Freelance Writer & Editor
This is how I get through the winter: I plan our summer vacation. My husband makes fun of me because I spend hours and hours staring at a computer screen and trying to pinch pennies. I want the cheapest vacation possible, but I also want it to be fun. Finding fun for little money takes some time, so I thought maybe if I shared my efforts with you, I could save you some exertion.
The first thing I’ve learned: You don’t have to go to Florida to have fun. No offense to Florida.
The second thing I’ve learned: We have the most fun when we go to places no one has ever heard of. We feel like explorers. (Even though we most obviously are not.)
If photo ops are important to you, it doesn’t get much better than setting your kids against a backdrop of the Grand Canyon. (But don’t let anybody drop in.) Have you been to Arizona? If not, it might be time. The beauty is breathtaking, and your kids can walk till they are tired enough to fall asleep in the hotel. You can hire a local guide for a reasonable price. Some tours offer kids mule rides, and older kids enjoy tubing on the river. And if you are a camping family, this is a great place to do it. And if you don’t want to sleep on the ground, you can find kid-friendly hotels here. Flights to the Grand Canyon are usually reasonable, and far cheaper than most tourist destinations, even in “peak season.”
I had never heard of Wisconsin Dells until I moved to the Midwest. As you might have surmised, the town is in Wisconsin. And locally, it’s incredibly popular, but nationally, it’s still a well-kept secret. Although, Wisconsin Dells was just named the #1 family vacation destination by Trip Advisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards, so you might want to go soon, because it looks like the cat’s been let out of the bag. At my last count, Wisconsin Dells has 25 water parks, more than I can do in a week, but it is kid-heaven. One of the parks has a surf pool where you can leave your teenagers. There are many Wisconsin Dells Hotels, some of which are right beside the water parks, and some of which have a water park inside the hotel. (Cuts down on the sunburn.) I have found flights into Wisconsin to be remarkably cheap.
When you think vacation, you probably don’t think of New Hampshire. But again, kids seem to love it. If you plop your vacation right down in the middle of the White Mountains National Forest, you’ll find more than you can do in a week. There’s camping opportunities and hiking opportunities. The brave at heart can ride a train to the top of Mt. Washington – the train usually chugs through the clouds – it’s the second-steepest mountain-climbing train in the world. You will also be spitting distance from Santa’s Village, a theme park that allows kids to sit on Santa’s lap in July; Storyland, a theme park where nursery rhymes come to life; and Six Gun City, a mecca for little boys in small cowboy hats. There are only a few hotels in the area, and they are all reasonably priced, so book yours early.
As you might be able to infer, I am getting excited just typing out these details, so I’m going to get back to my planning now. If I find any other treasure troves, I will ask Mama Nut if I can come back and share them with y’all. Thanks for reading.