Believe it or not, it is already time to start planning fun vacation time for your family. In fact, most travel-savvy families plan months in advance to secure the best deals.
But if you have not had the time to plan a getaway yet, there is still time. Here are 20 family-friendly vacations that can be quite affordable for the average family.
Mammoth Cave National Park – Mammoth Cave, Ky
Located an hour north of Nashville and 40 miles from Bowling Green, KY, Mammoth Cave is one of the largest cave systems in the U.S. Aside from the caves, there are miles of beautiful hiking trails.
To enter the caves, you can expect to spend between $11-23 per ticket, depending on the tour you choose to take. Make sure to purchase your cave tickets in advance because these tours sell out fast during the peak summer months. There are tours that are wheelchair accessible, shorter tours for younger children and those with mobility issues. For the more adventurous, there are lantern tours and deep cave crawls. This can be an impressive vacation if your family enjoys outdoor adventures.
- Lodging: 3 full facilities campgrounds, rental cabins, hotels and motels (Cave City).
- Other Activities Nearby: National Corvette Museum, Barren River State Park, Beech Bend Amusement Park.
- Restaurants: Hickory Cabins Grill, Watermill Restaurant, and Spelunkers Café & Ice Cream Parlor.
Maine Highlands – Bangor, Maine
If escaping the summer heat is your goal, then consider going to Maine. The Maine Highlands area includes many beautiful spots, including Moosehead Lake, Orono Bog Boardwalk, Baxter State Park, the Bangor City Forest, and Mount Katahdin.
Besides many opportunities to hike, kayak, fish and swim, there are rainy day activities to enjoy, such as the Maine Discovery Museum. Young children can enjoy the 30 foot statue of Paul Bunyan that welcomes visitors as they enter Bangor, Maine.
And of course, there are many opportunities to eat lobster in a wide variety of dishes. This can be a great vacation if your family enjoys hiking, camping, and kayaking.
- Lodging: Baxter State Park campground, hotels & motels (Bangor), VRBO.
- Activities Nearby: Acadia National Park, the Maine Jump bouncy house, Blackbeard’s Family Fun Park, White Water Rafting.
- Restaurants: River Divers Restaurant, Coach House, The Loose Moose.
Washington, D.C. is not only full of historic interests, with many of them offering free admission, but also features the National Zoo, Rock Creek Park, and Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens. Some of the free admission sites include Ford’s Theatre, the Smithsonian, National Air and Space Museum, and Lincoln Memorial.
Keep in mind that most of these venues are either free all the time, or only offer free admission one or two days a week, so, plan accordingly. This can be a great vacation if your family loves visiting cities, historic areas, and urban areas.
Lodging: Hotel Hive, State Plaza Hotel, Hilton Garden Inn and The Georgetown House.
Nearby Attractions: Washington Monument, Rock Creek Park, Chinatown.
Restaurants: Quarry House Tavern, Gypsy Kitchen, Old Ebbitt Grill.
Carlsbad State Beach – San Diego, California
Near San Diego there is a state beach with some of the softest sand you will ever dip your toes in. The state of California offers beach cookouts and s’mores by the oceans during the summer, which are usually free.
The beach also goes by the name of Tamarack, and features opportunities for swimming, scuba diving, fishing, surfing, and beachcombing. This can be a great vacation if your family loves water activities and outdoor adventure.
Lodging: Beach Villas, Seashore on the Sand hotel, La Quinta Inn & Suites
Nearby Attractions: Legoland, Sea Life Aquarium, Carlsbad Skate Park.
Restaurants: 7 Mile Kitchen, Ruby’s Diner, Canyon’s Restaurant
Lakedale – San Juan Island, Washington
Lakedale is located a little over an hour north of Seattle and features family-friendly activities. On tap are yoga sessions, die-dye arts and crafts, biking, paddle boarding, and more. Enjoy kayaking, fishing, or simply playing in the sand on the beach.
Each day has a list of activities to select from, so kids are never bored. San Juan Island boasts some of the best whale watching in the area, and you can rent a boat, or hike some of the many trails offering spectacular views. This might be a great vacation if your family enjoys outdoor adventures, camping, and whale watching.
Lodging: Lodge Rooms, Glamping, Yurts, RV sites, Family Camping
Nearby Attractions: King’s Market, Bike Rentals for cycling adventures, Alpaca Farm, Lavender Farm
Restaurants: Duck Soup, Brown Bear Baking, Rocky Bay Café
Clearwater Beach – Clearwater Beach, Florida
If silky white sands are your idea of a vacation, then look no further than Clearwater Beach in Florida. Located on the Gulf side of the state, the blue sparkling waters and kid-approved attractions make it a win-win.
Clearwater is sometimes referred to as Clearwater-St. Pete because both are located close to one another on the water. Pier 60 offers many free or low-cost activities, and there is even a playground right on the beach. The Morean Arts Center offers free art activities on Saturdays in the summer. Also, in the summer, Clearwater Beach offers a free movie night. Bring your beach blanket and some snacks.
Lodging: Tropical Inn & Suites, Pelican Point, Ft. Desoto Campground
Nearby Attractions: Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Moccasin Lake Nature Park, Empower Adventure (ziplines and more).
Restaurants: Beach Shanty Café, Jimmy Hula’s, Maggie Mae’s Sunrise Cafe
San Antonio – San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, like many places in Texas, is big. It is considered south-central Texas and sits on the San Antonio river. Aside from the Alamo and other historic points of interest, there are hop on, hop off bus tours (a very affordable way to get around), the San Antonio Zoo, SeaWorld, and the San Antonio Aquarium.
Lodging: The Crockett Hotel, Drury Inn & Suites, Comfort Suites Alamo
Nearby Attractions: Cave Without a Name, Tejas Saturday Night Rodeo, Canyon Lake Pontoon Boat Tour
Restaurants: Biga on the Banks, Rosario’s Mexican Café 7 Cantina, Zocca