2. Go camping (or even glamping)
Whether you’re visiting a local campground or a state or national park, camping is always a frugal option – and summer’s the perfect time to do it. If you don’t have the right equipment on hand — tent, sleeping bags, cooler — see if you can borrow gear from a family member or friend. And even if you have to buy a tent, it’s still bound to be cheaper than airfare or paying for a pricey hotel.
If you don’t like roughing it, you can also try “glamping” – a form of camping that lets you enjoy the outdoors, but with some of the comforts offered by hotels and resorts. Luxury camping company Under Canvas offers a few glamping resorts at National Parks across the U.S. While you’re still technically “camping,” these resorts offer access to real beds and an on-site staff.
3. Visit a regional theme park or water park
While Disney World may call itself the “happiest place on Earth,” there are more reasonably-priced theme parks and water parks within driving distance of just about anyone in the United States.
In the state of Indiana, for example, you’ve got Holiday World Theme Park & Splashin’ Safari – a great theme park destination for the entire family. Not only do they offer free soft drinks and sunscreen, but they have one of the best water parks in the entire Midwest, and there are plenty of affordable places to stay nearby. Lake Rudolph Campground, for example, adjacent to the park, offers inexpensive rentals on everything from campsites to cabins and even rental RVs.
Next door in Ohio, you’ll find the family-friendly King’s Island as well as the iconic Cedar Point, which is often considered the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World.”
Six Flags theme parks are a touch pricey, but certainly cheaper than a trip to Disney, and they’re all over the country – including locations in California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Texas.
If you have kids in tow, you can also consider a road trip to the Wisconsin Dells, a theme and water park haven in the middle of Wisconsin. There, you’ll find extremely affordable lodging options in addition to world class parks and attractions.
4. Go ‘shelling’ in southern Florida
If you love the beauty of shells and enjoy scouring the beach for some treasures of your own, a trip to Southern Florida may be in order. Dubbed the “shelling capitals of the world,” Sanibel and Captiva Islands have long been known as ideal destinations for shell collectors and enthusiasts.
According to information provided by the Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, the area’s geography and east to west orientation of the water puts it in the perfect position to catch shells of all shapes, varieties and colors. Since many shells arrive fully intact, you can save money by scouring the beach for your very own souvenirs.
After gathering your own share of shells, you can also visit the Bailey Matthews National Shell Museum, the only museum in the U.S. dedicated to shells and mollusks.
If you need a rental car, Hotwire.com offers car rental options for as little as $11.95 per day. Pick up an affordable rental on your way to southern Florida, then shell your day away without a care in the world.