The Staycation

Overscheduled families and families on a budget are turning to the "staycation" for their vacation time. What is a staycation? It's a vacation where you stay locally, and enjoy an area near your own home, without the responsibilities of being at home. Several magazines have recently covered the "staycation," encouraging people to spend their vacation seeing what their own city has to offer instead of leaving town. This is a great option because it alleviates the stress of flying with kids, the swelling of our carbon footprint, and the added cost of airfare. Many of us just need some time to stop, breathe, relax and rejuvenate.

We decided to try to give the staycation a try at the Waterfront Hilton in Huntington Beach. We drive past this beach-front hotel on a regular basis but of course we've never been inside. For us, the timing was perfect. I am due to have my baby next week and those last few weeks of pregnancy can be really tedious. It was so nice to have something to look forward to before labor. But what I realized on the trip is how valuable it was to have one last vacation with my family of four, before we grow to five. It felt like such an amazing bonding time for us, and I loved that we got quality time knowing that there would be an interruption in the family soon. I hope this little trip will make up for the displacement they might feel next week as I stay in the hospital and they stay at Grandma’s for a few nights.

I had never been one for the idea of a “staycation”. In fact, my ideal of a vacation usually involves getting my passport stamped and drinking coke out of bottles in a place where you can’t drink the water. I like my vacations exotic and culturally challenging. So to think of staying here in the OC was an interesting twist. However, it turned out to be such a good solution for a short getaway. We were able to prepare and pack very casually. And I can't tell you how great it was to arrive at our destination without once being asked "how long 'till we get there".

Another perk - when we left our house, it was around dinnertime. So on the way to the hotel, we grabbed some take-out from a favorite local spot and took it to the room. It was a great way to save some money and the kids thought it was so cool to have a "picnic" on the balcony of our hotel room. I thought eating overlooking the ocean was pretty cool, too!

The Waterfront Hilton was very nice, and even though we were only a few minutes away, I immediately slipped into vacation mode. The kids were impressed with beds and the huge sliding window where they could watch surfers and hang-gliders from our room. The hotel offers a s'mores package for families - a wagon filled with hot chocolate, s'mores goodies, firewood, beach chairs . . . everything you need for a family firepit on the beach. Huntington Beach has so many free firepits, but it is one of those things, again, that we have never done despite the close proximity. Even though it was a little work (Mark had to rely on his Boy Scout skills to get the fire going), it was so fun to snuggle on the beach with our kids and eat some sticky treats. My kids still talk about that night.

More and more hotels are beginning to cater to the family set, and Waterfront Hilton was no exception. We were thrilled to find that room service had a kid's menu that was actually reasonable. Another great practical aspect of this resort was the “The Green Room”, an environmentally-friendly laundry room available free to all guests of the hotel. The theory is that it gives guests the opportunity to pack less and wash their sun and sand-drenched beach wear and other items during their stay. This came in very handy with our kid's swimsuits, and also in the middle of the night when India threw up on her favorite blanket. We were very thankful for a fast wash cycle that night!

Another great thing about the staycation . . . we cheated. We went home one afternoon and all took a big long nap because the kids were having trouble napping in the hotel room (too much excitement about visiting the pool). Mark and I got to relax and pick up a few forgotten items, and we returned to the hotel refreshed and ready for more fun!

I think it might be my new favorite way to do vacation.


  1. How cool! I remember last year coming across a family sat by the river here in Oxford, having a picnic of baguettes, brie cheese, red wine, croissants, etc. All the while speaking french to each other.
    They told me they were having a French holiday from home! They were spending the weekend speaking french and eating french food, and watching french films.
    Cheap, educational, and practical!

  2. Being pregnant in the summer has its challenges and one is feeling "stuck" when everyone else is travelling! This is a GREAT option for a close get away...I think I will suggest this to my husband - a staycation for our family of 3 before we become 4!!

  3. Great idea!!! I especially love the smore's/wagon oackage included with the hotel That's awesome.
    Thanks for sharing..I'll definitely keep it in mind.


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