The kids are out for the summer, and God help me, I’ve got to keep them busy these next couple of months. We are on a budget this summer with vacations and activities. What can we do for short weekend vacations around Fort Bragg that don’t cost too much money?

— Budgeting Vacation Mom

Dear Budgeting Vacation,

Lucky for you, there’s a lot to do around Fort Bragg that could be considered a vacation or “stay”cation. First, starting really close to home, you have Smith Lake Recreation Area. Since the tornado that damaged the area last April, they’ve had a facelift and have added some pretty cool attractions — especially the new wakeboarding and waterskiing cable line they have, Ski Rixen. Not to mention the sandy beach, playgrounds, camping areas, cabins, bike and walk trails, and the Movie on the Beach events that are summer long. Check out, for more information. Oh! And while you’re at the MWR site, checkout the recreation tab flyers … Fort Bragg offers a ton of summer activities.

Then you have, everything and more with the Botanical Gardens, Children’s Museum, miniature golf, Clark Park Nature Center, the Airborne and Special Operations Museum, wall climbing, movie theaters, petting zoos and more located in Fayetteville or near by. For more information, check out

Not to mention, the beach is about two hours away. There’s camping, hotels and attractions near by and be sure to ask for a military discount. What’s the harm in asking for a military discount? The worse they can say is no. So it’s worth trying. You also have North Carolina’s capital about an hour and half away, where there’s a TON of FREE things for the kids — the Natural Science Museum, for instance. Don’t forget about the Asheboro Zoo, that offers a military discount.  Just Google, “things to do in Raleigh, N.C.” or “things to do in Wilmington, N.C.” You’ll find a plethora of activities and events. If you’ve got a couple extra dollars in your pocket, don’t forget Busch Gardens in Virginia, Sea World in Orlando, Fla., and Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pa., which offer free tickets to military servicemembers and their Families. For more information, check out )