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July 15, 2011

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One of my favorite ways to spend a summer day is driving to Lake Huron. It is about an hour from my house, and it is an incredibly cheap way to spend an entire day (just the cost of gas. There isn't even concessions where we go, so no temptation to spend money on food).

We used to have a pass to Greenfield Village, which is a museum, so after the initial cost of the pass, all visits are free. Same with science museums. We pay 50 dollars for the year and can go to countless science museums all over the country for free.

We just returned from Myrtle Beach, which was fantastic, even though we don't golf. We usually head up north to Traverse City for a few days each year too.

I love summer!!!

FMF - You should check out Coast Guard in Grand Haven if you haven't yet. Also good is the beach/pier, Pronto Pups, Dairy Treat... an awesome way to spend a summer day.

When we go to Hawaii, the place we stay has a full kitchen. Our first stop off the plane is Costco, where we stock up for the week. As a result, we typically end up eating "at home" at least half of all meals (primarily, breakfast and lunch; usually one dinner in a week will be at home too). We therefore only go out to eat less than half as many times as we would have otherwise.

Also, as an enjoyable vacation diversion, we like to go hiking. It's free, we get exercise, see beautiful sights, have time to ourselves...best of all worlds. It's nearly always better than a "tourist" activity.

We're staying close to home this summer and doing a local camping vacation since with my business school bills coming up I can't really justify the cash for plane tickets, hotels, etc. However, I'm actually looking forward to our trip a lot. We'll be camping and hiking in a really cool national park I've never been to that's a reasonable drive from our house. Camping is almost always a super cheap vacation and a great get away.

Camping and hiking is a great way to spend a vacation IF you like that kind of stuff. I hate it! And it's not a vacation if I have to cook and do laundry just like at home.

FMF
You have some great options for fun in our SW corner. Saugatuck, South Haven and St Joseph are all great little fun beach/lake towns this time of year. This weekend is the St Joseph Venetian festival. This will include many fun activities for the kids. Sand sculpture contest, volleyball, all the food venders are out. Amusement park rides and concerts for everyone's musical taste. Saturday night we have fireworks. In addition to just enjoying the beautiful beach and lake on these hot days. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. If you did an overnight, the motels in the area are very reasonable.

As far as cheap vacations...if you enjoy camping, every state has some nice state parks. And if you have visited our national parks, they really are something to see. I'm really big on camping and although I once heard someone say that camping was "vacation for the poor people". I think they really miss out on the concept/fun of it. We go on hikes, boat in lakes, swim, tube down the rivers. Evenings we might either visit a nearby town for dinner out, or we cook in our campers. Then we usually end the night sitting around a campfire, playing our guitars and singing songs. I could go on and on about things to do. Its really only limited by your imagination.

I second billyjobob on South Haven. It's a nice place!

billyjobob --

I'm making you the official tourist spokesperson for Michigan. :-)

JP --

Thanks for reminding me -- I've been meaning to do that.

FMF - Thanks. I accept! I do love Michigan. ;-)

JP- Be sure to visit The Perfect Setting in South Haven. Down in Old Harbor Village...next to the Idler ...My sister owns it.

Whoops.. Meant second comment for 08graduate.

As for visiting aumusement parks when the kids were younger we used to have season passes to six flags. We would go many times over the summer. To save on food we would go as soon as they open and either bring food from home that we eat in the picnic area outside the park or just stay until around 1 or 2 PM and eat lunch on the way home. Since we had season passes we didn't feel like we had to stay in the park all day to get our money's worth. Season passes usually only cost a little more than one full day's ticket at most parks.

I'm a big fan of the "stay-cation"....especially since I usually work full-time. "Just" having to cook and do laundry is already a vacation! I take off work, then I can play with my kids--yay! It's fun to go to the zoo, the movies, go to the beach, the aquarium, local museums, go fishing, hiking, camp in the backyard, and have all their friends over for cupcake decorating parties. In the evening we get together with other families and after dinner roast s'mores on the BBQ--super fun and great family time together.

We also like going up on the North Shore of Lake Superior here in MN and staying in a resort there. It takes some planning but it's cheap because they're no plane tickets to buy and we can bring our own food for cooking.

I'm surprised no one mentioned traveling to visit family--what's cheaper than that? We do this every year---sure it takes a plane ticket but we stay with family so we save on eating out most nights and on hotel costs. I do try to take the host family out a few times for dinner and also to buy and cook dinner some nights, and we usually also take them along and treat them to museums and whatever they want. Even so it's way cheaper than paying for every night in a hotel. Plus my kids are totally amused by their cousin's toys and their cousins themselves so everyone is really happy.

I don't take vacations actually. Don't see the point. I live in Orange County, around 30 minutes away from Huntington Beach. A vacation is going to the beach with a beach towel and relaxing. But then again I am rather extraordinary and have more drive than most people. Even my weekends are spent working, not working at a job but taking acting classes and furthering my acting career. Vacations are futile and for the weak.

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