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Summer is around the corner (finally!) and that means vacation season.
Things might look a little different this year, but there’s no reason we can’t get out and enjoy it. Even if you’re not sightseeing in Paris or cruising the Carribean, a change in scenery and a break from the everyday is refreshing.
If you and your family are looking for fun summer vacation ideas that don’t involve international travel, you have more options than you think.
Whether you’re considering a road trip, a camping adventure, or a sun-filled beach vacation, these eight ideas include something for everyone.
1. Take a Road Trip
There’s nothing like a classic road trip for making summer memories. Pack up the car, load your playlist, and hit the road.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget snacks and entertainment for young kids, unless you want things to go south fast!
One of my favorite road trip ideas is hitting a few cool destinations, no more than four hours from each other. Leave early in the morning and spend the day at the first attraction, overnight there, and then do it again the next day. You can easily adjust this schedule for destinations that deserve an extra day.
And bonus, road trips are pretty cheap, if you know what you’re doing.
2. Rent a House on the Lake
A long weekend on the lake is the perfect getaway when you’re pressed for time. Chances are, there’s a lovely lake with rental properties just a couple of hours away. Of course, this can easily turn into a week-long holiday if you have the time.
Lakeside activities include canoeing, swimming, or even jet skiing. If you’re not actually into water sports, it’s still a beautiful view that’s bound to have great walking or bicycling trails.
3. Rent an RV
Can’t decide between taking a road trip and renting a vacation house? Why not rent a vacation house on wheels and enjoy the best of both worlds?
Online peer-to-peer marketplaces make renting an RV a breeze. Sites like Outdoorsy and RVshare connect you with thousands of RV listings, making it easy to find a rig that meets your needs. (Read our Outdoorsy review and our RVshare review to learn more.)
Pro Tip: If you’re heading out with the fam, rent an RV with enough space to keep everyone comfy if you hit rain.
Because RVs are so much more spacious than cars, you can cover a lot of distance in comfort, if that’s the plan. And you can feel free to get a bit adventurous about veering off course, because your accommodations are about as flexible as it gets.
4. Enjoy Some Beach Vibes
When it comes to summer vacation ideas, nothing feels as wholesome as the beach. Swim, surf, or help the kids build a sand castle while you soak up the rays. Personally, I love a long walk on the beach — barefoot, of course!
If you’re on the coast, you don’t have far to go. If you’re inland, the beach is a fantastic road trip destination!
Search Vrbo to find houses or condos for rent. Properties on the beach still might be available for a pretty penny. While you can’t beat the view or the convenience, renting 20 minutes away will save you some coin and is still easily accessible.
5. Visit a National Park
National parks are underrated gems. Is there one in your state (or a neighboring state) you haven’t visited as an adult? It’s time to get on that!
Most national parks have amazing hiking and walking trails, pristine bodies of water, and wildlife abound.
You can combine this with the other summer vacation ideas, too. A national park is a great stop on a road trip, whether it’s a day trip or an overnight. If you’re overnighting, you could rent a cabin on site, or even camp. If you’re in an RV, grab a campsite and you’re set.
6. Go Camping
If you’re looking for summer vacation ideas on a budget, camping is it. Whether you rent a campsite or find your own, you can camp super cheaply if you’re willing to tent it. If the weather forecast is clear, I say go for it.
Pro Tip: Bring a tarp in case it rains.
Camping in a tent forces you to spend the majority of your time outside. After all, sitting around in the tent isn’t that exciting. Whether you’re hiking, swimming, or just exploring, that time outside is great for your mental and physical health.
And come nightfall, sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows with your family is plain awesome.
7. Try a Retreat
It might sound a bit hokey, but I’ve always wanted to try a yoga retreat. That probably wouldn’t jive with young kids, and maybe yoga isn’t your thing. Fair enough. But what other retreats might be going on?
Combining your summer vacation with an immersive learning experience could be an awesome way to experience something different and meet a few like-minded people.
8. Play Tourist in Your Hometown
How well do you know your own town? I bet there are at least a few cool things you’ve never bothered to check out. When you live in a place for a long time, there’s a complacency that sets in. You can see it anytime, so it never feels like a priority.
It’s time to shake out of that mindset and play tourist in your own town. Hit up Trip Advisor and find out what actual tourists are saying about the local attractions, and then go check them out for yourself.
That museum you’ve never been in? You’re there.
The art gallery downtown you’ve passed by and never entered? What are you waiting for?
The new restaurant getting five star reviews? You need to try it!
Playing tourist in your hometown is an awesome way to break out of your regular routine and enjoy a little vacation that is uber-affordable. Plus, it’ll help foster an appreciation for your current location that makes your outlook just a little rosier.
There you have it, eight summer vacation ideas to ramp up the fun in 2021. What’s on your itinerary this year?