Summer is the perfect time to escape the cold, enjoy some sun, and live a little. But if you’re on a budget (or just have an aversion to spending), it can be tough to figure out how to afford all that fun in the sun. If you’re looking to take a summer break but you can’t afford the prices of flights or hotels, don’t fret. Here are some suggestions from https://dissettle.org/ to have a fun low-cost summer vacation by staying close to home for one or more nights and then heading out for adventures on the other days. You could stay at home one night then go out for dinner and drinks in your city’s downtown area, visit a museum that’s open late, or explore the sandy beach less than an hour from your house.
You could also plan to have adventures within a two-hour drive of your home, set up a tent at one of the many campgrounds that are almost always open, and take day trips to places like state parks or boat tours on lakes. For example, if you live in the west ( Oregon, Washington, California) you could plan a beach trip in late July or early August that includes driving to an ocean town on the coast and staying for one night at a local hotel. Next day you could set up your tent at one of many campgrounds within two hours from your home. The following day you could pack up the tent and head out to an ocean state park for a hike on the beach, then spend the night at a hotel in another town along the coast. On day three you could backtrack to your original destination, since it’s only one hour away from where you started.
If you’re near a lake, plan a trip there with some friends or family. Pack up a tent and supplies, and take day trips out to the lake to do activities like kayaking, hiking, or swimming. You could also spend two nights at a nearby hotel then enjoy the lake for one day before heading back home for another night.
If you’d rather stay closer to home than travel a long distance away, plan a trip that includes staying at local hotels. You can eat out at night and spend one or two days going on day trips around your home area. For example, if you live in Seattle, you could eat out for dinner each night and stay in your hometown for two days. Then, you could plan a day trip to Mount Rainier or another one of the many state parks in Washington. You could also visit a nearby city like Portland or Vancouver and have lunch there. The next day you could do something like take a hike at nearby Snoqualmie Falls, pass by Lake Union on your way home from the falls, or head out to the Tateishi Japanese Garden that’s located only half an hour east of downtown Seattle.
On days when it’s nice out but you don’t have plans for traveling anywhere, plan low-cost activities in your own city like visiting museums that charge admission. You could also head to a museum that’s free, like the Washington State History Museum, for a day trip.
If you’re closer to a city than you are to your home community, you can still have an inexpensive all-day or overnight trip if you plan your timing and whether or not you want to stay in a hotel. If it’s too expensive to stay at a local hotel, consider spending two nights with friends at their house in another city, then travel out that way for one night and back on the next day. This can save you money because staying with friends is usually cheaper than staying in a hotel.
If you’re planning to stay away two nights in a nearby city, you could plan an overnight trip and stay at a hotel on your first night. Then, on day two, you could explore the city or nearby sights.
On the last day of your trip (or second to last day if you’re staying overnight), consider eating breakfast at a restaurant (instead of buying food for breakfast at a grocery store) then heading out to explore before heading home that day. This can help stretch your budget more than going out for breakfast every morning of your trip.
Some other ways to have fun on a budget:
Buy a backpack and plan day hikes in or near your community. For example, if you live in Seattle, you could drive out to Mount Rainier National Park for a day hike, then walk back down the mountain and head home. You could also drive out to Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and take a hike up to Ape Canyon that’s a little less than an hour away from Seattle by car (but still close enough for an all-day trip).
If you have kids and it’s summertime, visit one of the many water parks that are open during the summer.
Some other ideas for low-cost summer trips to consider:
Head to a different city to see a popular band play at a music festival. For example, if you’re looking for something fun and cheap to do this summer in California, check out the Humboldt County Fair and Bluegrass Festival In Eureka, California, the Red Bluff Strawberry Festival In Red Bluff, California, or the Skunkfest Music Festival in San Francisco. Other cities across the U.S. also have music festivals that are usually free or inexpensive. You could also visit one of the many local parks that offer concerts or musical performances on certain evenings during the summer (such as Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo).
Visit a museum that’s only open during the summer months. For example, if you live in Seattle, visit the Mural Arts Museum for free (it’s one of Seattle’s most popular museums because it’s only open during the summer). Also check out the Museum of History and Industry in Tacoma or the Montessori Schoolhouse Museum In Everett.
Visit a science museum that has fun exhibits like an aquarium and traveling exhibit cars. Science museums are usually free or inexpensive and offer fun experiences that your family might enjoy, regardless of whether it is summertime or not.