If you know me, then you know I'm a planner. I like to know what's going on well in advance so I can be prepared. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good spur-of-the-moment activity every now and again, but for the big stuff, I need to have a plan. Like planning for a trip or vacation!

A couple years ago, my husband and I decided to plan a trip to Washington DC. Since there is a lot to do in DC, I wanted to make sure our long weekend trip was packed full of everything we wanted to see…so I legitimately had an itinerary for each day we were there. Was it excessive? Maybe. Was it helpful? Most definitely.

Taking trips and vacations is important (whether you’re a planner like me or not). And what a better time to start planning for your next big vacation than on National Plan For Vacation Day! This national day is held every year on the last Tuesday in January. Did you know that in 2018, American workers let 768 million vacation days go unused? Those days could have been used to do so many amazing things! Let’s not let our days go unused this year and start planning now!

When I say that we need to plan for our next big vacation, it doesn’t have to be as intimidating (or expensive) as you’re thinking! Staycations right in your own city can be just as fulfilling! Here are a few staycation options if you’re looking for a quick and easy (not-so) getaway.

When you want something tropical:

Nicholas Conservatory

A trip to a warmer climate when it’s still freezing outside sounds amazing. But you don’t have to go too far for it! Take a day and visit Nicholas Conservatory right here in Rockford. If you’re wearing your winter coat when you visit, do yourself a favor and hang it up before you walk into the exhibit area, because once you walk in, it’s a balmy 70+ degrees and it’s heavenly. Spend some time exploring the unique plants and flowers and soak in the heat. When you’re done, drive downtown and have a meal at LimaMar. The eclectic menu options are all intriguing and will make you feel like you’re on vacation in another country trying the food at a local restaurant.

When you want to find your zen:

Once spring rolls around (we’re planning in advance you know!), take away the stresses of everyday life by making a trip to Anderson Japanese Gardens. A stroll around the gardens helps clear your mind and calms your worries. Once you’ve spent some time there, keep the good vibes flowing by making a trip to Forest City Float to experience one of their Float Pods. You’ll float effortlessly in the water in the pod and it will feel like all your troubles are just washing away.

When you have little ones:

Discovery Center Museum

You’re not the only one you have to worry about when it comes to vacations. Little ones need to have fun too! No matter what the weather looks like outside, you can always have a blast with kids of all ages at Discovery Center Museum and Burpee Museum (conveniently in the same building complex). I loved these museums as a kid, and I can’t wait to take my son when he’s a little bit older. Once you’ve had a day of fun and exploration, make a trip up to Rockton and treat the kids (and yourself!) to some delicious scoops of ice cream at Dairyhaus.

When you're looking for adventure:

You can have adventures year-round at Rock Cut State Park! Grab your cross-country skis or snowshoes for the winter, or in the summer, get ready for some hiking, biking and kayaking all season long! If you’re adventuring in the summer, make sure you also take a trip out to West Rock Wake Park to try your hand at wakeboarding! No boats necessary, just grab onto the cable and you’ll be whisked away! (Don’t worry if you’re hesitant about it. I’ve tried it, and if I can do it, anyone can!)

When you want to be fancy:

Legacy steak

Sometimes you just need a day with your significant other or friends and you want to put on some nice clothes and feel a little fancy. Take a staycation day here in the Rockford region and pay a visit to the Rockford Art Museum. They continually have world-class exhibits at the museum, so anytime you go, you’ll get to see some amazing art. After visiting the museum, head over to Legacy for a delicious steak dinner. But don’t fill up on the entrée! Make room for dessert and order the 815 Chocolate Cake – 15 (yes, 15!) layers of chocolatey decadence.

If you’re still looking for some staycation ideas, let our website be your guide! Check out all the local restaurants, sites and attractions at gorockford.com.