Two months ago, no one knew what “social distancing” was. I don’t think it was even a thing at all. Now it’s a part of our lexicon…and beyond that, it’s become our actual way of life. While the federal government and individual states look to start re-opening the economy in the near future, there will most certainly be guidelines in place to prevent another outbreak of COVID-19. And social distancing will be at the very top of that list for the foreseeable future.

So, with the weather warming up and summer not too far away, what can we do to pass the time? While it’s impossible to predict when certain places will reopen, it’s probably safe to say that businesses or attractions that rely on mass gatherings as their primary revenue stream will remain closed throughout the coming months.

That includes theme parks (from local to Walt Disney World), sporting events (look forward to games in empty stadiums and arenas), movie theaters (possibly with limited audiences?), miniature golf, and on and on. Picture any place where you’d be within close range of many strangers, and there’s a good chance that it will remain closed or re-open with very strict distancing guidelines.

We’ve gotten pretty good recently at figuring out ways to entertain ourselves while confined to our homes. But now that the weather is getting nicer, it opens the door to more possibilities. So, while we might not be able to take a typical “summer vacation” this year, here are some staycation ideas to try this summer.

  1. Backyard campout. Who needs a campground when you’ve got a backyard? Go the whole nine yards and set up a tent and a fire (in a fire pit, of course…please don’t build one on your lawn). Bring the sleeping bags, hot dogs, marshmallows, and ghost stories and do some quality family bonding outdoors. If the first one goes well, make it a weekly event the kids will look forward to. And continue it even when things return to normal!

  2. Spa day for the ladies. Nothing says relaxation quite like a spa day, right? Have one right inside your home! Treat yourself and your daughter to the deluxe package. An at-home facial, mani/pedi (you can find pretty affordable foot spas online), massage (maybe one of those handheld massagers?), cucumber-infused water, and a quiet bubble bath surrounded by soothing aromatherapy candles are perfect ways to relax and feel like you’re a million miles away.

  3. Pool party! Nothing beats the heat quite like a dip in the pool. Don’t have a pool? Then get one! No, don’t spend $20,000 on an in-ground pool (unless you want to). Go for one of the large inflatable pools that have enough room for the whole family. They’re surprisingly affordable (especially compared to an in-ground!) and obviously lots of fun.

    Get the pool inflated, fill the pool early in the morning on a hot day (the water needs some time to warm up), and get ready to splash! Depending on your budget and the size of your yard, go big and get one with a slide for even more fun in the sun. Bring out some cold lemonade, crank up the music (with neighborly consideration, of course), throw some burgers on the grill, and you’ve got yourself a pretty awesome pool party for the family. If you want to save money and space sprinklers, Slip ‘N Slides, and other water toys are just as much fun!

  4. A day “abroad.” This can be a lot of fun and requires some creativity and imagination. Start your day in a foreign country by looking up a recipe for dinner (whether a new one or a tried-and-true one for your family), and then build the rest of the day around that recipe’s country of origin. For example, if you decide to have sushi, you’d enjoy a day in Japan. Do some research on that country’s traditions and customs, and go from there. Try to find some clothes or garments around the house to match what citizens of that country traditionally wear. Look for interesting celebrations and events to recreate. Find out what that country’s main attractions are, and try to take a virtual tour of those places. End the day by cooking that recipe together as a family and enjoying the meal together. The best part of this activity is that you can do the same thing over and over with as many countries as you want to see!

  5. Take a hike. While it’s still a good idea to stay at home, some states have re-opened (at least partially) parks and hiking trails. As long as you’re following social distancing rules, take the family out for some fresh air and exercise. Since many public gathering areas are still closed, why not pack a nice picnic lunch and eat in the car? If you still want the park experience but are more comfortable staying at home, check out some amazing virtual tours of our national parks.

Not only will these kinds of activities keep the family entertained during what’s probably going to be the Summer of Social Distancing, they create lifelong memories that you’ll all relive again and again. Rather than dwell on what we can’t do, let’s focus on everything we can do. All it takes is some creativity, imagination, and maybe a little bit of yard space.

How are you planning on passing the time this summer? Share in the comments below!