We all need a break from the daily grind of waking up, getting kids ready for daycare or school, and heading into the office for another long day. Traveling can get really expensive, especially when you have kids in the mix.
Taking a break can be done without expensive plane tickets. You won't have to dip into savings to hop in a car and head to one of these cities near you if you live in the western part of the U.S.
Take a chance to explore, and be prepared to be delightfully surprised by what you find.
Las Vegas, Nevada
You probably think of the casinos, shows, food, and parties when you think of Vegas. There's a whole lot more to the city than just the Strip. Just travel a few miles away, and you'll find plenty of nature and family-friendly activities.
The downtown area is going through a reinvention, with a growing galley scene and hipster bars galore. There's even a recreation park that has been built out of storage containers.
For the kids, you have the Ethel M Chocolate Factory where you can watch chocolate get made, and, of course, you can take some home with you. Another great spot for the kids is the Springs Preserve. There are 180 acres of galleries, museums, botanical garden space, and nature trails to explore.
If you're into hiking, there are plenty of great places to hike and enjoy nature. Red Rock Canyon has 26 numbered trails that have different levels of difficulty. You can also take a scenic drive or ride a mountain bike if that's your style.
Make a drive about an hour from the city, and you'll find Valley of Fire State Park. There's even more hiking there, as well as memorable stargazing opportunities. Hoover Dam and Lake Mead are also not too far away.
This city has it all – robust coffee, craft beers, and food for days. Portland is close to plenty of national parks, rivers, and lakes for the outdoor enthusiast.
Starting with the food scene, you have the Mississippi Marketplace that offers up to nine food carts to sample. It's open every day, though you will want to check out their website to review their schedule as cart owners will set their hours.
The marketplace is located in North Portland, which is nicknamed NoPo. The neighborhood is culturally diverse, with a ton of locally owned eateries, shops, and art spaces to discover.
Feel free to grab a bike to get around because Portland is one of the few cities in the US that are bike friendly. There are plenty of cycling tours and bike events happening all the time. Ride a bike over to the downtown farmers market to get your fix of organic fruits while you listen to folk music.
There's greenspace to enjoy even in the city, such as Portland Japanese Garden in Washington Park. Stones, shrubs, trees, and water make up the living artwork of the garden. You will find colorful koi under the Moon Bridge, paths that are bordered by smooth stones, and waterfalls.
This city can feel almost like being in Portland or Seattle in certain areas. Boise is very bike friendly around the city center. There's the Boise Greenbelt, which has a paved pedestrian and bike path that goes all the way through town starting at Lucky Peak Reservoir East. That's almost 25 miles that can be trekked on foot or a set of wheels.
The city's biggest attractions are located in the downtown area. Boise has one of the largest concentrations of Basque population, so it's no surprise that there's a Basque Museum and Cultural Center. Other notable museums include the Boise Art Museum, Idaho Black History Museum, and Idaho State Historical Museum.
Sports are huge in this city, so if you have a chance, check out their minor league baseball team, the Boise Hawks, or the Boise State Broncos football team. There's also the Firebird Raceway that has a full season of racing and the Idaho Ice World if you are looking for lessons in skating or hockey.
The kids will enjoy the Roaring Springs Waterpark, which has a ton of rides that open in May. Go-karts, bowling, mini-golf, and laser tag fun can be had at Wahooz.
If you're looking for adult-themed fun, Boise offers up a well-rounded nightlife that will take you by surprise. Head to Bittercreek Alehouse for a taste of the local beers, Bardenay Restaurant and Distillery if craft cocktails are more your style, or Neurolux for a stiff drink with great jukebox music.
Finding yourself in the city of Scottsdale that's located in the Sonoran Desert will end up being the perfect getaway. The "West's most Western town" will make a cowboy out of you when you visit the Arizona Cowboy College. You can learn coping, sorting, and other "cowboy stuff" through private sessions or choose a stay option.
Pinnacle Peak Park offers a 3.5 mile trail that will bring you in close proximity to desert dwellers like desert tortoises. Rock climbing routes are also available throughout the park if you prefer a vertical experience.
A Float Balloon Tour will allow you to enjoy the Sonoran Desert from up above. They also offer packages to a gourmet picnic brunch or candlelit meal where you land.
If you want to get into more of an urban space, there are also options for you. Famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home located here. The house was constructed mostly from volcanic rock in the area, which helps it blend into the desert landscape. There's also the Desert Botanical Garden that has more than 50,000 plants in the 140 acres it sits on in Papago Park.
Pack Up the Car
Taking a road trip can be just as adventurous and fun for the whole family as a trip to another part of the U.S. or even outside of the country. Your travel purchases don't have to bust your budget.
Each of these cities offers up a mix of fun for the entire family at an affordable price. If you live in the western part of the country, one of these cities isn't that far from you. Take a chance to explore, and be prepared to be delightfully surprised by what you find.