15 Affordable Spring Break Destinations for Families in the USA 

When you want to visit a new city in spring, it’s best to start planning early. The bad news is your funds for travel might be a little low — after all, the holidays and winter bills were quite expensive. However, there are still various affordable cities and spring break destinations for families you can consider heading to on a budget. 

In this guide, we cover the 15 most affordable, and best spring break destinations for families. These cities boast loads of free or inexpensive activities and family fun to make for a memorable trip.

Best spring break destinations for families on a budget 

If you’re looking for the perfect spring break destination for your family but don’t have a ton of money to allot to your trip, here are a few cities in the United States to consider for your  spring vacation.

1. Kansas City, Missouri

kansas city skyline
Kansas City is a known as the City of Fountains. | Photo by joyoya from Pixabay

Kansas City is dubbed the City of Fountains for a reason. Freely view all the publicly-operated waterworks during Fountain Day on April 16, 2024. If you can’t make that date, you can still take a road trip and head to various museums.

Nelson Atkins Museum of Art offers art and sculptures from all over the world. The tickets are free, but you can add a few dollars to your purchase to help the museum recover from the pandemic. There’s also the Frontier Army Museum and Money Museum if you want a more historical visit. Visit the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead to go to a corral.

If you’re looking for libraries, head for the Kansas City Public Library. There are seasonal events and exhibits, though you can also just tour the vast book collections. 

Kansas City in a Nutshell

2. Washington, D.C.

the World War I memorial with the Washington Monument in the background
The National Mall And Its Many Monuments are free to visit

Washington DC is one of the most historical places in America and should be on everyone’s USA bucket list. 

While accommodation in Washington, D.C., can cost quite a bit, you can take endless free museum tours. Head to the different Smithsonian museums before strolling through the Smithsonian Gardens, which are also free of admission.

If you want to stick with the historical theme of your D.C. visit, put the National Mall and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on your list. 

You can even take a free shuttle from the Foggy Bottom Metro stop to the cultural center. Just remember to check the schedules during your stay to ensure a seat.

Another thing that makes Washington DC one of the best spring break destinations for families is that the cherry blossoms are in bloom around this special time of year. So, as you walk along the National Mall, viewing all the monuments, nature provides its own lovely display.

Washington DC in a Nutshell

  • Best things to do during spring break: Tour the Smithsonian Museums, Walk the National Mall, Visit the Arlington National Cemetery, enjoy the cherry blossoms in bloom
  • Where to stay: Hotel Hive
  • Search for tickets to popular attractions and tours in Washington, DC

3. San Antonio, Texas

the Riverwalk in San Antonio
The Riverwalk is the heart of San Antonio. | Photo by Weston M from Unsplash

San Antonio has the most affordable U.S. accommodation rates, with rooms averaging around $107 or so. But the real gems lie in the views as you walk through the place. The San Antonio Riverwalk is a spectacle whether it’s night or day. Walk along the Riverwalk and shop for Texas souvenirs or stop to enjoy some quality Tex-Mex.

If good food is high on your priority list when traveling, San Antonio will not disappoint. Thanks to its Mexican community and culture, you can visit many authentic and delicious restaurants. Reserve a day to drive to Los Nortenos Pollos Asados at Rigsby Avenue for the best charbroiled chicken.

A visit to the Alamo is also a must on any Texas bucket list, but there are also other Spanish missions with beautiful architecture to visit.

During spring you will definitely want to take a day trip out to the Hill Country. This beautiful area is known for its wines and its wildflowers. 

Spring in the Hill Country means hundreds of thousands of Bluebonnets bloom wild along the highways and in fields as far as the eye can see. While you can see huge displays of Texas Bluebonnets as far north as Ennis, outside of Dallas, the Hill Country is the first area in the state where these flowers start to peak each season.

San Antonio in a Nutshell

4. Cincinnati, Ohio

a riverboat on the Ohio River at sunset with Cincinnati in the background
A sunset riverboat tour is a great way to familiarize yourself with Cincinnati. | Photo by Joe from Pixabay

Cincinnati is one of the most underrated cities in the United States, and it is extra fun during spring. Start with the extensive gallery and kid-friendly creative center at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Families enjoy free general admission and parking. The Contemporary Arts Center also offers beautiful art and free admission.

You can also go to Krohn Conservatory for a small fee per person. The site offers beautiful floral and butterfly shows during springtime. And when you want to wind down, grab some pretzels and ice cream for a quick picnic at Washington Park.  You can also participate in events like Egg Hunt Time on March 30, if your spring break trip coincides.

A fun splurge that offers a unique perspective of Cincinnati is to take a river cruise along the Ohio River. The river boats depart from Newport, Kentucky, which is just across the river from Cincinnati.

Cincinnati in a Nutshell

5. New Orleans, Louisiana

a jazz band playing in the streets of New Orleans
New Orleans is a lively city with constant music in the streets and a haunting history that makes for a fun trip with kids who love ghost stories. | Photo by Joao Francisco from Unsplash

New Orleans can offer an exciting experience while on a budget. Swamp tours will already give you a bang for your buck since it’ll be a unique experience. There are also many festivals where you can hang out with locals for a good time.

Spend your spring days at landmarks like New Orleans City Park, Audubon Park, the French Quarter, or Jackson Square to stretch your legs. 

If you’re traveling with tweens or teenagers who enjoy a good scare, embark on a haunted ghost and graveyard tour. Kid-free trip? New Orleans is known for its nightlife. You’ll love dancing through each night to jazz from street artists. 

If you crave more tunes, Preservation Hall is worth a visit.

New Orleans in a Nutshell

6. Atlanta, Georgia

a statue of a man holding a cup of coca-cola outside the World of Coca-Cola in atlanta georgia
Atlanta has so many attractions you can visit – from the World of Coca Cola to the Georgia Aquarium. | Photo by Fernando Ribas from Pixabay

Atlanta is home to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which is the first airport to accommodate more than 100 million passengers in a year. Delta Air Line’s famous hub also has reasonable seat prices, so you can land in the city with some extra cash.

Some tourist attractions to visit on a budget include the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. 

For a nature getaway, the Stone Mountain walk-up trail offers scenic views of Georgia’s skyline.

If you want to splurge on some of the more pricey activities, Atlanta is home to the best aquarium in the United States, as well as the World of Coca Cola Museum, where you can sample different flavors of Coca Cola products from around the world.

Atlanta in a Nutshell

7. San Diego, California

a street next to a beach in San Diego
San Diego Has A Relaxed Vibe With A Strong Latin American Influence. | Photo By Sean Mullowney From Unsplash

With so many things to do, San Diego is one of the best Southern California vacation spots. If you want to head to the west, opt for San Diego over San Francisco and Los Angeles. While California is known as a pricey place to visit, there are several great, free things to do in San Diego. 

There are several beaches — like Coronado Beach — for surfing and splashing in the ocean, or you can opt for a picnic by the bay. Various hiking trails are available to explore, as well.

San Diego is also home to Balboa Park — a haven of many museums and gardens you can visit on the cheap. San Diego Zoo and Safari Park is in that area, too, so stroll around and see elephants and kangaroos.

San Diego in a Nutshell

8. Lancaster, Pennsylvania

a horse and buggy in Lancaster County Pennsylvania
Visiting Amish country in Lancaster County feels like a fascinating step back in time. | Photo by Rocky Friz from Unsplash

Lancaster is the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish country. You can start by exploring the rural regions and appreciate the beautiful countryside and covered bridges throughout the area. Then, take a tour of an Amish farm and museum. 

For some unique dishes, look for scrapple — a loaf containing pork scraps and trimmings. There’s also shoofly pie, which is a Pennsylvania-Dutch hybrid dish mainly consisting of molasses and brown sugar. Visit the Dutch Haven bakery for a taste of the PA Dutch cuisine and peruse Amish-made crafts. 

While Amish country can even be enjoyed in Pennsylvania in winter, it definitely is most pleasant when the weather starts to warm up.

Lancaster in a Nutshell

9. Tampa, Florida

A little girl playing in the sand at St. Pete Beach outside of Tampa, one of the best spring break destinations for families
St. Pete Beach, just outside of Tampa, is a wonderful spring break beach destination in the US. | Photo by Vanessa Butler from Unsplash

Looking for a great beach vacation? The Caribbean side of Florida is one of the best spring break destinations for families, thanks to their beautiful beaches, theme parks, and laid back vibes. 

Tampa is famous for various relaxation spots, with TripAdvisor certifying St. Pete Beach as the top beach in the U.S. in 2021. Get to the coast for free via the Freebee Shuttle.

If you want to try sailing, connect with one of the yacht clubs. The Davis Island Yacht Club has a Thursday Night Racing Series where newer sailors can learn about crewing and riding a boat from more experienced drivers.

Since you’re already by the best beach, look up some seafood dishes. Tampa-style deviled crabs are a staple for their spice and flavor. If you want to try your hand at cooking, visit one of many wholesale seafood markets in the area for a fresh catch.

And for those looking for a theme park adventure without the shocking price tag or massive crowds at Walt Disney World in nearby Orlando, head to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, the sister theme park of Busch Gardens Williamsburg, one of the best things to do in Williamsburg, Virginia with kids and the company’s Tampa park is equally great!

Tampa in a Nutshell

10. Phoenix, Arizona

A walking path at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix
The Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix is a wonderful place to spend some time outdoors in Phoenix. | Photo by Nichole Granja from Unsplash

If you’re looking for a warm spring break destination in the US with plenty of sunshine, consider Phoenix for your family vacation.

There are plenty of things to do from museums to an aquarium, and an excellent zoo you can explore.

For something both fun and free in Phoenix, take a ride to Arizona State University for their free contemporary art museum. The Phoenix Art Museum also offers free general admission, while special exhibitions charge a fee. Throughout March, you can also check out springtime festivals like Artlink’s Art Detour.

After getting your fill of art, try out the mountain biking trails by South Mountain Park and Reserve. If you want to stay closer to the city and are willing to pay a small fee, the Desert Botanical Gardens also offer some fantastic sights.

If you plan to spend a whole week in Phoenix for spring break, you can easily take full-day tours to Sedona or even the Grand Canyon to see some of the United States most famous landmarks.

Phoenix in a Nutshell

11. Hot Springs, Arkansas

a natural spring in hot springs national park
Hot Springs National Park is an often forgotten national park in drivable distance from many major cities in Arkansas and the surrounding states. | Photo by Samantha Beaty from Unsplash

Arkansas is abundant in natural parks where you can relax and enjoy. Kick off your US spring break trip by heading to Hot Springs National Park for a full day of hiking followed by a dip in a bathhouse.  As the city’s name suggests, these historic bath houses connect to natural hot springs.

Lake Catherine State Park is a hidden gem to check out. This lake is higher up in the Ouachita Mountains, which gives the place a more peaceful ambiance. There’s also a hiking trail that will lead you to a nice waterfall.

For a fun and exhilarating experience, take a small group ziplining tour at Adventureworks, where you’ll zipline through the forest and even over water. 

Hot Springs makes for an affordable spring break destination for families looking to relax outside, explore hiking trails, go on outdoor adventures, and even sleep under the stars on a family camping trip.

Hot Springs in a Nutshell

  • Best things to do during spring break: Explore Hot Springs National Park, relax in a naturally heated bathhouse, go on a waterfall hike near Lake Catherine State Park, zipline, camp out 
  • Where to stay: Arlington Resort Hotel

12. Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City Mormon Temple
The Salt Lake Temple towers over Temple Square.

Whether you’re looking for an outdoor adventure or a cultural experience, Salt Lake City is one of the best spring break destinations for families. 

In Downtown Salt Lake City, spend some time exploring the Historic Temple Square. The iconic Salt Lake Mormon Temple stands prominently in the center of the square. While you cannot go inside the temple unless you are a member of the LDS Church, the impressive grounds and the Salt Lake tabernacle are worthy of any Utah bucket list. The grounds feature several fountains, reflecting pools, and beautiful gardens with blooming flowers during this time of year.

You can take a free tour of Temple Square to learn about the history of the LDS Church and its deep roots in Utah.

If you fancy a ski trip, some of Utah’s best ski resorts are just a short drive away and are still open in early spring. While spring skiing often means warmer temperatures, you’ll still want to pack your ski clothing, as the weather will still be cold. While skiing is admittedly an expensive sport, the good news is peak season has passed and there are smaller crowds, so exploring the mountains will be less hectic.

Salt Lake in a Nutshell

  • Best things to do during spring break: Explore Temple Square, walk along the shores of the Great Salt Lake, wander around Liberty Park, day trip to Park City, Deer Valley or one of the other ski resorts in Utah
  • Where to stay: Hyatt Regency
  • Search for tickets to popular attractions and tours in Salt Lake City

13. Santa Fe, New Mexico

a stone fence and swinging blue gate on an adobe building in Santa Fe
Santa Fe is known for its unique architecture influenced by the strong indigenous roots of the area. | Photo by Darcy Wheeler from Pixabay

Santa Fe is sure to impress you with its unique architecture, delicious food, and artsy vibe. The city offers plenty of old infrastructure and sights around Santa Fe Plaza considering it’s the oldest capitals in the United States. 

Make a point of heading to the New Mexico Capitol Art Collection and other state museums in the area. If visiting New Mexico with kids, then check out Meow Wolf, this immersive museum will definitely be one of your children’s favorite parts of your spring break trip to Santa Fe.

If you prefer a bit of adventure, bike on Santa Fe’s numerous trails or try out hiking. Tesuque Creek is suitable for beginners, but you can also choose the Atalaya Mountain Trail for a longer excursion.

Find some New Mexican cuisine when you’ve worked up an appetite — any dish with green and red chile will taste unforgettable. The enchiladas and burritos will be divine if you’re starving, as the portions are likely to leave you full and going back to your lodgings with leftovers.

Santa Fe in a Nutshell

14. Asheville, North Carolina

the biltmore estate
The Biltmore Estate is worth touring while in Asheville for spring break

Asheville is an excellent spring break destination for families on the East Coast. If you’re feeling spontaneous, head to the Asheville Visitor Center to sort out your itinerary upon arrival. 

If you want suggestions, check out Lexington Glassworks to see how they blow and create vases and bowls. 

Craggy Gardens offers a lovely landscape for photo opportunities with family and friends during springtime. You can also stop by the picnic area to enjoy a packed lunch or drive along Blue Ridge Parkway for even more scenery. For outdoorsy families, you’ll find no shortage of great hiking trails around Asheville. 

Of course, no trip to Asheville is complete without touring the Biltmore Estate. While it may be a wonderful Christmas destination in the US, this famous former home of the Vanderbilt family is spectacular year round. Aside from touring the largest house in the United States, the estate has a barn and farmyard, carriage rides, river floating trips, and a family-friendly winery.

Asheville in a Nutshell

15. Memphis, Tennessee

the historic lorraine motel with a marquee that reads 'i have a dream'
The Historic Lorraine Motel where MLK Jr. was assassinated Is Now Part Of The National Civil Rights Museum. | Photo By Simon Ray From Unsplash

Memphis is a lively city where it feels like the parties never stop. There are multiple music museums to visit, including Elvis Presley’s Graceland — the second-most visited private home in the U.S. While there is a fee to visit Graceland, it can be a unique experience.

The city once played a significant role in the civil rights movement in the 1960s and was the site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. There is no better place to learn about Dr. King’s legacy and the civil rights movement than the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. 

For more relaxed destinations in this awesome US spring break destination, you must stop by Mud Island River Park — a nice space where you can view the Mississippi River. From there, you can also go around the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium for a fun and fulfilling experience.

Memphis in a Nutshell

Enjoy a New Cityscape on a Budget

Spring is a wonderful season to walk around and take in the sights as you travel. As this list proves, you don’t have to break the bank to have a good vacation. Pick out a destination near you, pack up the car for a road trip and start exploring one of these affordable and best spring break destinations for families!

Do you have a question or comment about any of the best spring break destinations for families? We’d love to hear from you. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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