June 15, 2024

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Navigating Travel Tales

Best 50 Cheap Family Vacations for Memorable Adventures

4 min read
Detroit Aerial Panorama

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Detroit, Michigan

Why you’ll love it: Plan a cheap family vacation to Detroit, and you’ll get to experience the rise, fall and rebirth of a legendary American city all in one weekend. Detroit is one of American’s best hidden gems, a city where you can visit the birthplace of the Model-T at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, discover and play the unique blend of football and bowling that was invented at the Fowling Warehouse, gawk at the backyard oddity known as Hamtramck Disneyland, play on Belle Isle Park between Michigan and Ontario and tour the Henry Ford Museum and GreenField Village in nearby Dearborn. There’s so much vital American history here (the good and the bad), as well as a bright future that’s still being written today.

Budget tip: You’ll want to check out the Detroit River Conservancy, where you can walk, blade or bike your way along the 3.5-mile riverwalk while enjoying the city’s impressive skyline. It’s one of the best free tourist attractions in the country.

How to get there: The Detroit Metro Airport, a domestic Delta airline hub, is just 25 minutes by car from the city center.

Where to stay: While you’ll find a number of great hotels in Motor City, a stay at the Courtyard Downtown provides easy access to the Detroit People Mover, an automated public transit system that runs through the hotel and makes it a breeze to move to locations around the city, including the waterfront area and Comerica Park (to see a Detroit Tigers baseball game).

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Ferris Wheel in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

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Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Why you’ll love it: This beautiful seaside town in South Carolina is a water-sports playground for all ages and heaven for golf aficionados, whether your family members love playing a full 18 holes or prefer a friendly mini-golf competition with decorative windmills.

Budget tip: At most golf courses along the Grand Strand, kids under 16 can golf for free with a paying adult, which will help you save a bundle. Need more convincing? Myrtle Beach consistently ranks as one of the top cheap beach destinations in the country, and if you plan your trip right, you can enjoy one of the many free arts and music festivals it hosts throughout the year, making Myrtle Beach a budget family travel goldmine!

How to get there: The closest airport is Myrtle Beach International Airport, but for more flight (and pricing) options, look at flying into Charleston, South Carolina (about 2.5 hours away), as well as Wilmington, North Carolina, for short domestic flights.

Where to stay: There are cheap beach hotels, but the Homewood Suites by Hilton at the Grand Mall is the perfect headquarters for affordable family fun in Myrtle Beach. With five golf courses within a 15-minute drive, beaches just three miles away and a cornucopia of restaurants and shopping a short walk from the lobby, it is ideally situated for anything you and your family want to do. Plus, there’s an outdoor pool for the kiddos.

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Horseback riders in rural field

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Central Ohio

Why you’ll love it: This is the rare chance to disconnect in a thoroughly unique place. Set in the woods (but still so close to so much to do), the surprising destination of Glenmont, Ohio, has a lot of unique family fun, whether you fancy a three-hour zip-lining adventure, a nine-mile canoe trip down the Mohican River, a horseback ride through the countryside, a mountain biking jaunt or a less strenuous visit to Amish Country near Millersburg, Ohio, for craft and furniture shopping and lots of baked goods. It’s all pretty darn perfect and Instagram-worthy, if you ask us.

Budget tip: Plan to spend your time unplugged and in nature, which famously, doesn’t cost a dime. From biking to hiking, burning calories to indulging in delicious Amish baked goods, this is the cheap family vacation you need.

How to get there: The Columbus airport is just an hour and 20 minutes away. Or, consider making this a part of an ultimate family road trip or a quick weekend getaway.

Where to stay: There’s one specific place you should stay in central Ohio: The Mohicans Treehouse Resort in Glenmont. The cabins, gorgeous farmhouses and—you guessed it—epic treehouse hotels, including an Airstream trailer high in the trees, are truly one of a kind.

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