Traveling always requires a budget, and that’s even more true when it comes to traveling with your family. However, with a little bit of planning, you can have a quality family vacation without breaking the bank. From national parks to historic towns to big cities, there are cheap, enjoyable vacations to be had everywhere, if you know where to look.
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Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
National parks are a popular go-to destination for family vacations because they have a lot to offer with a relatively cheap admission fee. A seven-day pass to Yellowstone costs $35, with affordable options for camping and nearby hotels (outside of the summer tourist season, that is). But the real appeal of Yellowstone are its geothermal wonders, including the Grand Prismatic Spring and Mammoth Hot Springs, which have been known to captivate visitors of all ages for years.
It turns out that the nation’s capital has no shortage of history or free things to do. Along with its abundance of monuments to America’s founders, there are world-class museums and outdoor attractions everywhere. When you’re done taking public tours of government buildings, you can venture out into the city, which has plenty of unique neighborhoods to explore, with no shortage of affordable, eclectic cuisine to choose from.
San Antonio, Texas
A big city boasting all the usual amenities but without the massive price tag, San Antonio is absolutely filled with zoos, water parks, ranches, botanical gardens, and all sorts of places geared toward family-friendly activities. Other activities include taking a stroll along the historic riverwalk, which just so happens to lead right to the Alamo right in the center of downtown.
Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Orlando, Florida
While they’re definitely kid-friendly, Disney parks aren’t exactly synonymous with being affordable. However, the Pop Century Resort in Orlando is aimed specifically with families on budgets in mind. Right next to the Epcot Center, it’s the largest of the five Disney Value Resorts. It also boasts three pools, a playground, a large food court, along with souvenir mugs that come with unlimited refills. There’s also free bus transportation to the rest of the Disney World Parks for those looking to splurge a bit.
Bearing the same name as the famous chocolate bar, Hersey is a town that’s dedicated itself to celebrating its most famous creation. There’s the 115-year-old amusement park Hersheypark, Hershey Gardens, The Hershey Story, ZooAmerica, and the town’s largest candy story, Hershey’s Chocolate World, complete with free chocolate tours. There’s even the Hershey Lodge, a hotel that emphasizes guests with kids, and even gives them their own pint-sized check-in desk and guest book to help them feel even more at home.
The city known as the Live Entertainment Capital of the World certainly earned it’s reputation, and that includes plenty of affordable, family oriented entertainment. While the entertainment district, known affectionately as ‘The Strip,’ has plenty to offer, you can venture a little further out to see the World’s Largest Toy Museum, Aquarium at the Boardwalk, a Ferris Wheel and multiple high-rise Mario Kart-style go-kart tracks.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Like Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon’s status as a national park means its light on cost and heavy on the scenic beauty. Of course, it comes with the same caveat that it’s best to avoid the summer months if you want to take advantage of the savings — particularly when it comes to the added costs of camping on-site or nearby lodging. Just to help get things started, the south entrance is the most accessible, which houses the main visitor’s center and is a short hike away from the Mather Point Overlook.
The mile-high city is known for its scenic views and proximity to the slopes, but it also has plenty to offer the average family on vacation. The City Park area has swimming, parks and plenty of outdoor activities, and it’s close to both the Denver Zoo and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. There’s also the Colorado State Capitol, the Children’s Museum of Denver and the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, giving families plenty of choices on ways to spend their time.
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