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What’s that? You say it’s AUGUST already? But … this is the month kids go back to school. We were supposed to take a vacation! How is it AUGUST so soon?

Is this how you’re feeling right about now? Although it may be too late to plan an elaborate, two-week trip to Disney World right now, there are plenty of other options for a quick, last-minute getaway you can do with your family.

Try one of these mini vacations to chase away the back-to-school blues and cram in a few last days of fun before the big yellow bus pulls up at your door.

Weekend Getaways

  • Camping: No matter where you live, chances are, there are campgrounds within a two or three hour radius. Pack up your tent, bikes and hiking gear (don’t forget the s’mores!) and hit the road. Teach your kids to appreciate nature AND the comforts of home. Not sure about local campgrounds? Visit for information.
  • Water parks: Kids of all ages perk up when they hear there’s a trip to the water park in the future. Plan an overnight stay at a cheap hotel and a day or two of water-filled fun.
  • Amusement parks: Haven’t found the time to visit your local Six Flags yet this summer? Now’s the time. If you can, plan a week day visit for less crowds and stay close to the park for easy access.
  • Your own state: I am guilty of ignoring many state forests, parks, lakes and other attractions in my own state while I fly off to Florida to vacation. Pull out your map and find a city within a few hours of your own and go visit. You’d be surprised what you’ll find in your own backyard.
  • Pre-season football game/late-season baseball game: Have an NFL team nearby? Take a trip to a pre-season game—tickets are much cheaper and accessible and seeing a live game will be a great story for your kids to take back to school. Not a football fan? Head to the ball park for some baseball and hotdogs. It’s the quintessential summer activity that’s easy to forget about.

Day Trips

  • Zoo: If you want to get your kids in the learning mode again, make this trip educational by quizzing them on a few basic animal facts as you tour the zoo. Do a little research beforehand and make up some index cards with questions about some of the animals.
  • County or state fair: As Clark Griswold would say, let’s have some good old-fashioned family fun. Go to the fair! Take a day to eat corndogs, play skee ball and ride the Ferris wheel with your kids.
  • Forest preserve/state park: Pack up some lunches and go for a hike! Think your kids are going to say, “BORING!” to this idea? Try bringing your camera and encouraging them to take some artistic shots along the hike.
  • Picnic in the park: For those with small children, a simple picnic in the park and afternoon of swinging and sliding is a big treat. Invite some other parents and kids and make a party out of it.