Just because summer is coming to an end doesn't mean you can't still have a fantastic family vacation. In fact, traveling during the off-season not only saves you some serious cash on flights, hotel room rates, rental cars, and more; it also helps you avoid the big crowds.
If you're searching for an amazing autumn getaway that is actually affordable (and kid-friendly to boot), look no further than this list. Whether you prefer the gorgeous mountains or a trip to the coast, these destinations offer fun and relaxation that the whole family will enjoy.
Boone, North Carolina
One of the most amazing (and affordable) autumn vacations you can take as a family is to Boone, North Carolina. If you or your children love gems and rocks, check out Doc's Rocks. Here, you purchase various sizes of buckets that are filled with dirt that you dig through to discover gemstones, such as topaz, moonstone, and sapphires. Prices range from $8-$30 per bucket.
And did you know you can visit the Land of Oz? This is the ultimate experience for Wizard of Oz lovers. For $55 a ticket, you and your family will stroll down the yellow brick road and meet beloved characters from the classic movie. This is a private park that is only open for specific events and times of the year—and the Autumn at Oz event is the perfect time to plan your trip to Boone.
Boone also offers gorgeous parks, horseback riding, gardens, and more. To find cheaper rates, plan your trip between early September and November 18.
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
The Shenandoah Valley is one of the most beautiful places, especially in the fall. Start with a leisure trip on Skyline Drive to view the magnificent trees bursting with colorful foliage against the infamous Blue Ridge skyline. The drive offers hiking trails, waterfalls, and wilderness to explore, too. The fee is $30 per vehicle, but you get unlimited entries, and the pass is good for seven consecutive days. You can get in free if you visit on National Public Lands Day or Veterans Day.
The Valley is also home to many stunning underground caverns. Grand Caverns, for example, is America's oldest show cave in the United States. These caverns are adorned with dazzling stalagmites and stalactites; just be sure to bring a sweater, because the caverns are a brisk 56 degrees all year round. Tickets range from $11 for kids to $20 for adults, but children under five get in free. They also offer discounts to military, AAA, and AARP members.
Have your kids always wanted to visit a safari park to see animals up close and personal? You don't have to go to Africa for this awesome experience; there's a fantastic safari right in the Shenandoah Valley. The Virginia Safari Park is a 180-acre property that allows you to drive through in the comfort of your own car. However, you may want to opt for the wagon ride tour if you don't want to risk an over-friendly giraffe scratching your car. Here, you'll be able to feed llamas, ostriches, and even huge bull elk. Afterwards, you can feed giraffes, stroll through the kangaroo enclosure, and visit adorable birds in the aviary. General admission to the park costs $18.95 per child and $26.95 per adult.
The Valley also features many stunning vineyards, tons of parks, lakes, rivers, museums, and plenty more low-cost things to see and do. Planning a mid-week trip is your best bet to avoid crowds and reduce hotel costs.
Head north to the charming town of Burlington for a vacation filled with farmers' markets, museums, and more. Spend a chill afternoon at the Burlington Farmers Market, which is one of the largest in the state. Peruse the fine harvest selection of flowers, produce, and other products from over 90 vendors.
Trek the Island Line Trail for breathtaking views and outdoor fun. If you start at the beginning of the path at Oakledge Park, it costs about $6 to park your car for the day. This trail extends over 23 kilometers and passes by Burlington Waterfront Park.
Make sure you stop by the Waterfront Park for stunning views of Lake Champlain. And don't visit Vermont without taking a serene hike to Moss Glen Falls. This marvelous waterfall is a wonderful addition to a day outdoors. Then, slide over to the ECHO Leahy Center for a day filled with fish, reptiles, and amphibians. Tickets are only $14.50 per child and $18 per adult. ECHO encourages its visitors to partake in their interactive exhibits to explore and learn about the natural environment.
Don't forget to grab some delicious maple syrup and gourmet cheeses while you're in Burlington, too—and if you want the best bargain rates on hotels, visit between October-November.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
If you aren't quite ready to let go of summer vibes, then cruise over to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Of course, one of the main reasons to visit is to bask in the sun and breathe in the salt air. But there are many non-beach activities to partake in during the fall as well. Plus, hotel rates drop with the temperature, so visit later in the fall for the best deals.
Stroll down Broadway at the Beach for a day of shopping, dining, and entertainment. Take a load off at the famous Margaritaville. If you're in need of an adventure, go to Soar + Explore and try out the tropical-themed ropes obstacle course. You and your family can experience the thrill of ziplining 50 feet above the water on a course that travels over 1,000 feet. It's only $28.99 for the combo ticket to experience both attractions.
Does your family love mini golf? If so, Myrtle Beach is a must-go vacation spot; it's known as the "miniature golf capital of the world." It offers over 50 miniature golf courses with themes ranging from ferocious dinosaurs to plundering pirates.
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Did you know that Colorado is one of the sunniest places in America? No wonder it's a fantastic destination for an autumn vacation. Glenwood Springs is loaded with kid-friendly, affordable things to do, from outdoor exploring to good ol' rest and relaxation.
Start your trip with some excitement at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. This park includes amusement rides, cave tours, and more. You can fly like a bird 600 feet up on the thrilling Eagle Zip ride or take an extreme ride on the cliffhanger roller coaster. Tour the living caverns, where you will see the most decorated cave room in Colorado. You can purchase tickets for all of the attractions for $61 a person.
Take a soak in the soothing hot springs at Iron Mountain. These pools are filled with 100% pure mineral water and reach temperatures between 98 and 108 degrees. You can reserve a 2.5-hour soaking session for around $30 a person.
Glenwood Springs is also great for fishing, hiking, biking, and many other activities. The best time to take a visit to Glenwood is between September and November. If you plan it right, you can get cheaper flights and accommodations at this time.
Remember to check sites such as booking.com and Priceline to get discounts on hotels, flights, and more. So what are you waiting for? Make letting go of summer easier and head out for an affordable autumn vacation the whole family will love.