12 Ways to Vacation in Your Own Backyard

Stay close to home and have a wonderful time with these creative concepts—no passport or luggage required!

Adventures Close to Home

Backyard vacation

Traveling may not be feasible right now, but a memorable vacation can be found no further away than your own backyard! Whether you’re hoping to escape solo, revel in a romantic rendezvous, try an athletic challenge, or broaden horizons in a fun, exciting way, just take it outside and apply a little ingenuity to enjoy a great getaway experience. Explore amazing culture, nature, sports, and more without packing your bags, hopping a plane, or ever leaving that little patch of paradise behind your home. So get clicking for backyard vacation inspiration!


Creative Camping

Backyard camping

Sleeping under the stars is amazing wherever you are. If you haven’t got a tent to pitch, a duvet cover draped over support poles will do in a pinch. Tip: Spread a yoga mat under your sleeping bag for a comfier slumber surface. Of course it isn’t really camping without a cookout. Keep it simple with burgers, hotdogs, and s’mores—or glamp it up with cocktails, grilled trout (pretend you caught it!) and campfire fondue. Consider putting in a fire pit—or making one from an oversized terracotta flower pot—and brush up on your ghost stories. Boo!

Related: 10 Gadgets to Make Yours the Best BBQ on the Block


Just Say Spa-a-a-ah!

cucumber face mask

Relax, rejuvenate, and restore wellbeing by creating an idyll of healthy indulgence in your backyard. Adding a hot tub will instantly spa-tify your space, and it needn’t be a huge investment: The outdoor experts at Coleman make an inflatable hot tub (available on Amazon) that will comfortably fits up to four adults for about $750. Start your day on the patio with a smoothie made from fresh seasonal fruits, then do your favorite workout outdoors for a whole new perspective on fitness. Next, a moisturizing facial mask: Blend half a cucumber until chunky, slather onto clean face and neck, chill for 15 minutes, then remove with warm water. And if you’ve got a pampering partner, exchange massages. M-m-m-m!


Reach Your Peak

Backyard climbing wall

You may not have the ways and means to tackle Mount Everest, but you can pretend as you practice with a backyard climbing wall or moon board. Reward yourself for your efforts by setting up a projector and an outdoor screen (a white bed sheet will do) to enjoy thrilling flicks like Cliffhanger, The Eiger Sanction, or the family favorite Third Man on the Mountain.

Related: 9 Backyard Games to Make and Play This Summer


Far Away Holiday

Backyard picnic

Pick a foreign city or country (or two, or three) to visit virtually, courtesy of the travel kingpins at Kayak—but first set the scene in your outdoor space. If Paris is where you long to be, hit the Louvre or catch this incredible exhibit of designer Christian Dior through the fashion house’s Instagram account (@dior). Prepare some fancy French fare (check out the 24 easy recipes here) to nibble al fresco. Dress your best, just for the fun of it, and post pics on social media. And if you speak the language (even a little), polish your skills by speaking en francais for the duration of your backyard vacation.

Related: Eating Out: 10 Essentials for Alfresco Dining


Fabulous Fantasyland

Backyard tea party

Who says there can be only one Magic Kingdom? When you decide to delight the little ones in your life, the only limits are those of your imagination. Just check out what these homeowners have created: from a DIY roller coaster to a detailed world of wonder complete with castle, caverns, and of course characters. But you needn’t be that ambitious: Palace playhouse plans are available online, and simply dressing up as your children’s fairytale favorites and throwing a tea party is bound to thrill them.


Golf Getaway

Backyard mini golf

Like the links? Practice putting and chipping with a green of your own. A company like Michelangelo Putting Greens can design and install one for you, or DIY—as basic as putting synthetic turf over a base of crushed limestone or gravel (or check out the pro guide here). Practice your stance and swing with tips online (Golf Pass offers some great ones). Then mix up a batch of Arnold Palmers: equal parts iced tea and lemonade over ice. For a grownup version, spike with a belt of bourbon.


Water World

Backyard water park

So the kids want to get wet and wild? For a slippery slide, grab some plastic sheeting, coat thinly with baby shampoo, and douse with the hose. You can also duct tape plastic sheeting together and fill with water for a pop-up pool. Water balloons offer all kinds of fun—use ‘em to play catch, dodgeball, even string balloons up on poles and tree limbs to serve as piñatas or punching bags. Or, you could flex your DIY muscles and build a backyard shower or water dump (check out one tutorial here).


Take a Hike!

Backyard exercise

Building strength, burning calories, and breathing fresh air—hiking has it all. And you needn’t hit the trail to reap those benefits. Get into incredible shape with this hiking workout from the outdoor experts at REI, which includes moves like hip rolls, step-ups, jump squats, and more. To set the scene, virtually visit some of America’s most jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring places, like Yellowstone National Park and Yosemite National Park. Don’t forget the ultimate power snack, gorp. Though an acronym for Good Old Raisins and Peanuts, gorp can be made your way, with different dried fruits and nuts, and some chocolate chips thrown in for kicks.


Animal Adventure

Backyard nature

So a safari isn’t on the horizon. There are still loads of interesting species you can learn more about. If your children are still in their bug phase, simply get down in the dirt and see what you can dig up. Of course, you can spike the situation by installing beneficial insects: Gardening supply sites like Planet Natural sell ladybugs and praying mantises. And while you can’t literally invite bigger beasts into your backyard, you can gather the humans around a device to enjoy live webcam viewings of pandas, penguins, and whales from the San Diego Zoo, the Georgia Aquarium, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.


Tropical Paradise

Backyard cocktails

Break out the swimsuits and sarongs, then accessorize your backyard beach attire with DIY leis, from either real flowers or crepe paper. E-explore some of Hawaii’s most stunning landmarks, courtesy of Google Earth. Ramp up your culinary skills by roasting a suckling pig on a hog rotisserie. If you’re feeling too lazy for that, simply whip up some mai tais, an intoxicating blend of rum, OJ, and other luscious ingredients. And for entertainment, learn a few tunes on one of the easiest instruments ever—the ukulele (try this beginner lesson). Aloha!


Yoga Retreat

backyard yoga

Make your backyard conducive to meditation, contemplation, and relaxation—not to mention some seriously serene workouts. Research at the Center for Health Systems and Design at Texas A&M University found that simply being in a garden can lead to dramatic decreases in blood pressure, stress levels, even pain. And yoga teachers agree that taking your mat outdoors can enhance the spiritual experience—simply by virtue of a bird flying by. Consider installing a gently bubbling fountain, an enclosed pagoda, or a walking meditation path. With so many free yoga classes offered online, you can customize your vacation with invigorating sessions for the morning and restorative ones to wind down in the evening—start with the 16 classes offered here. Namaste!


You’ll Love L.A.!

backyard movie screen diy

Revel in the glitz and glamour of the City of Angels from the comfort of your own backyard. Start by setting the scene with a homemade Hollywood sign fashioned out of cardboard, or try an app that can generate one for you. Prepare some cool California cuisine using recipes by such celebrity chefs as Nancy Silverton and Wolfgang Puck. Channel your inner TinselTown idol with a star-studded version of the Who Am I? game. And for the most fabulous evening of all, set up an outdoor screen for movie night, making it as posh as a premiere with a DIY red carpet and velvet rope!

Related: 9 DIY Ideas for a Summery Backyard


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