State Park Vacations: Discover a cheap and fun way to get away from it all

A State Park is by definition an area of land preserved by the United States government because of its natural beauty, historic value, or recreational attractions. They are similar to United States National parks, but are administered by the state government. 

If your family is looking for an inexpensive vacation, I would encourage you to try camping at one of them this summer. If you are not the “camping” type, at least take a day trip to one or more parks in your area. 

What Do Most State Parks Have to Offer? 

Most have a campground facility. These are open seasonally, so you will have to plan your trip during warmer weather. The costs for camping are the lowest your will find. There are sites offered with/without electricity and water. Some of the parks even offer camping cabins for those who have no tent/camper. 

Swimming is usually available, either in a lake or a pool. The pools in our area are open from 10-11 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day. There is a nominal fee to use the pool facilities (a few dollars), but this helps to pay the life-guards and keep them nice and clean for your family to use. 

Fishing is a free activity that is available for your children (adults may need a license). All you need is fishing rods and bait, and you’re set. I have memories of going fishing together with my family as a child, and having a contest to see who could catch the biggest fish. We always threw them back, but it was fun to see what was in the water. 

A good way to get exercise is on the many hiking trails. These can range from half a mile to two miles or more. Some parks have waterfalls along the way, depending on what state you live in. We always try to remember to bring drinking water and lots of sunscreen and bug spray. Hiking is a great way to teach your children about different wildlife and plants. 

If there is a lake, boating will usually be available. My son loves the paddle boats, and there is also canoeing or row-boating. Typically there is a nominal rental fee from $5-7 per hour. Life jackets are provided. 

In the winter, sledding/tobogganing and ice-fishing are offered where we live. If you live in the South, swimming and outdoor activities may be offered all year round. Also, the rangers will offer programs for the children in the summer about wildlife, our environment, and outdoor safety. Sometimes there is even a project or craft for the children to do, to help them remember what they have learned. 

Let's figure out the average cost of a summer weekend get-away for a family of four at one of these parks: 

Camping (2 nights/3 days)-- $40 
Food (you bring/cook yourself)-- $25 
Swimming -- $10 a day/2 days ($20) 
Boating -- $6.00 
Fishing -- $5.00 for bait (or FREE if you dig it yourself) 
Hiking, Playground, Campfire -- Free 
Total: $96 for the entire weekend! 

If you are looking for an inexpensive family getaway, do not neglect to check out your state parks. Sitting around the campfire in the great outdoors may turn out to be one of the most memorable vacations your family has!