40 Affordable Destinations for a Family Vacation
In a dream world, we could afford to take our families to Paris, Tokyo, and Disney World every single year. For most of us though, budgets dictate that we find more affordable family vacation destinations.
Southern California is not known for its affordability but L.A. has a lot to offer families traveling on a budget. There’s the mind-bending Broad Museum, a stroll along the legendary Hollywood Walk of Fame, and a hike up around the Hollywood sign—all free—and of course the beaches of Venice, Santa Monica, Malibu, and more. There are also some fantastic boutique hotels, like The Kinney in Marina Del Rey.
Stevenson, British Columbia
This sleepy fishing village in Richmond, B.C., just south of the Vancouver airport, is special because of the role it played in the popular ABC television show Once Upon A Time. During the majority of the show’s seven seasons, Stevenson stood in as Storybrooke, the town Emma Swan, Mr. Gold, Regina, Aurora, and more acted out their high drama take on familiar fairy tales like Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, Mulan, and Sleeping Beauty. It remains unchanged since, so fans can eat, shop, and wander around Storybrooke just like their favorite characters.
This charming four-season small town nestled in the mountains beneath that famous Montana Big Sky is a sheer delight for families looking for something different from their next vacation. The idyllic Main Street is littered with charming boutiques, coffee shops, chocolatiers, a live music venue, independent ice cream shops, eateries, and fashionable renovated roadside motels like the RSVP and Lark. Just south of Main is the marvelous Museum of the Rockies with more dinosaur bones than you’ve ever seen in your life and a short drive north is prime skiing at Bridger Bowl.
There are cheap hotels to be found both on the Strip and in downtown Vegas, and memorable sights to see like the iconic Fountains of Bellagio that don’t cost a penny. Vegas has many family-friendly things to do too, like the VR Coaster at New York-New York, and tasty all-ages eats waiting for you at American Coney Island at the D Las Vegas and the Beerhaus, with its ping pong tables, corn hole, and foosball. All this makes Vegas an affordable family vacation destination. As a bonus, you can flee the lights and looniness of the Strip by heading out to the Valley of Fire and/or the Hoover Dam, each within a short drive in either direction. You’ll also want to check out these 10 must-see Vegas attractions for non-gamblers.
When you’re on a tight budget, a family vacation to France is probably not feasible but francophiles can still experience the giddy joy of saying, “un croissant s’il vous plaît.” Eat your flaky pastry without leaving the continent by heading to Montreal to live the French life while on vacation. Walk the crooked streets of the old city, have a picnic up on Mount Royal, and practice your français.
For families who have dreams of seeing the tulips and windmills of The Netherlands but whose budget doesn’t permit such a grand getaway, there’s the other Holland, the one on the west coast of Michigan. Tiptoe through the tulips and take goats for walks at Nelis’ Dutch Village and play in the sand on the shores of Lake Michigan. Holland is also just a short day trip away from the magical sand dunes of America’s 61st and newest National Park, Indiana Dunes National Park. Holland is just one of the charming small towns in the United States with a European vibe you’ll want to visit.
Gulf Coast, Florida
For baseball fans, it is hard to beat easy access to two handfuls of MLB Spring Training sites but Florida’s gulf coast is about much more than just March baseball. The gulf coast of the Sunshine State is an affordable year-round destination for families. Enjoy fine sandy beaches, easy access to Disney and Orlando just a couple hours away, low price rental homes and hotels, the beautiful Marie Selby botanical gardens, and Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home of Winter the famous dolphin. Traveling off-season is a big money saver. Here are 12 of the best off-season travel deals.
Every family should experience the magic of the enchanting Crescent City! From the affordable jazz on offer nightly at the legendary Preservation Hall to the famous Audubon Zoo (where “they all ask for you”), NOLA is a place unlike any other on earth. Walk the famous Bourbon street, buy a purple and yellow Mardi Gras mask, eat too many beignets, wander around the spooky St. Louis Cemetery #1, and dance the night away in the real city that never sleeps.
Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia
Visiting the complicated history of Jefferson’s Monticello is a must for any American who cares about our nation’s roots. Conveniently, the college town of Charlottesville and neighboring Richmond (about an hour east) offer so much more to round out a family vacation of any length. In Richmond, there’s affordable sporting action in the form of the Kickers, a USL (second division) professional soccer team, a tremendous free fine art museum, and the funky Carytown neighborhood with cool shops and eateries.
West Yellowstone, Montana
Montana’s gateway to Yellowstone National Park is a destination in and of itself, thanks to shops, restaurants, hotels and rental cabins. From West Yellowstone, you can rent a snowmobile to travel all over the place in winter, including into an empty Yellowstone National Park to see Old Faithful erupt in the snow and bison grazing by steamy geysers. Bringing the whole fam? You won’t want to miss these smart tips for making traveling with kids easier.