Family vacations are a staple of quality time and bonding, but, unfortunately, they can be very expensive and difficult to incorporate into the budget.
Luckily, several destinations are both fun and affordable and make for a great getaway with the whole family. Check out this list of affordable vacation ideas for a quality experience and the most bang for your buck.
1. Explore a National Park
Exploring the great outdoors makes for an unforgettable family vacation. National parks offer the opportunity to hike, bike, raft, and observe wildlife.
Most national parks like Yellowstone National Park offer campsites that make for an affordable and unforgettable stay. At Yellowstone, you can also explore thermal basins, ride horses throughout the park, and boat or fish.
Another popular park to visit is Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, which offers activities and experiences for the whole family. Amid breathtaking views, you can enjoy hiking trails, rafting on the river, and guided tours of the canyon. This location also offers various campsites for affordable and unique accommodations.
Also, high up on the list is Yosemite National Park in California, which offers dozens of activities for exploring the great outdoors.
The whole family can enjoy activities such as birdwatching, stargazing, hiking, rock climbing, and various water activities. Camping is also very popular at Yosemite, offering affordable accommodations surrounded by nature.
2. Visit a Historic City
If you have a family full of history buffs or want to add some education to your vacation, there are plenty of affordable historic spots throughout the country.
These cities boast various attractions and activities that are both educational and fun for the entire family. One of these is located in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
This little town in eastern PA was the site of a major battle in the civil war. In Gettysburg, you can visit the Gettysburg National Military Park and tour the battlefield for free. Downtown Gettysburg also features several historic houses that are available to tour, most being less than $15 per person for a guided experience.
Another historic city that is worth the visit is Williamsburg, Virginia. Historic Williamsburg features a colonial-era history that will interest the whole family.
The colonial buildings have been restored. The staff is dressed in period attire to add to the experience. You can explore:
- Colonial downtown
- Jamestown settlement
- Historic governor’s house
For a fun-filled bonus, you can also visit Busch Gardens, a Europe-themed amusement park featuring roller coasters and live animals. The park also features a “Kid’s Play Free” package which can help you save money on park admission and accommodations.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania also offers a great historic destination for the family.
Named “The Birthplace of the United States”, this old city offers various historical attractions and activities. You can visit the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall to learn about the events that contributed to the start of our country.
Both are free to visit and offer various educational opportunities. There are also several other free and discounted activities to do in the city, and many museums offer passes for children or “pay what you can” prices. Family Vacationist has a ton of helpful tips!
In terms of accommodations, various hotels in Philadelphia have offerings for $100 or less per night, making for an affordable and memorable trip for the whole family.
3. Take a Trip to the Mountains
For another great opportunity to explore the great outdoors with the family, destinations in the mountains offer the perfect scenic getaway. Asheville, North Carolina offers a scenic view of the blue ridge mountains, along with many activities to do in town.
The mountains can also be viewed from Virginia and accessed via the scenic Blue Ridge parkway. Outdoor activities include hiking and biking trails, tubing and rafting, and aerial adventure courses. This scenic mountain range also boasts affordable camping and cabins for comfortable accommodations.
Another great destination in the mountains can be found in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Voted the best mountain town in the country, Gatlinburg features a stunning view of the Great Smoky Mountains. Here, you can experience wildlife and nature, scenic drives, picnics in the mountains, and waterfalls.
The town of Gatlinburg also offers attractions, shopping, and restaurants for the whole family including arcades, museums, aquariums, and adventures for the whole family. Another mountain town worth your visit is Estes Park in Colorado.
Rocky Mountain National Park offers great wilderness views, wildlife, and camping sites that are affordable and comfortable to complement your time in the mountains.
4. Head to the Beach
If you are looking for a restful and relaxing family vacation by the water, several beaches offer affordable vacations for the family that all will enjoy.
One of these is Daytona Beach, Florida. This beach is located two hours north of Orlando and offers scenic sandy beaches accompanied by a boardwalk, mini-golf, and amusement parks. Most hotels in the area offer rates of less than $100 per night, making it an affordable getaway.
Another popular beach destination is Ocean City, Maryland. A classic beach town, Ocean City boasts an outstanding view of the ocean alongside old-time arcades, amusement rides, and food stands. Nearby Northside Park has free admission for outdoor activities for the whole family. Since beach side accommodations can be pricey, West Ocean City boasts affordable overnight rates.
One last beach option that is both popular and affordable is Virginia Beach. This location is popular for its seafood scene, amusement parks, and smooth waves.
Virginia Beach is also known for its affordable accommodations in nearby hotels. Another option is First Landing State Park, which features affordable camping and cabins nearby the beach.
5. Check Out a Family-Friendly Resort
Another option for a fun-filled family vacation is a budget-friendly resort. Resorts offer great amenities and activities that set them apart from other destinations. One of these resorts is Dunes Village Resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Only 10 minutes from the beach, this resort boasts an indoor water park, activities for kids, and large rooms that can hold up to 16 people comfortably. The resort maintains affordable prices, with many rooms costing only $100 or less.
Another great option is the Great Wolf Lodge, which offers various locations throughout the country. The Great Wolf Lodge is unique because admission to the resort includes admission to the water park housed inside the resort. Guests can also enjoy activities such as mini-golf, arcades, and multiple dining options.
This is an affordable option thanks to the various lodging suites, some of which include bunk beds or multiple bedrooms. The Great Wolf Lodge also features many package deals throughout the year to save money on your stay.
One more affordable resort to keep on your radar is the Park Vue Inn located in Anaheim, California. Only a short walk from Disneyland California, this resort features affordable rooms with bunk beds for kids, complimentary parking, and breakfast. The biggest benefit of this resort, however, is that you can buy discounted Disneyland tickets at the resort itself as a guest.