Check out our video guide to affordable family beach vacations. And read along below!
Guide to Getting Away to the Beach on the Cheap
Planning vacations that are affordable is pretty much required nowadays. Many families just can't pay what they used to in order to go on vacation. Luckily, when it comes to vacations, beaches are some of the cheapest ways to go. Here are some tips for planning affordable family beach vacations
Heading Close to Home
When planning affordable beach vacations for families, the number one way to save money is by cutting the costs of traveling. If you live close enough to the coast to drive, you can save a bundle by not paying for airfare or for a rental car. Before deciding which is cheaper, do some research online to find out how much airline tickets will cost along with renting a car. Then figure out how much you'll pay in gas. It's possible that airfare may be cheaper, but more than likely you'll save by driving to your rental destination.
Many think that the only way to go when you're on vacation is with a hotel room. This just isn't true; the best accommodation when you're on vacation is a vacation home. Many have cheaper rates when you rent them for the entire week and will end up being cheaper than a week's stay at a hotel. Plus you'll get more room and more amenities. Check out vacation rentals for your vacation destination and be sure to book the rental in advance so you don't miss out on the great deal.
Finding a Location
Every coast has a beach, but that doesn't mean all beach locations are created equal. When choosing affordable beach vacations for families, think first what you want to do on vacation.
Young families will want to head to beaches that have lifeguards, restrooms, and calm waters. One such location is Crandon Park in Miami. This beach is located on a lagoon making the waters calm, which is great for young children. Another great location is Harbor Beach in San Diego. Not only will you be safe with lifeguards, but the beach is very wide, making it easy to set up far from the water.
If you have teenagers who will want to scuba dive or snorkel, check out Cannon Beach in Key Largo, Florida. This location has one of the largest coral reefs making it a lot of fun to explore under water. There's also a shipwreck that can be explored. If your kids want to learn to surf, Cowell's Beach in Santa Cruz, California is a great location. Here many beginners are learning, so there's not too much intimidation.
California and Florida aren't the only great locations for families. Many families love Orange Beach, Alabama, located on the Gulf of Mexico. Another hotspot is Galveston, Texas, which has a few beaches including Stewart Beach, West Beach, and Galveston State Park.
Check Out Some Underrated Beaches
When thinking of a summer vacation at the beach, the first places that come to mind are the shores of Florida or Hawaii. However, when planning a summer getaway, Florida doesn’t have to be the only option and neither does the Aloha State. There a number of other great beaches in the U.S. that are full of fun in the sun without the touristy travel personalities Florida and Hawaii project. Before heading to the Sunshine State for the week, think about some of these other fun-filled locations where deals can often be had.
Myrtle Beach, S.C.
, has really reshaped its image in the last several years. Visitors to Myrtle Beach can enjoy Southern hospitality at its finest with the perfect mixture of sunshine, sand and waves. There are several options for accommodations, as hotels line the Grand Strand. Enjoy a night of live entertainment, attractions, cuisine and fun. The Family Kingdom is a great way to create memories that will last forever, as will a trip to Broadway at the Beach, an outdoor area full of shopping, restaurants and entertainment.
One spot that may not be the first destination to pop into your mind is Montauk, N.Y.
, located in the Hamptons. But don’t think for a minute this is your typical Hamptons town. Montauk is more desirable than other spots on this portion of Long Island. The town’s nickname is “The End,” since it’s located on the very end of Long Island, surrounded on three sides by water and 12 miles from the nearest Hamptons town. Visitors to Montauk enjoy the laid-back feel, while surfers and fishermen flock to the area. There are no chain restaurants in Montauk, so it’s been able to preserve the small-town ambiance that travelers appreciate.
Head to the Pacific Northwest with a summer getaway to the San Juan Islands
in Washington. Many residents of the state are well aware of this beautiful destination; however, not many others know it exists - making it a quiet, hidden gem. Farmlands, evergreen forests, nature trails, whale-watching and mom-and-pop shops call the islands home. A trip to the San Juan Islands will provide you with the relaxed and nature-infused vibe you’ve been searching for in a summer vacation. Those who visit the islands like to hike, spot wildlife, sail, swim and kayak. Because the islands are so obscure, there’s not one spot that will feel overcrowded by tourists.
If you’re searching for a quaint Northeast town, take a trip to York, Maine
. This locale is full of history, beaches and a number of outdoor activities. There are a lot of visitors that flock to the York during the summer months, but it never feels overwhelming or overcrowded. An 18th-century jailhouse still stands in York. Tourists enjoy swimming, surfing, kayaking, fishing and whale-watching on trips to this small town. There are even more secluded beaches at Cape Neddick, also in York, to get a great view of the Nubble Lighthouse.
is a small island located off the coast of Virginia. It serves as the gateway to the Assateague Island National Seashore - a 37-mile-long nature refuge for wild ponies, birds and foxes. Boaters will have no trouble reaching this serene island and cars can easily access it from the Route 175 bridge. There’s the Chincoteague Diner, a nice place to stop and eat after spending a day splashing in the waves.
Guests can head back to the West Coast for a visit to Gearhart, Ore
. This small town is full of antique shops and hiking trails. Just north of Gearhart is Cannon Beach, a popular destination for Portland locals who flock there once the sun goes down for wine and stargazing parties.
Back on the East Coast is the all-American destination Rehoboth, Del.
Guests can pick up saltwater taffy and ice cream as they go for a stroll down the boardwalk. There’s also plenty of rays to catch on Dewey Beach. Even in the evenings, visitors to this city will walk up and down the boardwalk or dance at nearby locations, including the Rusty Rudder or Shag. If you’re looking for a high-end dining experience in Rehoboth, grab dinner at Eden where you can eat lobster, crab and a coffee-hazelnut rubbed pork tenderloin.
Try a Shoulder Season Destination
Consider traveling after the holidays or at a time when there aren’t as many vacation-goers visiting popular destinations. The times when peak travel is down and prices begin to drop is called shoulder season, and just because the weather may not be as warm as it is during the fourth of July doesn’t mean you can’t have a great vacation.
By heading to the Outer Banks
in North Carolina during shoulder season, you can often save up to 50 percent on accommodations. This popular tourist spot is full of fun things to do whether you’re on a couples retreat or having a getaway with the family. Choose from water activities such as swimming, fishing or sunbathing on the beach. Visitors to the Outer Banks can check out the Bodie Island Lighthouse for a view of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore or see wild horses roaming the beach. There are a number of cuisine styles, including American, seafood, bar and grill, breakfast, sweet treats and fine dining.
Another great shoulder season destination in the U.S. is Delaware
, where visitors can often save 40%+ percent on travel. The First State has a lot to offer its visitors, including tax-free shopping and breathtaking views of the coastline. Make the trip a girls getaway and stop at any of the malls for savings you can really appreciate. If you’re a history buff, then the Delaware History Trail can take you on a journey to 36 significant historic sites, including the early beginnings of the state. There’s also the Delaware Wine and Ale Trail that takes guests to 13 local wineries and breweries.
If Florida is one of your must-see destinations, venture to a number of locales on the Florida Panhandle
. Visitors can save up to 33 percent at any of these destinations during the shoulder season compared to peak travel times. Some of the most popular locations are Panama City, Fort Walton Beach and Destin. However, there are many more towns to be seen including Dog Island -which is full of unspoiled beaches, St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, Grayton Beach and Blue Mountain Beach. St. Joseph has 10 miles of white sandy coastline and is located at the tip of the coastal barrier peninsula. Grayton Beach is an artsy community, while Blue Mountain Beach can be found between Destin and Fort Walton Beach.
Staying in Your Budget
When it comes to affordable beach vacations for families, no matter what beach you choose, the vacation won't be too expensive. Many of these locations only cost some money for parking (typically around $5) and some are even free on weekdays. Once you're there, there is so much to do that's free. Bring along a bucket and a shovel and your kids will have fun for hours searching for sea shells, splashing in the water, exploring local sea life, and building sandcastle, all free entertainment. Your children will have cherished memories and it won't cost you much at all. Just be sure to bring with you beach basics including a large beach umbrella to provide some shade.
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