Staycation Planning: Three Sites for Cheap Local Fun

Staycation Planning: Three Sites for Cheap Local Fun

Susie Nadler
Jul 23, 2009
A few of the listings for this weekend on Fun Cheap SF (clockwise from top left): Watch stuff blow up on the set of the TV show "Trauma"; visit the Academy of Sciences for evening cocktails; put our summer wind to good use at the Berkeley Kite Festival; watch free live performances at the SF Theater Festival.

We figure there are two ways to do a stay-at-home vacation: (1) Hunker down in your house, with movies and popcorn and a beach towel and the grill and maybe some homemade spa treatments; or (2) Explore your hometown with fervor, seeking out things you've never seen and done right in your own proverbial backyard. Well if you're inclined to go with number two, or even if you just want to mix a little excitement in with number one, we've got a few great websites to help you plan inexpensive stay-in-town "escapes"...

• If you've never checked out Fun Cheap SF, we insist you click over there ASAP, because you're virtually guaranteed to find something new and exciting to do for free or almost-free. The site gathers listings for Bay Area events and activities that are not only inexpensive, but also actually interesting. Offerings range from the hip (a free series of outdoor jazz concerts) to the intellectual (a walking tour of independent bookstores) to the delicious (the Berry Festival at the Ferry Building) to the odd (a tour of a waste treatment plant).

• If you want to explore the great outdoors on your staycation, Weekend Sherpa is the perfect resource. The site collects recommendations for local hikes, bike rides, and other outdoor activities, sends out a weekly newsletter and keeps archives you can browse. Search for swimming holes, picnic spots, hot springs, or whatever strikes your fancy, and of course most of the activities listed are free or super-cheap.

• The Groupon is such a cool idea, we're surprised nobody thought of it sooner. Every day the site lists something fun to do at a heavily discounted price, but the "coupon" only kicks in if enough people buy it (which they always seem to do). Yesterday we bought an outdoor rock-climbing class that usually sells for $85 at $42. Pretty good deal! And perfect for a stay-at-home vacation. Groupon isn't just a Bay Area thing, so check it out to see if your city is listed.

What are your favorite cheap or free staycation activities?

(Images: SF Examiner, California Academy of Sciences, Berkeley Kite Festival, SF Theater Festival)

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