Staycation is a fact of life for many of us this summer. But you don’t have to travel to have an adventure. Here’s our guide to brilliant fun and surprises at or close to home

Adventures don’t only happen in far flung places, good news in a year when many more of us will be doing a ‘stay vay’. Children are, on the whole, much easier to entertain than we adults – enjoying things with fresh eyes all the time, but especially when we put a creative spin on the places and opportunities closer to home. Our pick of six staycation ideas are perfect for young planners and adventurers, combining new twists and familiar turf to make memorable family activities over the long summer break. They don’t even require good weather.

Ordnance Survey customised maps are perfect for inspiring local adventures

1. Map your manor

There are estimated to be 140,000 miles (225,000km) of public rights of way in England and Wales alone, with over 9,000 miles more if you include Scotland. This network of footpaths, bridleways and ancient rights of way criss-crosses every part of the country, urban and rural, and so the chances are you have lots of ‘unnavigated’ terrain to explore in your area. Ordnance Survey (OS) now produces customised Explorer and Landranger maps – a brilliant idea as you can order a map that places your home right in the centre and see all the footpaths within a reasonable radius. This is the perfect project for young explorers – lasting all summer long as they can tick off the footpaths they’ve navigated, as well as seeing other local points of interest worth exploring, such as nature reserves. You can buy the map folded or flat to take with you or as a large-scale canvas to hang on the wall. OS personalised maps from £16.99. Canvas wall maps from £149.99;

Staycation adventures - 6 brilliant ideas for fun on home turf
Setting up camp in the garden makes space for you and them – try the Den Kit Company

2. Set up camp

Camping trips are great, but it takes so much advance planning to pitch your tent in summer. One way to bypass that is to let the children set up camp in the garden. This provides a shady place for them to create a den and make a noise away from you – even better when they invite friends round for camp-out social time. The Original Den Company makes great den kits for creative play. Alternatively, buy a cheap lightweight tent (Aldi, Argos and Blacks all have budget options). You may decide they are old enough for a camp out in the garden overnight with friends. If so, just remember to buy in the baked beans for midnight feasts and bank on not getting too much rest yourself. Den kits from The Den Kit Company, from £40;

Wild swimming is easy to try, with an ever expanding network of safe places

3. Go wild swimming

Wild swimming is becoming really popular, and as a result there are more places opening up all the time. It’s an experience that couldn’t be more different from the chlorine and lanes of a traditional swimming pool. Wild swimming locations include beaches, lakes, rivers and quarries. People do get somewhat confused by the term ‘wild’ – often it’s quite organised, and with plenty of guidance for newbies. Safety is always paramount, so your best starting point is the Outdoor Swimming Society, which gives essential safety guidance as well as information on how to get started, useful kit and local groups up and down the country, that can help you with your first wild swims.

Archaeology events are a brilliant way to inspire young minds

4. Dig some archaeology

Maybe it’s that wonderful film The Dig or TV’s Detectorist’s, but archaeology seems anything but buried right now. To young minds it’s all about finding treasure and, while that may be rarely discovered, there’s lots to uncover. The Young Archaeologists’ Club, part of the Council for British Archaeology, has  brilliant activities to fire their imagination. There are over 70 YACs across the UK where kids can get involved in meet-ups, looking at finds and even going on digs. Also check out the annual Festival of Archaeology beginning in July (this year’s theme: Exploring Local Places) and ask for information at local museums. If you have enough space, get your children to organise a ‘mini dig’ in the back garden – also a useful way to clear that patch for a new vegetable bed.  and

Build a water feature and they will come – and staycation is a great time to get children to help build it

5. Marvel at minibeasts

There’s wildlife in even the tiniest back garden or terrace, but the universal advice if you want more is to create a water feature – and staycation is a good time to tackle this hands-on construction project. There are multiple guides to help you online. You need very little space – even an old washing up bowl will do. It’s a great opportunity to be creative though, so get your children to think outside the box (or bowl), when it comes to location and planting in and around the feature. Adding in ramps and staging to help wildlife get in and out is essential. Once the water feature gets going, mini-beast safaris can happen every day of summer. Our favourite downloadable guide to creating a wildlife pond large or small are available at and

B Beach
Head to the beach on a greyer day for staycation fun minus the crowds

6. Escape to the beach

Heading for the beach can be a fool’s game on a boiling hot summer’s day, but choose wisely – with both weather and location – and you have all the exhilaration of negative ions without the trauma of traffic jams, sunburn and finding a space to spread out. We recommend you pick a day when the temperature is lower – even forecast as showery – and then look for a coastal spot that has few typical seaside attractions. Everyone in the UK is within 70 miles of a beach, so not as tricky as it sounds to find a quiet spot. Scope out popular and less well-travelled spots by area at   

For any staycation adventure, plan ahead and sell the idea to all the family

Staycation adventure tips

1. Plan ahead and sell staycation adventure ideas to your children – anticipation is all.

2. Get them involved by listening to their ideas – be prepared to deviate from plan.

3. Add in surprise elements, such as special kit made or bought for the adventure.

4. Live by the Canadian motto: no such thing as bad weather, just wrong clothes. 

5. Never scrimp on food and drink – picnics transform daytrips into adventures.

Further reading: Access the Hay Programme for Schools online for literary inspiration