By Joe Laing, El Monte RV

Rocky Coast of Maine in Acadia National Park

When school starts back in the fall, what memory will stand in the forefront of your child’s mind when the teacher asks what they did on their summer vacation?

From overnight camps to all-day games of soccer and baseball, summer is synonymous with fun. For parents, however, it can also take a chunk out of their pocketbook.

The country is covered with family-friendly resorts and theme parks, most of which are guaranteed fun. But what about making your own memories?

Here are five ideas for your summer travel that are anything but cookie-cutter. Even if you can’t get to these destinations, the activities they offer should spark some ideas closer to home.

The Shenandoah Valley

High on Virginia’s Blue Ridge, Shenandoah National Park has long been a destination for regional locals, but the epic views and easy hiking are worthy of national attention as well. The park includes 90 miles of the Appalachian Trail, which are among the flattest (read: easiest) yet most scenic of the entire Maine to Georgia route. For an introduction to backcountry camping as a family, it can’t be beat. Park at a trail crossing and hike in for even 15 minutes to create the feel of a remote experience you’re family won’t soon forget.

The next day, rent tubes and float the wide but very shallow Shenandoah River.

Kiawah Island

Charleston, South Carolina’s exclusive resort island may be known as a bastion of the wealthy, but it’s also home to one of Dr. Beach’s Top 10 beaches in the country. There are also hundreds of affordable townhouses spaciously clustered around the island with plenty of room for a family to rent. In the age of vacation rentals by owner, the deals at a world-class beach destination rival prices at even an average hotel.

Treehouses in Oregon

While it does qualify as a ‘resort,’ the Treesort in Cave Junction, Oregon is anything but your typical all-inclusive. What child wouldn’t love to sleep high above the ground in a tree? There’s plenty of hiking, horseback riding, and even a zipline to fill the days with exciting memories.


Although this Colorado mountain valley town is known as a winter destination, it’s also full of fun during the summer time. Even if hiking isn’t your family’s thing, there’s a free gondola ride up to the top of the valley that never gets boring. The valleys ponds are full of easy-to-catch fish, and the St. Sophia Nature Center serves as a great jumping off point for exploring the local critters.

Bar Harbor

Acadia National Park certainly gets its share of traffic in the summer, but most of the visitors come from New England. The only mountainous part of the eastern coastline, Maine is full of family fun, from ice cream and lobster rolls to inexpensive whale watching tours. For its diverse scenery and easily accessible hiking, Acadia is virtually a Disney World of outdoor fun.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. Where can you go river tubing, treetop exploring, or shell-searching near your home?

About the Author

Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV Rentals.

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