Posted on: December 25, 2023 Posted by: Niru Sherman Comments: 0
Cheapest and Safest Places to Go With Family

Planning a family vacation can be exciting but also stressful, especially when trying to find somewhere that is both budget-friendly and safe. The good news is that there are plenty of affordable and secure destination options for families right in your own backyard. With some research and flexible planning, you can find great deals on lodging, activities, transportation and more to create memorable experiences without breaking the bank. If you’re looking for places to go with your family near me, I can help you with that too. Just let me know your location and I’ll do my best to suggest some great options for you.

Affordable Nearby Outdoor Destinations

Getting the family outdoors is a fun, inexpensive way to spend quality time together. Look for state and national parks within driving distance that offer free or low-cost access to hiking trails, lakes, beaches and other natural attractions. For example:

Local Parks

  • Your city, county and state likely have dozens of local parks perfect for picnics, playgrounds, sports and exploring nature. Pack snacks and games to make a day of it without spending much.
  • National parks often have free entry days or weeks throughout the year when entry fees are waived. Nearby examples could include Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Mt. Rainier, etc.

State Parks

  • State park systems throughout the country protect beautiful and diverse landscapes. Day use fees are usually $5-10 per vehicle.
  • Many state parks have campgrounds available to rent. Tent camping is quite affordable, saving on lodging costs.
  • Check state park department websites for deals like mid-week discounts or annual passes that can pay for themselves quickly.

Hiking Trails

Hiking Trails

  • Search for local hiking trails that traverse mountains, forests, lakeshores and more. Pack lunches and enjoy scenic views.
  • National hiking trails like the Appalachian, Continental Divide, Pacific Crest and others have access points ideal for day hikes.
  • Urban hiking paths like The 606 in Chicago and High Line in NYC also make for economical adventures.

Lakes, Rivers & Waterfalls

  • Search for bodies of water close by to picnic, swim, boat or fish affordably. State parks usually provide lake and river access.
  • Check Groupon and social media for tubing, kayaking or paddleboard rental deals. Or pack an inflatable model.
  • Waterfalls often reside in free public park lands and make ideal photo backdrops and swimming holes.

Beaches & Coastlines

  • Beaches along the ocean, Great Lakes and rivers lend themselves to budget vacations. Pack food, toys and enjoy public beaches.
  • Off-season visits offer fewer crowds. Plan spring, fall and winter trips to popular summer lake and ocean destinations.
  • Search for free beach access points, or state beaches that charge nominal entry fees and parking rates.

Family-Friendly City Escapes

Quick getaways to nearby metropolitan areas can be both affordable and full of family fun too. Take advantage of free attractions, public transportation, hotel deals and coupons to keep costs low.

Museums & Galleries

  • Many art, history, science and cultural museums offer free entry days or weeks. Time visits around these dates.
  • Seek out discounts like family passes that cover admission for 2 adults + kids, or city passes that bundle deals.
  • University museums and smaller galleries often have free entry and unique collections worth exploring.

Zoos & Aquariums

  • Major city zoos like San Diego, National and Bronx Zoos charge entry fees, but offer family discounts.
  • Search Groupon and activity sites for zoo tickets at 25-50% off face value.
  • Many small local zoos and aquariums operate on donations or charge just $5-10 for family entry.

Botanical Gardens & Arboretums

  • Public gardens offer budget-friendly strolls among beautiful flowers, trees and trails.
  • Monthly free days are common. Also watch for 2-for-1 coupons.
  • University gardens and conservatories also boast exotic plants without high prices.

Attractions, Tours & Entertainment

  • Walking tours of historic and cultural districts are often pay-what-you-want.
  • Comedy clubs, improv and magic shows offer family discounts for daytime performances.
  • Movies in the park, free concerts and street fairs are community events worth checking out.

Getting Around

  • Subways, light rail, buses and streetcars help you avoid costly parking fees and traffic headaches.
  • Group ride shares, pedicabs and bike rentals can also transport families fairly cheaply.
  • Ask tourism bureaus about shuttle buses, hop on-hop off services and transit passes that bundle deals.

Budget-Friendly Lodging Options

Budget-Friendly Lodging Options

Affordable overnight accommodations are key to keeping family vacations within budget. With flexibility and smart planning, cheap does not have to mean low quality.

Camping & RV Parks

  • Campgrounds at parks, forests, lakes and beaches deliver budget lodging starting at $10-25 nightly. Tent sites, cabins and yurts can accommodate families comfortably.
  • RV parks with hookups for motorhomes & trailers have family friendly amenities and typically cost $40-60 per night.
  • Search for camping deals like weeknight, monthly, seasonal and annual pass discounts at nearby public and private campgrounds.

Budget Hotels & Motels

  • Mid-range hotel chains like Best Western, La Quinta, Quality Inn and others have nightly rates starting around $60-100 for families.
  • Book directly on brand websites for best rates and perks like free breakfast, parking discounts, lobby WiFi and seasonal sales.
  • Join free hotel loyalty programs for benefits like room upgrades, late checkout and accelerated rewards points.

Vacation Rentals

  • Renting a condo, cabin or home can be cheaper than multiple hotel rooms for large families.
  • Search HomeAway, Airbnb, Vrbo and FlipKey for entire place rentals with full kitchens to save on meals.
  • Travel off-season for cheaper nightly rates, flexible cancellation policies and smaller deposits.


  • Hostels offer bare bones lodging starting around $25-40 per night and fun social atmospheres. Some host private family rooms.
  • Hostel amenities can include shared bathrooms, kitchens, lounges, activities, free breakfast and WiFi.
  • Hostel club memberships, private rooms and advanced booking yield the best rates.

Staying Safe on a Budget Family Vacation

While saving money is important, keeping your family safe takes priority. Follow these tips to minimize risks when traveling on a budget:

  • Research destination safety and travel advisories on government sites like Avoid high risk areas.
  • Book accommodations in well-lit areas without obvious signs of blight or crime. Ask about safety features like security systems and guards.
  • Use hotel safe deposit boxes or in-room safes to secure passports, credit cards and other valuables when not out.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Use traveler’s checks and credit/debit cards instead. Keep some emergency cash in a hidden money belt or wallet.
  • Don’t display expensive cameras, jewelry and electronics that could make you a robbery target. Keep smartphones secure and out of sight when not needed.
  • Use taxi or ride share services at night instead of walking back to accommodations on dark or deserted streets. Verify driver identity and ride details.
  • Keep close tabs on children in public places and set regular check-in times and meeting spots in case of separation. Have an emergency back-up plan.
  • Save photos of children and IDs on your phone in case you need to show authorities. Teach kids to find police or security guards if lost.
  • Divide gear between multiple bags so losing one doesn’t mean losing everything. Back up digital photos and files online in case cameras or devices get stolen.
  • Purchase travel insurance to safeguard trip costs and access emergency medical treatment and assistance services while traveling.

Family Travel Deals to Watch For

cheapest and safest places Family Travel Deals

Taking advantage of seasonal sales, limited time deals and discounts makes family vacations more feasible on limited budgets. Watch for these money-saving opportunities:

Off-Season Travel

Aim for shoulder seasons like spring and fall for milder weather and fewer crowds. Travel in winter and summer comes with higher rates.

Shoulder Weekends

Avoid peak weekends in destinations by arriving and departing mid-week to save on airfare, hotels, tours, etc.

Holiday Sales

Watch for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, New Years and other holiday deals on flights, hotels, rental cars, attractions, gear and more.

Kids Free Offers

Many hotels, tours, shows and dining spots offer free stays or admission for kids under 12 with paying adults.

Groupon Getaways

Browse deep discounts on bundled deals for family vacations offered through Groupon packages and partners.

Loyalty Program Perks

Redeem points and perks through airline mile, hotel, rental car and credit card loyalty programs for free flights, rooms, trips and more.

Free Amenities

Look for free breakfast at hotels, free airport shuttles, free ski passes for kids, free national park entry days and other deals that lower costs.

Ideas for Affordable Family Day Trips & Weekend Getaways Nearby

Putting the above tips and strategies into action, here are some ideas for wallet-friendly destinations, lodging and trip planning for families:


  • Off-season trips to Myrtle Beach, Virginia Beach, Jersey Shore, Florida panhandle.
  • State park beaches like Point Reyes CA, Jekyll Island GA, Indiana Dunes.
  • Tent camp, get hotel discounts through apps and pack food.

Big Cities on a Budget

  • Trips to Chicago, NYC, Nashville, San Francisco using transit passes.
  • Museum free days, hostels, public entertainment and dining deals.
  • Search JetBlue, Southwest and others for kids fly free deals.

National & State Park Vacations

  • Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon… parks offer big scenery and free entry days.
  • Cabins, camping and budget lodges. Search for park pass discounts.
  • Hike, attend ranger talks, view wildlife and stargaze.

Waterfall Tours

  • See Niagara Falls, Yosemite Falls, Yellowstone and more. Off-season deals on lodging.
  • Search Groupon for discounted Maid of the Mist boat tours.
  • Pack picnic meals and take free park shuttles.

Lake & River Getaways

Lake & River Getaways

  • Boating, fishing, swimming on Lake Tahoe, Lake Michigan, Lake Barkley.
  • Tent camping, budget cabins & lodge rooms with kitchens.
  • Pack inflatables and snacks to save at beach resorts.

Mountain Town Bargains

  • Trips to Gatlinburg, TN, Helen, GA, Estes Park, CO and more mountain escapes.
  • Mini-golf, hiking, river tubing and other free/low-cost activities.
  • Off-season trips, campgrounds and condo rentals.

Amusement Park Deals

  • Disney World, Universal Studios, Dollywood, Six Flags…parks offer family ticket packages.
  • Search hotels for kids eat free perks, Disney park food plans and Groupons.
  • Avoid parking fees with hotel shuttles or Uber/Lyft discounts.

Final Tips

With some flexible planning, families can take memorable vacations without breaking the bank. One great way to do this is by taking advantage of shoulder seasons, sales and deals to lower costs on flights, activities, lodging and more. You can also consider looking for places to go with family near me to minimize travel costs and make the most of your time together. Outdoor destinations like beaches, lakes, parks and forests deliver affordable options. Travel off the beaten path instead of popular tourist spots overflowing with crowds and inflated prices. Pack food, snacks and sports equipment when possible rather than buying or renting at higher prices on site.


  1. What are the best months for cheap family vacations?

January through March offer low rates in warmer destinations before peak spring break and summer crowds. Late August through November also see lower pricing between summer holidays and winter holidays.

  1. Are inexpensive hotels safe for families?

Not necessarily. Thoroughly research hotels with prices that seem too good to be true. Read reviews, inspect the area on Google Maps, ask if they have 24-hour security. A slightly higher nightly rate at a known brand is preferable over a sketchy budget option.

  1. What family vacation destinations are most budget-friendly?

National parks, state parks, beaches, mountain towns and other drive-to nature destinations offer affordable activities, free attractions, camping deals and budget-lodging options. Taking road trips instead of flying also saves substantially.

  1. Is vacation rental housing safer than hotels for families?

Vacation home rentals are generally very safe, especially with a fully private property booked through a trusted platform like Airbnb, Vrbo or FlipKey that verifies hosts and listings. However, always inspect the property thoroughly upon arrival and ask about security features.

  1. How can families travel safely on a budget?

Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and secure valuables in hotel safes when possible. Use ride shares or taxis at night versus walking. Don’t openly flash expensive items that could attract thieves. Purchase travel insurance for trip protection and emergency medical assistance while away from home.