We all need a change of scenery to break up the family routine, and sometimes a weekend escape is just enough to do the trick -- it’s even better when we can make it happen without all the time and money required for a longer vacation. And who’s to say that a low-cost weekend getaway with the kids can’t give you that sense of travel’s freedom and exploration -- just in a more condensed and budget-friendly variety? Here are a few economical ways to grab the kids and get away for the weekend.
SUMMER VACATION RENTALS CLOSE TO HOME
If you find the right one, summer vacation rentals can feel a lot like a second home, only in this case someone else has to worry about the repairs, the yard work, the mortgage -- you just get to come and play.
Through Airbnb, we recently rented a historic home on the main street of Crested Butte, CO, appropriately named The Sunny Side, and all were happy; in this cozy mountain town we could all walk to hiking trails, parks and restaurants, so the less-than-relaxing parental duties of buckling kids into car seats and reading maps was a non-issue.
Where to Go: Find a house within a short drive from home to minimize travel time and maximize fun time!
GET BACK TO THE FARM
Sure, there’s a bit of irony in paying someone else for the experience of performing farm chores, but there is far more fun to be had at a low-cost, family-friendly farm than just milking the cows -- and besides, this particular chore is actually quite a hoot, especially if your kid thinks milk just came from stores.
Where to Go: Farms across the country that offer affordable family weekend getaways include Montesino Ranch in Wimberley, TX; Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY, and Orland, CA; the Liberty Hill Farm Inn in Rochester, VT.
DON'T FORGET YOUR STATE PARKS
Although it is only a mere 30 minutes from our hometown of Austin, TX, my family had never been to the piney woods of Bastrop State Park. So at the suggestion of a budget-savvy friend, we booked a cabin there for my husband’s birthday. Despite the recommendation, I was nervous: Could this state-owned cabin actually be pleasant enough for a comfy, a low-stress weekend with our 1- and 5-year-old kiddos? Indeed it could, we found.
Where to Go: Starved Rock State Park in Illinois, Hanging Rock State Park in North Carolina, and a multitude of state parks in Minnesota all have rustic but appealing cabins for rent. Check out what your state’s parks have to offer.
So no excuses, break up the family routine and see and do something new with the wee ones, even if just for the weekend.