These awesome excursions offer enormous fun on a little spending plan. We've gathered together options all around the nation, so a remarkable family excursion is constantly ideal around the bend, regardless of whether you just have multi-day or two.
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Why you'll love it: For tweens and teens, this getaway is a perfect fit; it's 35 miles east of Los Angeles, but without all the traffic and commotion, so they can explore on their own without parents worrying. Claremont Village is home to over 150 shops and restaurants (don't miss the I Like Pie Bakeshop or the frozen treats at 21 Choices) and where you'll want to spend your evening. The Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology and Folk Music Center are local favorites to visit, and there are events going on every week throughout the summer.
Budget tip: The five-mile Claremont Wilderness Trail in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains attracts hikers from all over the area and is a great way to work up an appetite for all the Village treats.
Where to stay: The Doubletree Claremont has lots of kid-pleasing amenities, including warm chocolate chip cookies when you check in and a huge outdoor pool; doubles start at $179 a night in summer.
Rapid City, South Dakota
Why you'll love it: Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, and Badlands National Park are all within driving distance, but Rapid City is a great destination for all ages, especially elementary school-ages who will be able to relate their school lessons when they explore the City of President's sculptures and history.
Budget tips: There's plenty to do for free in Rapid City: Visitors can participate in a free, interactive walking guide of the City of Presidents, a series of life-size bronze statues of our nation's past presidents along the city's streets and sidewalks. A slight detour leads into Art Alley, a stunning expression of Rapid City's creative community. After a day of exploring, cap off the day with a stroll through Main Street Square, a community hub featuring year-round free events for travelers to enjoy, as well as public art such as The Sculpture Project.
Where to stay: Hotel Alex Johnson, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year; it's right in the middle of Rapid City and offers rates as low as $99 per night.
Why you'll love it: This western city offers a special treat: A true, old-fashioned dude ranch offering an Old West vacation at throwback prices.
Budget tip: Visit Saguaro National Park where kids can participate in the free Junior Ranger Program and earn a special badge.
Where to stay: Tanque Verde Ranch is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, and they're offering a special $150-per-night family stays for the entire summer. The family-owned property provides an authentic wild west experience with horseback riding and much more, through Arizona's most breathtaking desert landscapes of the Rincon Mountains. The $150 for the 150th special includes breakfast and free use of the pool and general facilities. A kids camp, great for ages 4 to 12, is available for an extra fee, as is horseback riding, biking, and guided hikes.
Why you'll love it: Want to feel like you've jetted across the Atlantic for the weekend and still make it back home for work on Monday? Then add Francophile Montreal to your getaway plans. The city is steeped in French language, cuisine, and culture. Kids will love strolling the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal and munching on classic croissants and crepes, not to mention visiting more modern sights such as the Biodome to see penguins and learn about natural science.
Budget tip: Throughout the summer, La Ronde, the local amusement park (worth a visit), presents massive fireworks displays as part of the annual International Fireworks Festival. You can watch them for free from the Jacques Cartier Bridge which becomes a pedestrian-only viewing area.
Where to stay: The Westin Montreal, just a block from Old Montreal, is a kid favorite for its glass bottom pool that looks down onto the street (bring goggles for the best view). Summer rates from US$178.
Cape May, New Jersey
Why you'll love it: Take Exit 1 from New Jersey's Garden State Parkway and you'll discover this charming Victorian beach town whose tree-lined streets are lined with gingerbread-trimmed guesthouses. This Jersey Shore gem has a pedestrian cobble-stone mall with toy stores and ice cream shops, a small boardwalk with an arcade.
Budget tip: One of the best souvenirs here is free, if you know where to look: Cape May diamonds, silicone gems that appear naturally in the sand. The kids will love discovering and collecting them.
Where to stay: The Madison Avenue Beach Club offers condo units with kitchens and separate bedrooms and a big pool and reasonable rates around $200 in the middle of summer. Here are some of our favorite family-friendly beaches around the country.