Parents looking to get their kids out of the house this summer have no shortage of family vacation options. Narrowing down the list to truly kid-friendly, affordable destinations everyone agrees on can be a challenge.

These location ideas are just what you need for an awesome family summer vacation!

Enjoy Lake Life

Rent a house (ideally with an outdoor shower and grill on the deck) to enjoy warmer weather and calmer surf than the ocean.

Take a trip to Lake Michigan. From Chicago at the southern end to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in the north, Lake Michigan offers a variety of landscapes to enjoy with kids. Hike, build sand castles and explore museums on this giant lake’s shores.

Explore the Finger Lakes. Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca and Cayuga Lakes all offer camp grounds, rolling hills and kayak rentals. There are 11 Finger Lakes total and they’re all close enough to explore in a single trip.

Head to SoCal’s Big Bear Lake. Bike trails, year-round chairlift rides, a nature center and boat tours make Big Bear Lake an excellent family summer vacation destination. Plus, this charming lake town is close enough to both Los Angeles and San Diego for a day trip.

Connect with Nature

Both national and state parks offer amazing family summer vacation trips. You don’t necessarily have to tent it either; many parks have fully-stocked cabins or onsite hotels.

Head north to Custer State Park. South Dakota’s Custer State Park, part of the vast Black Hills National Forest, has interesting rock formations, easy hikes and multiple lakes. You may even see some cool animals: buffalo, prairie dogs and mountain goats.

Cook by campfire at Silver Falls State Park. Take your family vacation in the northwest this summer and make yourselves at home in Silver Falls State Park. Beautiful waterfalls and a natural play area are more than enough to keep kids busy.

Become Junior Rangers at Rocky Mountain National Park. This park caters to families on summer vacation with a cool Junior Ranger program, the ability to drive to the park’s peaks via Trail Ridge Road and lots of lakes.

Plan a Staycation

Stay close to home for all the fun of a summer vacation without anyone asking, “Are we there yet?”

Book a hotel with a pool. Enjoy a night or two of ice cold air conditioning and splashing in the pool at a nearby hotel. Room service and a good movie make for an extra special family pajama party.

Visit a new museum. Is there a museum you keep meaning to visit with the whole family? Make a day of a trip to a museum with a picnic lunch or dinner out. Because you’re so close to home, you can have the kids invite friends along.

Bring home a new game. Whether it’s a brand new game or just new to your kids, a family-friendly game can keep kids busy for a few afternoons. Board games and lawn games are good candidates for multiple ages.

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