas, in the Berkshire Mountains and even near Plimouth Plantation and Sturbridge Village.  Does your family like to camp?

Get your butt in gear and get outside and move.  Being one with nature is relaxing, healthy and FREE.  Take a bike ride in your neighborhood or check out the many wonderful bike trails. Have you tried the 14-mile Minuteman Bikeway through Cambridge, Arlington, historic Lexington and Bedford?  Or there is also a gorgeous one right outside MA in Rhode Island that is worth a peek – the East Bay Pike Path, 14 miles from Providence to Bristol, RI.

If hiking is more your speed, check out the Top 20 Hiking trails in Massachusetts.  You can hop on the famed Appalachian Trail or one of my local favorites Blue Hills which I find wonderful for all ages.

If you like sports, you do not have to pay a fortune for a Red Sox ticket (though the Red Sox rock!).  Give the Pawtucket Red Sox a try or the Cape Cod Baseball league or the Brockton Rox.  Tickets are reasonably priced and geared towards family fun.

Finally, do not forget about all the local farms where you can Pick-Your-Own produce.  My local favorite is The Big Apple Farm in Wrentham which of course has apples in the fall, but has blueberries and raspberries during the summer.

Make sure to check with your OWN LOCAL TOWN for events and activities as well.  Do you even know if there are any historic places in your town or the 3 that surround you?  Does your town or library offer FREE movies during the summer?  Are there FREE music concerts? I know that my towns have these and yours may too.  Have a picnic on the town common.  Plan a block party.  Go bowling or head to the drive-in.

Your activities do not need to be limited to your planned staycation. Create a spreadsheet of ideas for monthly or weekly family fun days.

Check out these other planning resources – MassachusettsFunNavigator (love this one!) , TripAdvisor, and

Now it is your turn.

I plan on delving into some of these areas weekly throughout the summer so I need your help.  What are your favorite or little known spots – beaches, hiking, biking, museums, events… anything.  Share your experiences with me so I can let everyone know the MUST SEE locations this summer.

Do not forget to check back tomorrow for Staycation ideas from all over the US.

Staycations are just as fun and relaxing as vacations!


  1. Love this! Vacation is definitely a mindset. Sometimes I feel like I’m on vacation when I’m dining in the North End or at Boston Harbor Islands, even though I’m still in Boston. It’s amazing how you can go years not seeing something in your backyard. I’m definitely going to do some “Massachusetts Sight-Seeing” this summer!

    Happy (Almost) Summer!

  2. The Capron zoo is great! Small enough that the kids will not get over tired but lots to see with great animal habitats. There are also a great playground and carousel just outside the zoo!

  3. Jenifer Rogers says:

    A huge deal is free fun fridays! Google it, there are tons of expensive things made free just for that Friday. Last yr we went to the Plymouth Plantation and Old Sturbridge Village for free, just to name a few.

    • YES – I post about that every year… should have included the link here and I will add it right now. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. These are excellent tips for the perfect staycation in Boston! You never know what you might find in your own city, and it’s a great inexpensive alternative to taking a trip.

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