Whatever your financial situation, if you have a family then summer vacation is front and center on your mind. Every family has different plans and ideas. Some go for the most bang for their buck. Some want entertainment value for the kids. Some want educational value. Some just want to relax. Some long for the great outdoors.
No matter what you’re looking for in a summer family getaway, it can all be satisfied in one convenient package by scoping out America’s phenomenal supply of natural resources and amazing museums scattered from sea to shining sea.
Have you ever toured the key Civil War battlefields? How about admiring Creation in some of Utah’s national parks? Imagine wandering the museums in Washington D.C. Or maybe a staycation featuring five one-tank trips to learn your own state a little better?
Purposeful, educational destinations tend to keep kids engaged and parents more satisfied. Here are 10 ideas for summer family trips to consider this summer without breaking the bank:
1. Vacations are Bigger in Texas
The state of Texas is basically a nation unto itself. The distance from Beaumont to El Paso is greater than that of New York City to Chicago. Texas overflows with natural resources and bountiful farming including everything from cattle to cotton. In the same state, a family can enjoy a day at the beach, an adventure amongst the cactus in the desert, explore huge metropolitan cities, and soak in historical culture that dates back to the 1600’s and beyond. A trip to Texas will stay in your heart forever.
2. Y’all are Always Welcome in the South
The famous hospitality of the southern United States is not a myth and awaits the traveling family with a smile and a warm welcome. Whether you’re in the Outer Banks of North Carolina exploring where the Wright Brothers first took flight, in Charleston experiencing eloquent cuisine, or in the heart of Alabama tracing the origins of the Civil Rights movement, the south will make sure you are well cared for. Your family can catch a sunset from a cabin in the Smoky Mountains, listen to world-class musicians in Nashville, and even visit the castle of a King in Memphis. Then, of course, there is the magnificent food unique to each region. Simply point the car south and start driving.
3. American History Comes Alive
The significance of history cannot be understood simply from the pages of a book. Only when we place ourselves inside it and let it come alive within us do we grasp that what once was is as vital as what is to come. As parents, we are always teaching even on vacation, so what better choice for a family vacation than an American history tour? From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, to the stockades in Colonial Williamsburg, to the Freedom Trail in Boston, history can and will indeed come to life. The children won’t be complaining about this educational experience. They will just be smiling as you walk back in time to where we’ve been.
4. A Backpack, a Tent, and an Adventurous Spirit
America’s National Parks dot the landscape from coast to coast just waiting for the next family to explore them. Every family should go camping together at least once, for there is nothing else quite like that experience. Teamwork is required. Creativity is forced to the surface when the endless luxuries of normal life are stripped away. Cell service gets spotty when you are hiking a ridge in the Rocky Mountains seeking to spot a Bighorn Sheep. The iPad isn’t needed when waiting on Old Faithful to erupt in Yellowstone. Just the basics and each other are all that are required. That in itself is a family vacation.
5. Big Moments in The Big Apple
There is no other city of more important cultural value to America than New York City. It is as important to the development of a well-rounded child to experience the pinnacle of urban America, as it is to witness the rural soul and open spaces. Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Central Park, and Broadway are just the beginning of the things to see and do in New York City. On average, over 47 million people visit the city each year which is a testimony to its importance. Consider joining those ranks with your family.
6. Down on the Bayou
In regards to cultural experiences, nothing quite compares to a trip down to the Gulf Coast areas of America. An entirely different mindset awaits, and oftentimes, entirely different languages as well. The family can sample shrimp right off the boat in Mobile, chill out on the beaches of Mississippi, paddle your way slowly up the creeks of Louisiana in a pirogue, and join the fun of America’s most unique city New Orleans. When your family is sitting in the circus atmosphere of Jackson Square eating beignets, you will all be saying “Why have I never been here before and when can I come back again?” Life on the bayou is good.
7. More Than Just a Mouse
Much like Texas, the state of Florida is enormous and extremely diverse in vacation opportunities. The west coast offers gorgeous white sand beaches often ranked as the best in North America. The east coast boasts the oldest established city in America and some of the nation’s most famous beaches. Central Florida is home to Orlando and everything that destination offers, as well as some of the best wildlife and fishing spots in the country. To the south are Miami and the world renowned South Beach, as well as the Florida Keys where Jimmy Buffett songs literally come to life. Florida is rich in history and full of mystery with its many cultures and subtropical landscape. Florida is definitely more than just a mouse, but a visit to see him is the dream of children all over the world.
8. Into the Heartland We Go
The central and Midwest regions of the United States, the heartland of America, provide a family endless ways to create lifelong vacation memories. From the land of 10,000 lakes in Minnesota, the cowboy culture of Oklahoma, the nation’s Second City Chicago, the arch in St. Louis on the mighty Mississippi River, to the huge steaks in Kansas City, you will find the soul of America. Whether you wind up shopping on Michigan Avenue or at an old west saloon in Dodge City, your family will be enriched after visiting the heartland.
9. Where The Buffalo Roam
Americans hold the notion of personal freedom as our most important ideal. Nothing inspires a deeper sense of that than a visit to the American West. It is so very big. The mountains, the landscape, and the animals are all larger than life. Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho sometimes feel like you are visiting another planet. The only prerequisite for a trip to this region is adventure in your spirit and a deep desire to play outside. It is as much a quest as it is a vacation. Accept the challenge.
10. The Golden State
Like with Texas and Florida, and even more so on many levels, California is a nation unto itself. The reputation is big, the state is big, and the expectations are very high. As a family vacation destination, California lives up to the hype ten times over. A family can surf in the Pacific near San Diego or mingle with the stars of Hollywood. Stare up at trees so big they touch the heavens or visit the wine country that is more like a trip to Italy than the United States. No matter how you feel about California as a cultural influence on our nation, a visit to actually experience it is unforgettable and life altering.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your family tonight and kick start the vacation conversation by sharing some of your experiences as a child.