Staycations: The Art of Staying Home

Pennway Point’s KC Wheel stands 150-feet tall, bathed in dazzling LED lights. Hop into one of the 36 climate-controlled gondolas rising to the height of the Statue of Liberty. (courtesy of the KC Wheel)

In a world where hustle and bustle often overshadow the need for rest and relaxation, the idea of taking time off is often dismissed by the demands of work and daily life.

And let’s face it, cost can also be a factor. Thank you, inflation. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, nearly half of American workers with paid time off don’t use all their allocated days.

But what if the secret to happiness lies not in far-flung adventures but in the art of staying home?

Before you stop reading, we know staycations aren’t easy. Without a change of physical space, it can be hard to achieve a change in your mental space.

However, with intentionality and proper planning, a well-curated staycation — especially in a home-sweet-home like Kansas City — has all the potential of offering the happiness-boosting vacation vibes you crave.

Therapist Kylie Larson, of Illuminate Counseling in Overland Park, says a staycation can help create a renewed awe in what has become mundane to us.

“When it comes to our hometown, we inevitably create many expectations of what we expect to see,” she said. “ … Therefore, if we take the time to slow down and be present during a staycation, it can really enlighten us to the beauty that is always around us.”

Dr. Martin Seligman, psychologist and the founder of Positive Psychology, identified five basic elements of happiness including Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Achievement.

These elements could prove helpful next time you want to make the most of your time off without leaving the comfort of KC.

Positive Emotions

Begin your staycation with activities that evoke joy and positivity. This requires doing some soul-searching. What brings you joy? Get tickets to Starlight Theatre or a comedy show, explore a vibrant neighborhood like the Crossroads Arts District or indulge in a decadent meal.

Positive emotions are fundamental to overall well-being. They contribute to a sense of contentment.

Larson would add a note of caution here.

“Remember, emotional fluctuation is the norm,” she said. “I know when I go on vacations or staycations that I want to feel rest, rejuvenation and happiness. But, expecting these to be constant states we find ourselves in is unrealistic. Instead, seek to find moments of these within your vacation or staycation, and you are much more likely to accomplish this goal.”


Immerse yourself in activities that capture your full attention and provide a sense of flow. Consider exploring the extensive trail system in the Metro, taking a scenic bike ride or participating in a creative workshop.

Engagement promotes a state of optimal experience, where you are fully absorbed and focused. This happens naturally when you are on vacation and don’t have the immediate distractions of grass that needs mowing and floors that need mopping. But you can make space for it to happen while staycationing, too.

“Slowing down is significant,” Larson said. “We now have research that shows the more positive emotional states take longer to metabolize in our systems… So, allow yourself an ease of time and soak in when something makes you happy and brings you joy.”


Meaningful relationships are a cornerstone of happiness. Spending quality time with loved ones strengthens emotional bonds and fosters a sense of belonging.

Reach out to that person you haven’t talked to in forever, plan a picnic in Loose Park with friends, host a virtual game night with family or explore local coffee shops with a close companion.


Turns out, our happiness meters get a boost when we’re doing something meaningful. Seek activities that align with your values and contribute to a sense of purpose. Explore meaning through art at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, step into history at one of our many historical centers such as The National WWI Museum and Memorial or the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum, attend a cultural event or volunteer for a local charity.

Finding meaning in your activities and experiences adds depth and fulfillment to life. It enhances your overall well-being by connecting you to a larger purpose.


Set realistic goals for your staycation, whether it’s completing a home project, mastering a new recipe or finishing a book. But be careful: Don’t overdo it! This is still a stay-vacation.

Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small. You did the dishes? Yay, you! You made the bed? Let’s face it, we don’t all do that during a regular week. You just reached Marie Kondo level in my book.

Achieving goals provides a sense of competence and boosts self-esteem. It adds a layer of accomplishment to your staycation, contributing positively to your overall happiness.

Pennway Putt, at Pennway Point, is a 16-hole mini golf course featuring four custom art panels celebrating the history, art and culture of KC…and Lovie, the course’s resident gopher mascot. (courtesy of the KC Wheel)

Staycation with a View

One of the best parts of a staycation is putting on a tourist hat and taking in the sites and experiences of your own town.

Pennway Point, Kansas City’s new entertainment district which took the space between I-35 and the Pennway bridges from industrial to urban playground, offers both.

Elevate your view of the Heart of America like never before at Pennway Point’s KC Wheel, standing 150-feet tall and bathed in dazzling LED lights. Hop into one of the 36 climate-controlled gondolas rising to the height of the Statue of Liberty. With floor-to-ceiling windows, it’s the perfect spot for panoramic selfies and views of Union Station, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, One Kansas City Place (the tallest building in Missouri) and more.

The fun doesn’t stop there – tee up your experience at Pennway Putt, a modern 16-hole mini golf course that celebrates KC’s rich history, art and culture in its design. Pause to admire the custom art panels and watch out for Lovie, the friendly gopher mascot who adds a playful touch to the course.

Developers, DaVinci KC and 3D Development, have a lot more in store for Pennway Point. New experiences are expected to be opened later in 2024.

On Feb. 6, The LUMI rescued its 92nd sign – the Sam Miller Coach sign from 5408 Troost Avenue. The sign, originally illuminating a collision repair shop, is almost 40 feet wide and dates back to around 1950. (photo courtesy The Lumi Neon Museum)

Coming soon to Pennway Point: The LUMI Neon Museum

One of the destinations in the works for Pennway Point is The LUMI Neon Museum.

In 2017, an effort to rescue a historical neon sign led nationally-recognized photographer Nick Vedros to form the vision for The LUMI. In a few words, “Save the Kansas City neon” is his passion.

Every sign tells a story. The LUMI activates around the idea that much of Kansas City’s history is written in neon. Most natives can think of at least one sign that has illuminated a spot where we’ve shopped, lived or regularly driven by over the years.

The LUMI team has been hard at work rescuing, restoring, preserving and preparing to display those iconic neon signs for us all to enjoy. More than 90 signs have already been rescued.

Keep an eye on The LUMI’s website, thelumineonmuseum.org, and social pages for updates on when the museum will open at Pennway Point.

Alexia Lang

Alexia Lang is a multimedia journalist who has worked in newspapers, magazines, radio and blogs. She holds a journalism degree from UMKC and her Master’s work is in Leadership.

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