Staycation Boston: Frugal Fun in Massachusetts

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Staycation Boston: Frugal Fun in Massachusetts

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

As Memorial Day approaches, there is no need to remind you of the current situation of rising gas prices. This does however increase the number of people looking at staycations.  Some may look at these as trying to make the best of a bad financial situation and settling, but 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 emailand texting all day, I say not, so do not when on your staycation as well.  The purpose of a vacation is to regroup, re-energize and spend quality time with the ones you love.  I guess that means I cannot blog either – EEK!
  • 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: Exploring Boston and Massachusetts

If you don’t live in Massachusetts or nearby, check HERE to see over 75 links to staycation articles written by bloggers all over the country.

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.  Weekly I post activities from BostonCentral as well as some great daily deals on local attractions through Groupon, Eversave, LivingSocial, and BuyWithMe so keep an eye out for those as well.

Here 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 my 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 know 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 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.  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.  Check out BostonCentral .

Your activities do not need to be limited to your planned staycation.  I love my friend Laura’s plan each year to create a spreadsheet for her nieces & nephews and check off items they want to do.  I am going to try that and extend our staycation all summer long with weekly events.

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.


  1. Love the term “Staysation”.
    As recently retirees, we found ourselves needing a fun break that wouldn’t break the bank. Some of our Big Adventures,
    1- a leisurely shopping trip in small neighborhood ethnic grocery stores around town that we haven’t visited before.
    2- Checking out places we haven’t been before especially, smaller local dinners, speciality shops, mom and pop general or hardware stores.
    3- local theater productions, home and garden tours, etc.
    A great resource, often overlooked when it is your home town, is the tourist bureau or online calendar for your area. Every month should have a special trip planned without being expensive. :)

  2. Michelle says:

    I actually LOVE Staycations. Less stress…lol However, I have to admit I can not do the “unplug.” Both my husband and I (even our 17 y/o) live on our phones and computer. Maybe I’ll try it for one day. Have everyone turn off all devices and see what happens. Baby Steps…

  3. I did a staycation a couple years ago and had a blast just exploring Boston for the day. I took one of the boston harbor ferry out to George’s Island ($14) and spent the morning exploring and picnicking (and enjoying the nice boat ride) and then spent the afternoon walking the freedom trail through the north end, checking out the museum at the USS Constitution (I think it’s free?) and climbing the Bunker Hill Monument (spectacular views!).
    The ICA is still free on Thursdays, I think from 5pm on, and last year the Museum of Fine Arts did a program with free admission on a certain day (Bank of America cardholders may get in free too?). I LOVE the Southwick Zoo – way better than the Stone Zoo, and worth the $ IMO. Also, don’t forget about the Scooper Bowl – June 7-9 all you can eat ice cream for $8 (and it goes to a good cause!)

  4. Thanks for the great tips!

    I’m not planning a staycation in Boston, but a vacation there next week with my three kids. Thanks for the great tips on things to do and a head start on the planning. :)

  5. Jessica says:

    Great idea, I live in MA, but we are headed to Charlottesville, VA this summer, so I will check out that blog (and probably print it out!)

    When you are in Gloucester, Wingaersheek is a great kids beach. A REALLY low tide with no waves. Nice tidal pools.

    Also, I like Southwick zoo, especially if it’s a bit cool. I love where the deer roam free and eat from your hands.

    And if you are out west of Boston, Tougas Farm has Pick your own, a little playground, a petting zoo area and a yummy baked treats.

    On the Charles River, we love renting Kayaks!

  6. Hi! I’m one of your fellow Year of the Staycation bloggers and just had to see what fun things you were posting about Boston and Massachusetts! I’m dying to get up there…more now that I’ve read your suggestions. Great job!!

  7. Love this! I live in Tyngsboro MA and will be doing a trip to boston this summer :)

  8. Ann King says:

    Check our for their Free Fun Fridays. The kids and I went every Friday to a FREE event! We loved it! And no matter no one could make other plans other than where we were going on that Friday…the kids called it our “ziptrips”

  9. Anyone south of boston we will be writing up all of our free stuff to do over the summer month.

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