Organizing that summertime family vacation is a difficult task for many. Deciding where to go and what to do are questions overshadowed by that ever-imposing question of cost.There’s such a diverse array of worthy destinations across the continent, it can be hard to pinpoint the one that’s perfect for you. Consequently, many families find themselves stuck long into the summer months, without bookings in place or even the faintest idea of where to go.
But, don’t fear, for America the beautiful comes through once more! Here are some of the top family friendly destinations on the continent that can easily be considered last minute or on a tight budget. They offer up a range of outdoorsy, educational and immersive historical pursuits, along with a healthy dose of unadulterated fun. For an unforgettable family vacation, just hit the highways!
As one of the undisputed gems of South Carolina’s coast, Myrtle Beach is a destination that comes complete with endless stretches of ivory white sands, city-side boardwalks and an array of authentic Deep South eateries, serving seafood delicacies to boot. There’s also one of the best selections of family fun entertainments on the eastern seaboard on offer, none of which will break the bank. Consider going into the wild with a spot of surfside camping at the state park, soar your way above the city on the iconic SkyWheel attraction, or even spot some exotic beasts at the T.I.G.E.R.S preservation station to the north of the city centre.
As the gateway to the great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, Gatlinburg offers families an unrivalled array of affordable outdoorsy opportunities in the summer. Entrances to the iconic trails of the national park dot the downtown here, while adrenaline-seeking visitors can take in some whitewater rafting and fly fishing in the canyons and crevices of nearby Pigeon Creek. Don’t miss the Davy Crockett-themed mini golf selection on Parkway, and be sure to check out the immersive exhibitions at the nearby Mountain Farm Museum and Mingus Mill, where old cabins of the 1900s still stand amidst the trees.
Visitors with a sweet tooth and an ear for history flock to the National Historic Landmark of Mackinac Island every summer, most in search of the legendary fudge, or some of North America’s best preserved Victorian, Native American and wartime relics. For the former, be sure to check out the legendary establishment of Joann’s on Main Street, where the artisan fudge makers serve up no less than 29 individual flavors. History buffs should head straight for the sprawling complexes at Fort Mackinac, where the exhibitions and discovery park deal with the island’s earliest stories.
Many families hit Orland in the late summer to make the most of Florida’s quieter low season, when admissions to the alluring array of world-class theme parks dip to actually affordable levels. Particularly popular is the Aquatica Park by SeaWorld, where the water park attractions and winding slides provide something of a respite from the August heat. Others come to enjoy even lower prices at some of the more quirky and underrated attractions, like the thrilling Gatorland or placid Lake Eola Park, where families can relax in the heat of Florida’s high summer.
Wolves, grizzly bears, wild geysers and wandering bison await families at the Yellowstone National Park in summertime. The beasts can be spotted roaming the verdant banks of the Lamar Valley early in the morning, or recuperating at the educational Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in Montana. Wyoming’s Fountain Paint Pot is home to the sporadic eruptions of Great Fountain Geyser, one of the few of its kind that can be predicted during the summer months. What’s more, there are walking trails and hiking routes to boot in Yellowstone, leaving plenty of scope for exploration and adventure into the wilds of western America.