Fun summer vacation staycation plans to handle rising gas prices and inflation

Ellen Contreras
Archie Carr National Wildlife RefugeEllen Contreras

While watching Good Morning America over the weekend, they reported eye opening statistics on gas prices ahead of the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Back in 2020, the average price for a gallon of regular gas in the US was $1.87, in 2020 it rose to $3.04 and now it is up to $4.59. They also reported that airfare is up over 30%.

Many Americans are now hesitant to get on a plane or go on a road trip this summer even though they are itching to travel now that coronavirus restrictions are easing up. Many friends and acquaintances I know are saying the same thing.

Floridians have an advantage because we live in a state that is known for tourism and there is an endless list of attractions – beaches, parks, boating, fishing, museums, amusement parks, shopping, dining, and the list goes on. While summer is hot and humid, there are lots of fun ways to keep cool in this lush, tropical state in which we live.

Regardless of where you reside in Florida, you do not have to spend a long time in the car to get to a particular place of interest, especially if you live in the middle of the state. The word “staycation” was born during the Great Recession and many Americans decided, often out of fiscal necessity, to enjoy their summer vacation at or close to home. This summer, many of us are planning the same thing.

When I first moved to Florida over 20 years ago, I landed in Broward County and spent every weekend exploring the tri-county area. I told friends and family that I was “playing tourist” in my own backyard and I had a ton of fun. When friends would visit me, I ended up being the best tour guide because I knew where to go and they did not have to do any research before flying in.

Now that I live on the Treasure Coast, I admit that there are still lovely, interesting, and fun places that I have not been to yet. Just yesterday, I went on a picnic with friends at a park that I knew about but never went. It was on the Indian River and the views were absolutely stunning. This park is only four miles from where I live, and it was such a relaxing and pleasant way to spend the afternoon.

While this article is geared toward staycations in Florida, and I will mention some ideas later in this article, here are some tips for planning a wonderful vacation in your own backyard that will provide a lifetime of fun memories to treasure:

  • Make a plan before you start your vacation. You have worked hard all year; summer is almost here and now is the time to figure out what you want to do rather than at the start of your time off.
  • Go online and visit your local chamber of commerce website, county, or state tourism website, etc. It is a great place to start. Consider the type of staycation you want. Do you want to enjoy outdoor activities, museums, or attractions such as an amusement park? Or a combination thereof? Or do you just want to simply relax? Decide what your vacation goals are and check out your options.
  • Have you ever wanted to visit a bed and breakfast? Airbnb has lots of gorgeous rentals all over the US. Do not forget about local hotels. Even if you are staying local, renting a place will take you out of your routine.
  • Staying home? Make a point of adding special touches to your bed and bath that give it a hotel feel – fluffy towels, special toiletries, scented candles, bedside chocolates. Prepare a gorgeous fruit salad to start your day and some decadent coffee or exotic teas. Turn your backyard into an oasis. Decorate your patio with some accent pillows for the chairs, festive table wear, string lights. If you have a pool, get some new floaties.

Floridians’ options for staycations are endless, whether you want to relax, explore the outdoors, enjoy cuisine and culture, we have it all. The best part is we may only need one tank of gas! Here are a few considerations:

Water. Florida has 825 miles of beaches. Do you want to relax? Why not choose a beach that you have never been to before? Are you craving adventure? Why not try a watersport or a watersport in a new area? Consider taking kayaking tours, airboat rides, jet skis, paddle boards. We also have gorgeous clear water springs to explore too.

Fishing. People travel to Florida from all over for our world class fishing. One of my favorite tee shirts is from Islamorada. It says, "We are a quaint drinking village with a slight fishing problem." That still makes me chuckle to this day. Your options are endless for fishing, go on a charter, rent your own boat, go surf casting, etc. Did you know that many restaurants will gladly cook what you catch? Now you do not have to worry about cleaning and preparing your dinner, it will be done for you at a decent price.

Equestrian. Wellington and Ocala are two of the most popular cities if you love horses. Take in a polo match, learn how to ride a horse, or go on guided tours for the day. There is a beach in Port St. Lucie where you can ride while enjoing pristine ocean views.

Auto racing. Florida has amazing racetracks. Most people think of Daytona of course. But there’s also Miami Homestead and a number of others. If you have never watched auto racing in person, you may want check it out. There’s NASCAR, NHRA, Formula 1, jet dragsters, funny cars and more. You can even pretend you are a race car driver and get behind the wheel at certain tracks.
Bok Tower - Lake Wales, FLEllen Contreras

Attractions. Disney automatically comes to mind, but there are so many other interesting options in Orlando and all over Florida. Check out the NASA Air and Space Museum in Brevard County. Do not forget about smaller attractions that are filled with history, do not cost a lot, and do not take up a lot of time to visit. Simply Google “unique Florida attractions” and you will find so many unique things to do, it will take many staycations to cover them all.
Di Mare Vero Beach - beef carpaccio & fresh calamariEllen Contreras

Cuisine. Florida is known as the gateway to the Caribbean, Central and South America. We have a rich and diverse history of cuisine in the Sunshine state. There are so many wonderfully authentic restaurants to choose from whether you want a fine dining experience or a casual “off the beach in flip flops” encounter. While many people say that Florida is not part of the south, central and northern Florida has plenty of amazing authentic southern cuisine and barbecue joints to rival its neighbors. I am talking to you Georgia and Alabama.

Hopefully, I have given Floridians a lot of ideas for summer staycations that will rival ones that you have taken where you have journeyed to faraway places. There are lots of other ideas that I could have mentioned and perhaps that will be for another article in the future. For those that live in other parts of the US, there are lots of fun things to do in your great state too, so start planning!

Share your ideas in the comments about places you would like to visit or have visited that you loved. It may help others plan their staycation. Follow me for more articles about the Florida lifestyle.

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Ellen Contreras is also known as the Treasure Coast Connector because she shares information and writes articles that connects business owners to consumers in the community - Florida's Treasure Coast and beyond. Ellen is an iHeart Radio talk show host at Planet Vero. Her show, Treasure Coast Connector, airs on Saturdays & Sundays at 3pm on WCZR 101.7FM (Stuart to Melbourne, FL). She also writes helpful articles and shares opinions on careers, business development, the Florida lifestyle and more. Follow Ellen on: Livestream - iHeart radio talk show: Spreaker:

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