Top Ten Budget-Friendly Vacations for Families - Page 2
|VERTIGO RECLINE: Ireland’s Cliffs of Mohr (courtesy, Irish Tourism Board)|
10. San Francisco, California
San Francisco has a reputation for being expensive—but families should consider staying in Marin County, where there are a lot of high-value hotels and B&Bs. From there, take the ferryboat from Larkspur Landing into the city. Kids love the ferry trip, and it beats fighting the Golden Gate and downtown traffic. Once in San Francisco, you can buy a Muni Pass and ride trolleys all over town. Or stroll through Union Square and continue on to Chinatown for lunch. Or take a bus to Fisherman's Wharf and then a trolley back to the Embarcadero and the Ferry Building (with its sensational indoor food market and outdoor farmers' market). The next day, visit Golden Gate Park and the zoos and museums, all of which have excellent bus connections.
San Francisco Vacation Guide
9. Negril, Jamaica
This section of Western Jamaica is dubbed the "Capital of Casual" because it used to be a legendary hippie hangout. In contrast to the all-inclusive resorts that dominate much of the island, Negril has family-run, family-friendly lodges that offer rooms for around $50 per night (look for summer-season discounts). Negril is famous for its laid-back Seven Mile Beach, with gentle waves and a kid-friendly shoreline. Older kids can rent kayaks and paddle out to the coral reef for snorkeling. There are plenty of day trips to take from Negril—Mayfield Falls is beautiful and generally not crowded. Summer discounts are often available for flights into Montego Bay.
Negril Vacation Guide
8. Western Ireland
It's not hard to find discounted flights to the city Shannon, on Ireland's southwest coast. Once there, you're within easy reach of popular walking areas: the Burren, the Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry, and the Dingle Peninsula. Hire a guide or just get a map. Trails wind between villages, where prices at easy-to-find guesthouses start at well under $100 a night. This region is famous for its horses; consider renting mounts to explore the miles of trails and bridle paths. In addition to rolling emerald hills and stark-white cliffs, you'll find beautiful beaches and world-class museums like the Hunt Museum in Limerick. Another must-see is Bunratty Castle, which dates to the 1400s, and Folk Park, an authentic 19th-century Irish village where you can interact with costumed artisans.
Ireland Vacation Guide
7. Belize, Central America
South of Mexico and next to Guatemala, Belize is a great budget family destination. English is the spoken language in this Massachusetts-sized country, and lodging prices are a bargain, with scores of rooms, cabanas, lodges, and beach huts starting around $75 a night. June and July see significant discounts on already-low prices due to the rainy season. Fly into Philip Goldson International Airport in Belize City, then travel to one of the five regions or the cayes, the islands floating in the azure Caribbean Sea. Don't miss the Belize Zoo in Belize City, or the Community Baboon Sanctuary, about a half hour inland from the coast. Then there's the Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve in the Stann Creek region. For an island experience, a boat ride or inexpensive flight accesses literally hundreds of spectacular islands, which in turn access the world's second-largest barrier reef (Ambergris Caye feels more western, Caye Caulker more rustic).
Belize Vacation Guide
6. The Black Hills, South Dakota
The region enjoys unmatched Old West history, some of the best camping and trout fishing in the country, and incredible wide-open vistas. Families can explore the Black Hills National Forest, Mount Rushmore, Wounded Knee, the expansive Custer State Park, Crazy Horse, Devil's Tower (in bordering Wyoming), and the towns of Sturgis and Deadwood. In addition to six national parks, the mountains and forests contain 100-plus miles of national scenic byways, so consider bringing bicycles.
South Dakota Vacation Guide