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Explore your city like a tourist: 12 must-do fall staycations

fall activities
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Fall’s upon us, and with the busyness that is summer — a time when most of us are trying to juggle work and family — you might have missed your golden opportunity to take a vacation.

A staycation is the next best thing. And for the many who are travel-phobic or just sick of the long lines at the airport, enjoying the sights and sounds of your own locale can be even better than a tropical getaway.

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5 signs you’re long overdue for a fall staycation

How do you know that you need a staycation? Here are the tell-tale signs:

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  1. You can’t remember the last time you had time for a vacation.

Vacations are a commitment. You have to buy plane tickets, pack your bags, coordinate your work schedule, and make sure you’ve got everything taken care of so you can return with no worries. Who has time for that? Not you. You can’t even remember the last time you did that.

With a staycation, you can skip all the madness and just enjoy what’s already in front of you. If you want to stay at home and binge on Netflix, you can. Or you can shake things up by making plans you don’t ordinarily make. You can go rock climbing, go camping, or host a backyard dinner with friends.

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  1. You haven’t taken a real look at your city in a while.

How long has it been since you’ve been a tourist in your own city? Have you tried any of the concert venues in your area? Any of the most popular restaurants? This staycation, make a “fall bucket list” of everything you’ve never done and check each item off your list. You’ll find our top fall staycation ideas below.

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  1. Your home could use one of those “feels like a hotel” upgrades.

One of the things people love most about staying at a good hotel is that it’s peaceful. You’ve got luxurious bedding, soft towels, free soap, and pillow mints. It’s unlike being at home because it’s completely free of the “noise” or “mess” that a lived-in space creates. Create your own hotel feel by hiring a professional to do a deep clean on your home or by adding hotel-style items to your space, like extra soft towels and aromatic soap.

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  1. You don’t have to coordinate everyone’s schedules because you’re all in the same place.

Family vacations are great, unless you have the kind of family (a.k.a. teenagers) where everyone splits off to “explore” on their own. If you want quality family time, a staycation is where it’s at. Instead of arguing about what to pack or where to meet each other for dinner, you can plan for short activities and experience those good times together.

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  1. You’d rather save money than not save money.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to save money. A traditional vacation often costs more than anyone anticipated, but a staycation can be budgeted for quite nicely. Instead of wasting money on hotel water bottles and Dramamine, you’ll be sipping on margaritas downtown while saving up for your future. Go, you!

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12 free-to-cheap staycation ideas to fill up your fall weekends

Get some downtime, explore your city, spend time with family, and save money while you’re at it. We’ve rounded up a dozen staycation ideas to keep you occupied this fall:

  1. Take a 2-3 hour road trip.

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Fill the backseat with books for an old-school road trip vibe, and keep the younger kiddos entertained with printable Road Trip Bingo.

  1. Look for leaves like a mad scientist.

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This science experiment — where kids discover why leaves change color — will turn the average fall hike into an adventure.

  1. Play Trash on a blustery day.

fall activities

Finally, an easy card game that kids will love and adults won’t get (too) bored with.

  1. Make a game out of movie night.

fall activities

Remember those paper fortune-tellers you used to make to figure out who people had a crush on in middle school? Now your kids can join in on the fun with a printable fortune-teller that can be used as a family movie night selector.

  1. Sleep under the stars.

Fall activities
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Try to plan a family backyard camping night before the chilliest of fall weather sets in.

  1. Tailgate in your driveway.

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Two words: Football season. Because staying at home to get your game face on beats braving the traffic at the stadium.

  1. Visit a corn maze.

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It’s a family-friendly fall tradition that you can make a day of. Use this handy locator to find a corn maze near you.

  1. Go apple or pumpkin picking.

Fall activities
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Depending on where you live, you may have one or both options available to you. Many community-sponsored pumpkin patches are free, while others charge as little as $2 for admission (not counting the cost of the pumpkin). Apple picking entry is priced similarly with pick-your-own fruit charged by the pound.

  1. Make something autumnal from whatever you have in your cabinets.

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This slow cooker apple cider is one of our favorites, and it’s made with simple ingredients like apples, an orange, brown sugar, and spices.

  1. Take a hike.

fall activities

Again, your hiking options depend on where you live, but we’re betting there’s some beautiful scenery in your neck of the woods. The Wilderness Society lists the top 15 national parks for fall color here.

  1. Find a state fair.
Fall activities
alleybaah/Instagram

‘Tis the season for cotton candy, creaky carnival rides, livestock exhibits, and funnel cakes. Find out if there’s a state fair near you this fall by consulting the directory.

  1. Take a free/cheap tour.

Fall activities
marvolicioush/Instagram

Make like Laverne and Shirley and tour one of the local factories in your area — whether it’s candy, currency, or even blown glass. Most states offer free and low-cost factory tours to notable and historical local businesses.

You’re going to be busy this fall, which means you’ll have even less time to worry about getting a mortgage. Thankfully, there’s an app for that. Get prequalified in as little as 15 minutes, find out how much house you can afford, and then upload documents and track your home loan on the fly.*** Our free LoanFly app makes mortgage fast and easy.

*Turn time is not typical. Not all loans will close within this timeline.

**While refinancing could make a significant difference in the amount you pay each month, there are other costs you should consider. Plus, your finance charges may be higher over the life of the loan.

***During normal business hours.

For educational purposes only. Please contact your qualified professional for specific guidance.

Sources are deemed reliable but not guaranteed.