Cheap Summer Vacations – 16 Amazing Destinations for Your Summer Getaway

Be aware the end is near… schools are ending faster than you can count, and families are packing their bags. Cheap summer vacations are a staple of good times, tan lines, and family memories. Today we’re going to choose our 16 favorite summer vacations spots that won’t break the bank. So, pack that suntan lotion, start those workouts and take your pick of Cheap Summer Vacations—or just try them all!

To make things a little easier to navigate we’ve broken up our picks into two sections. The first 11 picks are cheap summer vacations you can take in the USA. The remaining 5 are budget-friendly adventures around the globe. Check out Packing Tips for Travelers if you need help stuffing your suitcase for your next adventure. If you’re feeling extra generous, please shoot this post a like and a share and, as always, enjoy! One last thing before you get too far, remember to…

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Cheap Summer Vacations in the USA

Bar Harbor, Maine

Cool weather, lots of sun, and wonderful people make Bar Harbor an excellent choice for a family trip. Located right on the coastline and just miles from Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor offers postcard views around every turn. Warm and dry summer weather allow for a refreshing dip in Echo Lake. If you’re brave enough you could even wade into the Atlantic, it’ll be chilly!

Try wandering the local streets and exploring the town’s quaint shops. If you follow the “Museums in the Streets” signs you’ll be led on a self-guided tour through downtown. Plan your visit a little later and catch free movies and popcorn in Agamont Park!

Hayward, Wisconsin

Lake Cabin Wisconsin

Hayward and the rest of Northern Wisconsin are the Midwest’s answer to Bar Harbor. The weather, people, and incredible sunshine bring many visitors back year after year. Thousands of lakes surround the small towns like Hayward. If you’re feeling adventurous you can rent a boat for the afternoon, hop on some mountain bikes, or try out the go-karts!

At night you and the family can relax around the campfire in your own cabin on a private lake. We’re serious about that part! This Airbnb Cabin is only 20 minutes from Hayward, sits on 80 acres, and has a private 20 acre lake. Kestra and I were lucky enough to visit last fall and we loved every second!

When you book, send the promo code AGAPE2019 in your message to the host to receive 20% off. That’s right folks, that’s $50 off each night!

*Promo code is subject to availability. Discount is only available on bookings in May-June and September-November. The host reserves the right to deny any bookings.

Annapolis, Maryland

Cobblestone walkways line the streets of Maryland’s historic capital. The city is well over 300 years old and steeped in history. Named after Queen in Anne in the early 1700’s the city is now famed for it’s charm, restaurants and gorgeous coast.

While there we recommend checking out both the Banneker-Douglas Museum and Ego Alley. Both are incredible, FREE!! spots to take in the history, culture, and beauty of Annapolis. After a day on the docks be sure to enjoy the city’s vibrant eateries and tour the historic mansions scattered around town.

Moab, Utah

Moab is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise. National Parks fill the state and Moab sits on the doorstep of Arches National Park and Canyonlands. From mountain and dirt biking, sand dune surfing, to camping and hiking, Moab is truly one of a kind.

If you’re up for a bit of a drive be sure to check out these 12 Beautiful Places in Utah! After a fun day in the sun you can retire to a nice glass of wine or local brew at one of the many restaurants in town. With all these epic adventures it’s easy to see why Moab is one of the best spots for a cheap summer vacation!

San Diego, California

Surfing in California

San Diego is beautiful all year and somehow extra pretty in the summer months. It has tons of family-friendly activities to keep you busy all day. If you use a multi-day Go San Diego Card you can save big on museums, cruises and local theme parks. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Legoland, and even unlimited access to SeaWorld are included in the bundle and some attractions are 55% off! Seriously check them out, they’re a PHENOMENAL deal: Go San Diego Card 🙂

If you’re looking for more outdoors activities there are plenty to try! Hiking and swimming at Devil’s Punchbowl, ziplining at at La Jolla Reservation, off-roading at Anza Borrego State Park are just a few options!

Tampa, Florida

Looking for fun things to do as a family in Tampa? Check out our top 25 family friendly adventures in Tampa, Florida!

As troves of flip-flopped families descend on Orlando, thinned crowds are the norm in Tampa. We loved it so much we actually wrote up our Favorite Family Friendly Adventures in Tampa. With plenty of public parks, more free movies, and epic deals at major attractions Tampa is an incredible find!

We’d start our day at the local Lettuce Lake Conservation Park and watch the abundance of turtles, birds, and gators. Follow that up with any one of the local beaches and then we’d check out the mini-golf scene. Play for fun, or bet on some ice cream, it’s a great way to spend a couple hours after the sun cools! After an intense 18-hole showdown be sure to try some local seafood, catch the sunset, or enjoy a free movie at the Sunset Cinema!

Williamsburg, Virginia

Similar to Annapolis, Williamsburg is a beautiful, historically-rich town. In the 1900’s the town was restored to its former glory and is a sparkling jewel of the east coast. When walking through Williamsburg and its surrounding downs you are treading the same paths as our Founding Fathers.

In our list of Cheap Summer Vacations, Williamsburg embodies everything we’d possibly want in a trip. Take a quick trip up to Jamestown, try a ghost walking tour, or just wander around town. Everything is reasonably priced, accessible, and most importantly fun!

Denver, Colorado

Ok I know what you’re thinking. People go Skiing in Colorado but who goes there for a summer vacation? Well for starters, you should. As a major hub flights into the airport are consistently cheap (say $200 a person +/-).  The weather is very mild and getting around the city is a breeze.

In terms of “ideal” cheap summer vacations Colorado couldn’t get much better. The CityPass allows users to book in advance and save up to 30% at places like the Downtown Aquarium, Denver Zoo, and the Air and Space Museum!

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

At the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg is a perfect mix of natural wonders and modern conveniences. We actually loved Gatlinburg and the surrounding Smokies so much they made our list of Family Friendly National Parks! The park is home to over 5,000 plant species, 100’s of different animals, and an extensive trail system stretching over 800 miles.

After a day spent hiking through and above the clouds retire to local Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg for some family fun. Dinner theaters, amusement parks, novelty shops, you name it, think of It as the Wisconsin Dells of Tennessee. If you’re looking for something a little more upscale don’t worry, Gatlinburg still offers fine dining and resort living!

St. Louis, Missouri

As budget travelers few things perk us up more than the word free. Luckily for us, and anyone looking into cheap summer vacations, that word is plastered around St. Louis. Free tours of local Purina Farms spoil visitors with dog show and much more. The St. Louis Art Museum includes free admission, and on Sunday afternoon’s hands-on activities and a 30-minute tour

Additionally, the local City Museum houses a 10-story slide, Ferris wheel, and numerous more family adventures. It’s low cost of admission (around $15 for ages 3 and up) make it a must for any trip to St. Louis. If you’re hoping to catch a more local vibe, try catching a baseball game or sampling the world-famous Bar-B-Que!

Jacob’s Lake, Arizona

Grand Canyon Arizona

Located snuggly between Las Vegas and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon sits Jacob’s Lake. Strikingly, different from its neighbors, Jacob’s Lake is enveloped in the Kaibab National Forest. A retreat to the area can be spent on endless hiking trails, mountain biking, horseback riding, or even stargazing at night. Picture this as the perfect camping trip you always dreamed of as a child.

In the morning you can check out the local Jacob Lake Inn for a steaming pile of pancakes and fresh orange juice. If roughing it is more of your style, sit around the fire and get to cooking! Just be sure none of the endless deer in the area make off with your breakfast. At night you can enjoy your time at the Inn or try out the local Kaibab Camper Village, both are incredible!

Cheap Summer Vacations around the World

Reykjavik, Iceland

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Hear us out here. You can easily do Iceland on a budget and add to your list of favorite cheap summer vacations if you’re willing to sacrifice a few things. Avoiding the really nice downtown hotels, eating in some nights, and not splurging on super cool Icelandic wool sweatshirts all help. Additionally, you can use WOW air to consistently find amazing rates to fly to The Land of Fire and Ice.

As for the capital itself, Reykjavik is a beautiful city with tons of incredible activities all around. From free hot pools, to stunning architecture, and incredible natural wonders, Reykjavik is truly a one-of-a-kind city. If you’re really trying to save some money and get to know the city check out Five FREE Things to do in Reykjavik!

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Nicaragua’s San Juan del Sur is a dreamy tropical getaway located on the Pacific coast. Given its proximity to the US (3 hours from Atlanta) flights are often budget friendly. Kestra and I have managed to compound these savings by using 15 Tips to Finding Cheap Flights every time we search for airfare.

We’d spend our days enjoying the beautiful Playa San Juan del Sur, that’s the beach 😉 White sand lines the coast and turquoise waters cascade end over end for miles in either direction. The local resorts also offer incredible summer discounts so prices all around are low. Sounds pretty sweet, right?

Lisbon, Portugal

If you are able to find a cheap flight, Lisbon is a budget-traveler’s heaven. The city sits on the edge of the Atlantic and is as architecturally stunning as anywhere on earth. Steep hills climb out of the city affording beautiful views around every corner. Tile work from the 1400’s still lines many walkways throughout the city.

If you’re tired of walking the hills, try hopping on the gorgeous, gravity-defying, 1930’s tram. For only a few bucks you can enjoy a low-cost, scenic tour of town. If you’re feeling adventurous, visit a local winery, tour the terraces and sample the local selection. It is almost the same price of the water after all!

San Jose, Costa Rica

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

Another quick flight from Atlanta could have you exploring Costa Rica’s Volcanoes or Costa Rica’s Best Waterfalls. San Jose is a beautiful Latin-American city steeped in culture and history. The local plaza and its museums, shops, and theaters are well worth a day of your time.

If you manage to escape the city for a day endless waterfalls, jungles, and volcanoes wait to be explored. Local soda’s serve fresh meals for just a couple dollars. Beaches abound within a few hours drive. In terms of cheap summer vacations, Costa Rica offers a taste of luxury.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is actually two separate cities, Buda and Pest. They are separated by the Danube river and each sport their own distinct vibe. This cultural hub has exploded in popularity in recent years and airfare prices have accordingly plummeted. It’s very easy to find flights in the summer for only $600-$700.

While there, we’d recommend taking a Danube River cruise. You can often find one that includes a meal and a 2.5 hour cruise for around $20. As you float down the Danube you’ll see the Parliament, the Szechenyi Chain Bridge, among the myriad of beautiful, historic buildings. The next day, try out either the Gellert Spa or Szechenyi Spa and enjoy a refreshing dip. Both opened in the early 1900’s and have been pleasing visitors ever since.

Whoever decided cheap summer vacations were a thing of the past, were boring, or were just plain impossible was wrong. Finding budget friendly destinations may be a little tougher now, but as you can see there’s no shortage of good options. So start saving, pack your bags, and start exploring!

So please let us know in the comments below… Which of these cheap summer vacations are you going on? Do you know of any other budget friendly destinations we should add? Where’s your next vacation taking you? Please remember to like and share😊 God Bless, K+J!

Family Friendly National Parks in America – Our Top Five!

America has 60 National Parks for wanderers from across the globe to enjoy. Some receive over 9 million visitors every year, and some as few as 105,000. We’ve been lucky enough to visit almost half of them and can’t wait to see the remaining 30. Today we’re going to share our Top 5 Family Friendly National Parks in America. Start packing those bags because adventure is calling!

From Acadia to Zion, each park affords its visitors something unique and inspiring. While we can’t quantify the beauty of each individual park, we can express their individual caterings towards families. Our family friendly National Parks rankings are based off of facilities within the parks, proximity to accommodations, and of course the park itself. Be sure to let us know in the comments which of the family friendly National Parks sounds the best to you! Do you know of any other parks that should be in our top 5?

If you’re feeling extra generous, please shoot this post a like and a share and, as always, enjoy! One last thing before you get too far, remember to…

Pin our picks for the Best Family Friendly National Parks in America!

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is one of America’s most famous National Parks. It was established as a park in October of 1890 and has been inspiring visitors ever since. Its sheer granite cliffs rise thousands of feet above the valley floor. Shimmering waterfalls fall crisply off the caps of the monumental domes cooling the valley air with their mist. Giant sequoia groves stand proudly against the stark granite backdrops. It truly is God’s Country.

In the valley several museums, hotels, and well paved trails greet visitors. The park is well staffed with knowledgeable individuals around almost every corner. The splendor of the park, its well-maintained facilities, and its proximity to several large cities all make Yosemite a must for any family looking to explore America’s National Parks.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Just a few hours outside of Denver lies a sparkling jewel. The crystalline lakes reflect the endless alpine views,  well-marked trails dot the surrounding hillsides, and wildlife inhabitants outnumber the daily guests. You’re likely to see any number of bighorn sheep, elk, moose, or even bear in Rocky Mountain National Park’s borders.

Families who love to hike should look no further, from short out and backs, to whole day trips, the parks varying ecosystems offer endless trail options. It also has numerous shelters and facilities for visitors to enjoy and learn more about the park and its various biomes. The unparalleled diversity of the park, its network of trails, and its accessibility make Rocky Mountain National Park one of the best family friendly National Parks in America. If you’re planning a winter trip to Colorado be sure to check out the numerous ski resorts. You can read more about them here: Skiing in Colorado – Everything You Need to Know.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

On America’s most populated coast lies a park of incredible historical and natural significance. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was on the forefront of the action for most of the civil war. The nearby town of Gatlinburg was commonly raided by Confederate soldiers until the end of the war. Nearby Pigeon Forge also boasted a converted mill used to make Union uniforms. Pairing this with several small battles and skirmishes the Great Smoky Mountains were a hotbed long before they became a National Park.

The parks also boasts over 5000 types of plants, 800 miles of trails and 100’s of different animals. It is melting pot of history and natural splendor unmatched across the United States. Given its unrivaled history and beauty, it extensive trail system, and its closeness to numerous towns, Great Smoky Mountains is in our top 5 family friendly National Parks.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone’s fabled geysers, wildlife, and terrain speak for themselves. With prismatic springs dotting the countryside, awe-inspiring canyons and waterfalls, and even moose, wolves, and bison roaming freely it is hard to imagine a more unspoiled landscape. For any family looking to be inspired by pure beauty look no further than Yellowstone.

Yellowstone is actually America’s first national park. It was inducted in March of 1872, and has had plenty of time to build an inclusive experience for its visitors. From board walked trails, to historic hotels, the park offers everything any visitor could need. Yellowstone’s incredible wildlife alone should be more than enough of a reason for every family to visit, but if you need more convincing Grand Teton is only an hour south! Check out our One Day Guide to Grand Teton National Park.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Rounding out our top 5 family friendly National Parks is a personal favorite, Bryce Canyon. Bryce is spectacularly unique. Hundreds of sandstone hoodoos climb towards the sky out of the natural amphitheater. Trees litter the valley and trails between the formations. While certainly not as massive as the other parks (Bryce sits around 35,000 acres) it is plenty large for a family trip out west!

What the park lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in beauty. The famed hoodoos in the valley are revered around the world for the rarity. Few places sport the sheer number and size of the formations as Bryce Canyon National Park does. The parks quaint size and general tidiness, its proximity to several large cities and 5 other National Parks, and its unfiltered beauty make Bryce Canyon a must visit for any National Park fan! Check out our post 12 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Utah for more magnificent photos of Utah!

Well folks, that’s a wrap for us. Our Top 5 Family Friendly National Parks are perfect for explorers of all sizes. We are certain no matter which park you choose you will be blown away by its splendor. So have fun, adventure safely, and enjoy God’s Creation personally! Have you been to any National Parks? If so, which ones? Alternatively, let us know if you think we missed one of your favorite family friendly National Parks. Until next time, K+J!

5 Can’t Miss Adventures Near Lake Tahoe  

Lake Tahoe is truly a not-so-hidden gem of the western United States. As one of the largest alpine lakes in the world, there are plenty of fun things to do in Lake Tahoe, in both winter and summer. Our guide below will help you identify 5 Can’t Miss Adventures Near Lake Tahoe!

 

The expansive shores offer plenty of things to do in Lake Tahoe; from spectacular hiking trails, amazing wineries and breweries, homey bars, to towering casinos, all with views to match. For these reasons it retains its well-earned reputation as the crown jewel of resort towns in the US. So you can imagine that, after 6 days of camping, Kestra and I were very excited to finally be pulling into Stateline (Tahoe’s casino rich South Shore). While we never did make use of the slot machines, we did find ourselves extremely lucky to be enjoying all the other things to do in Lake Tahoe (there’s a lot!). Although we didn’t have very long to explore, we dreamed of coming back on a warmer day. We’d be sure to enjoy the lake’s festivities and startling blue waters when we return, which leads us to our top 5 adventures that you can enjoy on your  trip to Lake Tahoe! Be sure to let us know what you think below in the comments and if you’re feeling extra wicked cool shoot this post a like and a share, as always, enjoy! One last thing before you get to far, remember to…

Pin our picks for the best things to do in Lake Tahoe!

#1) Exploring Sand Harbor and Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park 

These boulders were so much fun! Til I slipped and fell in of course :)
These boulders were so much fun! Til I slipped and fell in of course 🙂

We’ve all seen those amazing pictures of people paddle boarding on crystalline waters, those were all taken RIGHT HERE! At least that’s what we think! It’s $10 per vehicle, or $2 per bike for a pass into the park which is actually a great deal considering all it has to offer. The visitors center contains an amazing museum with all the history on Lake Tahoe, its mysteriously clear waters, and the growth and development of its shoreline. We can’t say enough about its breathtaking waters (ask me, I fell in when it was still freezing out!). Trails lead on and around the different sandy beaches and rocky shores. They even allow you to go out and onto any of the humongous boulders, if you feel brave enough! Sand Harbor is absolutely perfect for a relaxing day on the beach and is shallow enough that the waters warm to bearable temperatures, so remember to pack your suit! They also host the annual Lake Tahoe Shakespeare festival each fall so be sure to check it out.

#2) Riding the FREE Gondola in Northstar Village 

Free gondola? You read that right! While it isn’t the tallest on the Sierras, the gondola from Northstar Village up to the Ritz-Carlton affords riders the views of the mountains you’d hoped for, as well as the million-dollar homes that line its slopes. To get to the gondola head toward the Village entrance and veer to the right. Follow the path towards the back of Northstar Lodge, where you’ll find the Highlands Gondola. Once at the top you can lounge around the Ritz-Carlton’s deck and enjoy the expansive views surrounding you. After you have your fill of the views at the top, stop back in the village at 3:30 for free s’mores from Northstar’s very own marshmalogist! If you’re looking for free things to do in Lake Tahoe then this is the spot for you!

 

#3) Touring the Thunderbird Lodge

The Thunderbird Lodge is one of Tahoe's most recognizable residences. Tour it yourself on your trip!
The Thunderbird Lodge is one of Tahoe’s most recognizable residences. Tour it yourself on your trip!

Lots of stories surround the owner of this massive lodge on the lake’s northeast shore. From bringing his pet lion to the bar to guarantee himself a seat, to personally causing the stock market crash that lead to the Great Depression, George Whittell Jr.’s estate is one you have to see to believe. Tours are available via reservation online and offer a look into the life of the man credited with preserving Tahoe’s unspoiled beauty along its eastern shoreline. The story goes that after 1929, he pulled his $50,000,000 fortune from the stock market (worth a staggering $60,000,000,000 in 2015) and bought up 27 miles of Lake Tahoe shoreline on the Nevada side. After deciding he didn’t really care for neighbors, he opted to never build the casino and ski resort he had originally planned. After his death the estate was parceled off to various agencies which lead to the developments present today. Schedule your tour to see the remaining estate on foot!

 

#4) Learning about the Lake at Sierra Nevada College

The college is situated on lot full of rugged, old pines, and does a wonderful job of connecting the buildings to the land surrounding them!
The college is situated on lot full of rugged, old pines, and does a wonderful job of connecting the buildings to the land surrounding them!

Sierra Nevada College is a beautiful private, liberal arts university located in Incline Village. The college itself is situated on a cozy campus tucked away in towering trees. The Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences is a stunning, award-winning, LEED certified center for scientific research, geared towards the comprehension and preservation of Lake Tahoe. The building also features numerous exhibits explaining how and why Tahoe is unique, information on how science has been used to restore and protect the lake, and videos on the the history of the lake. It also offers several fantastic hands-on science experiments for your little ones (or yourself, because we loved them too!). Check out the hours here to find a time that fits your schedule. There are few things to do in Lake Tahoe that are better for both the kids and adults, check it out!

 

#5) Biking the Flume Trail

The Flume Trail affords all its conquerors the chance to soak in the Lake's beauty from above, pack a camera!
The Flume Trail affords all its conquerors the chance to soak in the Lake’s beauty from above, pack a camera!

The Flume Trail is a point to point trail about 13 miles long that offers unrivaled views and adrenaline rushes. History lesson! Flumes were originally constructed in Tahoe’s logging heyday to quickly transport logs down the mountains to the mills below. Flumes were made of two boards fashioned into a V-shape with water running down them. They would then carry the logs down to the mill for the loggers. Start your ride at Flume Trail Bikes by renting a bike and taking their shuttle to Spooner Lake State Park. From there you have 4 miles of uphill riding, go slow and you’ll be perfectly fine! Following those 4 miles are 9 unrivaled in splendor and grandeur. Those 9 miles follow the peaks along the lake’s eastern shoreline and finally bring you back  to where you started. Pack a lunch to have at Marlette Lake and make a day of it. There are few things to do in Lake Tahoe that offer you the views the Flume Trail does, from towering mountains to crystal clear lakes, it truly is an unforgetttable experience. So there you have it, all of our 5 Can’t Miss Adventures Near Lake Tahoe!

As you can see there are tons of fun things to do in Lake Tahoe. All of which are family and budget friendly! Be sure to let us know below in the comments which adventure sounds the most fun to you. Do you know any we should try next time we are looking for things to do in Lake Tahoe? Please remember to subscribe and share our blog on social media with your friends and family, God Bless!