With summertime just a few months away, you may be looking for ways to spend your vacation without the crowds you’ll find in typical family vacation spots.
We’ve put together a list of 12 ways you can skip the crowds and plan a terrific summer vacation for you and your family. Actually, this list works for any time of year! You don’t need to endure crowded airports or super touristy travel destinations to have a great time together.
I want to be clear and state what this post isn’t about. It’s not 101 Ways to Have Fun When You’re Stuck at Home. It’s also not How to Plan a Super Cheap Staycation. (Although those would be great posts to write!)
Of course, some of these ideas can be done at home and tailored to a smaller budget, but our goal is to provide you with ways to avoid crowds, while still feeling like you actually had a fun vacation. I think you’ll find there’s something here for everyone looking to plan a crowd free vacation.
1 Rent a Cabin in the Woods or a House Near the Beach
Find yourself a cabin within driving distance and plan to spend your week there. It can be at the beach, near the mountains, western-themed, luxurious…whatever makes you happy.
You may have different goals for how to spend your crowd free vacation, depending on the age of those traveling with you. If you’re heading to the beach with littles, you can easily spend most of your day building sand castles and flying kites.
We rent a beach house almost every summer, and it’s amazing how easy it is to fill your day just exploring the area and relaxing together. A family beach vacation without crowds is high on our list again this summer!
No matter where you go, you can have Monopoly marathons, binge-watch movies, do puzzles, or learn how to cook something new together each day.
With none of the distractions of home, a quiet place to stay that’s away from the crowds can be just the vacation you need to rest up and reconnect with your family.
For us, no cabin in the woods or at the beach would be complete without doing S’mores pretty much every night. We would probably forget our own clothes before we’d forget to bring S’more supplies!
2 Rent an RV and Hit the Road
If the thought of staying in hotel rooms in crowded places has you wanting to ditch your vacation plans altogether, renting an RV could be the perfect alternative for you.
You can still plan an epic road trip! Why not rent an RV for the week,
disinfect fumigate to your heart’s content and hit the road knowing you won’t be subjected to any potential germs you’d find in hotel rooms?
Maybe you’re looking for quiet summer vacation spots or where to travel to avoid crowds. After you decide where you want to go, open up Pinterest and start searching for things to do in that area. (Here’s a great place to start!)
I’m not sure there’s any place left in the United States that hasn’t been explored and blogged about, so it really is possible to plan an epic road trip, even one that’s off the beaten path.
If you’re not sure where to go, let Google help you out. Get online and search for terms like places to visit that are not crowded near me or less crowded places to visit near me for some ideas to get you started.
3 Rent a Vrbo With Another Family
Want to avoid crowds on your vacation but don’t want to be complete hermits? Why not make plans with great friends or other family members and create your own vacation getaway?
The sky really is the limit with what you can do here. You can be completely casual with no major agenda or come up with a fun theme for the week.
Like the first idea mentioned, you could rent a place near a beach or something more rustic in the woods. As long as you’re sharing your time with people you love being with, you’re set for a fun-filled vacation no matter where you spend it. (Keep reading for more ideas you can incorporate into your week together.)
4 Camp Cousin: The Ultimate Family Staycation
If your kids are like mine, they don’t care nearly as much about the destination as they do the agenda. If possible, consider making plans to get all the cousins in one place and make the week all about them being together.
What an amazing bonding experience that would be and one they’re sure to remember for many years to come!
You can divide up the activities among the (willing) adults and keep it as simple or make it as elaborate as your skills and budget allow. You can even design and order your own special T-shirts just for Camp Cousin week. What a fun, crowd free vacation this could be!
5 Go Camping in a National Park
Pack your camping gear and get ready to pitch your tent! If you’re looking for a way to vacation and avoid crowds, camping can be a great way to do it. There are so many beautiful campgrounds in our national parks!
Of course, the summer months are going to be more crowded, so keep that in mind. Also, if you’re looking for vacation spots with fewer tourists, you’ll want to avoid the big parks like the Grand Canyon.
However, there are many other places you can go camping and have a fabulous time making memories on uncrowded family vacations. Some are nestled in the woods for the perfect quiet summer getaways, while others have fantastic views.
Take a look at some of these less crowded national parks and start making some plans:
- Voyageurs national park, Minnesota
- Dry Tortugas national park, Florida
- Grand Staircase-Escalante national monument, Utah
- Cumberland Island national seashore, Georgia
- Wrangell-St Elias national park and preserve, Alaska
- Manassas national battlefield park, Virginia
- North Cascades national park, Washington
- Point Reyes national seashore, California
The well-known parks are often some of the top tourist destinations in USA. Lesser known state parks can also be a great option for finding campgrounds that aren’t as crowded as national parks may be.
6 Tour the World (while vacationing without crowds) with a private in-home chef
If your ultimate bucket list-worthy vacation away from the crowds involves you staying at home, it doesn’t have to be boring! How about hiring a private chef to make a super special dinner for your family? Here are a couple of ideas you could go with.
- Pick a country you would love to travel to and make that your theme for the week. Watch movies, read books, and learn some key phrases in that country’s language. At the end of the week, go all out by hiring a chef to come and make a fantastic meal for you.
- Pick up the pace by choosing a new country each day. Watch a movie, learn a few key phrases, and then get dressed up for a fancy dinner at your house. Hire a fabulous chef each evening to come and wow you with new cuisine, and enjoy each adventure du jour!
- While focusing on a foreign country is a great idea, there are so many places in North America you could also build a theme around. What could you learn about New England, New York, or San Francisco that could be fun? Think outside the box and learn something new about different areas and foods.
You can even spruce up your house with new travel decor that goes along with your theme(s) for the week.
7 Spend Your Week Together Learning a New Skill
You don’t have to leave your house to have quiet summer getaways. Choose a skill your family would love to learn (or get better at) and hire a professional to give you private lessons.
You could focus your time on music, singing, painting, cooking, ballroom dancing, woodworking, acting, sports…The sky really is the limit on what you can do!
Wrap up your week with a grand exhibition to showcase your newfound talent. Get gussied up and put on a performance! You could even incorporate one of the ideas above and hire a chef to come make your evening even more special.
8 Plan a Gaming Marathon
Kids aren’t the only ones who love playing games. Adults want to have fun, too! You can plan a different theme each day, such as board games, Wii games, outdoor/yard games, etc.
You could also choose one theme and make it a mega-marathon week where the winner takes all in a grand finale. Keep it entertaining by making it a fun competition and keeping score with a fun table top score keeper. The daily/weekly winner gets a prize!
You can make this as easy as you want and use games you already own. You can also go all out and spend some money on things like a new gaming console (or some new games for an old console), a ping pong or fuseball table, team sweatshirts, and custom memorabilia.
Either way, snack foods are going to play an important role in your game marathon, and having pizza delivered is never a bad idea!
Decide early on what the prizes will be and make a big deal out of the final competition. Have fun with this! You’ll be creating memories your family will remember for years to come.
9 Lease a Luxury Car for a Few Days
Obviously, this one is more for adults, although kids will certainly get a kick out of it, too. Staying home to avoid crowds on vacation doesn’t mean you can’t get out and have some fun. Find a local dealer who leases your dream car and plan a few days (or all week) around all the fun places you can drive to!
If you live near a racetrack, you can even buy an “experience” and take a spin in a super fast race car! (Check out Indy Racing Experiences, just for kicks.)
10 Make Your Home a Luxury Resort
You know that feeling you get when you walk into a really beautiful place that just soothes your soul? Why not create that feeling in your own home?
I’m not talking about ditching all your belongings and starting new. Of course, if the things in your house cause you stress, maybe you do need to ditch a few of them. (I said things, not people!)
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Pamper yourselves with new 1500 thread count sheets. (When’s the last time you did that?)
- Get everyone a new, super comfy robe, loungewear, and slippers. You could get really fancy and order them with matching monograms.
- Treat yourselves to a visit by an in-home masseuse.
- Hire a hair stylist to make a home visit and give everyone a new cut.
- Schedule in-home mani/pedi’s…men can get them, too! (Although they’ll probably want to skip the polish.)
- Plan your menu ahead of time and make sure to have plenty of fruit and cheese trays, sparkling water, and other favorite snacks available on demand.
- Consider hiring a chef to make your evenings extra special and continue the theme of luxury at-home vacation away from the crowds.
11 Invest in Something New for Your Family
Is there something fun your family would love to have or do at home, but there never seems to be enough money to make it happen? Instead of spending money on airlines and theme park tickets, put your vacation money toward making this dream come true instead.
Here are some ideas to consider, either by themselves or in combination:
- A new playscape for the kids
- Hot tub or swim spa
- Design and build a firepit with Adirondack chairs
- Install a Bocce ball court in your yard
- Portable outdoor movie night screen
Your budget is the limit, so let your imagination run free! Once you’ve decided on your big ticket item, get it set up and plan your week around all the fun you are going to have together as a family.
12 Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get To Work on a New Project
This one is along the same line as the last idea, only it involves your family working together to build something new. Of course, you could hire someone to do the work and then sit back and enjoy your new “thing.” However, spending your week working side by side on a project can create some fabulous memories.
How about some of these ideas
- Build a garden shed or a she shed.
- Update your patio with a new DIY-covered pergola.
- Take the playscape idea a step further and turn your entire backyard into an amazing fun zone for the kids.
- Turn a spare room or garage into a totally hip, in-home theater.
Hopefully, this list gives you some ideas for how you can have a crowd-free vacation. Whether you stay home or travel many miles from your home, it can be done!
Karee Blunt is a nationally syndicated travel journalist, focused on discovering destinations and experiences that captivate and inspire others through her writing. She is also the founder of Our Woven Journey, a travel site focused on inspiring others to create memory-making adventures with their loved ones. Karee is passionate about encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and live the life they dream of. She is the mother of six kids, including four through adoption, and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Karee on her about me page.