Summer is the time to pack up the car and see the world outside your backyard. Diligent planning allows you and your family to create memory-making trips that everyone will enjoy—including your wallet.
1. Washington D.C.
Not just our nation’s capital and hub of our democracy, Washington D.C. is filled with culture and history. Best at night when it’s lit up, view the Lincoln Memorial on the west end of the National Mall. Contact your congress person to schedule a full White House tour. Otherwise, self-guided tours are available Monday through Saturday in the mornings. While you’re in the city, visit Capitol Hill, the WWII Memorial, the Library of Congress, and the Vietnam Vet and Korean War Veteran Memorial.
2. Key West- Florida
Key West is known for its beaches. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park allows you to sunbathe, bike, or fish the clear waters. Shallow waters are perfect for snorkelling. Take boat tours and sunset cruises. Explore the only living coral barrier reef in North America. History buffs will love the Harry S. Truman Little White House which has been turned into a museum dedicated to the house’s history and Key West’s involvement in naval conflicts.
3. Savannah- Georgia
Georgia, the 13th colony. Savannah, Georgia’s capital city, is proud of its history and loves to show it off with various tours. Themed tours focus on architecture, history, photography, and ghosts. Don’t miss the Telfair Museum of Art, the south’s oldest public art museum with over 4500 pieces. By day, River Street is ideal for souvenir shopping and sightseeing. By night, this area becomes a popular night-life spot for adults.
4. Myrtle Beach- South Carolina
With amusement parks, water parks, and race tracks, Myrtle Beach is a fun family destination. Myrtle Beach itself has mild waves perfect for family swimming, designated areas for motorized recreation, and a pier with rides. The famous Ripley’s Aquarium Myrtle Beach features a 340-foot underwater tunnel that surrounds you with marine life. Book a sleepover party or swimming session with stingrays.
5. New Orleans- Louisiana
Known for its architecture, Creole cuisine, mysticism, and music, New Orleans is a vibrant and lively destination spot year-round. Marvel at the magnificent French and Spanish architecture. Swamp tours take you sailing, canoeing, and even kayaking through alligator infested waters. The French Quarter, home of the famous Bourbon Street, is full of narrow cobblestone streets and Baroque period ironwork. Take historical tours of the quarter during the day or party at night among street performers, fortune tellers, and excited bar patrons.
6. Nashville- Tennessee
“Music City” is a unique combination of glitz, southern hospitality, and collegiate youthful energy. It is home to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum which houses the memorabilia of music legends past and present. Tour Studio B where more than 35,000 songs were recorded. Take the kids to the Adventure Science Center for hands-on educational entertainment. Don’t leave without seeing the Grand Ole Opry. Get behind-the-scenes tours where you’ll hear stories about music masters and get to stand on the legendary stage!
7. Seattle- Washington
This laid-back city is home to the country’s best coffee, a hub for art and music, and is rich in culture and history. The historic Pike Place Market opens daily at 9 am with two levels of local vendors selling food, clothing, art, and trinkets. The Museum of Flight at Boeing Field allows you to climb into select aircraft. Then, at Red Barn, Boeings original aeroplane factory chronicles the history of flight. Complete your stay with the gorgeous view from atop the Seattle Space Needle via its observation deck or rotating restaurant.
8. Yosemite- California
Yosemite National Park is 1,200 square miles of natural beauty. Waterfalls, million-year-old sequoias, breathtaking cliff faces, and rock formations brings millions of people to this park every year. Camp in Yosemite Valley, a seven-square-mile stretch where Half Dome and El Capitan are located. Enjoy awe-inspiring hiking for all ability levels or book guided tours or climbing lessons.
9. Portland- Oregon
This urban cultural hub is home to Powell’s World of Books and over 65 craft breweries. Find food carts of every variety on pedestrian-friendly streets. There are many biking, hiking and camping options at Forrest Park and access to water sports along the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. The outdoor Portland Saturday Market is held every weekend from March until Christmas Eve showcasing over 250 booths of local art, clothing and trinkets.
10. San Diego- California
It’s ideal weather, and majestic coastlines draw water sports enthusiasts and sun-soakers alike year-round. Balboa Park houses the 100-acre San Diego Zoo known for its diverse collection of rare animals. Marine animal lovers must make a trip to Sea World. This themed amusement park has exciting marine animal shows, aquariums, and fun rides. Military buffs will love the Midway Museum. The USS Midway aircraft carrier currently houses 29 aircraft including ones used in WWII, Desert Storm, and the Korean War. See how soldiers on board lived and hear the stories of the volunteer docents, often ex-military.
All cities have a history. Most cities have free or low-cost attractions. Sit down, consider everyone’s interests, then pick a destination that has something for everyone. Excellent vacations don’t need to break your bank.