How to Plan the Ultimate Summer Trip (on a Busy Family’s Budget)

Travel tips to help the busiest family plan outdoor adventures in #AlmostHeaven.

The kids are out of school and you’ve banked up just enough vacation time for this exact moment. It’s time for the ultimate summer trip! But planning a summer trip can be intimidating, especially when you have a busy family schedule to keep up with. If you want to plan a summer trip the whole family will enjoy but aren’t sure you can make one happen, don’t worry. We’re here to help!

Summer Trips Shouldn’t Break Your Budget

For busy families that have people to see and places to go, the vacation planning process can feel like a time vacuum that sucks all of the fun out of your summer trip. No wonder folks opt to visit expensive theme parks, adventure resorts and all-inclusive destinations. If you don’t have the time to plan a trip with multiple stops or schedule activities for each day, then a summer trip to a West Virginia state park or forest is exactly what you need. Each state park and forest has activities to enjoy and most have on-site lodging, dining and other amenities or are close enough to a town or city with options.

Ready to start planning the ultimate summer trip? All you need to do is:

1. Make A Bucket List

Write down everything you would want to do on a summer trip. Don’t be afraid to think big. Just get your ideas out of your head and see if there’s a connection between your interests. Once you have an idea of what you want to do, it’s time to pick a park.

Pro Tip: Use our list of activities to see what each park and forest has to offer.

2. Pick A Park

Depending on what you included on your list, picking a park may be the easiest step. If you aren’t sure what state park or combination of parks has everything you want to do, read our blog for trip inspiration and search through the list of activities and events to see what each park has to offer. Now that you have an idea of where you want to go, it’s time to set a budget.

Pro Tip: Check out our list of places to stay and find a park or forest with overnight accommodations.

3. Set A Budget

Once you know what you want to do and where you want to go, you can use our online reservation system to check prices on activities and accommodations. From there, you can get an idea of how much your summer trip will cost.

Pro Tip: Check out our deals page to see what kind of discounts are available on lodging and activities.

Parks and Activities for the Perfect Summer Trip

If you still aren’t sure where to go for a summer trip or would rather us provide some suggestions, we’ve got you covered! Here are three summer trip ideas to help you plan your adventure.

ATV Trails Excursion

With more than 1,000 miles of wheel-spinning, mud-slinging, off-road exhilaration, the Hatfield McCoy Trails in southern West Virginia might be the most exciting activities for a family summer trip. One of our favorite ways to enjoy this iconic attraction is by riding the trails near Cabwaylingo State Forest, Chief Logan and Twin Falls Resort.

Chief Logan is less than an hour from six of the 10 trails in the Hatfield McCoy Trails system. So, if you want to spin your wheels on more than one trail, Chief Logan is the perfect home base. At minimum, you’ll want to ride the nearby Bearwallow Trail. When it comes to overnight stays, Chief Logan has 75 lodge rooms, three cabins and 26 campsites.

Cabwaylingo is home to its own 80-mile ATV trail, which is the newest trail in the Hatfield McCoy Trails system. This trail includes easy and difficult routes and two miles of dirt bike-only single track trails. It also adds 10 miles of equestrian-only trails and more than 10 miles of new hiking-only trails to Cabwaylingo’s existing trails. The forest has 14 cabins and two campgrounds with a total of 19 sites.

If you’ve ridden the trails around Cabwaylingo or Chief Logan and still want more, we recommend traveling further south to Twin Falls Resort, which is about 15 miles from the Hatfield McCoy Trails’ Pinnacle Creek Trailhead. Twin Falls Resort has 47 lodge rooms, 14 cabins and 50 campsites.

Hatfield-McCoy Trails permit holders can save 15 percent on cabin stays at Cabwaylingo and on cabins and lodge rooms at Chief Logan and Twin Falls Resort. Book online and use the offer code HMTRAILS at checkout. Offer can not be combined with any other discounts. Permit must be shown at check-in.

Family Fun Adventure

Get your family’s adrenaline pumping and take to the skies at the Pipestem Peaks Zipline at Pipestem Resort and experience the thrill of soaring over the Bluestone River Gorge. The zipline, which features nine zips, one cable bridge, one belay and panoramic views, is a great option for families with older kids. All guests must be 10 or older.

For families with younger kids, Pipestem Resort’s Adventure Lake and Splash Park are great options on a hot summer day. The lake has giant inflatable mountains, slides and trampolines while the splash park has plenty of water features that will keep your kids entertained for hours. Pipestem Resort also has an Adventure Zone with fun activities, such as ax-throwing, 3D archery, miniature golf, disc golf, remote-controlled cars and trucks, drone flying, laser tag, skeet shooting and motor assisted mountain bikes. To get the best deal, purchase all-day passes.

With all these activities and more, as well as dining options, there’s no need to leave Pipestem Resort during your trip. But if you want to venture out and explore other parks in the area, Pipestem is close to incredible boating and fishing adventures at Bluestone and smaller waterfalls at nearby Camp Creek.

Spend the night at Pipestem Resort, which has two lodges with 141 rooms, 26 cabins and 82 campsites.

Lakeside Retreat

Beach trips are great when it’s hot outside and all you want to do is cool off and relax. But you don’t need to travel hundreds of miles to the ocean to soak some sun when Tygart Lake has an Adventure Lake. There are 10 miles of gorgeous shoreline where you can kick back and relax or go fishing.

The adventure lake has 25 giant inflatables where kids can splish and splash like they’re at a water park. The lake also has a sandy beach area where you can soak up some sun, read a book off your summer list or just close your eyes and enjoy the peace. To get the best deal, purchase an all day pass.

Tygart Lake also has plenty of water sports to enjoy, such as boating, water skiing, scuba diving, swimming, kayaking, canoeing and fishing. Take your boat out on the water or rent one at the Tygart Lake Marina. If you need a break from water adventures, there are hiking trails and nearby state parks to explore, such as Audra and Valley Falls. When it comes time to eat, Tygart Lake has a newly renovated restaurant or you can travel into town and eat in Clarksburg or Grafton. 

Spend the night at Tygart Lake, which has 20 lodge rooms, 11 cabins and 36 campsites.

Book Your Summer Trip Today

Summer adventures book up fast, so now is the time to plan your trip. The best thing about these summer trip ideas is that you can enjoy them on almost any budget and as part of a day trip, weekend getaway or full-length summer vacation.

Book your trip today while there’s still time!

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