Let’s face it, in this economy most families are looking for a fun time with limited impact on the pocket book. Raising 4 boys, this was my favorite cheap vacation. We loaded the car with a tent, sleeping bags, and food.
We camped at San Simeon State Park, California. It's on the beach and had restroom facilities complete with showers. The kids surfed and played in the sand. We challenged another family to a volley ball game. We prepared our own food from the groceries we packed cutting down on restaurant bills.
We took one day and went to the Hearst Castle in San Simeon CA It was a hit with the kids. You ride a bus to the castle and encounter zebras and horse on the way. This trip cost very little but it was one of our most memorable vacation ideas. - By Jon from CA
I drove across the island and camped in a county camping ground and avoided paying for an expensive hotel room. That night a local Orca pod passed right by the camp ground. Cool! The next day I rode my bike to one of the light houses and looked across the water at what I assumed was Port Angeles. I also saw a battle field of the pig war.
During the week I visited a vineyard and rode my bike all over the island. One of the nice features about going to the San Juan Islands is if you decide to hop over to another island you can do it fairly easily. All foot traffic is free from island to island; if you take your car you must pay.
When the week was over, I tried to catch the early ferry and arrived at the terminal about half an hour early. It was already full; no matter I sat for an extra hour and listened to the radio. Also, right next to the ferry terminal, are great little shops with plenty to eat. All in all, it was an affordable vacation to a group of islands not a lot of people get to go to. - By Joseph from CA
The park's admission is free, so you're welcome to drive through, or stop and camp inside the park while backpacking or at a campground. This was a big thing for us because we really needed to find cheap vacation ideas.
The campgrounds were welcoming to families and pets, and had many activities nearby for us to do. Some of the hiking trails were paved, leading to beautiful views the mountains. There were also more than enough pull outs on the road to stop and take pictures of the sprawling mountains.
Wildlife could also be seen from the car while we were driving, such as deer and a black bear with her three cubs. I'm sure the trees colors would be amazing during the fall, and would love to go back at that time. For our family, the Smoky Mountains is now our favorite of all vacation ideas. - By Jennifer from TN
But first you have to get to the top. We took the tram ride from the base to the top which in itself is a delight. Slowly seeing the road, the lake and the people becoming smaller and the surrounding mountains slowly revealing themselves is a thrill not easily forgotten.
Now I'm not a winter person so I can only testify to the summer beauty of this spot. So you reach the top in the tram and find some great little hiking trails all around the top of the mountain. Every turn in the trail seems to provide a better scene that the last turn. You can wander or you can find the scene that fit your mood and just sit for a while on a nearby bench.
Of course, you just have to hang out at the coffee shop and find a new friend to talk with. My wife and I were on our honeymoon when we visited Cannon Mountain in 1952, so you can understand that we were not too interested in other people! It was our own little romantic vacation spots in USA. - By Suel from Florida
There is plenty to see and do right in Jackson, including skiing in winter or using the aerial tram in warmer seasons to day hike on Mount Rendezvous, rafting, climbing, visiting wildlife refuge or information centers, and the museum of wildlife art.
Nightlife is available downtown, attend one of the several ranch shows with entertainment, see a concert or local show. If you can splurge, there is nothing at all to compare to a hot air balloon ride in this glorious setting.
Now, due north is Grand Teton National Park, replete with wildlife, Rocky Mountain splendor, and lots of opportunities to hike, climb, boat or fish. Do not miss the little Chapel of the Transfiguration not far into the park.
The mountain air and spectacular surroundings are incomparable. Yet continuing north, head into the well-known but nevertheless always surprising Yellowstone National Park. The Park’s several regions are very, very varied, including lakes, canyons, and many geothermal features.
Wildlife is frequently seen. Be sure to respect park rules as well as safety guidelines as you see buffalo, moose, elk, trumpeter swans, antelope, eagles and other creatures. Also be aware that motorists often stop when wildlife is spotted so keep some distance behind the vehicle in front of you in case they stop short! It takes at least a few days to explore and appreciate the Park.
When there is time, it is fun to continue north into Montana’s Big Sky country. Otherwise, I like to leave by Yellowstone’s eastern entrance, traveling east toward Cody. More and yet different natural formations are found along this highway, and you will also come across Pahaska Teepee, Buffalo Bill Cody’s hunting lodge.
In Cody, do not miss the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. Cutting back south and then west, Thermopolis is home to hot springs given for health and enjoyment by Chief Washikie. The swinging bridge is another great feature here. In Dubois, the Bighorn Sheep center is worth a visit. Ultimately, swing back toward Jackson Hole through Pinedale and Hoback Junction. Enjoy the great vacation spots in USA! - By Craig G. from Colorado