What makes a perfect family vacation? That depends on your
family - what they enjoy doing, where they like to go, the ages of your kids,
and even your parenting style. But most families will agree that a perfect vacation needs to be relaxing and fun with something for everyone.
There is a seemingly endless list of resorts in the United States that fit that description. But for many parents, there is one more essential aspect of the perfect family vacation. It needs to be affordable.
Again, the term affordable is a relative concept, but for many families, a resort that costs more than $350 per night takes the fun out of the vacation.
Parents on a budget are too busy worrying about how they will fund the trip and are unable to relax and enjoy themselves. Or limited funds means that a more expensive resort results in less to spend on tours, attractions, and food.
Many families end up staying in cheap hotels with no kid-friendly amenities rather than spend all their vacation money on lodging. But by searching for discount resorts or obtaining the services of a knowledgeable travel consolidator, it is possible to find many affordable family resorts across the U.S. that won’t
bust your budget.
Here are a few examples:
- A U.S. resort for under $350/night
- Fun, interesting activities for kids of all ages
- A family-friendly atmosphere
- Enough various activities to accommodate
This is quite simply one of the world’s all time favorite family vacation destinations. Anyone who has traveled there with children knows that it meets our criteria of a wide range of family friendly activities.
Known to be one of the more expensive family vacation destinations, there are affordable lodging options that provide easy access to Disneyland and help keep costs down.
The All Star Music Resort is one of Disney’s most affordable resorts. As the name implies, it has a music theme, with different areas decorated to reflect various music genres including jazz, rock, country, and Broadway.
The resort’s two pools are shaped like a piano and a guitar. Kids love the playground and arcade. Parents love the baby-sitting service.
The basic amenities are in keeping with a budget resort but are more numerous than those of a standard hotel. Most rooms sleep four with two double beds. Dining facilities are limited to a mall style food court, but the wide variety of choices is sure to please everyone.
Rates for a family of four at this 2000-room, Disney resort start at just over $100 per night. Because it is part of the group of Disney resorts, there are often vacation specials and packages available.
The Rocky Mountains
Many parents are familiar with the family-oriented mission of the YMCA programs. Located in urban areas internationally, this kid friendly organization offers many educational, sports, and social opportunities.
The YMCA of the Rockies, Colorado also operates two budget vacation resorts that help families get out and enjoy the legendary beauty of the Rocky Mountains.
Snow Mountain Ranch and Estes Park Center are non-denominational programs open to any guest. However, members receive a slight rate discount and have their reservations processed first.
In addition to opportunities to enjoy the mountains, summer children's programs operate daily for ages three through 16. Age appropriate activities include hiking, hayrides, roller skating arts and crafts, campfire cooking, orienteering and archery.
In winter, families can spend the day cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on 125 miles of groomed trails, and return to the resort to warm up in the indoor pool. Estes Park and other prominent winter activity destinations are nearby.
Lodging options include cabins and lodge rooms. Cabins range from two to five bedroom and include a fireplace and fully equipped kitchen.
Rates begin at $138/night. Lodge rooms have two queen beds and a set of bunk beds. Rates begin at $64 during off-peak times. Accommodations are not luxurious but then you are on a budget, right?
Some of America’s original family resorts focused on simple accommodations that provided easy access to the great outdoors.
Nitschke’s Northern Resort, in Minocqua, Wisconsin has carried on the fine example of the original resort, with its tidy accommodations, coupled with the pristine setting on the edge of a lake, surrounded by forest.
Activities include fishing, hiking, boating, jet skiing, or simply relaxing on the porch of your cabin. The beach and playground provide additional play opportunities for children. Icefishing and snowmobiling trails provide winter entertainment options.
Despite the secluded, natural setting of this family resort, the town is within boating, walking, and driving distance when you need groceries or a change of scenery.
Cabins accommodate up to eight people easily and rates start at an amazingly affordable $180 per night.
Many of the award winning family resorts are beyond the means of those on a budget, but Woodloch Pines Resort in Hawley, Pennsylvania offers the amenities of a luxury resort for under $350 per night.
Located on a private lake in the Northern Pocono Mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania, this family owned resort was voted Favorite Family Vacation Spot by the readers of Better Homes and Gardens.
Open year-round, the resort offers an amazing feast of activities from waterskiing, sailboating, and bumper boats in summer to snow tubing, ice skating and snowmobiling in the winter.
Kids of all ages love the go carts, batting cages, pool water slide and hayrides. Parents enjoy the Jacuzzis, massages for themselves and the all-inclusive rates that are difficult to find at U.S. resorts.
Prices vary depending on room selection, time of year and number of people, but a family of four can purchase a four-night package that includes room and 12 meals for under $350 per night.
Another All-Inclusive Family Vacation
The family-friendly, all-inclusive pricing draws hundreds of families south of the border to Mexico each year.
But families don’t have to leave the country to find all-inclusive deals. Tyler Place Family Resort on Lake Champlain in Vermont also offers this pricing that includes meals, snacks, lodging, and most activities.
Tyler Place’s eight different kid’s programs offer structured nature and outdoor programs for children of all ages.
Family water activities include sailing, canoeing, kayaking, water-skiing, paddleboats, bumper tube rides, banana boats, and lots more.
Other entertainment includes tennis, mountain biking, indoor and outdoor pools, and group sports.
Newborn and infant care is provided for parents who want to take art, yoga and aerobics classes, or visit vineyards in Quebec.
Discount, off-peak rates for a family of four are just under $300 per night and include lodging with separate children’s rooms, all meals and access to services and activities.
This list of affordable family resorts is just a taste of what’s available out there for perfect family vacations if you are willing to sacrifice some of the luxurious accommodations in lieu of a more family friendly atmosphere.
As with many vacation destinations, traveling during off peak seasons will cut costs, and watching out for vacation specials, discount flights, and discount car rental can also help keep costs down.
Vacation planners who work with a variety of destinations and packages are often able to locate great vacation deals for you and your family. The perfect family vacation doesn’t have to blow your budget. It just takes a little planning and research.
About the author:
C.J. Gustafson is a freelance writer and photographer who travels extensively for work and family vacations. A cheapskate by nature and necessity, she is always on the lookout for bargain travel deals to affordable vacation destinations.
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