With a new baby on the way, my brother’s wedding coming up this fall, and my husband’s limited vacation time (which we want to conserve for after the baby is here), we decided that it would be best for us to do “Family Vacation Lite” this year. So I started looking into ideas for a short three- to four-day vacation that won’t break the bank. I found some really great options, so I thought I’d share my findings in case anyone else was trying to plan a quick family vacation this summer.
Since we’re in the Washington, DC area, most of what I found that will work for us is on the East Coast. But since I know not everyone lives on or near the right coast, I’ve included some of the other ideas as well.
While it’s not much of a vacation for us, living here, DC is really a great spot if you’re trying not to spend a ton during vacation. There are so many free museums, inspiring memorials and monuments, great cheap eats, farmers markets, and inexpensive entertainment options—like $15 tickets to Nationals games—that your family won’t get bored and you won’t go broke!
Yellowstone National Park
Between Old Faithful and the beautiful views, Yellowstone is a great vacation spot for outdoorsy types. In fact, national parks in general fit this bill. Many of them have inexpensive cabins, campsites, and inns on the property, so you’re only steps away from hiking trails, fishing, waterfalls, and more.
If you’re in Sedona, you have to go to Slide Rock State Park in Oak Creek Canyon. The rocks have been worn smooth and are covered in soft slippery algae that it makes for some awesome natural water slides. Yes, it sounds a little strange, but trust me—it’s so fun! I went when I was younger and LOVED it. Plus, Sedona is just two hours from the Grand Canyon, so you can easily make a day trip out of it.
Ocean City, MD
We have gone to the Maryland and/or Delaware beaches nearly every summer since moving to DC. While we love Rehoboth Beach, there are more inexpensive hotel and resort options in the more commercial Ocean City. The best part about a beach vacation is that it doesn’t cost a penny to build sand castles and ride the waves. And after you’ve left the beach, there are lots of restaurant options for every type of family and budget, as well as miniature golf and the boardwalk.
I grew up in Hampton Roads (just down I-64 from Williamsburg), so I’ve spent a ton of time in this colonial town. Jamestowne, the first English settlement, is a must-see, and children 15 and under get in for free. Step back in time as you stroll through the Revolutionary City and learn what life was like in Colonial America. If you can swing it, Busch Gardens and Water Country USA—always a hit with kids—are just up the road.
Have you planned a great family vacation on a budget? Share the details!