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Articles for ‘Family Vacation’ Category

Top 5 travel destinations with cheap and enjoyable off seasons

Friday, August 15th, 2014

The same way Canadian geese fly south in late fall, we travel-lusting people of the world all seem to flock to the same locations at the same time—Mexico and the Caribbean in March, Europe in June, Hawaii pretty much anytime of the year.

Fighting the instinctual urge to travel during peak season means cheaper rates and smaller crowds. Avoid paying an arm and a leg; here’s a list of travel-friendly shoulder seasons to take advantage of year-round.

Utah in summer

The Rocky Mountains in general are breath-taking during the summer. Salt Lake City and Park City draw in large numbers of skiers and snowboarders in the winter, so that’s when they make their bread and butter. The summer months see smaller crowds. Ski-centric towns usually drop their hotels rates by $100-$200 during summer and fall. To the southeast and less elevated part of the state, Moab is home to nature-carved red rocks not to be missed. Strike out on a more frugal outdoorsy vacation from June-September to experience some of the best mountain biking, hiking, white water rafting and outdoor concerts in the nation.

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Arches National Park, Moab, Utah; Credit: Gautam Dogra ©

New Orleans in late summer and fall

Mardi Gras may only come once a year, but New Orleans is full of life year-round. The absolute cheapest time to go is in the peak of summer, but it’s hit or miss on if you’ll enjoy yourself. It depends on how you feel about extremely damp heat. So let it cool down a tad; plan your jazzy trip for the tail end of summer or early fall. The 4-star JW Marriott New Orleans has rates as low as $149 in August, while they reach a high not at $289 during February festivities. The party on Bourbon Street never actually stops, so be sure to pack your party pants.

New Orleans; Credit: Jeff Turner©

New Orleans; Credit: Jeff Turner ©

Ireland in March

You’d think with St. Patrick’s Day in March, Ireland would be a giant island of festivities and high hotel prices. Actually, the holiday in its homeland isn’t the drinking day it’s become in the U.S. It can cost $200-$300 less to travel during early spring, namely March, than in the summer. Don’t worry about the weather; it’s rare to have anything more than an occasional flurry in Ireland’s winter due to The Gulf Stream, and by March, some of that famous green is starting to regain it’s hue. Book now so you can start planning your itinerary.

Muckross Head, County Donegal, Ireland; Oisin Mulvihill ©

Muckross Head, County Donegal, Ireland; Oisin Mulvihill ©

Mexico in summer

Northern Americans and anyone who shares their latitude, know that the only thing getting them through winter is the dream of a beach vacation in the spring. To Mexico they go! Spring breakers, families, couples, girls weekends, everyone. Except you, you savvy little cheapo, you. All-in-one packages for July travel will only set you back about $800-$900, while the same package in February and March clocks in at $1,000-$1,100. Hold off on the all-inclusive Cozumel package until June or July. It’ll be hot, but you’ll have constant access to a pool and/or beach, and your tan will be legend. Be careful of hurricane season, which is known to pick up in August toward the end of the summer.

Playa del Carmen, Mexico; ramonbaile ©

Playa del Carmen, Mexico; ramonbaile ©

Costa Rica in July and August

Central America is a beautiful destination where most nations are affected by a wet and dry season. Costa Rica’s wet season runs June to November, which leaves it pretty empty of tourists. No one wants to go and get rained on, true, but this wet season acts a lot like an isolated daily shower. July and August typically see the least amount of rain within this time period. The short-lived rains sometimes happen over night and if they strike during the day, it’s usually not enough to ruin your plans.

La Fortuna Falls, Costa Rica; Credit: Kyle May ©

La Fortuna Falls, Costa Rica; Credit: Kyle May ©

 

Cheap Family Labor Day Getaway: St. Louis

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

We know that when you’re trying to travel with family, there’s only one thing better than cheap—free. For a cheap getaway filled with free things to do this Labor Day, look no further than St. Louis, Missouri. St. Louis is, after all, the patron saint of savings (probably). Considering the free zoo and the free museums, this is our kind of town, and we put together a list of stuff to do in the Lou.

Saint Louis skyline

City Views and Muddy Blues

The Gateway Arch defines the St. Louis skyline and if you haven’t had a chance to see this architectural masterpiece, we recommend you head straight there. After you take the ride to the top ($10 adults, $5 kids), take some time to walk along the riverfront.

If you have a taste for those St. Louie blues, or some fun festival food, stroll on down the cobblestone streets of Laclede’s Landing to the Big Muddy Blues Festival. Two of the three stages are free, and kids are welcome.

After you walk around, let your kids climb around at the City Museum. Don’t let the name fool you—this place is less like a museum and more like a four story jungle gym made out of recycled materials (including an airplane, a school bus, and—you guessed it—a giant whale). It’s something your kids will never forget. The playtime experience is 12 bucks a pop, but this uncommon place, and the uncommon chance for you to take a breather, is worth every penny.

End the night with some of the best ice cream in the country. Ted Drewes on Chippewa is one of the oldest and best known ice cream (sorry, frozen custard) shops in America. Located on the old Route 66, this place serves concretes so thick you can hold them upside down, and has done since 1929.

 

Z is for Free Zoo

Start off day two with a little adventure by checking out the Saint Louis Zoo. This is our absolute favorite type of zoo—the free type. With over 90 acres, the zoo is one of the largest and best in the country. And if you get there before 9am, the children’s zoo is free too.

Afterward, save a few bucks on lunch by packing a picnic in the park. Then browse around the free art museum, free history museum and free science center, all of which have free parking.

When dinner time rolls around, it’s a short drive to St. Louis’ Italian neighborhood, the Hill. These authentic, family owned Italian restaurants serve up the best food in the city. Taste the classics as they were meant to be tasted, or try the city’s signature toasted ravioli.

Before you go to the airport Monday, try out Ari’s Restaurant and Bar for breakfast. St. Louis Magazine calls this the Cheapest Breakfast in Town, and it’s hard to argue with their math. Ari’s buffet style breakfast is $6.95 for adults, and $3.95 for kids. And that includes the coffee.

Boardroom meets bedroom in a Fort Lauderdale suite

Friday, July 20th, 2012

A room that multitasks: The conference suite at Sheraton Suites Plantation, Ft. Lauderdale West.

By Mara Tilen

We get it. Spending your work week in hotel rooms can get monotonous after a while, but look at the bright side: Sometimes that hotel room is a gateway to a cheap vacation. Case in point: South Florida, a sunny, affordable destination that begs to be explored when the client meetings are said and done. With a thriving nightlife scene, serene spas and a 600,000-square-foot convention center, you’ll feel that much more productive in beautiful surroundings. (more…)

Disneyland on a dime: 7 money-saving tips

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

 

Catch Disneyland's new Mickey's Soundsational Parade, one of many freebies within the park.

By Amanda Ficili

There’s never been a better time to visit the Disneyland Resort and with the upcoming openings of Cars Land and Buena Vista Street, you’ll want to get those bags packed and ready for an unforgettable summer vacation. (more…)

5 tips for cheap vacations with kids

Monday, April 16th, 2012

 

Not-so-cramped-quarters: Courtyard by Marriott Anaheim at Disneyland Resort offers family suites on the cheap.

By Valerie Moloney

As the self-designated CEO of the household, I embrace any opportunity to shave money off the family budget. I’ll buy Irish Spring even if passion fruit pomegranate body mousse smells much prettier. I frequent flash sales, and scour the boards for promo codes (because who wants to pay for shipping?). (more…)

Florida’s cheap thrills, from mermaids to mullet tosses

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

By Valerie Moloney

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Florida is proud of its offbeat status — and cheap vacation deals. Where else would gators, Goths and bats share the same real estate? Expand your Floridian context beyond a Disney vacation this year to experience the sandy underbelly, and go back to your home state with a few quirky tories and a better tan. (more…)

All about adrenaline: Spring ramps up with new rollercoasters

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

 

Six Flags Great America's X-Flight is scheduled to open this May. Credit: Six Flags Great America

By Angie Jaime

Spring is here early (thanks global warming) and that means only one thing — time to take a family vacation to scope the season’s latest theme park expansions.

Heartland thrill junkies can soar at 3,000 feet on Six Flags Great Americas latest, X-Flight. Five inversions, a 12 story drop and a zero-gravity roll are more than enough to get the adrenaline pumping. Designed by the Swiss engineers behind the Raging Bull, SUPERMAN and BATMAN rides, the X-Flight is the first of its kind in the US. The unique “wing” design pairs riders on either side of the track, creating the illusion of free flight. This ride will make its home in the County Fair section of the park, replacing the old school Iron Wolf in May.

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Budget in the ‘Burg: Virginia’s answer to a cheap spring break

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Lesson learned: The Historic Powhatan Resort boasts its own piece of colonial Americana -- a manor house circa 1735.

By Valerie Moloney

Chances are, if I said Old Dominion, not everyone would know the reference to my home state of Virginia. Now allow me to make a statement that resonates with everyone: Virginia is a hotbed for cheap spring vacations. While my hometown Virginia Beach, Va. is one of the beach capitals on the East Coast, I was always partial to the place that enriched my understanding of 1770s America: Williamsburg. And besides, the theme parks kicked butt. (more…)

Disneyland Hotel: A magical makeover on park grounds

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Royal sleeping quarters: Headboards powered by fiber optics recreate the Disneyland skyline -- complete with fireworks.

By Amanda Ficili

The Disneyland Hotel, which has undergone many changes and makeovers since its birth in 1955, got another facelift worthy of its iconic status. The massive, two-year renovation project did not leave a single inch of the property untouched. With its lavishly redecorated guest rooms, imaginative redesigned pool and water play areas, stunning courtyards and landscaping and delicious dining options including a one-of-a-kind interactive bar, it’s no surprise why the property is a guest — and my personal — favorite.  (more…)

Road-trip Oahu: One-tank adventures from Waikiki

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Pretty in paradise: Explore Kualoa Ranch's lush landscape via horseback or ATV tour. Credit: mporter5.

By Amy Drew Thompson

Recent weeks have seen gas prices dropping, even in the Rainbow State — where fuel costs rank among the country’s highest. In Honolulu, prices have dipped below $4 per gallon, making conditions ripe for cruising the scenic Kamehameha Highway to hit out-of-town attractions on a self-guided loop that’ll have you back on the beach for dinner. Fuel up and say aloha to cheap Hawaiian vacations with these Oahu attractions:

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