Take a Last-Minute Summer Trip Before the Kids Go Back to School

family with infant in swimming poolIn a way, we only have 18 summers with our little ones before college and internships change their summer priorities. When you think about it from this perspective, it really makes you want to make the most out of each moment during summer break with your kids.

By now, summer is flying by and school is almost back in session. Among the day camps and other daily routines, you might not have had time to plan that family vacation yet. We’re here to tell you that it’s not too late!

Before you start your back-to-school shopping trips, surprise your family with a last-minute summer trip to one of these top family vacation spots.

San Diego, California

San Diego really has a lot to offer for your whole family. With over 70 miles of sandy coastline and plenty of activities for the kiddos, you really can’t go wrong with a family trip here. Spend the day hanging out on La Jolla or Shell Beach soaking up the sun. Parents can relax while the kids play or get active and rent paddle-boards or take a surf lesson. If you’re looking to spend a day in the park, check out the world-famous San Diego Zoo, showcasing more than 3,500 animals. There’s also SeaWorld and Legoland if those parks are more your family’s style.

Where to Stay: We recommend staying at the Hilton San Diego Mission Valley if you want to stay near all of the fun activities we’ve mentioned above. It’s centrally located and minutes away from the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld. 

Chicago, Illinois

There are always plenty of flights to Chicago, making it easy to book a last-minute summer trip. Chicago never disappoints with its large variety of museums, parks, and big-city adventures. Visit Millennium Park next to the famous Chicago Bean to soak in the city sights and grab some Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. Next, visit the Chicago Children’s Museum on the Navy Pier to let your kids’ creativity soar. If you want to escape the city streets for a couple hours, head to the Chicago Botanic Garden to visit the new 26,700-square-foot gardens that house growing plots, outdoor play spaces, and rolling hills. Before you leave, you must step inside Shedd Aquarium, which is one of the world’s largest aquariums, to see (and touch) some unforgettable sea animals.

Where to Stay: A great spot to relax after a long day in the Windy City is the Embassy Suites by Hilton Chicago Downtown. Fuel up on the free breakfast in the morning to start your day off, and get ready to learn and explore the rest of Chicago.

Yellowstone, Wyoming

Visiting Yellowstone National Park near Jackson Hole is a must for your USA travel bucket list. Get prime family bonding time with a night at Yellowstone’s campgrounds after a long day of exploring natural wonders. Kids will gaze at the bright colors of the hot springs—be sure to catch an eruption and watch their faces light up! Other child-friendly activities include hiking, horseback riding, and even whitewater rafting in areas that are calm for children. Lastly, take time to wander and simply look around to spot Yellowstone’s large variety of wild animal species, such as elk and bison.

Where to Stay: Yellowstone is a large park and there are several nearby towns to choose from. It’s best to figure out exactly what your family wants to see and find a town that’s closest. To get started, we recommend staying at the Holiday Inn West Yellowstone. This hotel is close to Old Faithful and is blocks from the west entrance.

last-minute summer trip_family at garden of the gods in colorado springs

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Springs is a haven for family-friendly fun and spending summer days outdoors. From mountains and unique landscapes to local downtown shops, Colorado Springs will leave your adventure hearts full. The Garden of the Gods is a must-see in Colorado Springs. Be sure to take your camera because the natural backdrop of these unique rock formations is gorgeous. Then, take the kids to Cheyenne Mountain and visit the zoo. With over 800 species, children can learn about animals during park presentations and interactive experiences, like feeding the giraffes. If the mountains are calling your name, take a drive to the top of Pikes Peak, standing at 14,115 feet tall, and stop along the way for some scenic lookouts. On your way out the area, stop at the Cave of the Winds to experience the unique underground caverns.

Where to Stay: Book your stay at the Hyatt Place Colorado Springs/Garden of the Gods for proximity to the Garden of the Gods. Enjoy complimentary hotel-wide wireless high-speed internet to post all of your gorgeous family photos.

Washington, D.C.

In addition to the obvious educational value of taking the family to the nation’s capital, there are plenty of family-friendly activities to enjoy here. After you’ve visited the National Mall, head to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History to see giant dinosaur skeletons and fossils. If you want to squeeze in another museum experience, we recommend visiting L’Enfant Plaza where the International Spy Museum has recently relocated to intrigue even the older kids in the bunch. Before you head out, see the National Zoo, which is one of the oldest zoos in the United States. It is part of the Smithsonian Institution and does not charge for admission.

Where to Stay: If you’re visiting Washington, D.C. for the sights, then why not stay near the White House? The Hampton Inn Washington, D.C./White House is walking distance to famous landmarks and has free breakfast.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

The beach is a quintessential element of summer and this makes Myrtle Beach a great last-minute summer vacation option. Your family can claim the perfect spot among 60 miles of beaches, set up for the day, and spend time in the water. Myrtle Beach also offers a large boardwalk complete with rides and one of the largest Ferris wheels in the country in the old-fashioned Family Kingdom Amusement Park.  Take your time playing games and eating at one of the many restaurants on the boardwalk.

Where to Stay: After spending the day on the beach, stay at the Hampton Inn Myrtle Beach Broadway at the Beach (just two miles from the ocean) to cool off and relax.

last-minute summer trip_young boy in destin florida

Destin, Florida

The Emerald Coast is a nostalgic family beach destination for many. Spend the day walking on the powder white beaches hunting for delicate sand dollars, then tackle the Destin Boardwalk once you work up an appetite. Here you can book fishing excursions, shop, eat, and play all in one place. The boardwalk is very kid-friendly with lots of games and activities to stay busy. If you feel like doing something unique that the whole family will remember, book a tour on the Buccaneer Pirate Cruise and live like a pirate for a couple of hours. Want to make a splash at a water park? Head to the Big Kahuna for a day of entertainment.

Where to Stay: The Wingate by Wyndham Destin is near the beaches, the Big Kahuna Adventure and Waterpark, golfing, and shopping—so it’s the perfect stay for your Destin vacation.

Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri, is a city known for its family-friendly entertainment. One of the top attractions in Branson is Silver Dollar City, a rustic theme park complete with thrilling rides (that even your teenagers will enjoy), theater shows, and water fun to cool off during the summer. After a day at the park, you can also stroll along the Branson Strip, which is a stretch of the city that is jam-packed with family activities. You’ll find shows, museums, go-karts, arcades, ziplines, and more. If you want to immerse yourself in the Ozark landscape, head to Table Rock Lake, where you can rent a boat, take the family fishing, or hop on a train through the mountains.

Where to Stay: If you’re looking to avoid the traffic on the Branson Strip, head to Branson Landing. Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing hotel is still close enough to get to all of your regular activities but provides you the opportunity to experience a new area of Branson. Branson Landing includes waterfront shopping, dining, and entertainment with over 100 specialty stores.

Book Your Last-Minute Hotel with Us

Traveling as a family and sharing new experiences together is the best way to spend the last days of summer break. Make planning your last-minute summer trip extra simple by booking your hotel room through Roomkey.

We offer a search experience that allows you to book the best room for you, by showing clear search results with no pushy marketing messages. Our goal is to help you book with confidence knowing you’re getting the best room at the best rate offered by our partners’ loyalty programs.  Ready to get going? Visit Roomkey.com to start your adventure.