If you’re looking to make 2020 the year when you show the kids a new part of the world without breaking the bank (which family isn’t?), there are loads of cheap places to travel in the U.S.A. and beyond. Perfect for amazing family vacations, our editor’s picks for top budget travel destinations include everything from money-saving tips to cheap places to travel with kids. Keep reading to see them all, and then get that trip booked!

Greensboro, North Carolina

Annette Benedetti

If you are looking for a family adventure that includes fantastic food, incredible outdoor recreation and a chance to learn more about our country’s history, Greensboro is the ideal destination.

What to Do
As the location of the first sit-in of the Civil Rights movement, Greensboro embraces its rich history with an abundance of museums, art centers and preserved landmarks waiting to entertain and educate young historians. But the fun doesn’t stop there. This unique city has a walkable downtown area with fantastic (and unique) shops and eateries as well as parks perfect for the younger set. You’ll even have an opportunity to fit in outdoor recreation that takes you on the water and in the air. Don't miss a stop at the Greensboro Science Center—the kids will love it! 

Where to Stay
We like the Sheraton Greensboro at Four Seasons as your home base in Greensboro. It's near all the action and with free airport shuttle and rates just over $100/night, it's a great option for families. 

For more info: tinybeans.go-vip.net

Ocean City, Maryland

Gabby Cullen

If you’re looking for ocean waves, the scent of funnel cake and saltwater taffy, all while trying to find the very best tourist t-shirt, make Ocean City, MD your family vacation destination.

What to Do
With beaches for days, Ocean City is full of sun and sand and all that goes along with that. Stroll along the boardwalk to find all these fun options: play skee ball and ride coasters at the Jolly Roger, wait in line for Thrasher's famous fries, get ice cream at Dumser’s Dairyland and stock up on saltwater taffy at Dolle’s.

Where to Stay
We love the Hyatt Place, as it has rates starting at $71/night. There are 105 rooms (56 of them are oceanfront), an indoor and outdoor pool, a buffet breakfast serving cage-free eggs, all-natural bacon, steel-cut oats, fruit, pastries and other kid-friendly food. In the summer and shoulder seasons, you'll find make-your-own sundaes on Fridays, and in the summer there's face painting, children’s entertainers and Mermaid Mondays.

For more info: tinybeans.go-vip.net

La Paz, Mexico

With flights from the U.S. averaging around $300 (and even cheaper in the summer), a flight to Mexico should definitely be on your radar. To visit the gorgeous city of La Paz, you'll need to fly into San Jose del Cabo and grab a shuttle from the airport. 

What to Do
The five-kilometer Malecón, or waterfront promenade, draws families playing in the sand, strolling sweethearts and exercising locals. Admire the many sculptures along the way that tell the story of La Paz, from romping dolphins to the giant pearl—a nod to the area’s pearl trade history. Visit the calm waters of Playa Balandra, a favorite beach made famous by “El Hongo,” a rock formation said to look like a mushroom. Book a tour and swim with playful sea lions and the massive whale sharks.

Where to Stay
If you want to be right in town and avoid having to rent a car, Hotel Catedral La Paz is a good option. Rates start at $74/night and it has a large pool with a rooftop view of the city. 

For more info: tinybeans.go-vip.net 

Austin, Texas

Keith A via yelp

We love Austin, Texas for the sheer volume of kid-friendly places to visit as well as its designation as the "Live Music Capital of the World."

Things to Do
From water parks to museums to loads of free things to do with your family, Austin has it all.

Where to Stay
This Westin Austin Downtown is unlike any Westin you’ve ever seen; it has spunk and personality that make it one of the coolest hotels in town year in and year out. Just steps away from the beauty of Lady Bird Lake but also near the vibrancy from 6th street, The Westin Austin Downtown is the ideal launchpad for all things Austin. The hotel has the highest rooftop pool and bar in Austin, where sunset cocktails and afternoon sunbathing are just an elevator ride away. Rates start at $179/night.

For more info: austintexas.org

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Visit COS

If you’ve got a family who craves equal parts nature and culture, look no further than Colorado Springs. From hiking, biking and rafting at the edge of the Rockies to the vibrant arts and culture scene to dining on decadent dishes, this is your destination for an idyllic family vacation. Gorgeous in both the winter and summer, Colorado Springs has it all. 

What to Do
Colorado Springs is a mountain town, located at the base of Pikes Peak and sees 243 sunny days-per-year. It has 7,000 acres of open space to explore, 230 miles of bike trails, 160 miles of park trails, and 105 miles of urban trails, giving families plenty of room to get active in the wild. Take your kids to the “Highest Zoo in America!” Located at an elevation of 6,800 feet, your kiddos can visit hundreds of wild and exotic animals like elephants, giraffes and bears at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Where to Stay
Located in the heart of Downtown Colorado Springs, The Mining Exchange is a Wyndham Grand Hotel & Spa offering families a charming boutique experience. This restored historic hotel provides guests with modern amenities that are both elegant and cozy. Built in 1902, the building was originally a stock exchange for local mining companies. Now you can spend the night in a well-appointed room or suite where you experience a touch of luxury and a whole lot of much-needed comfort after a day filled with adventure. Rates start at $123/night.

For more info: tinybeans.go-vip.net

Panama City, Panama

Gabby Cullen

Head south to Panama City for a vacation like no other! With flights on Spirit Airlines around $300, you can get a view of a whole different country without spending a ton. Bonus: they are in the Southern Hemisphere so their summer is our winter!

What to Do
Explore the Casco Viejo district, an official UNESCO World Heritage Site that was founded in 1673. It's the oldest continuously occupied European settlement on the Pacific side of the Americas, and history seeps from every cobblestone. Then spend some time at the Panama Canal. You can book a tour bus or even Uber to the Miraflores Visitor Center—it's about 20 minutes outside of city limits. Well worth the trek, you’ll find an entire building dedicated to sharing the facts and fun of what might be one of the world’s most famous waterways. 

Where to Stay
For proximity to the airport and fantastic views, we recommend The Santa Maria Hotel & Golf Resort. Ideally located 10 minutes from the Panama City airport, the luxury hotel has a variety of room options, including singles and suites. There are three restaurants, one of which is a pool-side spot that does a paella night on occasion. The 40-meter long pool is stunning, and there's a one-foot deep pool just for kids. Rates start at $127.

For more info: tinybeans.go-vip.net 

Tupelo, Mississippi

Historically famous as the birthplace of Elvis, this small northeastern Mississippi town is now emerging as a long weekend escape in its own right. Tupelo has an incredible musical scene, culinary chops and rich history with tons of historic charm. It’s the perfect, secret Southern escape. 

What to Do
From an exotic animal park to a children’s health museum, Tupelo has everything you need to transform your brood into a relaxed family spending some quality time together. Find out more about Tupelo's history at the Oren Dunn City Museum through permanent exhibits including a model of the 1940’s railroad, tornado history, Hospital on the Hill history, Chickasaw cultural history and the northeast Mississippi fossils. The museum is also located inside Ballard Park; having access to playgrounds, picnic areas and a lakeside walking trail make for a great day for visitors. 

Where to Stay
The Hilton Garden Inn has rates starting at $104 and is conveniently located in the heart of downtown. Enjoy the heated indoor pool, and spend some time visiting Elvis' birthplace, just a mile away.

For more info: tupelo.net

Hamilton County, Indiana

Hamilton County Tourism

Situated in the heart of the Midwest, just 30 minutes north of Indianapolis and a three-hour drive from Chicago, Hamilton County, Indiana includes the iconic Indiana cities of Noblesville, Fishers, Carmel and Westfield, plus charming small towns Atlanta, Arcadia, Cicero and Sheridan. From miles of bike trails to interactive train rides, Hamilton County, Indiana has endless attractions that make the destination ideal for a family getaway.

What to Do
If you’ve spent hours in a car or on a plane, the first thing you’ll need to do is stretch your legs. Fortunately for you, Carmel is home to the trailhead for the Monon Trail. The Monon is a rails-to-trails paved path that runs across Central Indiana and connects Downtown Indianapolis with the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. Then head over to Edge Adventures in the nearby town of Noblesville to turn up the fun with an adrenaline pumping aerial adventure. Kids and adults ages eight and up can zip and climb from tree to tree over and through obstacles. It gives your family a unique way to take in the area’s landscape.

Where to Stay
The award winning, historic Prairie Guest House is seated on two grassy acres of farmland in Fisher’s Indiana, evoking a true farmhouse retreat complete with homestead hospitality. Featuring beautiful gardens, large native Indiana trees, a rustic barn, lovely common areas and a 1900s cottage across the prairie that houses the kitchen and dining areas, families can enjoy a fabulous home-cooked breakfast or the on-site sunroom for a morning of relaxation. Rates start at $115/night.

For more info: tinybeans.go-vip.net 

Mesa, Arizona

Kate Loweth

Year-round warm weather and spring training baseball make Mesa, AZ a must-visit destination for families.

What to Do
Spend some time exploring the desert flora and fauna at Usery Mountain Regional Park Nature Center. Learn about native snakes and scorpions at educational programs for families and stop at the Nature Center to check out the desert tortoise habitat. The i.d.e.a. Museum is the perfect place to explore imagination through art, science and technology. Just down the street is the Arizona Museum of Natural History, where you can learn all about the prehistoric mammoths and other creatures who roamed Arizona.

Where to Stay
The suites at the Marriott Residence Inn provide ample room for families of all sizes to spread out, as well as a kitchen with a fridge, oven and microwave to keep eating out to a minimum. Save your dollars for activities and enjoy the complimentary breakfast buffet (waffles anyone?) that is offered every morning. In the summer months, you can grab a room here for under $100.

Find out more: visitmesa.com

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Elkhart Lake

There's something idyllic about a family vacation on a lake. Elkhart Lake will bring you back to the 1950s in all the best ways. 

What to Do
Water sports are king in this lake town, of course. Scoop up a canoe or kayak at the Osthoff Resort or book Jay's Guide Service to take you around the lake for some fishing. Learn about the history of the area at the Wade House Historic Site and Carriage Museum. If you want an activity that includes a whole lot of walking, head to the Ice Age National Scenic Trail where you can hike through the nearby wilderness area. 

Where to Stay
The landmark Siebkens Resort is owned and operated by the fourth generation of the Seibken family. This Victorian building provides one-, two- and three-bedroom condominium hotel suites with open floor plans, full kitchens, an outdoor pool and so much more. The resort is also home to Sissy’s Coffee Coffee & Ice Cream Shoppe, perfect for beating the heat with its covered outdoor patio. 

Find out more: elkhartlake.com

San Antonio, Texas

Visit San Antonio

San Antonio is steeped in history, offers great weather and the countless budget-friendly activities make it a hot spot for families in 2019.

What to Do
You can stroll the Riverwalk (eating at the restaurants is the splurge), explore the Japanese Tea Garden and San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, among other things—all for free. And of course, don’t forget the Alamo. If you want to go all out and do Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Natural Bridge Caverns and other hot spots, be sure to book a San Antonio Explorer Pass, where you can pick and choose your favorite activities and create an entertainment package at discounted prices.

Where to Stay
Avoid hotels on the Riverwalk and look in other areas for budget-friendly lodging. The Hyatt Residence Club Wild Oak Ranch has multi-room suites, an indoor/outdoor heated pool, lazy river, hiking trails, a shuttle to SeaWorld and other awesome family amenities. Prices start at $150 per night.

Find out more: visitsanantonio.com

Minneapolis & St. Paul, Minnesota

Necklenoakland via pixabay

Sure, most people would cringe at the low temps that rule during winter months, but Minnesotans know that the Twin Cities offer winter magic that is rare, indeed.

What to Do
If you visit the Twin Cities during the winter, be prepared for frigid temps, but there's still plenty to do. Check out the Family Center at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, which is always free. You can hit up the biggest indoor mall in the country and ride a roller coaster or two. A visit to the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory is a must in good or bad weather. It’s free, the conservatory is a winter oasis, plus there are a ton of events happening all year long. Grab a cheap bite to eat and expand palates all at once with a trip to Midtown Global Market and sample local craft brews at one of the area’s most kid-friendly breweries.

Where to Stay
Check out budget-friendly Airbnb options, where some spots start as low as $35 a night.

Find out more: minneapolis.org

Sacramento, California

12019 via pixabay

The golden state’s capital flies under the radar when compared to tourist hot spots like San Francisco and Los Angeles, but there’s plenty of fun to be had year-round at bargain prices.

What to Do
The capitol building itself is rich in history and architectural splendor, you can take a free tour and then wander the urban green space known as Capitol Park. The city proudly claims to be America’s Farm to Fork capital and there are dozens of free farmers markets that showcase over 8000 acres of boutique farms that flourish in the surrounding counties. Old Town Sacramento, a 28-acre State Historical Park, is a peek into the past, with old buildings from the Gold Rush era still intact and housing everything from restaurants to wacky gift shops and the free Wells Fargo History Museum. Rent a bike and explore the American River on the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail—over 32 miles of pathway that goes from Discovery Park to Folsom Lake.

Where to Stay
The Hilton Garden Inn is just a few minutes away from downtown—which means cheaper rates. It offers adjoining rooms for families of more than four. It also has an outdoor pool that is kept warm well into the chilly winter months.

Find out more: visitsacramento.com

Cody, Wyoming

Cody Yellowstone

This small town in northwestern Wyoming outside of Yellowstone National Park offers an authentic Western experience befitting a town that was founded by a legend, Buffalo Bill Cody. Many travelers visit the town as a prelude to a trip to the world’s first national park.

What to Do
Summer-season visitors will find an array of affordable fun, including free adventures like watching the antics of the Wild Bunch, who perform six nights a week in front of the Irma Hotel, the heart of the town. Built by Buffalo Bill and named for his daughter, visitors should take a look at the room-long Cherrywood bar in the dining room, a gift from England’s Queen Victoria after Buffalo Bill staged his Wild West Show for the queen. There’s also the Cody Nite Rodeo, the country’s only summer-season nightly rodeo. Families looking to keep their wallets in their pockets can also take a drive east along the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway to Pahaska Tepee, where Buffalo Bill went to relax with friends such as Teddy Roosevelt and the Prince of Monaco. Don’t forget binoculars. Wildlife watching is free, and you must might get glimpse of bison, eagles, bighorn sheep, river otters, elk or even bears or wolves (Don’t forget to practice safe viewing by leaving plenty of distance from the animals.). Don’t miss the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, with five museums under one room. The Draper Natural History Museum explores the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, and it’s a must-see for anyone planning a trip to the park.

Where to Stay
Blair Hotels, a collection of three hotels conveniently located on Sheridan Avenue, the town’s highly walkable main street. There’s a Comfort Inn and Holiday Inn plus the Buffalo Bill Village, with comfortable cabin accommodations. Take time to visit the gift shop, with a fun collection of clothing, jewelry, candy and gifts items.

Find out morecodyyellowstone.org

Pensacola, Florida

Matt Deavenport via Flickr

Located on the Florida panhandle, this small beach town lays claim to being home to "the World's Whitest Beaches."

What to Do
After spending plenty of time with your feet in the sand, be sure to stop by the National Naval Aviation Museum. Not only is it the world’s largest aviation museum in the country, but it offers free admission daily. Don’t miss Bands on the Beach, which occurs every Tuesday from Apr.-Oct. Pack a picnic, bring the kids and relax to free music as you watch the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico. Explore the 8.5 mile Pensacola eco-trail, where the whole family can learn about local plant life, look for and collect seashells and even keep an eye out for a sea turtle or two! For fresh and local eats and goods, wander through the Palafox Market on Saturday mornings.

Where to Stay
There are plenty of budget-friendly offerings, from KOA campsites to VRBO homes and hotels like the Hilton Pensacola Beach Hotel, which has family-friendly suites with kitchen and bunk beds available. Rates start at $116 a night.

Find out more: visitpensacola.com

Wells, Maine

vallain via pixabay

This friendly beach town has a much more laid-back vibe (and cheaper prices) than nearby Kennebunkport.

What to Do
In Wells, the seven miles that are known as Crescent Beach and Drake’s Island Beach is always a popular tourist attraction, but there are plenty of other cheap activities for families. Head to the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and walk the one-mile trail that’ll take you through salt marshes. Go to the world-famous Maine Diner and order a bowl of the clam chowder, and if you are headed there during the winter, Harris Farm is just over 30 minutes away and offers cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fat bike rides for reasonable prices (kids 6 & under are free on the weekends, adults are only $15.).

Where to Stay
The Misty Harbor Resort is open year-round and offers lots of family-friendly amenities like an indoor pool, playground, in-unit kitchen, a prime location on the trolley route and proximity to markets and the beach. Current rates start at $119 per night.

Find out more: visitmaine.com/wells

Buena Park, California

© 2016 Peanuts Worldwide LLC, peanuts.com

If you're looking for a taste of the SoCal sun, Buena Park offers loads for families to do while still keeping the budget in check.

What to Do
Home to Knott's Berry Farm, families who visit this area of Orange County will enjoy its proximity to gorgeous beaches, parks and all the area attractions like Disneyland. Travel back in time and take advantage of the many historic buildings and museums in Buena Park that offer free tours like the Whitaker-Jaynes House, the Bacon House, the Tice House and the Stage Shop Hotel. Visitors will also enjoy a stop at Knott's Independence Hall, a true brick-by-brick replica of the original in Philadelphia with free admission. Pint-sized paleontologists will definitely want to stop at Ralph B. Clark Regional Park, home to the Clark Interpretive Center that features ice age fossils and local geology exhibits including a nine-million-year-old baleen whale skeleton. Don't forget to stop at Porto's Bakery and Cafe for an out-of-this-world Cuban treat!

Where to Stay
At the Holiday Inn Buena Park-Near Knott's, kids 18 and under stay free and eat free all day at the on-site restaurant. After your day of activities, enjoy the massive hotel pool and Jacuzzi. Rooms start at $113/night and they offer suites and adjoining rooms to accommodate families. 

Find out morevisitbuenapark.com

Canaan Valley, West Virginia

Canaan Valley

Canaan Valley Resort is a four-season mountain destination that’s about 2 ½ hours outside of Washington, DC in West Virginia’s Potomac Highlands. Nearby are the charming mountain towns of Thomas and Davis, West Virginia, where families can go to enjoy mountain music and an authentic Appalachian vibe.

What to Do
The Canaan Valley Ski Area is an all-day playground for the entire family, even the little ones who can find their ski legs in beginner ski school and practice on the Critters Crawl trail. This ski area is the highest mountain valley east of the Rocky Mountains, with affordable lift tickets ($39 for adults midweek; $42 weekends) and a variety of other winter experiences. The resort also has a tube park with as many as 12 tube lanes, ice skating rink and cross-country skiing. \

Where to Stay
With 160 rooms, 23 cabins and 34 campsites, Canaan Valley Resort provides lodging for families of all sizes. When it’s time to warm up, head to the lodge for a pizza dinner including local brews for the grownups. The resort also has an indoor pool for splashing away any excess energy and an arcade for a friendly game of air hockey before heading to bed in a modern, spacious lodge room.

Find out more: canaanresort.com

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

James Carnes via Flickr

Visit this charming tourist city at the base of the Smoky Mountains in the springtime, before the staggering summer crowds show up.

What to Do
The city is very walkable, there’s a low-cost trolley, mountain access via the Ober Aerial Tramway and there are plenty of free activities including miles of hiking, fishing, the 8-mile Great Smoky Mountains Arts & Crafts Community Loop, walking along the Little Pigeon River, visiting Cades Cove for breathtaking views and more.

Where to Stay
There’s no shortage of lodging in Gatlinburg, and in the off-season, deals abound. Take advantage of the prices and book a cozy cabin via VRBO, where some of their top cabin rentals start as low as $101 a night.

Find out more: gatlinburg.com

Albuquerque, New Mexico

IAS via pixabay

One of the most cost-effective vacations can be had in Albuquerque—this city was awarded a spot in the “Top 10 U.S. Value Destinations” by Hotwire and has also found itself in many "Top 10 Cities for Families" lists.

What to Do
You’ll only pay between $4-8 for admission at one of the 19 museums in the city. And, if you visit the Rio Grande Nature Center you can enjoy a free walk and birdwatching along the stunning Rio Grande Bosque Trail. This lovely family-first city boasts 310 days of sunshine and blue skies per year, which is probably why it’s the ballooning capital of the world. Additionally, families can enjoy hiking, jeep tours, bike outings, whitewater rafting, rock climbing and horseback riding.

Where to Stay
From campgrounds to bed and breakfasts to hotels to ranches, Albuquerque has it all. Visit their website to find the accommodations that are ideal for your family’s budget and needs.

Find out more: visitalbuquerque.org

Branson, Missouri

Explore Branson

This southwest Missouri spot is nestled in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains offers outdoor experiences and old-time charm. 

What to Do
With three area lakes, dozens of attractions and a vast array of lodging, families of all ages and sizes choose Branson as their destination of choice for fun. Get up close and personal with tons of different animals at the Promise Land Zoo and then enjoy some entertainment with your dinner at Dolly Parton's Stampede. Spend some time on the water at Table Rock Lake where you can go tubing, jet-skiing, fishing and even scuba diving on the lake's 43,000 acres of water.

Where to Stay
Wyndam Mountain Vista has suites that sleep up to 10 people with rates starting at $71/night. Families will especially love the game room, basketball courts, swimming pool, hot tubs and in-room washer/dryer.

Find out moreexplorebranson.com

Atlanta, Georgia

Matthew Pauslon

If you haven’t visited The ATL with your family yet, you should most definitely add it to your vacation to-do list.

What to Do
There’s a ton to see here for everyone in your family, including the Children’s Museum of Atlanta for younger kids; Centennial Olympic Park, where you can watch a synchronized water show; the Center for the Puppetry Arts, where you can see Jim Henson’s Muppet collection; the World of Coca-Cola and Stone Mountain Park. To soak up some culture, visit the Atlanta History Center, where 33 acres are waiting to be explored (military is free and Bank of America customers have free admission the first weekend of every month). 

Where to Stay
If you’re looking for a straightforward hotel to rest your heads, take a look at The Inn at the Peachtrees. Here you’ll find free WiFi and breakfast and, most importantly, you’ll be located near the CNN Center, Centennial Olympic Park, World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium. Plus, Piedmont Park is not too far away. Room rates start at around $96 per night.

Find out more: atlanta.com

Portland, Oregon

dog97209 via Flickr

Portland has long been a haven for families looking for good food and outdoor fun at a cheap price. 

What to Do
From hands-on science activities at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry to loads of beautiful parks (hello, Washington Park!), public fountains and open-air weekend markets—Portland has loads of free things to do with your kids. Young kiddos under five will love Portland Children's Museum, and kids ages six to ten will find the Portland Art Museum, Oaks Amusement Park and Children's Theater interesting. A bike ride along the riverfront is perfect if you want to explore on two wheels.

If your family wants to "Keep Portland Weird," you may want to check out Voodoo Doughnuts or make your own pancakes at Slappy Cakes. And, if you're trying to save a penny, check out the Chinook Book app, which has discounts at hundreds of restaurants and attractions around the city.

Where to Stay
One of the best travel planning resources is the Travel Portland website. Here, you can find up-to-date scheduling info for concerts, family-friendly events and fun happenings around the city. Also, you can book lodging based on a specific neighborhood or level of "alternativeness."

Find out more: travelportland.com

Memphis, Tennessee

MikeGoad via pixabay

Elvis' hometown has been ranked a top budget-friendly family vacation spot for several years. The recently-completed 137-million-dollar expansion means there's even more to do.

What to Do
Go on a tour of Elvis Presley’s Graceland Mansion, explore the Woodland Discovery Playground at Shelby Farms Park, watch the Peabody ducks make their daily trek and don't forget to take the monorail to the free Mud Island River Park, where the popular Riverwalk—an exact scale model of the lower Mississippi—will give kids a bird's-eye view of the famous river.

Where to Stay
A great Memphis lodging option is Hyatt Place Memphis Primacy Parkway, located near the Memphis Botanic Garden and Memphis Zoo. Here you can park for free, hop on the included WiFi, splash in the outdoor pool and enjoy complimentary daily breakfast. 

Find out more: memphistn.gov/visitingmemphis

Chicago, Illinois

Sharon Mollerus via flickr

Chicago has loads of family-friendly (free or nearly free) activities that will light up your vacation.

What to Do
Visit the Lincoln Park Zoo, a free zoo with an interactive farm. Chicago also has free and discounted days at many of their world-class museums: Art Institute of Chicago, Adler Planetarium, Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicago Children’s Museum, Chicago History Museum, The Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, National Museum of Mexican Art, and more. 

Visit Millennium Park, which has countless fun free events and activities for families such as live music and yoga at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, art exhibitions throughout the park, a huge playground with views of Chicago’s skyline, Crown Fountain (kids can splash and run through this art installation), and of course, the ever-popular Cloud Gate aka “The Bean.” Be sure to check out the official Chicago CityPass to book admission to top attractions at a fraction of the cost. 

Where to Stay
Built in 1929, the Intercontinental Chicago Magnificent Mile is like walking into a slice of Chicago’s rich past. It's also located right on the Mag Mile, making it easy to get your family to all that Chicago has to offer. If you book their Parking Package, you’ll get free valet parking. For the most fun, book the Snuggle is Real package that includes a blanket and teddy bear for you to take home, hot cocoa turndown service, unlimited in-room movies, a $50 in-room dining credit and late checkout. Prices start at $118 per night.

Find out more: chooseschicago.com

—Kate Loweth, Gabby Cullen & Wendy Altschuler

Editor’s Note: Rates were current upon publication.


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