Summertime frequently means vacation time, and that can mean getting away from it all for a while.
And by “getting away,” we mean taking the family somewhere new. The U.S. has no shortage of exciting places to visit, so Junk King took the liberty of selecting some of the best spots for a family vacation.
Long considered a tourist trap destination thanks to Disney and Universal theme parks, Orlando also features a huge variety of attractive features from shopping to sightseeing. If the House of Mouse seems out of your budget, the city offers sports, water parks, museums, and an assortment of hotels. Plus, the city’s location offers easy access to Cocoa Beach and Daytona Beach and the Kennedy Space Center.
Summer heat not your thing? Head for the mountains and enjoy the humidity-free sights and sounds of Gatlinburg. In addition to the shops and bright lights of the main road through downtown Gatlinburg, the mountains offer scenic camping sights, running rivers, and an assortment of local artists and craftsmen creating everything from coffee mugs to moonshine. And if you want to see some of the older parts of America, the Cherokee Indian Reservation isn’t far from downtown.
- New Orleans
New Orleans in the summertime? But there’s no Mardi Gras in the summer! No problem, there’s always a good time to be had in the Big Easy. Never mind the countless restaurants and eateries offering up some of the best food in the country, New Orleans offers plantation tours, riverboat rides, random street performances, and the sense of the mystery and excitement that only comes from a city where one street can be home to a cigar store, voodoo emporium, and a piano bar.
Plus, the beignets and coffee are divinely inspired. And cheap.
- Washington, D.C.
Let’s just get the obvious question out of the way: why would anyone want to visit the Nation’s Capital on their vacation? The simple answer: there’s a lot more to do in D.C. than shake your fist at Congress, and a lot of it is FREE. The awesome sights of Lincoln Memorial, White House, and the National Mall, make time to see the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian, and the National Archives Museum, all free and all fantastic.
Speaking of free…
Want to go somewhere where almost everything can be seen for free? Head for Yellowstone, especially if the family likes to spend time outdoors. The sights and sounds of Yellowstone National Park reads like a VIP list of America’s Great Natural Wonders: Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Hayden Valley, the Mammoth Hot Springs, the Norris Geyser Basin… we could on and on.
But for those of you preferring a family vacation in an urban environment, we would recommend…
- San Diego
At first glance, San Diego might strike some as the West Coast version of Orlando: it’s got theme parks, it’s got zoos, and it’s got a bunch of really nice hotels. But San Diego also offers some of the best attractions in California, from Seaport Village and the Old Town State Historic Park to Mission Beach and the Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum.
- Ocean City
Nothing says summer like a boardwalk on the beach, and Ocean City delivers wonderfully on that image. Boardwalks typically offer the free enjoyment of beach access with the option of food and games within walking distance. But if sand, sun, and gaming fun don’t seem interesting, the famous wild ponies of Assateague hang out just nine miles from Ocean City, and Northside Park offers 58 acres to explore, so pack a lunch and go see what’s out there.
Speaking of beaches…
- Cape May
A New Jersey seaside town offering spacious beachfront hotels, bed and breakfasts, and an abundance of small-town charm, Cape May also sports several wineries, easy access to a boardwalk, a lighthouse, a zoo, and more than enough opportunities to shop for saltwater taffy and fudge.
Bonus: It’s also within driving distance of Atlantic City. You’re welcome.
Speaking of charm, few cities in the south can hold a candle to the grace and elegance on display in Savannah. But if pirates, ghost tours, cemeteries, and local history don’t sound like your family’s cup of tea, a short drive from downtown will lead to the beaches of Tybee Island. Also, Savannah sits right next to the Georgia/South Carolina border, so a road trip to another state won’t be out of the question.
It’s summer. Summer demands beaches, or at least access to a body of water. Naples has both. Therefore, Naples would be an awesome place to visit.
In addition to the sights of Tin City and the Naples Zoo, the city also features a stunning downtown area, a collection of parks, an assortment of wildlife sanctuaries, and all the usual beach amenities from parasailing to Jet Ski rentals. Historical bus tours provide a first-person view of the city’s history, with side trips into the rich neighborhoods.