Staycation All I Ever Wanted …

It’s that wonderful time of year again where we start thinking of where to go for our upcoming family vacation. This year you may want to consider the stay-at-home alternative, the Staycation. It’s a growing trend and there’s lots of good reasons for it. Here’s just a few salient points.

Major Staycation Tip 1: The whole trick to a Summer Staycation is to treat it like an actual vacation. Why? Because it is! The only things you’ll miss out on are thousands of dollars for hotels or beach rentals, airline tickets, perpetual restaurants, items you forgot to pack (“where’s my robe?!”) and feeling so exhausted when you get home that you need a vacation to recover from your vacation. This concept may not work too well if you live in the Mojave Desert, but it’s the berries here in Northern Virginia.

Tip 2: Plan and Schedule. My kids roll their eyes at this, but deep down they love it because we know where we’re going and when. Of course, we need a little pragmatism for unexpected contingencies such as a major thunderstorm, but those things happen when you’re out of town also. My father used to make sure he had a few packs of cards and a good book because he expected at least one day would be weathered out. Simply get out your laptop, open a spreadsheet and start planning.

Tip 3: Think-through what you’re fairly confident the whole family a) would be able to do physically and b) would really enjoy the experience. I’ve found watching the expressions on family faces when you’re test-driving your ideas by them can really tell you all you need to know. We all can remember times in our youth when we were dragged somewhere and just detested every minute for reasons our parents would never have expected.

Tip 4: Categorize first, get specifics second, project time spent. Here are a few ideas:


Burke Lake Park, Fairfax Station, Virginia

Burke Lake Park, a Fairfax County Park Authority property, is a popular destination year-round for its many amenities. In addition to its hiking trails and 218-acre lake popular for fishing (especially for largemouth bass), the park has many fun options, such as rowboat rentals, a miniature train, a classic carousel, miniature golf, an 18-hole golf course, clubhouse and snack bar, volleyball, disc golf, horseshoe pits, an ice cream parlor, picnic areas, playgrounds, and an amphitheater with free summer concerts and other shows. The campground has 100 wooded campsites (no electric or water hookups), a bathhouse, public phones, a camp store, picnic tables, grills, and fire rings.


Bull Run Regional Park Campground, Centreville, Virginia

Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority’s (NVRPA) Bull Run Regional Park has a popular campground, with 150 shaded campsites plus rustic cabins, two bathhouses, and a camp store that sells supplies, snacks, ice and firewood.  Camping is available year-round and options include RV sites with electric only service, electric RV sites with water, full-service RV sites, tent sites, rustic cabins, and group camping areas. This big park also has many amenities including disc golf, multiple playgrounds, and historic hiking trails. It also is home Atlantis, a water park with a large main pool, 500-gallon dumping bucket, huge slides, water cannons, sprayers, tot areas, and a snack bar. The park also is the site for many large festivals and community events.


Lake Anna State Park, Spotsylvania, Virginia

Lake Anna State Park is a popular getaway offering a beach on one of Virginia’s most popular lakes, a fishing pond accessible to children and the disabled, a boat launch, play areas, and more than 15 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Camping, picnicking, six camping cabins and 10 two-bedroom cabins, seven with views of the lake, also are available. Other activities include nature and gold panning programs and guided tours of the Goodwin Gold Mine. The park’s campground has campsites with and without water and electric hookups, centrally located restrooms with hot showers, laundry facilities, fire-rings, picnic tables, and lantern holders. There are also fully equipped cabins plus a camping lodge (bunkhouse, not full-service).



There seems to be a festival for just about anything – arts & crafts, wine, Appalachian quilts, music, dance, on and on. Your family’s tastes will determine festivals you may want to attend and here are two websites to offer you a real smorgasbord of fun weekends. These 70 festivals in Northern Virginia bring parades, fairs, and fun to the Washington DC region throughout the year. Whether your goal is a family-friendly festival, or an adults-only escape from DC, there are Northern Virginia events for you on this site.

You’ll be amazed at the variety of carnivals, festivals, and a long list of cultural, neighborhood, and food and beverage festivals. This annual guide has all the big, fun community festivals and fairs in and near Northern Virginia. The list includes international celebrations, carnivals, 4-H and county fairs, “Taste of” events, and more.

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