Budget-friendly vacations are a great way to spend precious time with your family during Summer break.
My husband and I typically bounce different ideas around before picking something, but we usually choose trips that expand our horizons in one way or another. Whether that’s by spending time in new surroundings, or by learning new things or local history at museums and landmarks.
This is especially true since we’ve had our son.
Of course, there is a downside to going on vacation with your family- the cost!
That’s why I’ve put together a list of 5 of the best locations to pack in a great vacation, without breaking the bank.
be sure to also check out my recommendations for Moms
Yellowstone National Park
In terms of getting inspired, it doesn’t get much more awe-inspiring than Yellowstone. With geysers, waterfalls, canyons, thermal hot springs and views that will take your breath away, there’s something for everyone.
You can pay a visit to Old Faithful, one of the world’s most famous geysers, hike to the top of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, or head out to the Hayden Valley to try and spot bison, elk, coyotes and grizzly bears.
The best part? All of those activities are free!
Hotels provide good value accommodation in the area, but you won’t need to spend much at all if you decide to bring a tent or recreational vehicle with you.
Yellowstone is located in Wyoming, so it’s probably not something you’re going to drive to from anywhere in the eastern US. But it’s a great park to visit if you happen to already be in one of the Mountain States or the northwest.
If you live anywhere east of the Mississippi, then Washington D.C. should be at the top of your list, as it offers the best value out there.
Our nation’s capital is packed full of free activities. You can make a start by strolling up the iconic Lincoln Memorial monument, before heading up to the National Gallery to take in some art.
Kids will love the free Smithsonian Museums (particularly Air and Space/Natural History), and no trip would be complete without a visit to the Whitehouse!
Renting bikes is an option to get around the city economically and there are plenty of reasonably priced hotels and Airbnb locations for your accommodation needs.
The Grand Canyon
If you live in the Southwest or four corners area, you have to plan at least one family trip to the Grand Canyon. It’s one of the seven wonders, and a place that’s on many people’s bucket list. And it’s not as expensive as you might think.
You can book great value hotels or campsites by carefully planning and booking months in advance.
There’s also a lot more to the Grand Canyon area than just taking a few pictures of the Colorado river valley.
For instance, there are plenty of free hiking trails which take you to some of the most mouth-watering vistas without the chance of crowds of tourists spoiling it for you. Also, rather than investing in a helicopter trip, you can book cheaper activities such as paddling down the river, or white water rafting.
Dining is expensive in this region, but there is a workaround. If you’re on the South Rim, you can easily head to nearby Flagstaff to take advantage of their growing foodie scene, without receiving a check that’ll make your eyes water.
If you are desperate to spend some time by the sea on gorgeous white sandy beaches, then there’s probably nowhere that can provide better value than Destin. And what family doesn’t like going to the beach for vacation?
As someone who’s now spent a good amount of time exploring Florida, I can personally vouch for this vacation spot. It manages to deliver family bonding time on pristine beaches, without the price tag associated with some of the pricier locales, like Clearwater and Miami.
Your activities don’t just have to be limited to the beach however, you can book competitively priced boat tours to go dolphin spotting, or treat yourself to some retail therapy at one of Destin’s many shopping centers.
There’s also multiple scenic golf courses if you or your partner would like to work on your game while on vacation.
If you live anywhere in the Midwest, Chicago might prove a great destination if you’re looking for a city break.
Much like D.C., Chicago packs in a bunch of free museums. And with the addition of Lincoln Park Zoo, where you can take the kids to see zebras, sloths, hippos and even polar bears!
Of course, you are going to need to treat your kids to a famous deep-pan Chicago pizza at one of dozens of the city’s downtown pizzerias.
You can then eat your slices within one of the cities many free parks (such as Millennium Park) before heading to Wrigley Field to experience one of the best atmospheres baseball has to offer.
Chicago offers that big city experience, without the big city price tag you get in places like New York and San Francisco.
Budget Friendly Family fun
Going on vacation doesn’t always mean you have rack up huge credit card bills to afford them. These locations are great places to explore, relax and unwind, or become inspired depending on where you decide to go.
Which have been your favorite budget-friendly vacation destinations?
Let me know in the comments below!