Not every family vacation has to be expensive! For the budget-conscious family, a trip to a fun vacation destination isn’t out of reach this winter. With a little bit of planning and a few smart decisions, you can take cheap family vacations that are incredibly fun. There are inexpensive options for every kind of vacation, whether you want to visit a warm vacation destination or play in the snow.
Booking a low-cost family vacation doesn’t have to be difficult. The most important things to remember are to use booking sites that offer deals, shop around for the best deal, and bring your own food for lunch (and breakfast if your hotel doesn’t offer them for free.) Here are some of our favorite options for the best winter family vacations on a budget.
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A family road trip to the Grand Canyon is one of the classic American family vacations. While the park will be way too cold for camping with kids, the nearby Grand Canyon Inn is a cute, clean, and economical option for staying in the area. There are lots of gorgeous natural areas along the way to stop for picnics, so you can save a lot of money on food, too.
Key Information: Stop in small towns for cheaper hotels – Grand Canyon Inn room rates start at $79 – Kids under 12 stay free
Good to Know: Beat expensive gas prices by downloading the apps for every major gas station. If you use these apps, you can get discounts per gallon, which really add up.
The Smoky Mountains are beautiful in winter, and Gatlinburg has many fun things to do. Your kids will love Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. When you rent a cabin, you’ll be able to really relax and feel at home; there’s more room to spread out than in a hotel suite, and your kids will certainly enjoy the extra space to play.
Good to Know: Even in winter, there are lots of safe, beautiful hiking trails in the area.
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Destin, Florida, is a super popular spring break destination… but in the winter, this fun vacation spot on the Florida panhandle is practically empty, and the hotel room rates reflect this. You can enjoy the warm weather and beautiful white sand beaches at a fraction of the price of summer beach vacations.
Key Information: Stay at the 4-star Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort – Rooms start at $149 in the winter – Resort fee includes beach parking, water sports concessions, and more.
Good to Know: The Sandestin charges a 10% resort fee… but in winter, that can be as low as $14.90, so it’s probably not a dealbreaker.
San Antonio, Texas, is a great spot for a family vacation. It’s not as busy (or expensive) as Dallas or Houston, and there are tons of fun activities ranging from amusement parks to United States historical sites. Your kids will never forget the Alamo… or Six Flags Fiesta Texas!
Key Information: Stay at the SpringHill Suites for easy access to the Riverwalk – Rooms start at $130 – Outdoor pool
Good to Know: The Riverwalk is an attraction on its own, and it’s great for families because of how stroller-friendly it is.
All-inclusive doesn’t have to mean expensive! The Sirata Beach Resort on St. Pete Beach in Florida has winter rates under $150 per night and caters to your every need. You’ll be close to activities in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater, or you can just stay on the beautiful beach and enjoy a laid-back vacation.
Key Information: Winter rates start at $148 – Discounts available on watersports and beach concessions – 3 restaurants included
Good to Know: In addition to its pool and beaches, the resort recently added a Sprouts Splash Zone just for the littlest kids!
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Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin is known for one thing: Water parks. Even in winter, indoor water park fun awaits your family when you stay at this Wisconsin Dells resort. Your kids will love playing in the giant indoor rainforest or floating down the lazy rivers. The Dells have lots of winter activities; if you want to explore, nearby Mirror Lake State Park and Devils Lake State Park have a combined 37 miles of groomed snowshoe and cross-country skiing trails.
Key Information: A 2-night stay for 2 adults and 2 kids with waterpark passes and included breakfast is $429.00 – All-inclusive packages available – Lots of affordable add-ons
Good to Know: Keep an eye on the resort’s special offers– they frequently have discounts available.
Vegas isn’t just for grownups! Escape to the warmth of this desert destination and enjoy the ambiance, shows, food, and more. While lots of Vegas hotels have cheap winter rates, the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino has an amazing winter sale that can’t be beat. Catch shows on the Strip or take day trips to one of the nearby national preservation areas or state parks, like Red Rock Canyon or Spring Mountain Ranch State Park.
Key Information: Rooms start at $75 when booked directly through the resort – 4 pools – Home to a neon-lit rock and roll mini golf course and arcade
Good to Know: Rio’s WOW show is dazzling, spectacular Vegas fun for the whole family. Kids do need to be 4 and up to attend, so this is a great option for kids elementary age and up.
The United States capital city has many fun winter activities and is easy to do on a budget because many of those activities are completely free to visit. Free activities in DC include all of the Smithsonian museums, the National Zoo, the various presidential and war memorials, several local parks, and the National Botanical Gardens.
Key Information: Stay at the ARC Hotel – Room rates start at $134 – Cribs (free) and rollaway beds ($15) are available on request
Good to Know: Bring a sled and go sledding on Capitol Hill. It can get a little crowded, but the experience is amazing.
We know what you’re thinking. Disney World? On a list of cheap family vacations? But it’s true—you really can have an amazing Disney vacation on a budget. Here’s how to do it: First, stay at one of Disney’s All Star budget resorts, all of which have high-quality amenities, great pools, and the same early park access that the expensive hotels offer. Use a booking site to get the best deal, and use the money you’ve saved on park tickets. Bring a soft-sided cooler so you can take your own food into the parks. Finally, enjoy your savings as you and the kids experience Disney magic.
Key Information: Booking site rates vary, but we’ve seen the rates for All Star Sports dip as low as $171 per night on agoda.com – All restaurants in Disney World will give you free cups of water to refill bottles – Shop around for Disney ticket deals
Good to Know: Disney souvenirs can be expensive, but if you load up a gift card that fits your budget to give to your kids, you don’t have to worry about unexpected expenses in the gift shop.
Bar Harbor, Maine, is a beautiful winter destination. Your kids will love the charming seaside feel and fun museums, like the Dorr Museum of Natural History, as well as the town’s eclectic cuisine. If you visit, you have to stop at Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium, the one and only place to try lobster-flavored ice cream! While you have several hotel options, we recommend the Acadia Hotel, which was first built as a ship captain’s house and now hosts guests.
Key Information: Room rates start at $99 – Free continental breakfast – Outdoor hot tubs
Good to Know: Acadia National Park is nearby and is a great option if the weather allows it.
Myrtle Beach is a great winter destination, with not-too-cold temperatures and lots of activities. The area is home to Ripley’s aquarium, a huge skywheel on the boardwalk, and many more fun activities. Kids will especially love the nearby Children’s Museum of South Carolina. While the ocean might be a little chilly for swimming, you can still enjoy walking on the beach, playing at the boardwalk, and much more.
Key Information: Stay at the Sandcastle Oceanfront Resort – Winter room rates start at $41 – Hotel has an indoor pool
Good to Know: Kids as young as 3 can enjoy riding at Horseback Riding of Myrtle Beach–—it’s a perfect family activity.
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All inclusive sailing cruise with private chef, beautiful sceneries and water fun everyday! Rene and his wife are making you feel so welcomed & share their love for the Turkey coast. Kids have their own cabin and menus can be adapted to them. You can be matched with another family to ofset the cost.