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Four essentials every backyard ‘Staycation Station’ needs this summer

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(BPT) - Picture this: You’re floating in the pool, enjoying some relief from the heat while lunch is sizzling on the grill. You hear soft music, the gentle sound of sprinklers splashing and your kids getting along (finally). You could swear you’re on a vacation miles away from home but believe it or not, you can have it all in your own backyard. With gas prices expected to remain high throughout the summer, many people are looking to spend their time off closer to home. Therefore, it’s important to take all the necessary steps to turn your home into a “Staycation Station” this season. Big Lots has prepared an outdoor fun guide to make your backyard the envy of the neighborhood at a fraction of the price of a beach trip. Here’s what you’ll need:

1. A place to stay cool

No in-ground pool? No problem. You’ll need something refreshing to soak in this summer, and all the better if it’s only temporary. Try a quick-set portable pool for adults to float and swim in and a smaller one with interactive elements like a bounce house or fountains to make a big splash with the youngest members of your family. And lest we forget our furry friends, a shallow, inflatable $15 dog pool will help your pets handle the heat.

2. Fashionable, fun floats and accessories

Don’t forget to purchase enough floats to go around. Nowadays you can find one of the pineapple, flamingo, alligator and unicorn variety for around $21. Other pool toys to consider are inflatable ones like floating basketball hoops, volleyball nets and beach balls, and sinking rings, sharks or mermaids.

3. Gear for competitive water battles

Dry land also holds potential for loads of water fun. Stock up on some rapid-filling water balloons and host an impromptu battle where the winning team gets full bragging rights. Another great way to cool off without a pool is on a water slide. Gone are the days of sliding down a wet tarp; now there are affordable (around $24!) water slides that have sprinkler fountains, multiple sliding lanes for races, and even one with a water balloon pit at the end.

4. A place to gather and lounge

Aim for a full staycation experience by setting up a comfy space to hang out while you grill out all day long. A cooler packed with drinks next to some inviting chaise loungers or a full patio set surrounding a fire pit will take your backyard summer vacation to the next level.

These “Staycation Station” essentials and a variety of other surprising summertime finds can be found at low prices at your neighborhood Big Lots or on biglots.com.