You might earn in the ballpark of the U.S. median income ($56,516), but that doesn’t mean your annual vacation has to be just average too. A trip to Europe or an African safari might not fit your budget, but this beautiful country has plenty of destinations to tickle your travel fancy.
Assuming you follow the 50-30-20 budgeting rule, you probably have managed to stash away a few dollars for travel. GOBankingRates identified 15 destinations across the country that — depending on where you live — could be the inspiration you needed to book your next family vacation.
15. Branson, Mo.
Set in the Ozarks, Branson has attracted visitors for more than 100 years, first lured by Marvel Cave, which now is under the Silver Dollar City theme park. In 1991, a “60 Minutes” report touting it as the “live music capital of the entire universe” put the city in the spotlight. Today, Branson has more than 35 theaters.
If music isn’t your thing, enjoy the great outdoors with 13 golf courses, three lakes and ziplining. For discounts, check out Branson’s official tourism website.
14. Yellowstone National Park
At 3,472 square miles, Yellowstone National Park is so big that it sits in parts of three states: Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
It’s as budget-friendly as a weeklong vacation can be: Admission is just $30 per car for a seven-day stay and camping starts at just $15 per night. In the park, go camping, hiking, cycling, boating or fishing, or just relax, watch the wildlife and take photos.
13. Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Niagara Falls used to be one of the favorite destinations of honeymooners, but now the area on the Canadian border is known for family activities. The falls are breathtaking, and you’ll go home with a memory card worth of photos to print.
U.S. News & World Report ranked it the No. 2 place to visit in New York state. Groupon occasionally has deals for lodging on both the American and Canadian sides of the falls, as well as for entertainment venues and activities.
12. Destin, Fla.
A trip to Central Florida — with its pricey amusement parks, accommodations and dining — might be out of the question for a family vacation. Instead, opt for Destin in the Florida panhandle.
Destin has white-sand beaches, water activities, water parks and museums. And, given Destin’s proximity to a number of military installations — several hotels and attractions offer discounts to military personnel, too.
11. Myrtle Beach, S.C.
There’s way more to Myrtle Beach than just the beach. Ride The SkyWheel Myrtle Beach, watch cloggers or shop at a discount at the outlets. Then, there’s the area known as the Grand Strand, where countless activities from sunning to clubbing await.
Before you go, review the list of things to do for less than $25 in Myrtle Beach to plan your activities. Don’t forget to check out the list of coupons available on the Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau website.
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10. South Padre Island, Texas
Even though it’s an island, you can actually drive to South Padre, saving on airfare if you’re close enough to go by car. Located on the Texas Gulf Coast, vacationers will find this area surprisingly affordable.
South Padre is an ideal beach vacation spot for families because it has mild weather, calm seas and 300 annual days of sunshine. On South Padre Island, you have hundreds of activities at your fingertips, or you can relax on the beach. Your choice.
9. Jekyll Island, Ga.
Here’s another island accessible by car, which again, adds to the affordability factor. This calm, coastal habitat is home to scenic marshes and oceanfront views. Here, you can enjoy encounters with sea turtles, horseback riding, fishing and boating, golfing and a waterpark.
One of Jekyll Island’s most famous areas doesn’t require a ticket to see. That’s Glory Beach, given that moniker because of its association with “Glory,” the 1989 movie starring Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick and Morgan Freeman.
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8. Memphis, Tenn.
Memphis isn’t the spot for you if you’re seeking a passive vacation. Memphis is known as a landmark in the civil-rights movement, so a trip to the National Civil Rights Museum consistently draws crowds to the city. Also popular are places marking Memphis’ ties to the music industry, such as Graceland.
If you’re in Memphis for a good time, but not a long time, you’re in luck. Beale Street offers a historic taste of the city’s wild side. With dozens of bars, live music and other forms of endless entertainment — there’s not a chance you’ll forget your first time on Beale Street.
7. Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, Calif.
In Northern California, you’ll find Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, whose affordability is eclipsed only by its beauty. Your encounter with nature here will be intense: foothills to alpine peaks, along with diverse plant and animal life. Seeing the majestic, giant sequoias up-close is a vacation experience to cherish, especially when you consider the fact it’s just $30 per car for a seven-day stay.
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6. Williamsburg, Va.
This vacation spot is great for history buffs interested in events that helped form our nation as we know it. From the Greater Williamsburg Area which includes Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown, you can witness more than four centuries of the early American experience.
From the Jamestown Settlement museum to Yorktown Battlefield and American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, there’s plenty to totally submerge yourself colonial American life and times. When planning your trip, go to VisitWilliamsburg.com for specials and deals.
5. Sandusky, Ohio
Sandusky is between Toledo and Cleveland and situated on the banks of Lake Erie. In the summer, the midwestern town enjoys weather perfect for outdoor activities.
The most popular attraction is the amusement park Cedar Point. The park boasts water rides, roller coasters and live entertainment. Cedar Point can be expensive but several discounted packages are available on CedarPoint.com.
4. Wisconsin Dells, Wis.
In the 1800s, the Wisconsin Dells area became a popular tourist site when a photographer began to circulate pictures of the sandstone cliffs in Wisconsin Dells. Centuries later, the Dells has a new identity of being the best place for water parks across the country.
Professional sports, the Dallas Arts District, a 5.2-acre urban green space and line dancing are just a few of the things that make Dallas a fantastic and affordable destination. With so much competition for your tourism dollars, there’s bound to be flight or other travel discounts. Take a look at the deals page on VisitDallas.com to review the specials.
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2. San Diego
San Diego is where the sun meets the fun. There’s plenty to do in the city, and while some of it could set you back a few dollars, much of it is free.
Relaxing on the beach, listening to a Sunday afternoon organ concert and watching the boats in San Diego Bay won’t cost a penny. As you plan your vacation, go to SanDiego.org for more free ways to live it up in San Diego. You might be amazed by what can be done for very little cash.
1. Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz.
A trip to Grand Canyon is on a lot of bucket lists, so why not make this the year? Hike, take river trips or bike throughout the canyon. The views are unrivaled, so make sure you take your camera.
One of the great ways to see Grand Canyon is by train. TheTrain.com will lead you toward discounts tickets for Grand Canyon experiences, as well as hotels.
Click through to read about affordable trips to take with your kids while you still can.
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