Summer vacation is just around the corner, believe it or not. Doesn’t it feel like we were just celebrating the holidays? The kids will be out of school and on day one they are super excited, day two they are kind of excited, and day three is when the boredom sets in and your sanity flies out the window.
If you look at your states visitor’s website you can find a lot of free and inexpensive things to do in your area. That is a great way to cure the “school’s out” blues. If you want to go outside your state there are several cities that offer free to low-cost activities that are educational and fun!
Of course, going outside your home state means traveling. Did you know that traveling to and from a destination actually counts for 65 percent of a family’s vacation budget? It is true! The majority of spending money is spent on plane tickets. But there are ways to bust that cost and put more money in your pocket. Visiting sites like Expedia, Priceline, Skyscanner and, my personal favorite, CheapOAir.com, can sometimes give you cheaper airfare. Some airlines will offer really cheap tickets to popular cities so follow your favorites on Facebook because that is where they usually announce the sale. Be sure to check out our post on airfare hacks for additional tips on how to save.
Hotels can also be expensive. Your best bet is to do some research and try to travel when there are no major events happening, which includes things like spring break! Be sure to check TripAdvisor for reviews on the best places to stay, and then book your hotels through sites like Booking.com, where you’ll often find the best hotels at discounted prices. Another great way to save on accommodations is by booking through AirBnB. By renting someone’s home (or a room in their house), instead of a hotel, you can save big bucks!
The best advice I can give for traveling to these cities on a budget is to save your money. Have you ever heard of the dollar trick? It’s genius! Most dollars have a letter before their issued number. Pick 3 letters from the alphabet and every time you find a dollar with one of those letters save it. I did this for Christmas and saved over $800 in a year!
If you’ve got your money saved and you’re ready to travel, check out the cities below. They’re all surprisingly great cities to visit on a budget. They are full of history, fun, and great times for your family!
5 Best U.S. Cities to Visit on a Budget
Atlanta is great for families and very budget friendly. There are so many free things you can do in the area that it cold take a week to fit in everything.
One can’t-miss destination is the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. Run by the National Park Service, you can visit the home where he grew up, listen to some of his sermons in historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, and stop at The King Center to visit his tomb and eternal flame.
Take a stroll through the Castleberry Hill Historic Arts District and check out all of the amazing artwork on display.
If you are visiting on a Wednesday don’t forget to go to the “Underground Atlanta.” This is a “city beneath the streets” where you will find 225,000 square feet of shopping and entertainment! You’ll definitely want to stop by for lunch because of the more than 60 food trucks that set up shop for Eat Street! Food Truck Wednesday.
The Children’s Museum of Atlanta is free every second Tuesday of the month and has a lot of interactive displays for kids.
If you want to make a day out of it by tossing the frisbee, having a picnic, or bike ride, you have to visit Piedmont Park. It is simply gorgeous and a great way to soak up some of that beautiful Atlanta weather!
Reminisce about the 1996 Olympics (remember how exciting it was watching Michael Johnson run or the Magnificent Seven win Gold?! How did Kerri Strug pull off that vault landing on one leg?!), at Centennial Olympic Park. You’ll often find live music playing, kids (of all ages) can splash in the Fountain of Rings, and an audio walking tour is available.
CityPASS Atlanta: You can save 40 percent on admission to five of Atlanta’s top attractions with a CityPASS! For $75 for each adult or $59 for children between the ages of 3-12, you can gain access to the following attractions:
- Georgia Aquarium
- World of Coca-Cola
- CNN Studio Tours
- Zoo Atlanta OR Center for Civil and Human Rights
- Fernbank Museum of Natural History OR College Football Hall of Fame
Budget-friendly hotels in Atlanta:
- The Wingate by Wyndham Atlanta/Buckhead is one of the top-ranked hotels on TripAdvisor and typically costs just over $100 per night.
- I always love staying at InterContinental hotels, and great deals are not hard to find for the InterContintal Buckhead Atlanta.
- If you don’t mind staying near the airport, the Holiday Inn & Suites Atlanta Airport will cost you about $100 per night. This hotel comes with free wifi and a pool.