These Amazing and Cheap Vacation Destinations Make Great Vacations for Families

Traveling to popular vacation destinations is expensive, but traveling with kids is even more expensive. Plus, you want to ensure there are fun, age-appropriate activities for everyone. Is it possible to find great vacations for families while keeping to a budget?

We are here to tell you that cheap vacation destinations are absolutely available. And that does not mean you have to keep going to Disneyland or Sea World.

Below, you will find your 2017 ranking of the best vacation destinations for families that stay in a reasonable budget and offer fun new experiences everyone can enjoy.

Best Vacation Destinations Red Award Emblem

Award Emblem: Top 6 Best Vacation Destinations

Here are our guidelines for finding these top family vacation destinations:

  • The most inexpensive popular vacation destinations should have options for cheap flights (or no flights!), cheap board, cheap activities, or cheap food.
  • The best family vacation destinations should have a wide range of activities that kids, teens, and adults could enjoy. They should also be safe.
  • Great vacation destinations will have incredible sites to see, fun activities to try, or new things to experience.

Once you have gone through this list of top vacation destinations, you will see that fun vacation destinations, amazing vacation destinations – even beautiful vacation destinations – are accessible to families on a budget.

See Also: American Express Blue Cash vs Wells Fargo Rewards® Card vs Gold Delta Skymiles vs TD Bank Cash Credit Card

AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best Cheap Vacation Destinations For Families

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of these popular vacation destinations names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that destination):

Top 6 Best Vacation Destinations | Brief Comparison & Ranking


Vacation Destinations

Is a Flight Necessary?

Can You Camp?

Grand Canyon, Arizona, USANot if you live near west USAYes
La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano, Costa RicaYes, and a passportNo
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USANot if you live in the southeast of the U.SYes
San Juan, Puerto RicoYesNo
Washington, D.C., USANot if you live on the east coastYes
Yellowstone, Wyoming, USANot if you live near WyomiingYes

Table: Top 6 Best Popular Vacation Destinations | Above list is sorted alphabetically

Ways to Save Money on the Best Vacation Destinations

Before we highlight these incredible family vacation destinations, let’s take a moment to talk about some ways you can save even more money and make these top vacation destinations even more affordable:

  • Do not stay in the nicest hotel: Your kids will not remember the thread count of the sheets when they think about their amazing vacation destinations; they will think about the fun they had. Stay a little outside the main hub of these great vacation destinations, or choose camping options.
  • Think about going outside of high season: All popular vacation destinations have a season when most tourists show up (normally due to good weather or school being out). They increase the prices at this time. Take the kids to family vacation destinations off-season.
  • Eat like locals: Avoid “tourist-trap” restaurants in popular vacation destinations that charge $20 for a salad. Do research ahead of time to know where locals in these great vacation destinations like to eat or bring their kids to eat. These will be more affordable and often have better food.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the top six cheap vacation destinations that make great vacations for families in 2017.

Don’t Miss: Top Travel Sites | Ranking | Best Travel Booking Websites and Online Travel Agencies

All-in-One Change Management Tools

Top Rated Toolkit for Change Managers.

Get Your Change Management Tool Today...

AdvisoryHQ’s Selection Methodology

What methodology does AdvisoryHQ use in selecting and finalizing the credit cards, financial products, firms, services, and products that are ranked on its various top-rated lists?

Please click here “AdvisoryHQ’s Ranking Methodologies” for a detailed review of AdvisoryHQ’s selection methodologies for ranking top-rated credit cards, financial accounts, firms, products, and services.

Detailed Review – Top Ranking Best Cheap Vacation Destinations For Families

Below, please find a detailed review of each of these top vacation destinations on our list of best family vacation destinations. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these vacation destinations to score so highly in our selection ranking.

Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA Review

One of the most popular vacation destinations on our list of top family vacation destinations is the Grand Canyon found in Arizona.

A great thing about choosing the Grand Canyon over other great vacations for families is the camping. Though you will have to pay a small fee for the campsite, the cost of board will definitely be cheaper overall than other popular vacation destinations.

Obviously, the highlight activity will be visiting and seeing the Grand Canyon itself. As one of the top cheap vacation destinations, the admission cost is by-vehicle only, which means the whole family is included. Passes last 7 days.

  • Vehicle permit: $30
  • Motorcycle permit: $25
  • Individual (entering by foot, bike, or shuttle): $15

But, like many of these amazing vacation destinations, this destination has countless things to do.

The website Family Vacation Critic has a comprehensive guide to the Grand Canyon. They tell you all of your activity options and what age range is best suited for the event. As one of the best vacation destinations, options include:

  • Grand Canyon Junior Ranger Program (3 – teens)
  • Grand Canyon Railway (infants – teens)
  • Mule rides (7 – teens)
  • Yavapai Observation Station (3 – teens)

La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica Review

If you are looking for family vacation destinations that allow you to take your kids out of country without breaking the bank, here is one of the top ideas. Costa Rica makes great vacations for families.

La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica - cheap vacation destinations

Image Source: Creative Commons

While many of these recommended popular vacation destinations do not require a flight, the La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano area in Costa Rica is one of the best vacation destinations abroad without the high flight prices of Europe or Australia.

While some of these best vacation destinations include activities for even the youngest travelers, Costa Rica is probably better for older kids, at least those who have reached six years old.

If you choose La Fortuna/Arenal among the cheap vacation destinations, here are some of the activities the family can enjoy.

  • Arenal Hanging Bridges: Since you are choosing one of the most beautiful vacation destinations, see all its rainforest wonder while walking across safe hanging bridges. Children 6 to 10 get to experience these incredible hanging bridges for free; teens 11 to 18 are only $16.
  • La Fortuna Waterfall: Go down hundreds of stairs to get a glimpse at the gorgeous volcano waterfall. Since you have to go back up those stairs, this is a better activity for older kids. The entrance fee is only $15, and you can spend time swimming in the water before you climb back up.
  • Hot Springs: La Fortuna is filled with natural hot springs for both the kids and you to soak in. Some you have to pay to visit, others you can go to for free.
  • Visit Los Lagos: Here, the whole family can see the frog farm, crocodile farm, butterfly garden, rainforest ants, take a horseback ride, and even zip line on their canopy tours.

Costa Rica is known as a very safe country among Central American vacation destinations; you can feel confident bringing the family along.

Related: Top Hotel Discounts | Tips for Finding the Best Hotel Deals

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA Review

Next up on our list of best vacation destinations is Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. Many times, beach vacation destinations can cost quite a bit due to hotel costs and food, especially if you are in southern California.

Myrtle Beach, however, is not only one of the more fun family vacation destinations, it is also one of the most affordable beach vacation destinations.

As one of the best family vacation destinations, the list of kid-friendly activities is long. Some of the highlights include:

  • The Family Kingdom, a carnival-style park
  • Myrtle Waves Water Park
  • Ripley’s Aquarium
  • Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, which includes a large ferris wheel
  • Alligator Adventure, a 15-acre park

By nature, beaches make for cheap vacation destinations in the sense that the family can spend the whole day enjoying the sun, sand, and waves for absolutely no cost at all – other than the extra sunscreen, of course!

Myrtle Beach is also near other popular vacation destinations, like Charleston, if you want a change of scenery for a day.

San Juan, Puerto Rico Review

We are only looking at two family vacation destinations outside of the continental U.S. on our list of best vacation destinations. San Juan, Puerto Rico is the second.

Flights to Puerto Rico are often much cheaper than other popular vacation destinations, like Europe or Asia. And unlike many other best family vacation destinations in foreign countries, traveling to Puerto Rico does not require a passport.

This can be helpful for parents looking for easy top vacation destinations that are outside of the continental United States.

Another reason San Juan is considered one of the best cheap vacation destinations is that it was named one of the “30 Cheapest Places To Travel in 2017” by Forbes.

As one of the most popular vacation destinations, here are some of the family-friendly activities you can participate in:

  • Relax at one of the many beaches
  • Visit Culebrita Island
  • Go on an adventure tour (often best for children 7 or older)
  • Walk the streets of Old San Juan
  • Explore the Rio Camuy Cave Park
  • Go inside old Spanish forts

Without a doubt, San Juan will be one of the more beautiful vacation destinations you ever see.

Popular Article: Top Cheap Romantic Weekend Getaways for Couples | Cheap Getaways for Two

Washington, D.C., USA Review

One of the most popular vacation destinations in the country, Washington, D.C. may not immediately jump out as one of the top cheap vacation destinations.

It is true that many hotel options here can be more expensive than many family vacation destinations. The best solution is to find a hotel a little outside the city limits.

But unlike most amazing vacation destinations, nearly all of the activities you do with the family can be free.

As one of the best vacation destinations for families, here are just some of the things to do with the family – and each one is entirely free:

  • The Lincoln Memorial
  • Washington National Cathedral
  • National Gallery of Art
  • National Air and Space Museum
  • National Museum of Natural History
  • The White House and Washington Monument
  • National World War II Museum

If you are looking for the best family vacation destinations with plenty of historical sites, you really cannot beat Washington D.C. Many other great vacation destinations with a historical focus charge you to see the sights.

Free Wealth & Finance Software - Get Yours Now ►

Yellowstone, Wyoming, USA Review

The last of the popular vacation destinations for families on a budget is Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. National parks make great vacations for families looking for inexpensive yet beautiful vacation destinations.

Yellowstone, Wyoming, USA - family vacation destinations

Image source: Pixabay

Like other national park family vacation destinations, you can choose to camp as an entire family. This means you can drive a motorhome or tent camp.

As one of the best vacation destinations, here are some of the fun activities you can do in Yellowstone with the whole family:

  • Old Faithful: Erupts every 45 minutes
  • Grand Prismatic: A colorful natural wonder
  • Grand Canyon of Yellowstone: Filled with trails

Families who want some adventure when looking for top vacation destinations can also go horseback riding, let their kids take part in a ranger program, white water rafting, and much more.

What makes this one of the cheap vacation destinations is the low cost of admission, the same as the Grand Canyon:

  • Vehicle permit: $30
  • Motorcycle permit: $25
  • Individual (entering by foot, bike, or shuttle): $15

Read More: Top Weekend Getaways for Couples | Best Cheap Vacation Ideas for Couples

Conclusion – Top 6 Family Vacation Destinations

Now that you have a good idea of some of the most popular vacation destinations that qualify as best vacation destinations under these two categories:

  • Great family vacation destinations
  • Cheap vacation destinations

Hopefully, one of these amazing vacation destinations that make great vacations for families will bring your family some joy and adventure this year.

AdvisoryHQ (AHQ) Disclaimer:

Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Terms for details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info.

Note: Firms and products, including the one(s) reviewed above, may be AdvisoryHQ's affiliates. Click to view AdvisoryHQ's advertiser disclosures.