Where to Take Kids on Summer Vacation — & on a Budget

Washington, D.C.

During the summer months, your kids probably aren’t actively engaged in learning. While their teachers will encourage summer reading, another way to make sure they’re growing their impressionable minds is to take them on an education-focused getaway. Though they will look at it for the fun adventure, you’ll feel good knowing you did more than hand over quarters for the ride and a dollar for an ice cream cone. Both Antonelle and Poirot suggest our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., as a go-to destination for the summer with kids.

“Washington, D.C., is a great destination for families that won’t crush your bank account,” says Antonelle. “If you get a hotel near the National Mall, you can walk to so many different destinations. Also, many of the museums and landmarks in D.C. are free, so you won’t have to pay to see these great sites. The same with the monuments, zoo and memorials. The key is to do a little more legwork before you pack up the car or your carry-on and look ahead for museum closings or peak travel times when you might have to battle other families for lawn space.

Chicago

Want to skip D.C. but into the idea of a city vacation with your children? Poirot says that cities are often overlooked as destinations for families because it might seem overwhelming to take children on public transportation or figure out how to navigate while answering your kid’s 10th ‘why?’ question of the day. But if you’re looking to save money, cities are a smart option because of their central location. “With so many attractions in close proximity, visitors have access to inexpensive public transportation and a wide range of attractions to visit at once — museums, great restaurants, parks and more,” says Poirot. Many destinations will even offer free rides for kids on the train and will have plenty of kid-friendly sites to check off your itinerary. “Chicago offer CityPass discounts; you can skip the lines and save more than half of admission to the biggest attractions like the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium by purchasing a pass,” she adds.

More: The best summer camps in the U.S. for kids with unique interests

Lake towns

Maybe your babe is a little too young for the beach or your partner has a deep aversion to sand, but you all still want some water and relaxation. Antonelle suggests looking for a nearby lake that offers cabin rentals where you can set up camp for the week. You might even consider nearby hiking trails, where you can pack the baby in a carrier and give your older kids the freedom to explore the great outdoors. Just like renting a beach house, a lake house lets you cook your meals and maybe even drink a glass (or three) of wine since you don’t have to drive. If you’re in the northeast, Antonelle suggests Lake George for an affordable destination. He mentions vacationing in Lake George, which allows you to hike, see fireworks, attend concerts and go to the beach and more for free. There are also many historical museums you can visit and “outlets of some of your favorite stores and brands where you can get great discounts,” he says.

Hopefully this will inspire you to get on the move with your kids this summer — without having to remortgage your house.

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