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!

5 Awesome Summer Experiences in Big Sky, Montana

As you might have guessed from my logo, I’m a fan of the mountains!  So, it is no surprise that I love Big Sky, Montana!  Big Sky, Montana may be best known for skiing in the winter, but it is an awesome place to vacation in the summer!

Here are 5 incredible summer adventures that may make you rethink your view of Big Sky as just a winter destination.

  1. Hike Ousel Falls Trail:  Ousel Falls Trail is a fantastic hike which is easy to access as it is just south of the Big Sky Town Center.  It is short and not very strenuous which makes it a great hike for families!  In my experience, there aren’t many hikes that boast such a big payoff with so little effort.  Ousel Falls Trail is approximately 1.5 miles out and back and the reward is not only great Montana scenery but also a beautiful 30 ft waterfall!

    Ousel Falls near Big Sky, Montana
    Ousel Falls
  2. Explore the Slopes:  Riding the Big Sky Resort ski lift in the summer is a real treat! It provides spectacular panoramas of the mountains and ski runs which are carpeted in green. The journey is relaxing as you take in the spectacular views while moving slowly to hum of the ski lift. Once on top, you can hike until your heart is content. big-sky-ski-liftbig-sky-resort-slopes-trip
  3. Take a Yellowstone Day Trip:  There is no doubt that Yellowstone National Park has so much more to offer than is possible to see in one day!  But, don’t let that dissuade you from a taking a day trip! The drive down from Big Sky is fairly short and quite scenic.  A day trip can provide a taste of the park for future visits or an opportunity to hike a new trail.Yellowstone National Parkyellowstone-trip
  4. Enjoy Resort Activities:  I love the fact that ski resorts try to balance seasonality by offering summer activities.  In my mind, a mountain is a big playground.  When you consider the mild summer weather along with off-season prices, a ski resort is a great place to visit during the summer!  The Big Sky Resort is no exception.  There are many activities to enjoy.  Golf (traditional and disc), rock climbing, zip lining, bungee trampoline, and mountain biking are just a few of the adventures that are available.  We also really enjoyed Lake Levinsky with with its paddle boats, canoes, and a small beach.

    Big Sky Resort
    Bungee Trampoline
  5. The Gallatin River: If you picture in your mind how a river in Montana is supposed to look – the Gallatin River is that river.  This winding waterway is almost surreal.  The Gallatin River parallels Highway 191 and provides many recreational opportunities such as fishing and white water rafting.  The highlight for my family was relaxing riverside while we skipped rocks and stepped the river’s smooth stones.  Note to parents: Bring backup clothes! 

    A Montana Stream
    The Gallatin River

Big Sky, Montana is a spectacular mountain destination with many great options for accommodations in the summer.  Because of it’s popularity with the snow skiing crowd, there are cabins of all sizes dotting the mountains along the ski slopes.  So, Big Sky’s adventures are practically right outside your door!