With temperatures warming up and summer well on the way, the topic of summer vacation is sure to be on everyone’s mind. Most people are excited to be planning a big extravagant trip. However, there are more options than just booking an expensive flight, staying in an overpriced hotel, and blowing all of your hard earned money. In fact, you don’t even need to leave your own city to have a great vacation. Here are six easy ways to skip the pricey vacation and still have fun locally:

Spend time in outdoors. Parks are good for a lot more than just the play equipment. Visit parks that have a basketball or tennis court, volleyball net, or baseball field for instant fun with a group. Bring a cooler, snacks, and sandwiches for an afternoon picnic. Find parks in your area that offer something unique like a scenic landscape, a beautiful garden, an area for fishing, or a dog park so you can bring your furry buddy.

No matter where you live, there is somewhere nearby where you can camp for the night. You’ll feel like you’re in a whole new place even if you’re just a few minutes away. Bring food to cook or already made food if you don’t have a grill. Camping is a low cost way to getaway. Can’t find something close by? Camp in your yard!

Visit your local library. Libraries have a greater purpose then just helping out with a difficult research paper. Now that it’svacation, read the fun books and magazines that you’ve been wanting to read all winter but haven’t had the chance. Check out books on crafts, cooking, and games for fun, at home activities. Besides books, you can also borrow movies for free.

Libraries often also offer entertainment outside of books and movies. Ask your librarian what events are going on. Often they may host different classes, musical performances, and art shows. If your local library isn’t too great, simply visit libraries nearby.

Visit relatives and friends. Whether they’re across the country or a few blocks away, use the free time to visit friends and family you haven’t seen in a while. Staying with friends and family feels like a vacation but eliminates the cost of a hotel room and lowers cost of food and entertainment. If it’s further away, let your hosts show you their favorite places in the area to spend time.

Visit local colleges. It may sound crazy to be hanging around a school as soon as classes are out, but it’s not what you think. There’s always something free or really inexpensive going on at colleges. Plays, musical performances, speakers, movies, sporting events, and festivals are just the start. Colleges can have free entries or cheap access to a campus art museum, other types of museums on campus, the library, or a fitness center. Restaurants and bars nearby often cater to college student’s small budget so they’ll offer deals and be affordable.

Take a day trip. If you really feel like there’s nothing left to explore or discover in your own area, take a day trip that’s within a few hours away. Leave early in the morning and come back at night so you don’t have to spend money on a hotel. Take a train or bus to cut costs on gas or invite friends to split the cost. Find deals for your destination from local newspapers.

Find out why there’s no place like home. Fun and happiness are a state of mind so you can truly have a great time without leaving your own home. Cook a fun dinner, spend time in your backyard, and enjoy the company of your friends and family. To mix it up, have a vacation themed day. While you’re saving up to visit your dream destination, bring it to your home. Are you dreaming of visiting Italy? Watch a movie that takes place in the scenic country, listen to lively ethnic music, cook yourself an authentic Italian meal, and indulge with some wine.

Kristen Kuchar

Kristen Kuchar

Kristen Kuchar is a freelance writer and editor who has learned how to save money without giving up a passion for travel, food, and living a fun life. She has written about personal finance for several years and graduated with a degree in Journalism. Follow her on Twitter @KristenKuchar.