It’s summertime, and that means long, relaxing evenings, grilling out and best of all, vacations.
The average American spends $1,180 on a vacation—an eye-popping number for some households.
To take a truly enjoyable summer vacation, you don’t need to break the bank. Here are five cost-effective, beautiful destinations that will allow you to enjoy the best that the great outdoors have to offer.
On the west side of the state, Lake Michigan’s many scenic beaches and idyllic small towns offer a range of cost-effective getaways. Quaint cities such as Holland boast excellent campground options -- complete with beach access -- at affordable rates. Fantastic fishing is available. And the area’s sandy dunes are a sight to see. The campgrounds feature cost-effective cabins and lots, too.
With its hundreds of miles of fishable streams, access to 12 Class III and three Class IV rapids and guided mountain hiking trips, Gatlinburg is a great summer destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
Situated near the Great Smoky Mountains, the resort town also offers many fun activities for families, too (think Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum and mini-golf courses). Relatively low-cost lodgings are abundant, with three campgrounds across town.
Headwaters of Mississippi
The mighty Mississippi River begins in Minnesota, near 32,000-acre Itasca State Park. Here, large lakes such as Cass and Winnibigoshish offer many recreational opportunities, from fishing to boating. For hikers, there are 49 miles of trails to enjoy.
Stretching across three states, including Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, Yellowstone National Park is one of America’s old faithful summer vacation destinations. A hiker’s paradise, the park features 1,100 miles of trails and 92 trailheads that wind through sweeping, geyser-covered mountain vistas populated with cow elk, bison, bears and flyfishing.
The area also has many budget-friendly accommodations, including cabins and campgrounds.
Mount Rainier, Washington
Mount Rainier towers 14,410 feet above sea level, and its surrounding national park area boasts six major rivers, making this west-central Washington destination any nature lover's dream. Hiking, camping, climbing, fishing—Mount Rainier has it all (although the park admits it’s not known for its fishing, and only master anglers typically catch anything; still, there are Rainbow Trout and Pink Salmon to be caught).
Be sure to take advantage of the park’s many free, ranger-led programs, such as guided walks and campfire programs.