An affordable, kid-approved summer vacation exists, it just requires a little more planning and research. Connecting with nature or organizing a creative staycation are just a few ideas. Need a little more help? Read on, we’re breaking down these family-friendly ideas to get your summer vacation off to a great start.

Take it to the Lake

A lakeside rental is a great way to entertain the whole family, especially if you have kids of all ages. Look for ample outdoor entertaining space, easy water access and plenty of water sports equipment to keep everyone busy.

Lake Michigan

This Great Lake offers endless shoreline to explore, great fishing and hiking, scenic lighthouses, quaint villages and waterfront cities such as Chicago and Milwaukee.

Finger Lakes

You won’t have to travel far to find something everyone will enjoy in the Finger Lakes. This region is rich in history and culture, and of course, outdoor adventure. An array of museums showcase everything from glass making and motorcycles to the Civil War and Underground Railroad.

Big Bear Lake

This Southern California lake is a four-season retreat for families from all over the country. Water sports and biking are two big draws in summer, mountainside snow sports dominate the winter months and the charming downtown atmosphere of shops, restaurants and spas does not disappoint in any season.

Connect with Nature

Camping is the ultimate family vacation. This back-to-basics way of connecting with nature has a way of bringing people together and generating lifelong memories. There are loads of national and state parks scattered across the country just waiting to be the backdrop of your family adventure.

Walk Under the Arches

In southeastern Utah, near the Colorado border, explore one of the smallest of all the national parks, Arches. Breathtaking and inviting, this park offers a system of sandy trails built under and around more than 2,000 stone arches and rock formations.

Cook by campfire at Silver Falls State Park

This northwestern state park features pine-clad mountains, striking granite spires and lush grasslands. Take the Wildlife Loop for glimpses of elk, mountain goats, wild turkeys and mountain lions in their natural habitat. If you’re visiting in the fall, catch the annual Buffalo Roundup as more than 1,300 bison are herded.

Head East to Acadia National Park

The sole national park in the northeast, Acadia boasts rambling peaks, slicing fjords and uninhabited offshore islands. Dense forests offer trails under tall firs and over old stone bridges. A drive up the side of Cadillac Mountain affords stunning views of the Atlantic. Mount Desert Island is ablaze with rich reds, oranges in yellows as maples turn in the fall.

Plan a Staycation

Skip the stress of travel and plan a staycation to experience all the undiscovered treasures right in your own backyard.

Book a hotel with a pool

You can find great summer deals on local hotels for a fun, budget-friendly getaway. Pick a hotel with a great indoor or outdoor pool, or an arcade. Bring along the  newest release for a cozy family movie night. Don’t forget to bring pre-popped popcorn as most hotels don’t allow you to pop microwave popcorn in the rooms.

Check out a local museum

Chances are there’s a new museum you’ve been meaning to visit with the family. Make a day trip out of it by packing a picnic, inviting friends or planning a themed follow-up activity, such as art classes after visiting an exhibit.

Plan a progressive dinner

With the help of Yelp, pick the best local spot for dinner, appetizers and dessert and visit them all. Choosing restaurants within walking distance of one another gives everyone time to work up an appetite between courses. Or, plan a few progressive meals and let each member of the family pick one stop on the culinary adventure.