The best summer weekend getaways for families

During the summer, your kids are sure to want to take a trip or two. If you’re not up for a full-on vacation, consider instead getting away for the weekend. These short trips don’t have to break the bank, either. Keep our list of affordable weekend getaways in mind if you’re wanting to take a fun excursion with your family during the summer.

Explore nature

father and toddler in nature
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Be it a mountain in your city or a landmark in a neighboring county, you don’t have to go far in order to appreciate the great outdoors. You can, however, make a weekend out of doing so. Fishing, hiking, and hunting are just a few ideas of activities you can do in nature during your weekend getaway. Contemplate camping out in order to fully immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the natural world. Provide children with binoculars and magnifying glasses to help them better examine their surroundings. You can stargaze or enjoy quality time by a campfire to bond as a family outdoors even at night. Bring a nature guide along so you can all practice identifying animals, plants, and scat that you find on your hikes or around your campsite. You could also do art projects inspired by nature with your family by sketching the sights you see or taking imprints of fallen leaves you happen upon.

Stay at a hotel with water play

Splashing in the hotel pool is a favorite memory of many children’s summer vacations. Many modern hotels, however, have water play areas whose contents go far beyond just a simple square pool. Research hotels with water park-like pools in your area to find one that your kids would most enjoy. From water slides to lazy rivers, the features in these hotels are numerous and sometimes compare to those of popular water parks! Some hotel water play areas have sections that cater to younger children, complete with splash pads and dump buckets. These hotels are entertaining for children and relaxing for parents, the latter notably being true in venues that also have saunas or spas. A weekend at such a hotel is sure to be a cool time for all involved.

Visit a national park

Visit a national park
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While you can camp at any local nature preserve or state park, your government has set aside beautiful swaths of land as national parks for you to camp at, too. These pristine natural areas contain some of the most breathtaking land formations and geological landmarks in the country. There’s probably a national park within driving distance of your home, and if your family hasn’t visited it before, the summer is a perfect time to do so. A plus of going to a national park is that when compared with unmanned areas, national parks have visitor centers and planned activities for people of various ages. For instance, they usually offer guided hikes for adults and Junior Ranger programs for children. Camping at one of these protected areas might also come with an especially remarkable view. If you choose to go to a national park, you are sure to leave with new memories of the fun you had there as well as the gorgeous sights you saw.

Go to the beach

A classic summer destination, getaways to the beach have remained a favorite across generations — and for good reasons. Families can play in the water, of course. But there is much more potential to a visit to the beach than just swimming! Making sandcastles, for instance, doesn’t have to be a thing that just children do. Parents can get creative with sandcastle making too, assisting their kids in building sandy structures. Collecting seashells is another deed that the whole family can do together. Depending on the geography in your area, you may also be able to go tide pooling. You can help your little ones identify the creatures they spot to make the experience of exploring tide pools an educational one. And beyond swimming and splashing in the water, your family can play catch or bodyboard. Particularly adventurous families could even opt to learn to surf together!

Travel to a ghost town

Ghost towns are historical, sometimes spooky destinations that now serve as tourist attractions. Many of them saw their heyday during mining or manufacturing booms in industries that are no longer feasible. At these abandoned places, you will probably find preserved buildings and historical reenactors. Ghost towns in the modern day might also have other entertainment options such as reptile houses or ziplines. Such forgotten relics are often great places to observe period-specific architecture and culture, especially if they have a history exhibit. Read about ghost towns in your locale to find one that has a variety of activities available. If there are no ghost towns close by, a viable alternative to visit that maintains an old atmosphere is a living history village or museum.

Take a road trip

family road trip
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If you can’t make up your mind regarding which thing to do for your summer getaway, why not just take a road trip, visiting multiple of our suggested sites in one weekend? You could choose to stay in hotels along the route, or rent an RV for a mobile adventure. Road trips eliminate the limits that come with taking a trip to just a single destination. You can really get the most out of your trip by budgeting your time at different sites appropriately. Be sure that you leave enough travel time between venues so that you don’t miss any closing times or scheduled events. A road trip allows you to hop between outdoor spots, historical sites, and various watery destinations all in one outing. Arguably, a road trip is the best use of your time on a weekend getaway.

The summer is a great opportunity to investigate new sites in your area. While you could spend lots of time at many of these places, you can also make the most out of a singular weekend at them! Choose your destination carefully to be sure that you and your family thoroughly enjoy your miniature vacation. a

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