The travel bug has bitten our family and bitten hard!
My husband and I used to travel before we had kids, and then even for awhile after we had kids. We used to be big city people and always thought we would raise our family in “the city.” As we added more and more children (and pets) into our family, it got a little bit harder to travel.
We have traveled over the years with our kids, at least a few times a year. And we don’t bat an eye at taking an impromptu day trip with the kids.
But lately, we are feeling the itch to travel more. The kids are getting a bit older and we are realizing how fast the years go by. We want to spend time making real family memories, before they get too old.
Because we do have a large family, we need to be choosy about where we travel to. Not all locations are family friendly and not all fit our budget. because we have a large family and like certain amenities, we often will use Airbnb when we travel. We can get multiple bedrooms and full kitchens, and they make it feel like home to us. If you book an Airbnb through my referral link, you’ll save $25 on your stay!
Thankfully, I’ve found quite a few destinations that are great for families who want to travel, but have to stick to a budget. Many of these locations have free activities, or very low cost activities.
FREE AND LOW COST ADVENTURES WHEN TRAVELING WITH YOUR FAMILY
Don’t forget to click each location to get all the information about that destination!
My family used to vacation in Vermont every year when I was growing up. I have very fond memories of my summers there. It’s a beautiful state with a little bit for everyone. Many people think of Vermont as a place to ski in the winter, but there are beautiful places to see and visit even in the warmer months.
NEW YORK CITY
Yes, you do see New York twice here…check out both links! New York City is near and dear to my heart. I went to school here and witnessed 9/11. My heart will always have a soft spot for NYC. We love visiting the American Museum of Natural History- they have a suggested donation, but you can pay anything you want. You can take the Staten Island Ferry and see the Statue of Liberty for free! I’m always amazed at how much they have to offer in such a bustling city.
NEW YORK CITY
You can even find Airbnbs in New York City! We have loved the couple that we have stayed at!
I have only seen what Lancaster has to offer from the movies, which give just a sliver of the pie. Lancaster county is a beautiful place! With the Amish culture very much apparent in this area of the country, it brings you back to a simpler lifestyle filled with influence of hard work, home cooked food, and Christian values. Filled with great food, fairs, museums, this is a great family destination.
Our nation’s capital…a must see. There’s an abundance of free activities and places to visit in DC. Staying right inside the city is obviously more expensive, but there are some great budget friendly places to stay right outside the city, and tons of local Airbnbs. We have the luxury of homeschooling and are planning on taking a historical trip to DC soon. There’s so much history to explore! Also visit this link if you are going to Washington, DC with tweens.
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA
This is a city that has everything you could want in a family vacation – city fun, beaches, small shops, entertainment, amazing food and more. Charleston is a tourist attraction, but if you research and book early, you can definitely do it on a budget.
SMOKY MOUNTAINS, TENNESSEE
Known as the most visited National Park in the US, the Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range rising along the Tennessee–North Carolina border. You can stay in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg, TN or Ashville, NC and be right next to the Smokies. There’s so much to do here, even though you are out in the wilderness.
Chicago is a place I would love to visit with the kids. There’s an abundance of things to do with families. Select museums are required to offer free admission once a week, the enormous public library offers passes to multiple museums, the Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the only free zoos in the US!
Annapolis, Maryland’s capital city, is on Chesapeake Bay. It may not be the first place you think of when planning a favorite trip, but Annapolis should be on your radar. From huge chain stores to small boutique shops, you can find anything. The Boardwalk is a must see, picturesque stop on your visit. Many historical sites in Annapolis are completely free to visit.
OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA
The Outer Banks is perfect when you want more of a quiet family vacation. Quaint comes to mind. You don’t need to worry about booking a hotel, you can rent a house for the week and have it to yourselves! Think lots of outdoor fun in OBX, from fishing to biking trails, to water sports.
New Jersey might not be one of the places you think of for a family vacation, but you’d be surprised at how much is available here for free! There are some truly amazing places in New Jersey area that your family can go for free, or at a very small cost. From museums to nature centers to rock walks to restaurants, there’s something for everyone and every budget.
*** Don’t forget! You’ll save $25 on your trip when you book an Airbnb! ***
DO YOU KNOW OF ANY OTHER DESTINATIONS FOR FAMILIES TO VISIT ON A BUDGET?
CaylaJune 15, 2018 at 11:04 am
You’ve compiled a great list that is very helpful! I’ve heard wonderful things about Vermont (which I would never think about traveling to). Boone and Asheville are fun and beautiful places to visit in North Carolina, that (I think) are cost-friendly. Thanks for sharing!
terrynJune 15, 2018 at 1:41 pm
Thank you for those places! I’ll have to look into them. We are planning NC soon.
Jenni LeBaronJune 15, 2018 at 11:52 am
The only place I’ve visited in this list so far is Chicago, but I’d really love to see the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.
terrynJune 15, 2018 at 1:40 pm
Me too! We are hoping to visit soon!
Sam | Away She WentJune 15, 2018 at 12:38 pm
Those all look like fun places to visit! I’ve only been to Vermont and Chicago from that list. We live in AZ, so budget family destinations for us would probably be somewhere like San Diego for beach fun or Denver for mountains and hiking!
terrynJune 15, 2018 at 1:39 pm
I was just thinking I need a West Coast destination post! If you have any ideas, send em over!
JulieJune 15, 2018 at 12:40 pm
This is a great list. Our family had a great time hiking in Gatlinburg TN and surrounding area.
terrynJune 15, 2018 at 1:38 pm
Yeah?! We are going to start planning a trip there, I can’t wait!
Eco Friendly MamaJune 15, 2018 at 1:11 pm
I was born and raised in NY, and appreciate your mention of 9/11 and what the city means to you. This is a great list and a good reminder that you don’t have to leave the country to have an amazing family vacation. : )
terrynJune 15, 2018 at 1:38 pm
Aww, yes. Do you still live in NY? I think it will be many years before we travel internationally!
JennyJune 15, 2018 at 1:23 pm
These all sound great! I just need to find a way to get all three kids to sit still long enough that I wouldn’t dread the flight from California to get there. For those of us who are on the West Coast, California has lots of beautiful forests and national parks. Great post!
terrynJune 15, 2018 at 1:37 pm
True! I’ll have to roundup some destinations on the west coast! I would love to visit California!
AmyJune 15, 2018 at 2:40 pm
Hey, my hometown (Lancaster, PA) is on this list! If your family likes amusement parks we have a great many in the area (Dutch Wonderland, Hersheypark, and Dorney Park) within an hour’s drive. There is also a happening food scene in Lancaster (lots of vegan/vegetarian/brewpubs). You’ll love Lancaster – it’s very budget friendly!
AlexisJune 15, 2018 at 10:27 pm
I pinned this post for later. Our little is due in a couple weeks so we will definitely be needing some family travel destinations in the future.
CathyJune 16, 2018 at 9:42 am
I remember going to Outer Banks, NC when I was a kid and loved it! I’ve also always wanted to go to Charleston now that we live in Georgia. Maybe one day!
ShootingStarsMagJune 16, 2018 at 10:16 am
Fun list! Thanks for sharing. I do appreciate when places have lots of free or cheap things to do with kids. I didn’t know the Lincoln Park Zoo was free. I need to go back to Chicago soon – I do love it.
HaleyJune 16, 2018 at 12:37 pm
This is a great list!! Thanks for putting together!!
Kate AndrewsJune 16, 2018 at 4:36 pm
We used to go to NYC every year when I was a kid and then I moved their for two years – I loved it. We are from New England so obviously we went to Vermont. Great ideas!
Laura | The Yellow BirdhouseJune 16, 2018 at 9:55 pm
All of these spots look spectacular! My husband and I took a trip to Chicago last year and really loved it!
The Southern ThingJune 18, 2018 at 3:16 pm
So many great ideas! My favorite is the Smoky Mountains!
Kanika BakshiMarch 22, 2019 at 12:32 am
Great list of family vacation trips. I would now love to share this post with my family so that we can mutually decide the place so that everyone can enjoy the vacation and make it memorable. Keep sharing such useful and interesting posts.