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Family Travel Files Ezine Family Vacations Resource
Vacation Planning - Use More Energy and Spend Less Money.Austin Lehman Adventures Hiking Want to get away, have fun and not destroy the family budget? Are you wondering where to find the free or almost free stuff? We have been searching for ways to spend less yet have more fun - after all, a family vacation needs to be fun and as stress free as possible. We all know some of the best family vacation memories can be made for free and our list of activities and resources prove the point.

Fly kites, gaze at stars, play horses, take a croquette challenge, hike, bike, swim, go fishing, join a volleyball game, set up a Frisbee™ match or just play ball. We have been researching free and almost free family vacation fun and while our discoveries vary by destination a few basics apply to every location. From free days at museums and free concerts under the stars to free nature walks, storytelling, and stargazing, spend less and have more fun.

Checkout local parks. The fact is good old-fashioned fun is often free or almost free. Communities across the country have recreational treasures enjoyed by locals and often not discovered by visitors. The green areas are free, fun and just waiting to be discovered. For example: Mount Trashmore Park in Virginia Beach is a 165-acre, six-story high, green mountain created by compacting layers of solid waste and clean soil. The complex includes picnic shelters, playground areas, basketball court, volleyball areas, parking, vending machines and restrooms as well as marked walking trails, two stocked freshwater lakes meant for fishing, TrueRide Skate Park, and a delightful Kids Cove playground. Brackenridge Park in San Antonio is a 343-acre urban park providing time-travel adventures, animal encounters, a mini train, and the perfect spot to enjoy a poi counting session in the Japanese Tea Garden. Beach Kites Family Fun

Walk in the city. Creating an urban adventure with your kids is always rewarding. No two cities are alike and now two days in the same city will be alike. In the same way a mountain trail inundates all of the senses so to a city walk can be inspiring. In Boston well-marked Freedom Trails weave throughout the city center. In Philadelphia all routes lead to the Liberty Bell. In Springfield, Illinois  dedicated routes weave a story about Abraham Lincoln’s life. In San Antonio follow the blue disks marking the Texas Star Trail and more than 80 historic sites and landmarks.  Advice: Even if your children are too young for the facts following designated routes makes a unique family adventure easy and it’s a healthy way to enjoy any city.

Spend time on the beach. Cover the whole family with sunscreen and enjoy sun, sand, and water. Join a Loggerhead turtle quest; build sandcastles with moats; play beach volleyball; hunt for the elusive blue crab; count minnows in tidal pools. On Canaveral National Seashore rangers conduct a variety of interesting free seasonal programs meant to be shared with children. Myrtle Beach runs a fishing tournament all summer long and Virginia Beach hosts free music concerts under the stars. In Destin, Florida ( the Village of Baytowne Wharf offers free Wednesday Night Concert Series Each week from May through October enjoy the free Wednesday Night Concert Series; on Mondays in June you’ll find free sandcastle building lessons; each Friday night is free family movie night under the stars. La Jolla Beach Kayaks Family Fun

Visit your land. Just say to you kids that you are going to checkout some land you own – land we all own because we pay taxes. The National Wildlife Refuge System is dedicated to preserving the land for the benefit of present and future generations so the locations make ideal spots to connect with nature while connecting with your kids. Free and fun, choices span coast to coast and include Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. For example:  At Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge near Denver drop-in visitors are welcome. Fishing is permitted and fishing equipment is available for children. Learning programs and guided hikes are conducted on weekends and there’s a children’s learning lab inside the visitor center. At John Heinz Refuge near Philadelphia visitors may experience life on the refuge along trails ranging in length from ¾-mile to 10 miles with guided walks are held on weekends.

Find fun at state parks. Lace up your hiking shoes and take advantage of public land. Look at any state map and you will find hundreds, sometimes thousands of acres dedicated to Mother Nature. State parks fall into the category of secret places worth a visit. For example: at Torrey Pines State Park and Beach near San Diego stroll the beach or wander eight miles of marked trails within the 1750-acre reserve.  From the Visitor Center take advantage of the free guided nature walks on weekends and holidays. On the Atlantic Coast Myrtle Beach State Park offers families delightful one-of-a-kind experiences. In addition to almost one mile of beachfront, this 312-acre location has a campground, cabins, picnic areas, a fishing pier and nature trail. The nature center provides oodles of ways to explore together observing saltwater aquariums, seeing live reptiles and using interactive natural history displays. The headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River originate within Itasca State park in Minnesota. The park totals more than 32,000 acres and includes more than 100 lakes but walking across the Mississippi is likely the most memorable activity for children.
Vacation with the YMCA.
Did you know that the YMCA AWAY Program allows member access to more than 2,000 YMCAs across the USA – take your card with you. From climbing walls and tennis courts to swimming pools and family yoga classes doing your “Y” thing is easy even on vacation.  Rates and rules vary by location so it is best to log on the specifics for before you go. There’s a terrific YMCA hostel in New York City just steps from Lincoln Center; YMCA of the Rockies offers awesome summer camps for families; the Y in St. Augustine, Florida offers energizing yoga practice for all ages. Need to know: Check with your home base YMCA to verify your family membership benefits or log on to and search on your own.
Vacation Planning Details
Torrey Pines State Park, San Diego CA 92037.  Visitor Center/Ranger Station (858) 755-2063 or
Mount Trashmore, Virginia Beach, VA (757) 473-5237 or
Brackenridge Park Witte Museum, San Antonio, TX (210) 357-1900 or   
Myrtle Beach State Park, Myrtle Beach, SC (843) 238-5325. Call 1-866-345-PARK (7275) or
San Antonio Conservation Society 107 King William Street, 1(210) 224-6163.
Canaveral National Seashore, Cocoa Beach, FL (321) 267-1110, (386) 428-3384 ext. 10 for program details or
Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge
John Heinz Refuge or
Itasca State Park 36750 Main Park Drive, Park Rapids, Minnesota 56470For Itasca State Park information call (218) 266-2100 or

Content posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Images fron San Diego CVB and from our files. Copyright 2018.
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