Travelers recommend these 11 cheap family resorts that make vacations more affordable


Family vacations can be expensive, no matter the size of your crew. Between flights, rental cars, accommodations, and meals and activities, it all adds up. For many of us, saving money on vacation without compromising on the quality of the trip is always a goal.

That's why I drew on my own experiences and also spoke with parents across the country to find out about their favorite budget-friendly hotels and resorts in the United States. These cheap family resorts offer prime locations and plenty of amenities, and they come personally recommended by real travelers.

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1. The Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate

Asheville, North Carolina

Families lounging on Village Green in Antler Hill Village.
Families lounging on Village Green in Antler Hill Village.

When I stayed at the Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate a few years ago, it was a love-at-first-sight kind of moment. Our room was done up in modern farmhouse style (the hotel sits on what was once the estate’s center of agriculture), with a window seat my daughter quickly claimed as her own. And while the Vanderbilts lived a life of luxury at the Biltmore House, the Village Hotel is a lot easier on the wallet.

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Right outside the hotel’s doors is the charming Antler Hill Village, which you can access for the length of your stay. Here you can watch craft demonstrations, visit with farm animals, and find kid-friendly dining options like a barbecue food truck and ice cream shop. Grownups can head to the Biltmore Winery for a complimentary tasting.

With an on-site fitness center, heated year-round outdoor pool, and hiking and biking trails just steps from the hotel, you could find plenty of things to do without ever leaving the immediate area. But marveling at the massive Biltmore House is a must-do, and the Village Hotel has special offers and packages that include length-of-stay daytime admission to the estate. Stay here and you’re also close to downtown Asheville, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and other local sights.

2. Red Jacket Beach Resort

South Yarmouth, Massachusetts

Book a stay at the Red Jacket Beach Resort on Cape Cod and you'll definitely get a lot of bang for your buck. Amenities include a 1,000-foot stretch of private beach, heated indoor and outdoor pools, a tennis court, summer beach yoga, and kids programming. But wait, that’s not all! You’ll also have access to the beaches, pools, and activities at four sister Cape Cod resorts, including the mini-golf course, private beach, and playground at Green Harbor Resort. Rates start at $230 a night, and lodging options include standard guest rooms, suites (some with bunk beds), and cottages.

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A major multimillion-dollar renovation at the resort means everything will have a fresh new look this summer, too. "The Red Jacket Resort in South Yarmouth is located on a gorgeous stretch of Cape Cod beach that faces the Nantucket Sound and is ideally located near many restaurants and activities like mini-golf," says Keri Baugh, a New England-based travel writer who runs the family travel blog Bon Voyage With Kids. "Our family visited this resort for the Fourth of July a few years ago, and it was an outstanding family resort on gorgeous Cape Cod. It’s ideal for a full weeklong vacation or even a long weekend."

3. Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort

Orlando, Florida

Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort.
Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort.

Spread out over more than 1,100 acres, Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort will keep the whole family busy. There are seven pools, including a 1,200-foot lazy river-style pool with waterslides; three arcades; four golf courses and two mini-golf courses; a kids activity center; two fitness centers; tennis, basketball, racquetball, and volleyball courts; and eight dining options.

"Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort in Orlando offers so much on-site family fun that you could skip the theme park expense and still have an action-packed Orlando vacation," says travel writer and mom of two Monica Fish. "We stayed there last spring break and loved it."

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Accommodations include one- to four-bedroom villas that can fit families of all sizes, and a standard two-bedroom villa has an average rate of $185 a night. “We chose the two-bedroom, two-bath West Village accommodation, as they are single-story duplex homes complete with a yard, full kitchen, washer and dryer, living room, and dining room,” says Fish. “We even had an Easter egg hunt in the backyard!”

4. Kona Kai San Diego Resort

San Diego

Kona Kai San Diego Resort is right on the water in the Shelter Island neighborhood.
Kona Kai San Diego Resort is right on the water in the Shelter Island neighborhood.

Set on San Diego Bay in the city’s Shelter Island neighborhood, the recently renovated and expanded Kona Kai San Diego Resort offers 170 guest rooms and suites done up in SoCal style with private balconies or patios for taking in the views. The pet-friendly property also has a slew of amenities ideal for families, from the Tiki Pool overlooking the bay and a private beach to in-room tents that can be reserved and waiting for kids upon arrival. Rates can start as low as $259 a night depending on the season.

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“Kona Kai San Diego Resort is an absolute gem for families seeking both affordability and quality experiences,” says Nicky Omohundro, owner and chief content creator of Little Family Adventure. “With complimentary beach cruisers available, you can easily explore the island or head over to Point Loma for some stunning views at the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. But the real magic of Kona Kai lies in its family-friendly activities. From lawn games and nightly bonfires to paddle boarding and kayaking rentals, there’s never a dull moment.”

5. Beach Place Guesthouses

Cocoa Beach, Florida

Located along Florida’s famed Highway A1A, Beach Place Guesthouses combines an oceanfront hotel with an apartment-style stay for an easy-breezy family beach vacation. Each guesthouse has its own style and theme, with options from one-bedroom suites to three-bedroom villas that can sleep up to 12 people. Amenities include an on-site barbecue deck, Saturday morning yoga classes, a rec room with board games and books, and an array of beach gear for getting out onto the sands of Cocoa Beach and into the Atlantic Ocean.

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“You’re really not going to find a more beautiful stretch of coastline anywhere,” says mom of two Terry Ward, a FamilyVacationist contributor and co-founder of the travel blog Florida Beyond. “I love this property for a few reasons: A talking parrot greets you outside reception, the grounds are strung with hammocks, and there are loaner surf and boogie boards. It feels like a secret once you walk onto the tropical grounds; it feels like Florida, but also like somewhere else.”

6. Massanutten Resort

Massanutten, Virginia

Virginia’s 6,000-acre Massanutten Resort is a four-season vacation spot
Virginia’s 6,000-acre Massanutten Resort is a four-season vacation spot

The 6,000-acre, four-season Massanutten Resort resort in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley offers a range of lodging options to match any budget or group size. There are traditional hotel rooms, townhomes, and villas, with some positioned close to the resort’s skiing and winter sports area and other accommodations located closer to the indoor and seasonal outdoor waterparks, which feature all kinds of slides, pools, and other ways to make a splash.

Other amenities include two 18-hole golf courses, hiking trails, playgrounds, outdoor sports courts, and multiple dining spots. Rates can start as low as $134 a night, and special deals and packages are frequently available.

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“The on-property amenities are sure to thrill every parent and child,” says Kirsten Maxwell, travel expert at Kids Are a Trip and Groups Are a Trip. “There's everything from a ropes course and mountain biking to escape rooms and pickleball courts. This resort is one families will return to time and time again!”

7. Ashore Resort and Beach Club

Ocean City, Maryland

Ashore Resort & Beach Club is a great choice for an easy-on-the-wallet family getaway.
Ashore Resort & Beach Club is a great choice for an easy-on-the-wallet family getaway.

Located beachfront on the Atlantic Ocean, the recently renovated Ashore Resort and Beach Club makes a great choice for an easy-on-the-wallet family getaway. Room rates start at $103 a night, and amenities include an outdoor pool, fitness center, multiple dining options, and access to boogie boards, kids beach toys, and complimentary bicycles. Plus, the resort offers easy proximity to Ocean City family favorites like the Jolly Roger Amusement Park, Candy Kitchen, several mini-golf courses, and the Ocean City Boardwalk.

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Guest rooms are done up in a fresh, beachy style and most have ocean views. “At Ashore Resort and Beach Club, we’ve always been committed to providing an exceptional experience for families, and our recent property-wide renovation has taken that commitment to a whole new level,” says Katie Cosgrove, Ashore’s director of sales and marketing. “Our Premium Ocean View Sunset Suites, with their generous space and breathtaking views, are tailor-made for families seeking that extra touch of comfort and luxury.”

8. Squire Resort at the Grand Canyon, BW Signature Collection

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Squire Resort is just 7 miles from the Grand Canyon.
Squire Resort is just 7 miles from the Grand Canyon.

Rest up before or after exploring one of America’s greatest natural wonders at Squire Resort at the Grand Canyon, BW Signature Collection. Just 7 miles from Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim, the hotel features pillow-top mattresses for a good night’s sleep and in-room mini-fridges and Keurig coffee makers plus on-site dining options for easy refueling. Room rates average about $200 a night throughout the year and can get down into the $100s during slower periods.

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While you may fill your days with outdoor adventures, there’s lots to do at the hotel as well. Families can cool off at the outdoor pool and splash pad, head to the bowling alley and arcade for a little friendly competition, or sit around the outdoor fireplace in the evening while gazing at the stars. The pet-friendly property also has a fitness center.

9. Kartrite Resort and Indoor Waterpark

Monticello, New York

The weather is always nice at New York State’s largest indoor waterpark.
The weather is always nice at New York State’s largest indoor waterpark.

The weather’s never a worry when you’re staying at Kartrite Resort and Indoor Waterpark. At this Catskill Mountains getaway just 90 minutes from New York City, the temperature’s always 84 degrees inside New York State’s largest indoor waterpark. Eleven different attractions include the Puddle Ducks section for little ones, the Nor’easter and Krakken waterslides for thrill seekers, and a “not-so-lazy river.” Admission to the waterpark for up to four guests is included with a stay.

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But there’s lots of fun beyond the pools and slides at the resort, like an arcade, ropes course, escape room, miles of outdoor hiking trails, and even goat yoga. Seven on-site food and beverage options should keep the whole family satisfied, and there are Catskills sights and attractions to explore in the surrounding area too. Junior suites start at $189 per night on the weekends. Frequent promotions can bring that price down even lower and add some extra perks to the mix as well.

10. The Abbey Resort

Fontana-On-Geneva Lake, Wisconsin

Lake Geneva’s only full-service resort is a top pick for budget-conscious families in the Midwest.
Lake Geneva’s only full-service resort is a top pick for budget-conscious families in the Midwest.

An easy drive from cities like Chicago and Milwaukee, The Abbey Resort sits on 90 acres and rates as Lake Geneva’s only full-service resort. Guest rooms, suites, and villas are done up in lake cottage style, with some offering water views. Rates can start as low as $129 a night, and guests can enjoy amenities like an indoor pool with separate children’s wading area, a seasonal outdoor pool, and scheduled evening bonfires with fireside s’mores.

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The resort’s Immersion Entertainment center has an arcade, on-site frisbee/disc golf course, board games to-go, “make and take activities,” and various planned family-friendly events. Complimentary bicycle and sports equipment rentals make it easy to enjoy the 26-mile Lake Geneva Shore Path. If you overdo it with the exercise, book some recovery time at the full-service Avani Spa or a lakeside dinner at 240 West restaurant.

11. Running Y Resort

Klamath Falls, Oregon

Kids stay free at Running Y Resort.
Kids stay free at Running Y Resort.

Located near Crater Lake in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Running Y Resort is an almost unbelievably scenic spot for an outdoorsy family getaway. Kids stay free here, and amenities aimed at the younger set include a playground, mini-golf, kids pool, and game room. You can also hit the outdoor tennis, basketball, and sand volleyball courts, play a little cornhole or horseshoes, or do some bird and wildlife watching at the resort.

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"We have an abundance of wildlife, from breathtaking eagles to deer, wild turkeys, and spectacular birds that call the resort home," notes Elizabeth Mabou, Running Y’s director of sales and marketing. Walking and biking trails wind throughout the 3,600-acre, all-season resort, where guests can also book guided trail rides on horseback or take part in youth horse programs.

There’s ice skating in the winter, roller skating during the warmer months, and an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course on-site. Lodging options range from standard guest rooms to vacation homes, with double queen rooms starting at $149 per night.

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The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY. and are owned and operated by Vacationist Media LLC. Using the FamilyVacationist travel recommendation methodology, we review and select family vacation ideas, family vacation spots, all-inclusive family resorts, and classic family vacations for all ages. TourScoop covers guided group tours and tour operators, tour operator reviews, tour itinerary reviews and travel gear recommendations.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Cheap family resorts that make vacations more affordable