Every summer, families struggle to find attractive vacation spots on a shoestring budget.
Let’s be honest, when you are a family with children of any age, an affordable vacation is a necessity. Yet, unfortunately, financial constraints often get in the way of having new experiences outside of your city or state. Sometimes they’re also the deciding factor between a good and a great vacation.
It’s for this reason we’ve created this list of 10 of the best summer family vacations on a budget.
These are destinations that every member of your family will love; Young kids, older kids, and parents alike.
What do you think is the best family vacation spot of all time? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Water World - Denver, CO - Water Park
If you and the fam are looking for a vacation spot to cool off from the summer heat, look no further than Water World in Denver, Colorado.
It is in fact one of the largest water parks in America and boasts over 49 attractions on over 67 acres.
Because there are so many types of rides, from river rafting to water slides, you and your family will have an endless amount of ways to have fun staying cool.
Your kids will love this family-friendly park!
Depending on whether or not you buy your ticket in advance, pricing can vary from $19.99 to $41.99, depending on the age groups of your family members.
If you need any more ideas for water parks, check out this list by US News: 30 Best Water Parks in the US.
2. Cedar Point - Sandusky, OH - Theme Park
While the price is a bit higher compared to Water World, Cedar Point offers a fun getaway experience for you and your family that can’t be beat.
It’s one of the oldest theme parks in America, and has a record-holding 72 rides; 17 of which are roller-coasters.
Check out Travel Channels Top 10 Amusement Parks for more information on the best theme parks across America for your next vacation.
3. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines
While this is definitely one of the priciest options on the list, if you are looking to go on a real vacation but want to save money while doing so, Royal Caribbean may be just the summer vacay for you and the fam.
The most important thing to remember, however, is that they charge on a per person basis. This means that any adult, child and or infant who will be sharing a cabin accrues the same charge.
Families looking to save money on their cruise should visit Cruise.com.
4. Camelback Mountain Adventures - Camelback Mountain , PA - Zip Lining
Image Source: Family Traveller
If you’re looking for an outdoors adventure vacation, Camelback Mountain’s got you covered.
While ziplining has been popularly associated with exotic locations outside of the US, there are actually many nature resorts that offer this experience right here in the US of A.
Outside of travel and lodging to PA (Which they also provide), the cost for their “adventure activities” ranges from $10 to $50. These activities can be added to your package as add-ons.
5. Southern Cross Guest Ranch - Madison, GA - Horseback Riding
If you’re tired of the hustle and bustle of amusement parks and similarly busy attractions, visit the rural country and learn how to horseback ride!
Imagine all of the road trip memories you will create.
They offer packages which range from 1-2 hours. But an even better deal is a private trail guide for you and your group (family) for about $75 per person.
There are several other ranches throughout the US which offer horseback riding year round or during peak season. Learn more about them here.
6. Colonial Williamsburg - Williamsburg, VA - Historical
If your kids are fascinated with history, or if you would like to instill in them a love of the past, a trip to Colonial Williamsburg for vacation will be an educational experience for the whole family.
Located in Virginia, this 302-acre living-history museum boasts year-round historical re-enactments, carriage rides, historic tavern dining, as well as guided tours and talks, such as Anderson Blacksmith Shop and Public Armory, Cabinetmaker, Carpenter’s Yard, Colonial Garden, Courthouse, Govenor’s Palace, Market Square, and more.
7. Litchfield Beach & Seneca - South Carolina - Secluded Resorts
Image Source: Flipkey
While many attractions in the US draw large crowds from all over, Litchfield Beach and Seneca in South Carolina offer a chill home away from home vibe vacation that will have you thinking you’re on your own private resort.
If you’re a log cabin the woods sort of family, Seneca may be more your speed, while Litchfield is fun-in-the sun for a family that likes to sunbathe and make sandcastles.
Image Source: Flipkey
From city to country, there are several other places worth visiting for vacation in South Carolina. Learn more about them here.
8. Washington DC - Historical Cities
Image Source: Washington.org
One vacation that will allow your family to explore the old and the new in a way that is enjoyable for everyone is a trip to Washington DC.
As our nation’s capital, this city offers a bevy of things to do in the summer, especially free things. If you have some time, experience culturally-rich festivities like Adams Morgan Day on 18th or the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
Learn more about the things you can do in Adams Morgan.
9. Busch Gardens - Tampa Bay, FL or Williamsburg, VA - Theme Park
With parks located in Williamsburg, VA. and Tampa Bay, FL, Busch Gardens is an amusement park that has both animal and theme attractions.
The park houses a zoo, which is one of the largest in Tampa Bay. It also includes several thrill rides, such as the Cheetah Hunt, Falcon’s Fury, Kumba, 2020 Hybrid Coaster, and Cobra’s Course.
Interested in learning more about Busch Garden’s summer attractions, visit their Summer Nights page.
10. Grand Canyon - Arizona - National Park
Image Source: Travel Mamas
Of course no family bucket list is complete without a trip to the Grand Canyon.
Located in Arizona, the Grand Canyon stretches for about 277 miles long and includes all sorts of natural features, including arid desert-like areas, areas of vegetation, etc.
And while you might think it’s hard, if not impossible to bring your kids on a trip to the Grand Canyon, Travel Mamas thinks otherwise.
However, they do give quite a few thoughtful tips about things to keep in mind when travelling with your kids; which is great for any first time hiking and camping families.
Here are a few more national parks in the U.S. that are great to consider as alternatives.
11. Disneyland - Orlando, FL - Theme Park
There’s a reason they call it the happiest place on earth.
DisneyLand is an all-inclusive theme park with pool resort, a zoo and many other types of attractions which are sure to thrill both parents and kids alike.
It’s situated over 100 acres and includes themed “lands”, such as Tomorrowland, Frontierland, Mickey’s Toontown, Galaxy’s Edge (Star War-themed), Adventureland, New Orleans Square, Critter County, Fantasyland, and Main Street U.S.A.
If you’re into pre-planning and don’t believe in ruining the surprise, you can check out Every Single Ride at Walt Disney World, Ranked or Top 10 Walt Disney World Rides to narrow down your list of where you’d like to go during your vacation (With or without the kids).
12. Dunes Village Resort - Myrtle Beach, SC - Resort Beach
Image Source: Family Vacation Critic
Lastly, if you’re looking for the resort life on a family budget, The Dunes Village Resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina has arguably one of the best deals around.
This 3-star hotel has a 4.3 star rating on Google, which includes over 3,324 reviews.
As an added bonus, they are located minutes away from Myrtle Beach.
Make no mistake about it: The best family vacation spots aren’t necessarily about the locations but the memories you make.
That being said, a good destination is always the first step.
We chose this list of 10 of the best, kid-friendly destinations mostly with price as a factor.
We understand that it isn’t easy to manage budgeting for your household necessities in a way that enables you to glory spend whenever you want.
But we also tried to include a mix of different types of attractions, from the home comfort feel of horseback riding to the frenzied rush of a water park.
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