Cheap Family Vacation Destinations and Activities

family vacation

Taking the whole family on vacation is an important way to give everyone a break from everyday life and create memories that will last a lifetime. But a good trip can be expensive, especially when you have kids in tow. So to help make the family vacay dream a reality, here are some of our favorite affordable destinations and activities that offer fun for every age group.

It’s no secret that some destinations are better for families than others. And some, like the winners of the Good Housekeeping 2023 Family Travel Awards, are doing more than just offering cheap attractions and hotels. These kid-friendly locations used downtime from the pandemic to rethink, renovate or revamp their offerings to give you a better value for your money.

For example, Washington state’s Coeur D’Alene offers epic water sports on a lake that native singer-songwriter Josh Ritter croons is like “a diamond in the valley’s hand.” Your kids will love it too thanks to artisanal ice cream shops and a terrific independent toy store tucked into a very walkable downtown. And the adults can indulge in a hot springs soak and a round of golf at one of the area’s many upscale courses.

Another top budget-friendly vacation idea is the District of Columbia, which consistently ranks as one of the best and most affordable city vacations for families. The slew of free things to do in the nation’s capital include tours of museums, gorgeous walks along the water and more monuments per square mile than any other city. Plus, the District offers year-round affordable eats and plenty of opportunities to check off some UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

And don’t overlook the possibilities of a road trip. National parks and iconic roadside attractions are always a good choice for a family adventure, but other destinations such as San Antonio, Nashville and New Orleans have their own unique cultural experiences and cost-friendly activities to boot. And if you’re planning on a beach vacation, be sure to consider locations that have affordable activities for all ages, such as Myrtle Beach or Gulf Shores.

A rising travel trend is multigenerational trips, and we can see why. These whirlwind getaways let grandparents and kids spend time together without having to juggle their own work and school schedules. To make it more successful, it’s a good idea to ask the family to come up with several options that appeal to them and then narrow it down to a few that are the best fit.

Of course, if you’re able to snag some vacation time off work or school, there’s no reason not to take the whole gang on a trip. But be smart about it: Longer isn’t necessarily better, especially if the older kids are in school. Tykesha Burton, who writes about culture-focused family travel for her blog Momma Wanderlust, recommends a max of seven to 10 days with all the gang. After that, she says, it can start to get exhausting.