6 Summer Day Trip Ideas for Families

Summer is an ideal time to create memories as a family. However, with our busy schedules and finances to consider, a long family vacation may not be the best choice. Here are six summer day trip ideas that are fun for everyone, and don’t involve spending money on overnight accommodation.

State or county fair

The state or county fair is a classic summer activity all across America. With games, rides, food, shopping, arts and crafts, agricultural events, and music, each member of your family can find something to enjoy. With some fairs offering discounted or free admission for children, and others boasting no admission fee at all, a day at the state or county fair can be a budget-friendly option for your family.

National park

National parks afford a unique opportunity for your child to learn about nature, wildlife, and America’s history. According to a recent study, more than 330 million people visited America’s over 400 national parks in 2017. Visit the National Parks Service’s Find a Park tool to discover a national park that would make an ideal day trip for your family.

Water park or beach

There is no better way to beat the heat than a day at a water park or beach. Depending on your budget and schedule, your family can enjoy a full day of water slides and wave pools at a large water park, or a few hours building sandcastles at a nearby beach or waterfront. As always, keep these water safety tips for children in mind.

To help you plan your water park visit, visit TripSavvy’s lists of biggest and best water parks in the Northeast, in the Southeast, in the South, and in the West.

Theme park

Though a day at a theme park may not seem very budget-friendly, for many families it is a good compromise compared to a week-long holiday with hotel and travel costs. Many theme parks offer rides and games specifically designed for younger children, with a slower pace, reduced noise, and shorter duration. Family-friendly theme park activities include teacup rides, mini coasters, splash pads, carousels, and scaled-down Ferris wheels.


A family hike is an ideal way to enjoy the great outdoors this summer as well as help your child learn more about the natural world around them. Choose a location where you can take a short hike to view an interesting natural feature such as a scenic view, lake or historical site. Depending on the age of your child and whether or not a stroller is involved, you may need to remain on an easy paved or boardwalk trail. Pack an easy lunch and plenty of snacks and water, and enjoy your day together.


Whether it’s close to home or in a nearby town, there are many museums and historical sites that the whole family can get something out of. Museums offer children a unique opportunity to learn about history, develop curiosity, encourage problem-solving skills, and inspire new ideas. You may choose to spend the day at a museum specifically geared towards children, or share your own favorite exhibits with your child. For a successful museum visit, set behavior expectations before you go, and ensure all activities are appropriate to your child’s energy levels. It may also be a good idea to ask the museum, gallery, or historical site if they have any recommendations for visiting families.

No matter your budget or schedule, there are many day trips your family can enjoy this summer. With our six summer day trip ideas for families, everyone can have fun and create lasting memories.