Cheap vacation suggestions


New Member
My husband is getting to use some of his vacation that he had previously been told he couldn't. So next week, we want to pack the kids in the van, and head out. The question is.."Where?"

Any ideas? We live in Dallas, Texas, so wherever we go needs to be within a 2 days drive. We can leave Monday night or Tuesday morning, but we have to be back Sunday. Our oldest difficult children family birthday party is then and I can't cancel or reschedule.

Any ideas? Texas has been rained out for the past month and there is no relief in sight. I need someplace a tad bit dryer that has some cheap fun things to do for kids.

I have 6 kids from age 3 to age 12, so it has to be stuff they would all enjoy. I'd love to take them to the mountains someplace, but I don't think camping there is a good idea. I don't believe camping is in my DHs blood or on any of my difficult children wishlists.

Any suggestions?


New Member
I'm glad your husband gets to take advantage of some time he has built up - it's always nice to get away for a few days!

I don't know your area at all, but do you have any 'touristy' towns within that 2-day driving distance? We are fortunate enough to live very near two different sort of tourist towns - one on the St. Lawrence River - and the other in the mountains. They are each very close and offer many different activities so you can spend several days keeping busy while still being fairly close to home and not spending an enormous amount of money also.

Last Saturday, we took a day trip to a nearby city - did Build-A-Bear and then went to the Zoo there - and then Chuckie (sp?) Cheese before coming home. Kids had a good day (even difficult child) and we were within 3 hours of home the whole time.

We are planning a week-long trip to Niagara Falls in August, so are saving our bucks for that, so the day trip was definitely in our budget.

I hope whatever you do, you have a good time. It's so important to get away whenever you can. :grin:


Former desparate mom
Allstressedout,as you know, I'm a big fan of N.Mexico but I'm not sure kids would appreciate it for the same reasons. I love the different landscape and the history.
Carlsbad caverns comes to mind.
Think about Colorado. Durango is a cool, western type town. Lots of biking and hiking and cute shops. Old steam train takes you out for day trips.
San Antonio with a stop at the big water park and tubing on the Brazos.
Galveston is nice if you like the ocean. It's one of my favorites but I like winters there better.

Hot Springs,Ark is nice but may be a little slow.
Dollywood in Tennessee? possibly. I haven't been but I love driving
through the state. Nashville seems interesting too.

My husband isn't a camper either but I love anything that is out doors so he humors me.

Hope this triggers some ideas for your family.


Worlds Best Nana
I can't suggest places, but I have some tips for keeping expenses under control:

Even if your family aren't campers, check out the cabins at KOA. They have indoor plumbing, a kitchenette and outdoor grill. Two would sleep your family for a fraction of the cost of hotel rooms. In some campgrounds you can rent a camper (they're much bigger than when we were kids)- same kind of deal. The kids will have access to the pool, playground and any other ativities on-site.

Wherever you decide to stay, try to get a place with a kitchen or kitchenette. Stock the fridge with drinks, sandwich fixins, fruit, yogurt. If there is a unique restaurant your family is dying to try, go there for lunch. Not only will it be less crowded, the bill will be half the price. Eat leftovers, sandwiches, or order pizza for dinner. You could even throw some burgers on the grill and have them with purchased salads and chips.

We've done all these things in the past, and have managed to have a great vacation without breaking the bank.



New Member
Yes, I thought of that after my post - we always try to stay somewhere where there is the option of a grill, if we want it. Last time we went to the mountains, we took hotdogs, etc. and I made salads and cookies and took those, too. Between our mini-fridge and my sister's, we kept everything cold - and ate most of our meals that way. One or two meals, we splurged and ate somewhere we all wanted to try. That really did cut down on expenses.

Our favorite mountain motel even has a campfire pit out back - and they keep lots of wood for that purpose. We had one almost every night we were there - and ate lots and lots of smores. It was funny because each night we would get the fire going and other guests would come out and join us. One couple traveling had never had smores - so of course, we had to share! Still slept in a bed, but spent lots of time in the great outdoors.


Well-Known Member
I was going to suggest Tennessee. Or the Houston/Galviston area. If you do the Houston/Galviston area you could do NASA and a water park and the ocean. Nashville has nice things too.


Active Member
Like Fran, I vote for New Mexico. It is so beautiful with lots and lots to do. It is about a 24 hours drive, and even the drive is scenic and gorgeous. Matt and I did that years back, and had a wonderful time. We stayed in a cabin called Ghost Ranch, in Abiquiu on a mesa. Beautiful. From the cabin we could hike, go white water rafting, go to an animal preserve, and the cabin had meals included in the stay. Here is their link - not sure if they have opening but you could try.
We also went into Santa Fe which has a million things to sight see.

If not New Mexico I would do San Antonio, there is sea world, the water walk, the schlitterbahn, and the bridge caverns which are really cool. You could swing through Austin too if you went to San Antonio and get in a little history with the Alamo and the Capitol.

Good luck - let us know what you decide.
I'm with Amber, while I have not actually been to San Antonio, I know they have the River Walk & Sea World and I know that it is just beautiful there.

From personal experience, I absolutely love New Mexico. The kids might be bored there, however. And San Antonio is closer.

You've gotten a ton of good advice, you could almost put a bunch of suggestions in a hat & pick one! Have fun wherever you go.


New Member
I want to go outside of Texas if possible. With the rain, everything is overflowing, I'd be afraid to do tubing, although I love it usually.

Where are the closest mountains? I know that sounds stupid, but honestly, I haven't paid attention to a US map in years, nor do I remember much. I'd love a campfire with smores and still have a bed. That would be my idea of a perfect vacation. I absolutely love the outdoords, I grew up in Connecticut. Our backyard was the woods.

Thanks for all the great ideas! Only a few more days to decide.

Now if we can just get my youngest difficult child to stop breaking out...bout to post on that one now in general.


All Stressed,
even tho you aren't "campers", you might check into the camper rental if you're looking for some outdoor time. Some of the campers they have now are nicer than hotels - some even have fire places, washers and dryers, and internet hookups built in, and with the slide out options, now, they're HUGE.
We looked at renting on in CA and it was around $200 for a week, setup and ready for us, in a park.


Former desparate mom
<span style='font-size: 11pt'>Taos is less than 12 hrs from Plano. It's the Sangre di Cristo Mtn range. Carson National Forest is there. Taos itself may not have much for kids. It's a lot of artists, weavers, writers but there is an Indian pueblo to wander around. (can you tell I love going there?) We do the rafting and horseback riding. There is a ranch that does a outdoor dinner with a western flair. Haven't done it yet but it's on our itinerary.
Ghost Ranch (Georgia O'Keefe's ranch) is there but it's some sort of writers retreat now.
We do a lot of walking in the woods and hiking(very gentle) sort. I love the area and hope to return often.
Arkansas's mountains may be closer but I don't know much about them.


Active Member
Yeah.........Taos would be my vote too if you want mountains. They have tons - and if your kids are anything like mine - nature is an endless canvass of activities. I would go for it! If you don't want a camper, you could look up cabins online, and see what you can find. Have fun, no matter what!


New Member
It looks like we're headed to St. Petersburg, FL. Plans aren't set in stone yet, but we found a 3 BR house for $99 a night right off the beach. Pics look great, so I'm crossing my fingers we can work it all out.


New Member
If you are headed to Tampa/St. Pete, you might consider looking into a timeshare presentation. I did this last year with my difficult child and her cousin. I spent 90 minutes with the time share people, and said no. The presentation included 2 nights hotel with-kitchenette on the beach for $49.00. I added two more days, at $79.00/day. They provided 2 tickets to Busch Gardens, and I picked up a discounted ticket at a Wendy's. The teenage girls loved the beach, and shopping. Worked for us.


New Member

The deal you got sounds amazing!! That way, you are on your own - and can make your own meals when you feel like it! AND, you're on the beach!!! :beach:

Sounds great! :thumb:

Hope you have an awesome time!!!! :smile: