20 Affordable Last Minute Summer Getaways
Summer vacations don’t have to break the bank. With the right destination, the right timing, and the right deal, you can feel like you won the vacation lottery.
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Universal Orlando Resort
Like the idea of a late-summer vacation at Universal Orlando Resort? You couldn’t have chosen a better time to visit with the just-announced special rates for U.S. and Canada residents. The more days you spend, the more you’ll save at all three of their theme parks—Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal’s Volcano Bay. Ticket prices range from $53 per day for a five-day ticket to $82 per day for a three-day ticket (with access to one theme park per day). Another option is the Stay and Play Vacation Package priced from $85 per night per person, based on a family of four. This package includes accommodations, admission to all three parks, and early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, plus select rides at Volcano Bay. Know the key differences between Disney World and Universal Studios before you go.
Tyler Place Family Resort, Vermont
Courtesy Tyler Place Family Resort
To any parent who has mused that the term “family vacation” is an oxymoron, a visit to Tyler Place Family Resort can be nothing short of a revelation. At this popular Vermont family camp-style resort on the shores of gorgeous Lake Champlain, kids experience a fun camp-style week of swimming, hiking, fishing, biking, raft-making, and more. Parents, meanwhile, get a relaxing vacation of their own, with plenty of time to take a yoga class, go kayaking or mountain biking, or simply nap in a hammock. Rates are lowest at the bookends of summer. Plan to visit the first week of September, when all-inclusive rates are up to 30 percent lower than in midsummer, or book an early-season vacation for next summer and shave up to 50 percent off-peak rates.
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Williamsburg wows families with theme parks and Colonial Williamsburg, an authentic 18th-century living history community that makes you feel like you just stepped into Revolutionary-era Virginia. Of the many money-saving packages available, the Fun in the Sun Package at the Best Western Historic Area starts at $110 a night (minimum three nights) and gives you unlimited admission to Busch Gardens and Water Country USA throughout your stay. Don’t miss the Oktoberfest-like Bier Festival at Busch Gardens August 16 through September 2. Celebrate this Bavarian tradition while in Virginia with German food, brews, and music. Don’t forget to check out the most historic landmarks in every state.
Santa Barbara Family Vacation Center
This beachside family camp takes place each summer on the lovely University of California Santa Barbara campus and earns raves from families for its enthusiastic counselors and the wide array of activities for kids and adults. One-week sessions at the Santa Barbara Family Vacation Center are offered during July and August at a reasonable all-inclusive price. This rate covers meals, lodging, and a roster of activities such as hiking, mountain biking, tennis, or kicking back by the pool. If your family can’t spare a whole week, you can try out a four-day “mini week.” The last few sessions are already full this year, so make arrangements to attend next summer.
Fort Myers Beach
Love the sand and surf? This family-friendly beach destination, located on a barrier island in sunny southwest Florida, is known for its powdery, white sand, high-quality museums, Everglades tours, manatee park, and butterfly estate. While at the beach, take time to relax or try your hand at water sports like jet skiing or parasailing. Many hotels and resorts offer special deals late summer and early fall. VRBO home rentals also offer competitive rates in Fort Myers Beach. When booking, be sure to avoid making these vacation rental mistakes.
Sure, it gets mighty hot in Tucson in the summer, but it’s summer! Pick a fantastic resort with a beautiful pool and top-notch spa, like some of these most luxurious spas in the world and you’ve got yourself a great getaway. Hotel rates plummet this time of year and steals are plentiful on deal-finding sites like Travelzoo, where you can snag rates around $89 per night at the 4-star Omni Tucson National Resort. This desert city also offers plenty for families to explore, from Saguaro National Park to the Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway. Both the kids and adults will enjoy the Pima Air and Space Museum. This renowned facility has over 80 acres and 350 historic aircraft ranging from one of the first planes in flight, a Wright Flyer, to today’s 787 Dreamliner.
The continued strength of the U.S. dollar means American travelers are still getting great value for their money in Canada. It’s like receiving a 33 percent discount on everything you spend. The city of Toronto is a great choice to visit with its hip and cosmopolitan vibe as well as a myriad of free things to do. These include exploring the Distillery Historic District, strolling through St. Lawrence Market, or hanging out on the city’s honest-to-goodness beautiful beach along the shores of Lake Ontario. Culture-loving travelers can also check out the free events at Harbourfront Centre or the Canadian Opera Company’s free concert series.
Hotel rates in the Big Easy are lowest between June and August when the summer festival season is in full swing and music fills the air. Even better, you can affordably enjoy the local cuisine as the best NOLA restaurants celebrate COOLinary New Orleans with prix fixe menus throughout August. Enjoy three-course meals in some of the most famous restaurants for around $30 a person. Also, don’t forget to make a stop at the original Café du Monde in the French Market. Savor warm powdery sugar-dusted beignets and a piping hot café au lait while taking in views of the local culture, and sights and sounds of the city.
Paradise Point Resort & Spa, San Diego
The picture-perfect Paradise Point Resort & Spa is set on a private 44-acre island tucked away in San Diego’s Mission Bay. The resort is offering a terrific promotional rate that’s available all summer long. With the “Stay More, Save More” offer, the longer you stay, the more you save. Save 15 percent when you stay three or four nights and save 20 percent on a five-night or longer stay. While you’re there, check out the San Diego Zoo, one of the best zoos in every state.
Many travelers mistakenly assume that our nation’s capital makes for a pricey getaway destination. If you book your hotel through Groupon Getaways, they offer stellar late summer deals like this one at the Liaison Washington Capitol Hill for approximately $110 a night. Also consider that the city is filled with free world-class museums, monuments, and important historical sights. From the National Museum of American History and National Air & Space Museum to the Jefferson Memorial and Ford’s Theatre, zero-cost sightseeing as a family is worth cheering for. Find out some other places to take your kids before they fly the coop.