Whether it brings you joy or sadness, the inevitable end of summer is just around the corner. Did you squeeze in that much-needed vacation? At this time of year, time off work and travel budgets are scarce. But if you haven’t made it to all the places on your vacation wish list, don’t worry. We’ve gathered a list of last minute “summer saver substitutes” that can help!
While these spots aren’t exactly Colorado or the Caribbean, they’re fun, convenient, and very often – FREE. Of course we all love a great vacation, but at the end of the day, isn’t it really about sharing new experiences with the ones you love?
Make the most of the final weeks of summer and check out these budget-friendly summer “substitutes” in and around Frisco!
If you didn’t make it to the beach…
There’s still time for plenty of fun in the sun! Grab your suits and buckets, because sandy beaches and splashes are closer than you think! Try these fun and affordable substitutes.
The Beach at Little Elm Park
For an even quicker and close-to-home experience, visit our neighboring Little Elm beach. Located along the western shoreline of Little Elm Park, this lakeside beach offers swimmers a safe, enclosed sand beach that doesn’t allow boat traffic. Best of all it’s FREE, except for a $10 daily parking fee. Sand, swimming, beach volleyball, a playground, and grills provides everything you need for a family day of fun. After all of the sand and sun, drive across the street to Hula Hut and relax on the patio with tasty bites and cool drinks!
Located in Ft. Worth, Burger’s Lake makes for a great “beach substitute” day trip! The 30 acre park features a one acre, spring-fed lake and two sandy beaches, perfect for sand castles and sunning. The facility also includes six diving boards, a 20 foot water slide, a 25 foot trapeze, inner tubes for rent, and sand volleyball. There’s plenty of cool shade and over 300 picnic tables.
The spring-fed lake is clean and safe for swimming. In fact, it’s completely chlorinated and chemically maintained by a state of the art purification system. Even better, a staff of certified lifeguards are on duty at all times! You can bring your own picnic or try out the tasty concessions. Admission is $15 per person and $5 for children 6 years and under.
If you didn’t get to hike in the mountains…
Don’t put your hiking boots away just yet! While it may be a little (ok, a lot) hotter than Colorado, we have wonderful family hiking areas just minutes from Frisco. Go early in the morning to beat the heat! Try these fun and affordable substitutes.
Arbor Hills Nature Preserve
Located just 20 minutes down the Tollway in West Plano, this gorgeous park is a true gem! The 200 acre preserve is a wonderful pocket of nature in the middle of our busy metroplex with miles of paved and unpaved hiking trails. The paved loop is stroller-friendly and scenic, ideal for young children. The unpaved hiking trails offer even more adventure and will be a huge hit with older kids.
Our family loves to bring boots and explore the shallow creek that winds throughout the park (easily accessible from several spots on the paved trail). Create your own nature scavenger hunt to make the hike more engaging and enjoy a morning of adventure with your family! There’s also a great covered playground and shaded picnic pavilions on-site. Bonus: parking is free.
Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary
There is so much to love about the outstanding Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary. The natural beauty, the pioneer village, the learning exhibits and, of course, the beloved animatronic dinosaurs (re-opening September 1st). The Sanctuary offers six scenic hiking trails, ranging in difficulty and distance. The Laughlin Loop is the easiest, a fun .5 mile walk perfect for tiny trekkers.
More adventurous hikers will enjoy the primitive Cedar Brake Trail, which winds deep into the preserve. Our family’s favorite is the Hoot Owl Trail, which has moderate climbs and great views, giving little hikers a real sense of adventure. Combining natural beauty with educational resources, Heard is a win for the whole family. Be sure to check out all of the special events, including story times, date nights, and even trick-or-treating.
If you didn’t stay at a fancy waterpark resort…
The metroplex boasts great “staycation” water parks, like Great Wolf Lodge and the Gaylord Texan. But if these resorts didn’t fit your budget this summer, check out these terrific alternatives right in our backyard! With reasonable day rates and tons of thrills, these parks are the perfect end of summer destinations for your family. Try these fun and affordable substitutes.
Frisco Water Park
I cannot tell you how much our family loves this amazing community resource! At only $12 admission for adults and $10 for youth, our Frisco Water Park is the best deal around. Your family will love the lazy river, spray features, pool, and “gully washer” water tower (get ready to get soaked when the whistle blows!).
With indoor and outdoor play areas and a huge range of slides, Frisco Water Park is awesome for kids of all ages. Concessions are available, along with more fun than you can handle!
Tom Muehlenbeck Center
A feature of Plano Parks and Recreation, the Tom Muehlenbeck Center is another fun place to splash, and just a few miles away in West Plano. This swim spot is especially enjoyable for toddlers and young children, and not quite as overwhelming in size as compared to the larger water parks. It has a great outdoor splash pad, an indoor lazy river, and several toddler friendly slides. The water park also features a few bigger water slides for older kids and a large pool with basketball. Admission is only $6 per day making it a fun and affordable summer day out. Tip: It’s packed on weekends so try for a weekday visit.
If you didn’t make it to a big amusement park…
Nothing competes with the magic of Disney World or the thrill of the Texas Giant at Six Flags but an amusement park experience doesn’t have to break the bank. If you appreciate a little kitschy fun, try this super budget-friendly alternative close to home.
Sandy Lake Amusement Park
With an admission of only $2 (plus tickets for rides), Sandy Lake is a win for families! The Park features more than 20 carnival-style rides, like the Space Shuttle, the Scrambler, and the Zumer. There’s a special section for “kiddie rides” making Sandy Lake ideal for first-timers. Also available are family-friendly favorites like pony rides, bumper cars, paddle boats, mini golf, and train rides. If you need to cool off after all the fun, the park also features a large swimming pool ($5 admission). Sandy Lake is open through mid-September so you have extra time to get your fill of all the nostalgic, summer fun!
If you didn’t make it to New York City…
Enjoy an urban “daycation” right here in Dallas! Try these fun and cultural experiences a slight bit south of Frisco! You can take the Dart Rail directly to many of them.
Splurge and treat your family to a Broadway show at Dallas Summer Musicals! Tickets are still available for the family-friendly School of Rock coming to Fair Park Music Hall in mid-August. Before or after the show, try a fun new restaurant in uptown or downtown Dallas! Stop in at the FREE Dallas Museum of Art for a cultural experience! Don’t forget to do a little (or a lot!) of back-to-school early fall shopping. I love Northpark Center because it has great shops at all price points, plus delicious and kid-friendly dining. La Duni and Breadwinners have wonderful food, lovely patios, and a huge courtyard where kids can run free!
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