5 Budget-Friendly Family Vacation Destinations

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Whether you prefer to drive or fly, there are lots of vacation deals and destinations ready to welcome families who are looking for fun but also watching their pennies. Here’s a look at just a few.

1. Daytona Beach, Florida
The Stay+Play Family Beach Getaway at The Shores Resort at Daytona Beach, Fla., starts at just $379 for two nights. A stay at this AAA four-diamond resort and spa includes $100 dining credit; all rentals for a beach umbrella and chairs; a free mesh beach bag and toys; movie rentals; and a s’mores kit to enjoy at the resort’s oceanside fire pits. Parents enjoy a four-poster feather bed layered with luxury linens, and each of the 212 guestrooms features a 42-inch flat-screen plasma television, a DVD/CD player, plush pull-out sofa and WiFi. Pet-friendly and eco-friendly, The Shores Resort is a certified Florida Green Lodging resort. Get details at shoresresort.com.

2. Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Pigeon Forge, Tenn., the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is offering cash and travel packages through July. Nominate a deserving family in the online “Taking Vacation Back” campaign and you might win a vacation, too.

It began in April, when more than 200 family stories were told at MyPigeonForge.com, and 20 families won $100 gas cards and a vacation, and those who nominated the winners earned trips, too. In May, 10 families won $2,100 cash to help pay their utility bills.

This month, five families will win $6,600 for car payments. And in July, one family will win $15,000 for mortgage or rent payments. All winners – and the people who nominate them – also receive a two-night/three-day stay in Pigeon Forge, home of the Dollywood theme park. Winners are determined by votes from visitors on the Web site. Nominate a deserving family at MyPigeonForge.com.

3. Montego Bay, Jamaica
With daily nonstop flights from Charlotte to Montego Bay, Jamaica, the white sand and crystal blue waters of the Caribbean are just a two-hour flight away. Leave at breakfast and be poolside by at the Half Moon resort in Montego Bay by noon. While the 400-acre island paradise is breathtaking with every expected amenity – including a golf course, 13 tennis courts and a spa – there’s also a dolphin lagoon, where guests swim with dolphins, and an equestrian center, where kids enjoy pony rides and families mount up for rides along the beach.

The Very Important Little Persons Services (ages 3-12) includes a special welcome of a fizzy drink and a personal gift. There’s nightly tuck-in service for children with a Sleepy Treat, too. Anancy Children’s Village comprises six buildings and a craft center. Children create puppet shows, Jamaican crafts, listen to cultural stories and more. There also are swings, rocking horses, sandboxes and a putting green. For teens (ages 13-20), The new Hype Zone features a games room, cyber lounge, disco, movie theater and mini spa. Hype Zone also offers tennis tournaments, beach football, group aerobics and nightly entertainment.

The resort offers three value packages for families through Dec. 15, and features four- to seven-bedroom villas perfect for extended families. Find more information at halfmoon.com.

4. Holiday Inn, Disney World
The Holiday Inn in the Walt Disney World® Resort has all the amenities of a resort, without the resort fee. Rates begin at $99 per night, and transportation to all the Disney theme parks is included, as well as breakfast. Guestrooms have triple sheeting, coffee and a mini-frig, a large LCD high-def television, free DirecTV and free WiFi. Children under 12 stay and eat for free. Amenities include a heated, beach-entry pool and 24-hour fitness center. Priority Club Rewards members receive 10,000 bonus points for staying three nights. Visit hiorlando.com.

5. Williamsburg, Virginia
Colonial Williamsburg’s Summer Saver Package starts at $599 for a five-day/four-night stay for a family of four. Stay at the Williamsburg Woodlands through Sept. 2 and get breakfast daily, five days’ admission to Colonial Williamsburg’s historic area and art museums, and $100 toward other activities.

Want the kids to learn something this summer? At Colonial Williamsburg, the family can experience new, interactive programming at the Governor’s Palace and Capitol, including being part of the dialog as the Governor’s staff prepares for a ball to be hosted that night by Lord and Lady Dunmore, and engaging in conversation with Virginia’s representatives as they vote to adopt a declaration of rights. For details, visit colonialwilliamsburg.com.

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Family-Friendly Travel Ideas