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12 Ridiculously Affordable Spring Vacations 2021

Terry Ward is based in Florida and has worked as a freelance travel writer since 2000, writing for such publications as CNN, Conde Nast Traveler, National Geographic, The Washington Post and Scuba Diving Magazine, among many others. She lives in Tampa with her two young children and husband and has traveled with them to the Arctic, Cuba, Morocco and elsewhere. Her favorite family travel destinations are Norway and Florida. See more of her work at terry-ward.com

See recent posts by Terry Ward

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.

Editor’s note: Save these ideas for when it’s safe to travel again, and always follow all COVID-19 restrictions, rules and safety regulations both at your destination and upon returning home. 

Cocoa Beach, Florida at Sunset; Courtesy of Jesse Kunerth/Shutterstock.com

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

Blowing Rock NC; Courtesy of MilesbeforeIsleep/Shutterstock.com

2. 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

Jamestown Settlement; Courtesy of Travel Stock/Shutterstock.com

3. 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

4. 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 RidgePalm Canyon Resort & Spa is another affordable pick that offers a kids’ game room and a pool with waterslides.

Recommended Resort: Marriott’s Shadow Ridge

McCall, Idaho; Courtesy of CSNafzger/Shutterstock.com

5. 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

Kids on St. Pete Beach in Florida

6. 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

7. 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 

Bobsledding in Lake Placid, NY

8. 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

Greenville, SC

9. 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

10. 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

Blairsville, GA

11. 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

Nighttime at Beech Mountain in North Carolina

12. 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

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.

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