Searching for an affordable family vacation for you and the kids? Consider one of these ridiculously cheap summer family vacations for 2019. Bonus: You may be surprised to see some of your bucket list vacations on the list!
1. Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is a bucket list trip for many families, and the Niagara USA Discovery Pass is a good way to get access to many iconic attractions—including the Maid of the Mist and the Aquarium of Niagara—at a reduced rate. A great free activity for families? The Niagara Power Vista is a great activity of kids with a 4-D movie and STEM-related activities. If you’re coming from the U.S., stay on the Niagara Falls, New York, side to save some time. Take the trolley around Niagara Falls State Park in New York or hike around to experience the falls from different vantage points.
Recommended Hotel: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Niagara Falls
“Flights from the U.S to Rome this summer are starting from $400 or less round-trip, and Rome remains the perfect destination for a European vacation during the summer,” says Simone Gozzi, CEO of City Wonders. Summer in Rome is great for outdoor pasta dinners and eating gelato in a Roman piazza (and what’s better than that?). On day-tour operator City Wonders’ Colosseum for Families tour, families experience the Colosseum and Roman forum from a child’s perspective on this specially-designed tour. Learn the history of ancient Rome while keeping the kids fully engaged with games, role playing, visual aids and re-enactments. Tickets start at $46 per child and $52 per adult. There are many kid-friendly hotels in Rome, such as the insanely affordable Ibis Styles Roma Art Noba, where rates start at just $73 per night! Amenities include in-room Nintendo/PS3, welcome amenities for kids, free Wi-Fi and a kids’ menu at the onsite restaurant.
Recommended Hotel: Ibis Styles Roma Art Noba
3. Costa Rica
A cheap summer family vacation that’s also educational is Costa Rica. “There are trips designed for families for as low as $1,500 per person for a nine-day adventure trip to Costa Rica, including volcanoes, hot springs, cloud forests, wildlife refuges and turtle nesting on the beaches,” says Nora Blum at Travel Leaders. This amounts to only about $170 per day, per person, for an amazing adventure. There are plenty of free activities for families, too, including bird watching and hiking. Local markets—found in towns throughout the country—are a great way to taste a variety of local food at very cheap prices (and are also a good place to purchase inexpensive souvenirs). “Costa Rica is a leading family destination in Central America, boasting unlimited opportunities for adventure, exploration and relaxation year-round,” says Ireth Rodríguez, Head of Promotion of the Costa Rica Tourism Board. “It’s easy to find affordable flights, along with accommodations and activities that fit the needs of multi-generational travelers on every budget. Our national parks are a prime example of low-cost activities the entire family can enjoy.”
Recommended Hotel: Hotel San Bada
4. Royal Caribbean Cruise
Did you know some cruise lines let kids sail free? In 2019, Royal Caribbean is offering a kids-sail-free promotion for kids age 12 and under on four-night or longer cruises to the Caribbean, Alaska, and other exotic bucket list destinations! Bonus: The offer can be combined with the cruise line’s WOW Sale, which gives cruisers up to 60-percent off a second guest in the same stateroom.
5. Winter Park, CO
While you might think of Colorado’s resort town of Winter Park as a winter destination, it’s also a great (and cheap) summer family vacation destination. “Summer rates start at $89 per night at Winter Park Resort, and families can enjoy hiking, biking, horseback riding, rafting, zip lining, and Colorado’s longest alpine slide,” says Fishman. Nearby Snow Mountain Ranch has one of only three summer tubing hills in the United States, as well as miniature golf, swimming, and indoor and outdoor climbing walls. Every Thursday in the summer (June 14 to August 13), there are also free concerts at Hideaway Park.
Recommended Hotel: Zephyr Mountain Lodge
6. Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is a cheap summer family vacation that never gets old. Here, you can find affordable activities and restaurants on the boardwalk, plus some great Myrtle Beach hotels with water parks and other activities for kids. “At properties like Sea Mist Oceanfront Resort, guests get free unlimited access to its water park, as well as discounted passes to Family Kingdom Amusement Park and Splashes Oceanfront Water Park,” says Fishman. In the summer, the property offers a fifth night free, a free Friday with each seven-day stay, a $90 EZ-cash card for those who book their trips 90 days in advance, and 15-percent off stays in select rooms from June to August.
Recommended Hotel: Sea Mist Oceanfront Resort
7. Space Coast, FL
Families choose the Space Coast as a budget-friendly destination because of all the deals on attractions. Rocket launches occur year-round on the Space Coast, and this once-in-a-lifetime experience is completely free to view. Cocoa Beach, the surfing capital of the East Coast and home to the iconic Ron Jon Surf shop, is the perfect place to arrange surfing lessons or rent paddleboards. At A1A Rentals, rent surf boards for $5 per hour/$15 per day or rent a beach bike and ride up and down the beautiful beaches along the coast ($20 per day). Stop by the Cocoa Beach Pier to cast a line (pay $7 if you have your own rod and reel or a $2 spectator fee to watch) or watch surfers catch waves from atop the pier. Visitors can trek through this 140,000-acre park that is home to at least 1,500 species of plants and animals, including alligators, manatees and a wide variety of birds.
Recommended Hotel: Residence Inn Cape Canaveral Cocoa Beach
8. Martin County, FL
Encompassing the communities of Port Salerno, Stuart, Palm City, Jensen Beach, Indiantown, Jupiter Island, Hobe Sound and Hutchinson Island, this region offers over 77 parks and plenty of outdoor adventures. It’s an hour from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and offers a treasure trove of activities, minus the crowds. There are plenty of affordable attractions to make this a cheap summer family vacation. The Hobe Sound Wildlife Center provides a look into Florida’s unique habitat; turtle walks are a $5 donation. At the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center, $12 for adults and $6 for children ensures you can feed the stingrays, check out the touch-tank, stroll the trails and more on the 57-acre campus. The Children’s Museum of the Treasure Coast ($8.50) is another must-visit, with a diverse array of exhibits that will keep your little ones engaged for hours. If you book early and pre-pay at the newly-opened Hutchinson Shores Resort and Spa, you can get 30-percent off the cost of the room.
Recommended Hotel: Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa
9. Greenville, SC
Main Street is definitely the central hub of activity in Greenville, South Carolina, with more than 120 locally-owned restaurants and boutiques, a 32-acre park, the beginning of the 20+ mile Swamp Rabbit Bike Trail, museums, 200+ special events a year including weekly free concerts, a seasonal Farmer’s market, Moonlight Movies in the park and more. Head out to the ball game with Boston Red Sox Class A affiliate, the Greenville Drive, with tickets starting at just $7. Rent bikes at Reedy Rides for a ride along the 20-plus mile GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail. Explore one of Greenville’s five state parks for less than $5, with spectacular hiking and biking trails, scenic natural waterfalls, sweeping views and lakes nearby. Check into the Hilton Greenville, just seven minutes from downtown, where rooms start at $100 per night.
Recommended Hotel: Hilton Greenville
10. Kansas City, MO
Kansas City has something for every traveler in your group—and it’s all affordable, right down to the free transportation via the KC Streetcar. Running daily from Union Station to Downtown Kansas City, the KC Streetcar takes families to some of the city’s most popular neighborhoods, including Power & Light and the Crossroads Arts District. Cruise the Country Club Plaza district, a walkable area rich with shopping, restaurants and bars, and local artisan shops like Made in KC, where you can find locally-made BBQ sauce and apparel. Speaking of restaurants, don’t miss Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant, where you order your food by telephone and wait for it to be delivered by—you guessed it—a toy train inside the restaurant! Stay at one of the best hotels in Missouri—The Fontaine—and soak up the sunshine on the hotel’s rooftop swimming pool, dine at the rooftop restaurant and bar Parker, and whisk away about town in the hotel’s personal Tesla Model X (within a 5-mile range). Rates starting at $171/night during summer.
Recommended Hotel: The Fontaine