By Jim Shanklin, guest blogger
Summer through fall, America's festivals offer attractive, low-cost, weekend-long activities for groups. Here are ideas for planning summer vacations or road trips with family, friends, relatives, college classmates, and more.
Choose a festival that fits your group's interests.
America has some 50,000 festivals a year. With a little research, you'll find one in a town you want to visit, along the route you want to travel, or at the core of your personal passion. Most community festivals are free; music festivals range from free to expensive and many offer weekend camping as a part of the ticket.
Find a festival close to home.
Your own state or region can surprise you—festivals you've never heard of that are fun and often seasonal or theme-based, and within a day's drive or less. Check out your state's (or a neighboring state's) tourism bureau Web site to find a wide range of diverse local festivals).
Plan the festival weekend.
- Before you go: Throw a few items into a backpack or shoulder bag like sun block, water, sun glasses and hat; it's summer and hot. A festival day can run longer than you might think, and sometimes water is farther away than it looks. A simple first-aid kit (Band-Aids, antibacterial cream, etc.) is a smart to pack, too.
- Upon festival arrival: Set up a meeting place for the end of day. The group can wander all day through the festival, then gather at a gate, a stage or other central location at the end of the day. This makes things simpler for the "designated adult" in the group.
- While there: Look for venues to take a break. Festivals have a laid-back "attitude" and a kid-friendly venue within the festival or a beer garden can offer a place to sit, catch your breath and get ready for the next part of the busy weekend. For some people, taking breaks from group activities is a necessary way to recharge and re-group.
Jim Shanklin is founder of Festivals.com, the largest online resource for finding festivals all over the world, and EVP of Festival Media Corporation.