The vacation is something many families look forward to each year. Before the pandemic, over 100 million Americans embarked on such journeys. After a sharp decline, families are returning to the road with a budget mindset.
With the onset of inflation, prices for vehicle rentals, hotels, and other items related to vacations have increased. This is why you’re looking for some inexpensive opportunities. To help, here are 6 unique & affordable family vacation ideas in the U.S.
1. Tour The Great Smoky Mountains
There’s something mystical about the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s probably due to the Cherokee name for this ridge between North Carolina and Tennessee — Land of the Blue Smoke. Whatever you call it, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is something to see any time of year.
On top of the prominent flora and fauna, there are plenty of entertaining towns, like Gatlinburg, TN, that dot the mountains. Take advantage of its restaurants, shops, attractions, and Gatlinburg cabin rentals. Located at places like Elk Springs Resort, these accommodations put you right in the middle of the Smoky Mountains.
2. Take In Washington D.C.’s Free Attractions
The District of Columbia is open to the public once again. Though timed tickets are still required for some of the free museums and monuments, others are available as long as you maintain proper safety protocols.
Yes, a hotel costs a bit more in the District. However, you save money by booking a room in Virginia or Maryland. Plus, there’s no need to waste gas or money on parking garages. The District’s Metro subway line stops at or near most of the capital’s attractions.
3. Spend Multiple Days At Rocky Mountain National Park
Based in Northern Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) is a unique and affordable vacation idea. For approximately $30 you receive a seven-day pass into the park. During the summer, its cooler temperatures lure visitors to its lakes and Trail Ridge Road, one of the highest byways in the nation at over 12,000 feet. In the fall, vacationers amaze at the changing colors of the leaves. When you need a break, you can visit the city of Estes Park.
4. Chicago Is A Mecca For Architecture Fans
A trip to Chicago during the spring or late summer/early fall is quite affordable. It allows you to stay in the Windy City and take advantage of its free and low-cost offerings. Riding the city’s subway system takes you to the Chicago River, Miracle Mile, and Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs. The Chicago CityPASS is a single-payment option to visit multiple attractions. For instance, The Field Museum, Skydeck Chicago, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others.
5. Hersheypark Is Built For Family Fun
You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars for a few days at one of the Disney parks. For far less you have an opportunity to enjoy all forms of rides and attractions at Hersheypark. Located in the famous Hersey, PA, the attraction is an all-inclusive amusement park. In addition to rides, it has a water park and a zoo. Plus, you get free samples of candy when you ride Hershey’s Chocolate Tour in the visitor’s center.
6. Colorado Springs Has A Mix Of Attractions
One hour south of Denver, Colorado Springs is an inexpensive place for a family vacation. Its hotels and Airbnbs cost far less than its big city sibling to the north. On top of that, it’s filled with family-friendly attractions.
For instance, a visit to the Air Force Academy museum shows you how cadets live during their stay. A hike in the Garden of the Gods reveals the majesty of the state’s Red Rocks. Additionally, a train ride up Pike’s Peak reveals a breathtaking view at over 14,000 feet in elevation.
Needless to say, there are plenty of options available for unique and affordable family vacations in the U.S. The ones mentioned above are a small sample. You may have an idea for another location.
In the end, unless you have financial independence, avoid spontaneous vacations. Do some planning when it comes to accommodations and attractions to maximize your enjoyment and that of your family.