5 Family-Friendly Vacations To Take This Summer That Won't Break The Bank

Travel is possible this summer, and hotels and flights are booking fast. But you can still have a fun, relaxing vacation with your family without shelling out too much money—you just have to know where to look.

An image of a family packing for vacation.
Photo: Getty Images.

With vaccines being widely available in the U.S. and travel restrictions lifting, families may be able to travel more safely this summer. "I think people will be looking for fun things to do," says Jennifer Spatz founder and CEO of Global Family Travels, a Seattle-based travel planning company. "With more people getting vaccinated, we're seeing more travelers have confidence traveling."

The trend this summer will be vacations within the country, especially since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said fully vaccinated people can travel within the United States as long as they continue to take COVID-19 precautions. "I think most people are still going to choose to travel locally," says Spatz.

Here's a big tip: Whether you're going on a family road trip or flying to your destination, make sure to book your trip and activities well in advance. "There is significant pent up demand for travel based on our current booking pace," says Bruce Rosenberg, COO of hotel booking service Hotel Planner.

From staying local to exploring national parks and museums, here are some of the best kid-friendly and affordable places to consider for your family's post-pandemic summer travel.

Orlando, Florida

Orlando is one of Rosenberg's top recommendations for a tourist-friendly and affordable family vacation. There's a variety of things to do in Orlando that the whole family might enjoy. "There's plenty of activities to do besides theme parks and casinos that can keep everyone very busy," says Rosenberg.

Yulia Saf, founder of travel site Miss Tourist suggests a stay at Universal's Cabana Beach Resort in Orlando. Inspired by Florida resorts from the 1950s and 60s, the hotel offers guests a number of pools (including a lazy river), sand volleyball, ping pong, and a 10-lane bowling alley. Rates start at $179 per night, and the hotel allows up to three kids to share a room with their parents for free.


According to a recent report by Destination Analysts, Hawaii is at the top of the list for places U.S. tourists want to visit. The destination has strict pre-travel rules requiring visitors to show a negative COVID test, or quarantine for 10 days before entering. With safety being taken care of, planning a family vacation to Hawaii might be just what you need this summer.

Saf recommends the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel in Lahaina, Maui. The island is home to some of the best beaches in the world, and Ka'anapali Beach is no exception. The Ka'anapali Beach Hotel is just steps away from the famed beach of the same name and offers budget-friendly rooms starting at $256. It also allows kids under 17 to stay for free.

Outrigger Hotels & Resorts in Waikiki Beach is also offering competitive rates this summer starting between $149-$179 at its locations. Outrigger offers guests surf lessons, a free hula class on Sundays, and free admission to the Honolulu Museum of Art. Oahu has tons of amazing outdoor activities for families—take a sunrise hike up Diamond Head for an incredible view of the island, or go on a snorkeling adventure in Hanauma Bay.

National Parks

"I think the national parks will be well-visited again," says Spatz. She suggests Yellowstone as a great option for families. "There's so much to do there, so much history, learning about all the geology, about all the different places you can visit in the park," adds Spatz. "And certainly there are a lot of affordable places to stay."

You could also plan a trip to America's most visited national park, the Great Smoky Mountains National park in East Tennessee. Make sure to also checkout the nearby mountain town Gatlinburg, which was rated 2021's #1 trending travel destination in the U.S. by TripAdvisor. East Tennessee has scenic views, quaint towns, restaurants, and tons of affordable accommodation options, with rates starting at $75 a night.

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

This resort city 50 minutes from Milwaukee has scenic views of shimmering Lake Geneva and is full of options for your whole family. There are tons of tourist attractions, shopping, restaurants, and museums as well as outdoor activities like zip-lining, hot air balloon rides, and safari.

You can also visit or stay at the Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark, which has been named one of the top 10 waterparks in the country. Rates start at $189 this summer for a one-bedroom suite that includes a full kitchen. The resort has giant waterslides, mini golf, three-person rafts, and poolside cocktails for the grownups.

St. Petersburg, Florida

St. Petersburg, also known as St. Pete, is a beautiful city on Florida's Gulf Coast with a variety of options for you and the kids. Soak up the sun on the sprawling white sand beaches, or see if you can spot some local wildlife including dolphins, manatees, or sea turtles. You can also check out Downtown St. Pete for museums like The Dali (where kids ages 6-10 can get in for $10, free if they're under 5) or the Museum of Fine Arts. You can also take a tour of all the colorful murals lining the streets of St. Pete—tours start at just $11 for kids.

Bottom line: you can find many affordable, kid-friendly destinations to visit with your family this summer to satisfy your travel bug. Just make sure to book early for the best deals, and follow COVID health guidelines. Safe travels!

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