7 Budget Friendly Vacation Ideas for Summer

If you’re trying to decide where to take the family on summer vacation but are worried about your budget, don’t stress! It is possible to have an awesome trip without breaking the bank!

To find that destination that fits your family’s budget, consider places that are a little different.  By this I mean avoiding the headliner destinations like Disney, major cities like San Diego or Chicago, or the super popular beaches.  While I love all of those places, they aren’t always the most budget friendly.  Also, look for places that are either off the beaten path or have plenty of capacity in terms of lodging.  This can often mean lower prices!

While budget friendly means different things to different people, here are some ideas with enough options to fit your family’s budget.

  1. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Colorado Springs combines the best of city amenities and outdoor adventure.  Because Colorado Springs is a good size city, there are plenty of lodging options to fit your needs and budget.  There is LOTS to do in Colorado Springs much of which costs little or no money. You’ll have no problem finding plenty of activities your family will love.

    Garden of the Gods park in Colorado Springs, CO.
    Garden of the Gods park in Colorado Springs, CO
  2. Branson, Missouri: This vacation town is nestled in southern Missouri and has a variety of lodging options that won’t break the bank.  This town has family oriented shows and activities galore.  Branson even has a theme park, Silver Dollar City, which is actually pleasant as far as theme parks go. Silver Dollar City is a cozy park with much to please the kids and adults. And, a season pass is very reasonable making a multi-day visit a great bang for your buck!  Trust me, your kids won’t want to leave!

    Ride at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO
    One of the many family friendly rides and attractions at Silver Dollar City, a theme park in Branson, MO
  3. Big Sky, Montana. Yes, I admit I am partial to summertime in the mountains! Big Sky, Montana is the nation’s largest ski resort.  That means there is a large supply of lodging available at significantly reduced rates during the off season.  Trust me, a ski in/ski out cabin is an awesome place to spend a summer vacation! Big Sky is beautiful during the summer and there are so many family friendly outdoor activities to enjoy. And, Yellowstone is only a short drive away!

    Ski Lift in Big Sky, Montana
    Ski Lift in Big Sky, Montana
  4. Northern California.  You may wonder how California could possibly be budget friendly. Northern California is home to the Redwood State and National Parks. This natural beauty is spread out over a large area, so you will find a variety of small communities along the coast which makes a great base for exploring this national treasure.

    Redwood National and State Parks located in Northern California.
    Redwood National and State Parks located in Northern California
  5. Coastal Maine. Why not consider a different kind of coastal getaway rather than a traditional beach vacation? Maine has 3,478 miles of coastline – that’s more coastline than California! There are charming communities all along the Maine coastline which means there are lots of lodging options. You can get that quintessential Maine experience in so many different places, so you aren’t limited to the more well known (and pricier) resort towns.

    East Boothbay Ocean Point near Boothbay Harbor, Maine
    East Boothbay Ocean Point near Boothbay Harbor, Maine
  6. Arkansas. The Natural State offers the best of both worlds for your summer vacation. Arkansas is a small state, so you can enjoy the amenities of a small city or town such as the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock or Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville but still be close to nature. Opportunities for outdoor adventures are as abundant as they are diverse.  From the State’s beautiful lakes to its scenic mountains, options for outdoor fun include water sports, hiking, climbing, caving, floating, digging for diamonds, biking, birding, and much more! Visit the first National River, the Buffalo National River, or America’s first lands to be set aside for natural features, Hot Springs National Park. If you love the outdoors, you’ll find something to suit your fancy in Arkansas! And best of all, your vacation dollars will go along way in this budget friendly state!
    Float the Buffalo National River in Arkansas
    Float the Buffalo National River in Arkansas

    Bridge over the Arkansas River on the Arkansas River Trail in Little Rock.
    The Arkansas River Trail near the Clinton Presidential Center in Downtown Little Rock is a great place for cycling
  7. The 4 Corners. This area of the country where New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado converge offers a variety of adventures! Explore Mesa Verde National Park and Hovenweep National Monument to experience the rich Native American history of the area.  Take a day trip to Monument Valley and try to name all of the movies filmed in this area of the Wild West.  Trek the mountains of the San Juan National Forest.  There is so much to do here, you’ll probably just need to plan to go more than once!

    The 4 Corners
    The 4 Corners marker, Hovenweep National Monument, and Mesa Verde National Park near Cortez, CO

Don’t let a limited budget keep you from enjoying a family vacation. For tips on stretching your budget, check out 7 Secrets to Stretch Your Vacation Budget Without Sacrificing Fun!

There are so many awesome places to visit in this great country! So, hop in the car and explore someplace new!

3 Tips for An Awesome Trip to the Redwoods

The Redwood National and State Parks are home to some of the oldest and largest living things on the planet.  These giant trees can grow to heights of over 350 feet!  And, talk about old, there are trees here that were likely alive during the the time of the Roman Empire!

The Redwoods are a great vacation destination for all ages.   A trip to these coastal forests provides a unique opportunity to walk among giants and learn about the ecosystem in which they thrive.  Here are 3 tips to help you make the most out of your visit:

  1. Understand the Structure of the Park:  The Redwood National and State Parks are a unique arrangement. It is more like a coalition of state and federally managed lands rather than a single park.  You will see references to the parks as a whole as well as individually.  For example, the Jedediah Smith State Park is part of the Redwood National and State Parks.  While these lands are all in the same region of Northern California, they aren’t all connected to each other.  I highly recommend spending time reviewing the park map before your trip!  Otherwise, the layout can feel a bit overwhelming.Redwood National and State Parks
  2. Focus on Quality vs Quantity:  The Redwood National and State Parks are in the same general region, but it is spread out.  The parklands stretch about 50 miles from north to south.  There are 5 visitor centers as well as many groves and points of interest, so it is tempting to try to see as much as possible.  However, I recommend spending quality time in 2 or 3 areas of the park than trying to rush and see it all.  Plan to spend more time on foot rather than in the car, so you can stop and stare up!redwoods-4
  3. Don’t Miss the Other Magic:  Of course, the trees are the main event at the Redwood State and National Parks, but there is so much more to enjoy in this area.  These groves are located in a beautiful area right on the coast.  The ocean is a huge part of Redwood ecosystems, so watching the fog roll in off the ocean is a real treat!  I love the fact that there are miles and miles of uncrowded beaches. This beach experience is much different than the typical trip to the beach as you’ll likely be wearing a jacket!  The Roosevelt Elk herds as well as a hike through Fern Canyon are other highlights!

Visiting the Redwood National and State Parks is an incredible experience! A stroll through these forests will no doubt leave you with a sense of awe and possibly a crick in the neck! While it is impossible to capture the immense scale of these trees in photos, you will certainly have a delightful time trying!