Easy Summer Vacation Ideas

Planning for a family vacation can be stressful with the kids in the summer and special vacations coming up such as birthdays, graduations, camping trips, etc. I have been running around like a chicken without a head trying to plan for our family trip (we are heading out to visit family that we haven’t seen in over a year). That’s why when I came across this site, it was a breath of fresh air! Maybe there is hope after all!Our family’s motto is “stay active,” and that’s exactly why we found a list of fun summer vacation ideas. We can’t wait to try them out!

Summer is here, the weather is warm, and you deserve a vacation. But, where do you go? You needn’t look too hard. There are lots of great summer vacation spots just waiting for you to set out on an adventure.Holidays are great but there is something to be said about a nice relaxing vacation right in your own backyard. When you are planning a vacation it can be hard to decide what the next step should be. Vacation time is too important to sacrifice on an average trip, so let’s look at some of the places worth seeing now.

Easy Summer Vacation Ideas

Best Cheap Summer Vacations

Thanks to balmy temperatures, long days and school recess, summer is a popular time to take a vacation. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most expensive times to travel, making it difficult to find a budget-friendly destination. To help you in your search, U.S. News considered affordability and traveler appeal, among other factors, to determine the best cheap summer vacations. Vote for your favorite destination below to help determine next year’s ranking. (Note: Some of the below destinations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Check with the CDC and the U.S. Department of State before traveling.)

Read Best Vacations Methodolog

  • View 17 PhotosBelongs on List?YesNoBar Harbor#1 in Best Cheap Summer VacationsBar Harbor, Maine, is basically a postcard that has found its way into the real world. The town is flanked by Acadia National Park on one side and Frenchman Bay on the other, so it has an abundance of options for both outdoor enthusiasts and water sports fans. Summer is the best time to visit because the weather is warm and dry. Plus, this season is when the town offers a variety of free activities, including outdoor movies at Agamont Park and tastings and tours of local breweries. READ MOREBEST HOTELS|FLIGHTS|THINGS TO DO
  • View 21 PhotosBelongs on List?YesNoNiagara Falls#2 in Best Cheap Summer VacationsIf you avoid the area’s casinos, you’ll find that the New York and Ontario sides of Niagara Falls are exceptionally affordable summer vacation destinations. To save money, consider purchasing one of the region’s bundled passes, which may include admission to activities like a guided Journey Behind the Falls tour or entry to attractions like the Aquarium of Niagara. Summer may be the peak season, but booking in advance helps cut costs. Plus, nothing beats basking in Niagara Falls’ mist on 80-degree days. READ MOREBEST HOTELS|FLIGHTS|THINGS TO DO
  • Belongs on List?YesNoMoab#3 in Best Cheap Summer VacationsMoab, Utah, is unique in that it borders two of the state’s national parks. Arches National Park (to the north) is where visitors can marvel at precarious looking sandstone monuments like the famous Delicate Arch. Meanwhile, Canyonlands National Park (which sits southwest of town) offers stunning views of Utah’s expansive desert landscapes. In and around Moab, travelers will find an array of affordable accommodations, ranging from campgrounds to motels to vacation rentals. All of this makes Moab a budget-friendly destination for nature lovers.FLIGHTS
  • View 48 PhotosBelongs on List?YesNoGrand Canyon#4 in Best Cheap Summer VacationsIt doesn’t get more affordable than camping, and this UNESCO World Heritage Site in Arizona is a unique place to rough it. You’ll have to contend with crowds along the South Rim, but the photo possibilities will be well worth the cramped quarters. Some campsites start at just $18 per night during the warmer months, while the park entrance fee for vehicles is $35 and lasts seven days. Pack your own food to save even more. If you’re not interested in camping, plan on staying at one of the affordable hotels in Grand Canyon Village near the South Rim. READ MOREBEST HOTELS|FLIGHTS|THINGS TO DO
  • View 40 PhotosBelongs on List?YesNoYellowstone#5 in Best Cheap Summer VacationsRoaming buffaloes, majestic mountains and breathtaking geysers populate Yellowstone’s more than 2,220,000 acres of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho wilderness. Travelers searching for an affordable vacation that doesn’t skimp on memorable moments will likely appreciate several cost-effective aspects of this national park. Entrance fees cost $35 per vehicle or $20 per person on foot for seven days, while campsites start at 20 per night. Once you’ve settled in, explore the park’s incredible hiking trails, which wind from colorful thermal basins to large lakes. READ MOREBEST HOTELS|THINGS TO DO
  • View 50 PhotosBelongs on List?YesNoColorado Springs#6 in Best Cheap Summer VacationsColorado Springs, Colorado, offers ample opportunities to enjoy breathtaking scenery and inexpensive attractions. The city offers an abundance of free activities to fill your time, including biking through Garden of the Gods, hiking to Pikes Peak’s summit and strolling up and down the streets of Old Colorado City. Nearby Manitou Springs is also a great stop for anyone looking to relax in healing waters. While summer is peak tourist season, lodging options remain relatively cheap, with plenty of budget hotels and motels to choose from. READ MOREBEST HOTELS|FLIGHTS|THINGS TO DO
  • Belongs on List?YesNoSurfside Beach, SC#7 in Best Cheap Summer VacationsNicknamed “The Family Beach,” Surfside Beach is a 2-mile strip on the South Carolina coast. Visitors can look forward to games, fishing and a weekly series of beach hula and fire shows during the warmer months. Surfside also features an assortment of youth attractions designed with accessibility in mind. What’s more, the city’s free beaches and pier (which are easy to reach via a cheap summer shuttle) are exceptionally maintained, guaranteeing summer travelers a clean and safe getaway.
  • View 29 PhotosBelongs on List?YesNoWilliamsburg#8 in Best Cheap Summer VacationsIf you’re seeking a serious dose of history, Williamsburg, Virginia, may be the right vacation spot for you. Step back in time at Colonial Williamsburg, visit the site of the first settlement at Jamestown and wander around Yorktown Battlefield. Should you want to check out pricier attractions like Water Country USA and Busch Gardens, opt for a summer combo ticket that covers unlimited access to these locations and Colonial Williamsburg for seven days. East Coast-based travelers can easily reach all of these hot spots thanks to Williamsburg’s central location in the mid-Atlantic. READ MOREBEST HOTELS|THINGS TO DO
  • View 21 PhotosBelongs on List?YesNoHot Springs, AR#9 in Best Cheap Summer VacationsThis town sits about 55 miles southwest of Little Rock, Arkansas, and as its name suggests, visitors flock here to admire the thermal waters of Hot Springs National Park. The park is free to enter and offers campsites that start at only $30 per night. For more budget-friendly fun, travelers can wander through the Bathhouse Row to see historic bathhouses and learn about the area’s healing waters. There are plenty of stores and restaurants surrounding the park, and the town offers many free parking options. READ MOREBEST HOTELS|THINGS TO DO
  • View 55 PhotosBelongs on List?YesNoThe Finger Lakes#10 in Best Cheap Summer VacationsThe Finger Lakes region of New York offers an abundance of affordable activities and attractions that make this destination stand out from similarly impressive bodies of water. Boating, fishing, swimming and water sports are popular activities to enjoy on the area’s namesake lakes, while hiking paths weave through the scenic spots between the lakes. Should visitors desire a break from the outdoors, they can head to air-conditioned museums like the George Eastman Museum and The Strong National Museum of Play. To keep trip costs down, visit the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance’s website for coupons and vacation packages. READ MOREBEST HOTELS|THINGS TO DO
  • View 47 PhotosBelongs on List?YesNoGlacier National Park#11 in Best Cheap Summer VacationsHead to this national park in northwest Montana for stunning photo-ops within a budget. Summer is a great time to visit since conditions are ideal for driving Going-to-the-Sun Road, one of the most scenic drives in the country. With the park’s $35 per vehicle entry fee (which covers access for seven days), visitors can also hike Grinnell Glacier, swim in Lake McDonald and learn about the area’s flora and fauna at the Apgar Nature Center. Camping in the park is cheap, too – rates range from $10 to $23 per night. READ MOREBEST HOTELS|THINGS TO DO
  • View 39 PhotosBelongs on List?YesNoMontreal#12 in Best Cheap Summer VacationsSummertime in Montreal brings sunshine and daytime temperatures in the 70s and 80s, making it the perfect time to explore the city’s streets, stroll through the Montréal Botanical Garden and hike the trails in Mount Royal Park. Plus, travelers in search of a dose of culture will have many free museums to choose from, including the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art and the Lachine Museum. For cheap lodging, book a room at one of Montreal’s centrally located hostels. READ MOREBEST HOTELS|FLIGHTS|THINGS TO DO
  • View 14 PhotosBelongs on List?YesNoGatlinburg#13 in Best Cheap Summer VacationsNestled at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, offers plenty of outdoor attractions for visitors. Inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the area’s most popular sight, travelers will find more than 800 miles of terrain to explore. Plus, it’s one of the few national parks that offers free entry, so visitors can hike to overlooks and waterfalls while sticking to a tight budget. When vacationers need a break from checking out the park, they can visit family-friendly attractions like the Gatlinburg Arts & Crafts Community or play a round of mini-golf at a local course. READ MOREBEST HOTELS|THINGS TO DO
  • View 91 PhotosBelongs on List?YesNoBoston#14 in Best Cheap Summer VacationsThis historical city offers a variety of activities for summer visitors traveling on a budget. A walk through Boston Common is a must, as is a visit to the Boston Public Garden; both are free to explore. Another excellent (and affordable) way to pass the time is to follow the Freedom Trail to historic sights like Faneuil Hall and the Old State House. Sports fans can also catch a Red Sox game at famous Fenway Park, where some tickets may cost less than $20 (depending on the game and the seats). READ MOREBEST HOTELS|FLIGHTS|THINGS TO DO
  • View 33 PhotosBelongs on List?YesNoCuracao#15 in Best Cheap Summer VacationsSummer is Curacao’s low season, meaning hotels are less expensive and attractions are emptier than they are the rest of the year. Explore pristine beaches like Playa Lagun and Cas Abao for a bit of free fun. Then, visit the capital of Willemstad to admire the colorful architecture and watch ships enter the harbor through the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge. Don’t forget to save time for snorkeling, a cheap activity the whole family will enjoy. READ MOREBEST HOTELS|THINGS TO DO

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