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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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loews-sapphire-fallsvia tripadvisor.com

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.

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Tyler Place Family ResortCourtesy Tyler Place Family Resort

Tyler Place Family Resort, Vermont

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, VA - SEP 6: Horse-drawn carriage rides in Williamsburg, Virginia, on Sep 6, 2015. Colonial Williamsburg is a living-history museum with exhibits of restored or re-created buildings.Ritu Manoj Jethani/Shutterstock

Williamsburg, Virginia

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.

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University Center at University of California at Santa BarbaraJim Feliciano/Shutterstock

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.

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Florida Fort Myers beach catamaran sailboat in USATono Balaguer/Shutterstock

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.

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Third Sunset at Saguaro National Park near Tucson Arizona.John Hoffman/Shutterstock

Tucson, Arizona

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.

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TORONTO, CANADA - 25TH MAY 2014: Part of Sugar Beach facing towards the Islands, showing people enjoying the warm weathermikecphoto/Shutterstock

Toronto

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.

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Jazz musicians performing on the French Quarter, New Orleans at Mardis Gras, LAJoseph Sohm/Shutterstock

New Orleans

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.

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Palm trees in Mission Bay. San Diego, CaliforniaGabriele Maltinti/Shutterstock

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.

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The Washington Monument and Thomas Jefferson Memorial reflecting in the Tidal Basin, Washington, DC.ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Washington, D.C.

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.

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South Seas Island Resort Family Golf Cart-2Courtesy South Seas Island Resort

South Seas Island Resort, Florida


Sanibel and Captiva Islands are known for their shell-strewn beaches, laid-back vibe, flower-lined lanes, and an incredibly diverse array of wildlife. These are just a few of the reason’s families flock to this picturesque destination located off the coast of southwest Florida. On Captiva Island, gorgeous South Seas Island Resort is offering a fantastic deal: Pay for three nights and get your fourth night for free. Also, you’ll receive a $50 resort credit per day and a coupon book with over $250 in savings for resort restaurants, activities, golf, spa services, and more. Here are some more beaches with the best seashells in the world.

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Morning kayaking in Colorado river Austin downtown, TexasKengji/Shutterstock

Hyatt Lost Pines Resort & Spa, Austin

Just outside of Austin, Texas the plush Hyatt Lost Pines Resort & Spa is nirvana for families, thanks to its five-acre Crooked River Water Park with two pools, splash pad, two-story water slide, and 1,000-foot lazy river. There’s also hiking, biking, kayaking, and rafting on the Colorado River. The $35 resort fee covers shuttle bus transportation around the resort, access to the facilities at Spa Django, and other family-friendly activities such as tennis, basketball, bocce ball, and nighttime s’mores around the fire. Book now to receive their Big Break Savings of 20 percent off your stay.

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Boats moored in Camden, Maine harborE.J.Johnson Photography/Shutterstock

Camden, Maine

If you’ve been looking for an excuse to visit the beautifully rugged Maine coast and its charming towns, now is your moment. Timbercliffe Cottage, a quintessential New England bed & breakfast in Camden, is offering last-minute summer deals. Stay three or more evenings and receive $30 off the last night’s stay. They also offer a discounted rate when you book within 24 hours of your arrival. Begin your morning with a cup of coffee and a leisurely breakfast on their porch overlooking Penobscot Bay. You might even see a tall mast schooner sailing out of Camden Harbor. While in town, don’t miss dining on a local specialty, delectable Maine lobster.

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Club med resortCourtesy Club Med Resorts

Club Med Resorts

Looking for a tropical getaway? With the WOW Sale, save up to 45 percent when you book a stay at a family-friendly all-inclusive Club Med resort in Florida, Mexico, or the Caribbean. Rates start at just $119 per person, per night, and include accommodations, meals, most activities, entertainment, and kids clubs for ages 4 to 17. Stays of seven nights or longer also qualify for up to $300 in instant savings and up to $400 in air credit. Kids under age 4 stay free. Book by August 27, 2019, to secure this deal. Find more all-inclusive Caribbean resorts to stay in.

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Square of Saint Mary's in Valencia in a summer day on, SpainS-F/Shutterstock

Spain and Portugal

Even a trip to Europe can be affordable. With CostSaver, families can book a tour with just the excursions they need, their nightly accommodations, daily tours, and all inter-city transportation. This summer, take advantage of CostSaver’s hard-to-beat prices on a 13-day Iberian Explorer tour. Start by exploring Barcelona guided by a local specialist; move on to Valencia and learn about its remarkable architecture; sample traditional tapas in Seville; venture to Lisbon; then journey through the Sierra de Guadarrama Mountains back to Madrid. This epic experience costs only $1,750 per person, which translates to less than $135 per day.

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Aerial view of the historic castle Caernafon, Gwynedd in Wales - United Kingdom.Lukassek/Shutterstock

Wales

There’s no better time to visit Wales than now with the strength of the U.S. dollar against the British pound. Wales is home to some of the most dramatic coastal scenery and beautiful seaside towns and villages in Europe and more castles and sheep than you can imagine—and this town where there are more books than people. It’s also a hot destination for adventure activities such as the fastest zipline in the world, adrenaline-rush coasteering on the rocky coastline, white water rafting, and surfing at the world’s first surf lagoon in Snowdonia. The Explore Wales Pass starts at just over $83 and is valid for four days of unlimited travel over eight days. Don’t miss a stay in Cardiff to explore the city and Cardiff Castle. The Novotel Cardiff Centre Hotel will keep kids busy at nights with a heated pool and entertainment area. Accommodations and breakfast are free for up to two children under 16.

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Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spacourtesy Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa

Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa, Utah

The picturesque setting of Sorrel River Ranch’s 240-acre western dude ranch meets upscale bed-and-breakfast will take your breath away. Situated along the Colorado River and surrounded by majestic red rocks and canyons in Moab, this is the ideal locale for rugged outdoor adventure. Guests can go horseback riding, Jeep or UTV off-roading, or hiking right from the property. They can also book a rafting trip or take the short drive to famed Arches National Park. Their new All-Inclusive Package is a deal starting at just under $1,100 for two adults per night. This price includes luxury accommodations, unlimited gourmet cuisine, and non-alcoholic beverages, a $200 resort credit per person per night to be used on any activities, spa services or bar beverages, service gratuities, and transportation to and from the airport. Check out more luxury camping experiences that will make you an outdoor person.

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Jekyll Island Club Resortcourtesy Jekyll Island Club Resort

Jekyll Island Club Resort, Georgia

This grand historic resort is located on the southernmost island of coastal Georgia’s Golden Isles. The Club, an exclusive vacation retreat, first opened in 1888 hosting families such as the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers. Today, Jekyll Island Club Resort is a stunning 240-acre oceanfront property featuring world-class amenities. The property has recently undergone a $25 million revitalization, including a new all-suite beachfront hotel and over-water restaurant. There are many special deals and packages available including a Back-to-School Special starting at $159 a night, which offers complimentary bike rentals. For a taste of Southern hospitality and low country cuisine, plan to visit during the Shrimp and Grits Festival, September 20–22, 2019. It’s a short walk from the property to the festivities, and room rates start as low at $160 per night during those dates.

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shutterstock_1035804400aceshot1/shutterstock

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah is known as The Hostess City of the South for its gracious hospitality. The city is also worth a visit for its beauty and ever-expanding culinary scene. The historic district is one of the largest in the United States with Live Oak-lined streets draped in Spanish Moss, beautiful architecture, and ornamental ironwork. Book your accommodations at the recently opened Perry Lane Hotel located in the historic district. It’s the perfect location from which to explore the city and surrounding area. The hotel offers a number of packages, including Sun-Sational Savings rates beginning at $179 per night, and two outdoor adventure packages tailor-made for families. Kids will love to play cornhole on the event lawn at their rooftop venue, Peregrin, or swim in the rooftop pool. The property is also very pet-friendly, so the whole family can get in on the act.

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A row of boat houses on Canandaigua Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Boathouses on Canandaigua Lake, New Yorkbraindame/Shutterstock

Finger Lakes Region, New York

This scenic 9,000-square-mile area is located between Rochester and Syracuse in Upstate New York and is quickly becoming a popular getaway in the Northeast. Imagine waterfalls (40-plus) and gorges, lush rolling green hills and picturesque shorelines that sit on 11 glacial lakes and one Great Lake. Families can visit what’s known as the “Grand Canyon of the East” at Letchworth State Park. Another option is a hot air balloon ride to view the landscape from above. Afterward, explore the culinary offerings, such as an apple or cheese tasting tour. Adults will also appreciate the local wine and craft beer scene. Accommodations can be found for as low as $75 per night at the 19th century Belhurst Castle in Geneva or $133 per night at Hotel Skylar in Syracuse. Now, find out even more last-minute summer getaways you hardly need to plan.

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Suzanne Rowan Kelleher
Award-winning content professional with over 25 years of print and digital experience on topics ranging from travel and lifestyle to health and technology. As the family travel correspondent at Tripsavvy.com, I cover the gamut of traveling with kids, including hotel and destination reviews, tips and advice on family road trips, air travel, and related topics. In my former role as the managing editor for MiniTime, I led the content strategy for a recently launched family travel website, assigning, editing and creating steady flow of travel stories. Previously, I co-founded WeJustGotBack.com and built it into a multi-award-winning family travel website and trip-planning resource. MAGAZINES & WEB: Travel+Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, NBCNews.com/TODAY.com, ABCNews.com, Parade, FoxNews.com Travel & Lifestyle, Newsweek, Forbes, Good Housekeeping, Disney's Family.com, Parents, Parenting, Woman's Day, American Baby, Budget Travel, Esquire, Travel Holiday, Cigar Aficionado, Boston Globe. BRANDED CONTENT: Walt Disney Parks, Disney Cruise Line, American Express, Visit Philadelphia, Sleep Inn, Motel 6, Quaker Granola Bites.
Gwen Pratesi
James Beard Award Finalist in Journalism and award-winning food and travel writer, blogger, book author, social media expert, and culinary travel business owner that is pursuing her passion for food, travel, and experiencing world cultures by working with and sharing the stories of extraordinary destinations and unique culinary artisans around the world.