Spring break vacations with the family shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg. For a getaway within reach of a moderate family budget, set your sights on these alternative destinations that dish up plenty of family fun without running you into the red. These are most affordable spring vacations for families.
1. Cocoa Beach, FL
An iconic Florida surf town, Cocoa Beach is more about the laidback salt life than the jetset life. And this community east of Orlando on Florida’s Atlantic coast makes for an inexpensive family spring break, too. An abundance of budget-minded chain hotels and family-run inns means you can usually find a cheap room, even during spring break. Spend your days boogie boarding on the beach, exploring the amazing wildlife drive at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, or riding the Cocoa Beach Trolley (free for kids under 5, and dirt cheap for everyone else) to Port Canaveral, the pier and other spots around town.
Recommended Resort: BEST WESTERN Cocoa Beach Hotel & Suites
2. Mont Tremblant, Canada
Cheap is relative. But compared to super expensive ski resort towns in Utah and Colorado, family-friendly Mont Tremblant in Quebec gets you out on the slopes for a fraction of the price. Located two hours from Montreal, Mont Tremblant has an excellent range of slopes for all abilities, as well as a half-pipe for the snowboarders in your entourage. Ice skating, ice fishing and snowshoeing are a few of the activities you can get into if you’re not skiing. And the urban sights of Montreal make for an easy day trip, too.
Recommended Resort: Auberge Mountain View Inn
3. Blowing Rock, NC
An off-the-radar mountain town in western North Carolina, Blowing Rock offers easy access to nature and lots of outdoor fun in a small town environment that oozes Americana. About 15 miles west of town, the small ski town of Sugar Mountain has easy slopes and an ice skating rink that stays open through March. The town is right along the Blue Ridge Parkway, so if it’s a warmer year, you can head out on hikes with your family. Blowing Rock’s cute downtown is straight out of a storybook, with independent shops and restaurants to explore. Check out the Tweetsie Railroad, with a petting zoo and rides for kids.
Recommended Resort: Holiday Inn Express Blowing Rock South
4. Jamestown-Yorktown, VA
A fun learning spring break at a good price is on tap when you plan a few days—longer—visiting the historic town of Jamestown in Virginia, home to the ruins of the first English settlement in all of North America. Kids will feel like explorers visiting the Jamestown Settlement, where a Powhatan Indian village and the experience of a 17th century fort are brought to life through impressive re-enactments. And if the weather’s warm enough (which it certainly can be in March and April), consider heading out on a kayaking excursion along the James River.
Recommended Resort: Hampton Inn & Suites Jamestown
5. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
One of the most inexpensive Caribbean destinations for a family getaway, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic is full of inexpensive all-inclusive hotels vying for your vacation dollars. And if it doesn’t have to be all-inclusive for your family, check out the very affordable Karibo Punta Cana, which offers a free shuttle to the beach (five minutes away). Punta Cana’s beaches are gorgeous, with white sands and clear blue water. And lots of competition between water sports vendors and tour operators means catamaran excursions and snorkeling tours won’t cost you an arm and a leg, either.
Recommended Resort: Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana
6. Cancun, Mexico
Cancun is a fabulous destination year-round, and while spring break crowds can bring lots of underaged revelers, there’s plenty for families to love here, too. As in the DR, many all-inclusive hotels compete for your business, so you can usually find a decent deal as long as you’re not looking to stay at a luxury property. Good options include the , and . In addition to Cancun’s stunning beaches, you can spend your days visiting ancient Mayan ruins, the refreshing cenotes (freshwater springs) and heading out on snorkeling catamarans or playing a round of mini-golf with the kids.
Recommended Resort: Occidental Costa Cancun
7. Holiday Mountain Resort, Canada
For a snow guarantee and inexpensive lift tickets and accommodations for a family spring break, pass on the pricey resorts of the American West (and Whistler, too), and head instead to the Canadian province of Manitoba. A two-hour drive south of Winnipeg, small but fun Holiday Mountain Resort is a family favorite for its affordable lodging and manageable slopes—and you can introduce your little ones to Canadian culture (poutine!) at the same time. The property is Manitoba’s only ski resort with onsite accommodations. And while the rooms aren’t fancy, they’re comfortable and clean—just what you need to rest up for another fun day on the mountain.
Recommended Resort: Holiday Mountain Resort
8. Palm Springs, CA
With reliably sunny skies and warm enough temperatures that you can get in plenty of pool time, Palm Springs is a desert destination with lots of affordable fun for vacationing families. While you won’t find beaches here, you can head out with the family into the iconic western landscapes of Joshua Tree National Park, a short drive away; tee up for some mini-golf; or take a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which ascends from desert landscapes into the greenery of the San Jacinto Mountains. Families love the affordable one and two-bedroom villas on offer at Marriott’s Shadow Ridge. Palm Canyon Resort & Spa is another affordable pick that offers a kids’ game room and a pool with waterslides.
Recommended Resort: Marriott’s Shadow Ridge
9. McCall, ID
About 108 miles north of Boise, on the edge of Payette Lake and surrounded by the mountains of the Payette National Forest, the small ski-centric town of McCall is a perfect pick for a family spring break. Brundage Mountain is a wonderful ski resort close to town, where kids 6 and under ski for free and lift tickets for kids under 18 are less than half of what you’d pay at most comparable Colorado resorts. And with the money you save on skiing, you can consider a splurge on the finest address in town: the lakefront Shore Lodge.
Recommended Resort: Holiday Inn Express & Suites – The Hunt Lodge
10. Montego Bay, Jamaica
Montego Bay, Jamaica, is another affordable vacation for family spring break, where the beach is the greatest free attraction and an abundance of all-inclusive hotels wrap everything neatly into one price, so you won’t rack up unexpected expenses. Holiday Inn Resort Montego Bay has appealing all-inclusive rates and sits right on a beautiful stretch of sand, and children 19 and under stay free in the same room as their parents. One of the most wondrous things you can do in this part of the world is go for a nighttime swim at Glistening Waters Luminous Lagoon, a bay that glows with bioluminescence and is accessed during affordable boat rides near the town of Falmouth.
Recommended Resort: Holiday Inn Resort Montego Bay
11. St. Pete Beach, FL
West of Tampa and downtown St. Petersburg, St. Pete Beach is a long stretch of small beach communities on a barrier island that brims with old school motels and inexpensive accommodations within blocks of sugar sand beaches. Beach fun, of course, is free and abundant, and that’s where you’ll want to be during springtime’s excellent weather. But it’s worth toweling off to head just inland, too, to show the kids alligators at Sawgrass Lake Park and check out all the cute shops and restaurants fronting the bay in pedestrian-friendly downtown St. Pete.
Recommended Resort: The Don CeSar Hotel
12. Glenwood Springs, CO
Colorado towns like Aspen and Snowmass can bankrupt a week’s vacation budget in a matter of days between lodging, lift tickets and ski lessons for the kids. But opt to base nearby in the cute town of Glenwood Springs and you can stretch your travel dollars farther for the family—with plenty of snowy fun, to boot. Glenwood Hot Springs Resort has an incredible naturally-heated outdoor pool and splash pad complete with a new tube run. And kids 12 and under even ski free at nearby Sunlight Mountain Ski Resort, where you’ll hardly have to contend with the long, snaking lift lines of the big resorts.
Recommended Resort: Glenwood Hot Springs Resort
13. Lake Placid, NY
With a cute downtown to explore and all kinds of snowy activities on pretty Mirror Lake, Lake Placid in New York’s Adirondacks can be ridiculously affordable for a spring family vacation when you plan it right. Go ice skating and explore the town’s Olympic history with the kids at the Lake Placid Olympic Center. There’s great skiing and even bobsledding at Whiteface Mountain. And lift tickets cost a fraction of what you’d pay at the big resorts out west—particularly when you book online and in advance of your visit.
Recommended Resort: Hampton Inn & Suites Lake Placid
14. Greenville, SC
There’s an airport in Greenville, but you can often snag a cheaper flight into Atlanta or Charlotte and make the drive to this fun South Carolina town that’s loaded with affordable things for families to do. Right in downtown, Falls Park on the Reedy is a beautiful spot to picnic surrounded by nature. And the Greenville Zoo offers free learning safaris for kids on Thursdays. A day trip west of town to stunning Lake Jocassee offers hiking and bass fishing, too, not to mention swimming if it’s been a warm spring.
Recommended Resort: Hampton Inn & Suites Greenville-Downtown-Riverplace
15. Lake Powell, AZ
One of the Americaa’s great vacation lakes, Lake Powell is an iconic western destination for making family memories surrounded by grand American landscapes. A manmade reservoir on the Colorado River, the lake is the perfect backdrop for renting a boat for the day, picnicking by the shoreline or tossing out a fishing line with the kids. Airports in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City are all within a six-hour road trip of the lake, so you can price check flight options, too.
Recommended Resort: Lake Powell Motel
16. Blairsville, GA
Two hours north of Atlanta in Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the friendly mountain town of Blairsville is a great choice for an affordable spring vacation for the family. Go hiking with the gang on the Appalachian Trail or visit beautiful Wolf Creek Falls. Horseback riding adventures are particularly stunning during April and May, when the rhododendrons and mountain laurel are in bloom.
Recommended Resort: Paradise Cabins and Spa
17. Mexico City, Mexico
Flights to Mexico City are usually as inexpensive as those to Cancun from most U.S. cities. And once you get settled in south of the border in Mexico’s largest city, there’s so much for families to enjoy. Kids will love the adventure of riding around the historic center in the hop-on-hop-off Turibus, and Chapultepec Park is the city’s green lung and is full of neat playgrounds and Papalote Museo del NIÑO, the newly renovated and totally awesome kids museum. A canalboat tour in Xochimilco, in the city’s southern reaches, might be the highlight of your trip.
Recommended Resort: Hampton Inn Mexico City—Centro Historic
18. Quebec City, Canada
You don’t need to cross the Atlantic Ocean to get a real French feel when you vacation in Canada’s Quebec province in Quebec City. And Canada presents a particularly good deal for American families when the U.S. dollar is strong against the Loonie, as it’s been in recent years. Just strolling around the UNESCO World Heritage listed quarters of Old Quebec—stopping to warm up with a crepe or something hot to drink—delivers plenty of atmosphere. Treat the kids to a horse-drawn carriage ride and, if there’s still enough snow on the ground during your visit, try out cross-country skiing in the city’s pretty parks.
Recommended Resort: Le Chateau de Pierre
19. Beech Mountain, NC
Perched up above 5,500 feet in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina about two hours north of Asheville, Beech Mountain Resort gets around 84 inches of annual snowfall and makes for an affordable spring skiing vacation for the family. Most of the mountain’s hotel accommodations range between $100 and $200 per night, and there usually skiable snow here through early March. Other activities near the resort village include tubing and sledding.
Recommended Resort: JuneBug Retro Resort
Must-Have Travel Items for the Season
Traveling with kids can be stressful, but bringing the right gear can help your trip run smoothly. First and foremost, don’t feel the need to lug more than one piece of luggage to the airport—it’s pointless! Pack everything from kids’ swim shoes to mom’s new chic swimsuit inside Away’s Large bag, the most indestructible suitcase on the market that’s built to last a lifetime. If you’re traveling with kiddos who are transitioning from a sippy cup, the insulated Hydro Flask is awesome for parents and children alike for its stay-cold design and leakproof lid (because we don’t want any messes on vacation). Lastly, ditch the diaper bag for a cute all-black, sustainable travel tote that’ll hold everything you need, from pacifiers to iPads.
Longtime travel writer and adventurer Terry Ward lives in Florida with her husband and young son and daughter. She’s constantly on the lookout for the next Scandinavia Airlines Kids Fly Free deal to save money on flights to Norway, her favorite place to visit both in the winter (Northern Lights!) and summer (Midnight Sun!). A travel writer since 2001 (read: long before the kids came along), she’s written for such publications as Endless Vacation Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler and Scuba Diving Magazine, among many others. Find Terry on her website, Terry-Ward.com.