Budget Travel's Blog

The latest travel news, vacation tips & advice, travel apps, and more

sep 30 2015

Fall Weekend Getaways Your Kids Will Love, Too


Take the kids to Colonial Williamsburg this fall. They'll love it!

(Courtesy of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)

This article was written by Hallie Lavine and originally appeared on Yahoo Travel.

Now that school’s back in session you can breathe a sigh of relief—and contemplate how to keep the rug rats entertained over long weekends and mini breaks. We’re here to help. These are 10 awesome autumn excursions guaranteed to be educational and fun (for the whole family!).

Historical Boston

Even if your kid detests history class, he or she will be enthralled by the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile, red brick road that takes you past historic churches, burial grounds, and even Paul Revere’s house so you can learn the story of the American Revolution and beyond. You can explore on your own, or you can take a 90 minute tour led by 18th century costumed guides. (For the easily bored, there’s a Pirates and Patriots version and also a Pub Crawl version.) Tickets are just $12 for adults, $6.50 for children. Once that’s over, it’s a quick walk to the Boston Tea Party Museum, a floating museum that has live actors and interactive exhibits (including allowing your little ones to toss tea into the harbor). Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for children. If your kids are yearning for more historical re-enactments, drive an hour out of the city for an overnight getaway at Sturbridge Village, an 1830s New England living history museum. Tickets are $24 for adults, $10 for kids. Otherwise, consider the whale watch at the New England Aquarium. You’ll have to shell out a tad more dough at $49 for adults, $33 for children ages 3-11. Or check out the many interactive exhibits at the Boston Children’s Museum. It’s $16 for all ages. 

Related: Get Your Kids Ready for School: Amazing Educational Trips

Family space camp

Does your little guy pretend to be Buzz Lightyear? Consider booking the whole family at U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. You’ll go on simulated mission training and operations, learn how rockets are constructed, and get a crash course in on-site space history. One highlight: the 1/6th gravity chair, which simulates walking on the Moon, and the Manned Maneuvering Unit, which simulates astronaut spacewalks outside the shuttle. The jaunt will cost you $449 per person for three days, $499 per person for four days, with meals and lodging included.

Colonial Williamsburg

There’s no shortage of educational opportunities at this living history museum and historic district, which includes Revolutionary War reenactments, hands on opportunities at brick-making and digging for artifacts, and even dressing up as soldiers or undercover Colonial spies. You can easily spend two days here, then head over to historic Jamestown, which recreates life in the 1607 settlement, or visit one of the three plantations. Seven-day ticket pass for all is $89 for adults and $41 for kids. Balance it out with a day at nearby theme park Busch Gardens, where your littles can participate in the Animal Ambassador program and learn about the lives of critters ranging from eagles to wolves and foxes.  

Sleepover at the Smithsonian

Bring your sleeping bag and flashlight and head over to one of three Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian museums—American History Museum, National History Museum, or the National Portrait Gallery—for an evening of entertainment that includes a nocturnal tour, craft activities, and various educational games. At night’s end, you “camp out” in the museum. The cost? $135 per person for kids ages 8-12. The next day, check out the National Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and the National Zoo, where you can say hi to three world famous pandas and stop by the Kid’s Farm, where children can groom donkeys, goats, alpacas, and hogs.

Related: Tuck in Your Favorite Animals at These Zoo Sleepovers

Digging for dinosaur bones

The casino capital of the world also gives a great glimpse of what life was like when dinosaurs roamed the earth. The Las Vegas Natural History Museum boasts a prehistoric life gallery of critters who once roamed the Nevada deserts, including a 35-foot-long Tyrannosaurus Rex that lowers its head and roars, a Triceratops, Ankylosaur, and the giant marine reptile, ichthyosaur. The Nevada state museum offers a Dino summer special through September 20, which features an animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops, a Jurassic Park-style jeep journey through a virtual dinosaur world, and the opportunity to dig up life-sized dinosaur bones. Then hop in a car and drive either to Red Rock Canyon for a hike to check out fossilized Dinosaur tracks, or to Tule Springs to see Ice Age fossil beds—both are less than 20 miles away. Finish up with a visit to the Historical Techatticup Mine, the oldest, richest and most famous gold mine in Southern Nevada and a 45 minute drive from Vegas. ($12.50 for adults, $7.50 for kids.)

Related: Dino Digs, Museums, and More: 10 Places to Get Your Paleo On

Maritime adventures

Head straight to sea with tickets to San Diego’s USS Midway Museum ($20 adults, $10 kids), a floating city that allows you to walk in the footsteps of 225,000 Midway sailors who served our country. Highlights include over 60 interactive exhibits, like playing on flight simulators and climbing aboard aircraft. Then head on over to the Maritime Museum ($16 adults, $8 children) which includes kid-friendly, seafaring-inspired exhibits. It has one of the world’s biggest collection of historic ships, including the world’s oldest active ship the Star of India, as well as educational excursions such as whale watching. Other non-nautical city highlights: animatronic dinosaurs at TheNAT San Diego Natural History Museum, hands-on science exhibits at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, and the San Diego Air & Space Museum, where kids can dress up as astronauts.

Connor Prairie

This interactive history park in Indiana ($16 adults, $11 kids) is a recreated 19th-century village on 200 acres. Among its highlights: an autumn headless Horseman ride, Civil War re-enactments, classes in blacksmithing, hearth cooking, and an “Indian camp” where you can recreate living like as Native Americas did 200 years ago. Once you’ve had your fill, drive to the Indiana Transportation Museum and take a spin on one of the vintage railroad trains, or the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis.

Corning Museum of Glass

A perfect East Coast weekend getaway, this museum, located in Corning, New York, in the Finger Lake region upstate, allows your kids to explore 3,500 years of glassmaking history while watching glass come to life during hot-glass demos. They’ll then make their own glass creations from ornaments to night lights. Cost: $18 for kids and adults. Afterwards, since you’re right in the neighborhood, you can pop into the Norman Rockwell Museum, or, if your kids are tuckered out, wake them back up with an invigorating hike on the Haunted History Trail or an apple-tasting tour.

Fun with sea turtles

Nesting season for sea turtles in Florida is May through October, so if you’re planning a trip to the Sunshine State this fall, your kids will love some close-up encounters with these critters. The Little Loggerhead Package at Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa includes a visit to see the sea turtles at Loggerhead Marinelife Center, while adventurous kids over age 10 can search for turtles and other marine life with the Beginners Dive Package. Acqualina Resort and Spa in Miami offers Acquamarine, a complimentary, marine biology-inspired program for kids which also includes a sea-turtle-based outreach program during the summer and early fall. But if you’re planning a Florida trip after sea turtle season, don’t fret: Acqualina offers its sea learning program all year round, while other hotels such as the Ritz Carlton in Naples has a Nature’s Wonders camp, led by a professional conservationist and featuring 11 aquariums with sharks, crabs, turtles, and eels, as well as a kid-sized lab with microscopes for budding marine biologists. All these programs are stimulating enough that you won’t feel guilty about taking some alone time to lounge poolside.

Safari at Grand Teton National Park

You don’t have to schlep your entire crew to Africa to give your kids the educational experience of a safari. Instead, book a morning or all-day trip through the nonprofit Wildlife Expeditions in Jackson, Wyoming, which offers an introduction to the wildlife of Grand Teton National Park, part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Trained biologists will point out the best viewing spots for Park critters such as elk, moose, big horn sheep, bison, mule deer, foxes, and eagles (You may even be able to see wolves hunting during the winter months!) and give your kids a crash course in ecology and animal behavior. Then, explore on your own with your kids through the park’s Junior Ranger program, where you learn about the natural world of the park on an easy 2-mile hike with a ranger. Resorts like Hotel Terra also offer in-house naturalists who can also organize smaller wildlife safaris or take your family on a nighttime stargazing tour.

may 14 2015

#BTRoadTrip: San Diego to Tucson

Fish tacos in San Diego

Got five bucks? That buys lunch at Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill in San Diego. These mahi mahi tacos backed up their reputation as the best fish tacos in the world.

(Whitney Tressel)

Hop in the passenger's seat on the ultimate road trip! We're posting real-time dispatches as Budget Travel's Photo Editor, Whitney Tressel, journeys across the country using tips from locals as her guide. Prepare for beautiful beaches and parks, amazing local cuisine, and one-of-a-kind experiences you only get when you talk to the real Americans who make this country great.

may 12 2015

#BTRoadTrip: Los Angeles to San Diego

California sunset

A gull soars past a gauzy golden-hour sunset in La Jolla, waves crashing into the craggy sea cliffs.

(Whitney Tressel)

Hop in the passenger's seat on the ultimate road trip! We're posting real-time dispatches as Budget Travel's Photo Editor, Whitney Tressel, journeys across the country using tips from locals as her guide. Prepare for beautiful beaches and parks, amazing local cuisine, and one-of-a-kind experiences you only get when you talk to the real Americans who make this country great.

apr 23 2015

Visit the World's Perfect Climates

Be. Here. Now. Hawaii's Big Island has temps in the 70s most of the year, with a variety of micro-climates thanks to its rain forests and volcanic mountains.

(Marek Poplawski/Dreamstime)

Sure, we love the changing seasons, but the downside is that most of us live in places where summers can be too hot and winters too cold. (Still recovering from the Polar Vortex, anyone?) But there are a few select spots around the world where the weather is almost always just right. Here, four "Goldilocks" destinations to add to your bucket list:

feb 20 2015

Escape The Cold With These Warm-Weather Travel Deals

Hilton Hawaiian Village

Doesn't the beach sound great right about now? You can save on a getaway to beautiful Hilton Hawaiian Village among other places and beat the polar vortex blues.

(Courtesy Hilton Hawaiian Village)

I don't know about you, but I'm ready for spring. With more snow on the way this weekend for parts of the northeast, nothing sounds better right now than a quick getaway to somewhere—anywhere!—that is warm. Here, we've rounded up some great vacation deals, hotel specials, and travel sales to help you thaw out this winter.


aug 29 2014

Don't Miss These September Travel Sales!

Redbury Hotel Miami

Save on a stay at the Redbury in Miami thanks to their Stay 2 Get 1 Free promotion now thru Sept. 30th.

(Courtesy Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority)

Welcome to shoulder season! Here are some of our favorite hotel sales happening this month.


FLASH SALE: You can save up to 50 percent on rates at the Grand Lucayan on Grand Bahama Island when you book a stay of three or more nights this Labor Day Weekend for travel Sept. 1 thru Dec. 20th. Not only will rates start at $89 a night, but you'll also score a $250 resort credit per stay to use towards perks like spa treatments, dining, and resort-style golf. Click here for more info and to book your trip by Sept. 1st.

may 31 2013

Ready to Go Shark-Diving?

How much would you pay to swim with a shark?

If, like me, your first reaction is to ask how much you yourself would be paid to do such a thing, you may be in an ever-decreasing minority. Shark-watching tourism is expected to grow in popularity over the next two decades. It currently generates about $300 million each year but is expected to reach nearly $800 million by, say, 2033. A recent study published in Oryx: The International Journal of Conservation, notes that while the shark fishing industry—fueled by an appetite in east Asia for shark-fin soup—currently generates about $630 each year in revenue, it will be eclipsed by shark tourism.

jul 14 2010

Readers' best California photos

Click the image to launch the slide show. (Courtesy Xrayme/myBudgetTravel)

We went looking for your best photos of California, one of the most geographically diverse states in the nation. Our 22 picks include hills covered in poppies in Three Rivers, ships battling in San Diego, a ghost town in Bodie, and fog rolling in over L.A.

Launch the slide show.

may 11 2010

The best hotel deals are on the West Coast

With the economy strengthening in some parts of the country, where are the best deals for hotels right now? We chatted with Clem Bason, President of the Hotwire Group, asking for the lowdown. He says Las Vegas, San Diego, Hawaii, Seattle, and Vancouver are showing the best offers.

apr 01 2009

This weekend: Butterflies flutter by at the San Diego Zoo

The blue morpho butterfly in mid-flight (Courtesy San Diego Zoo)

Who doesn't like the friendly butterfly? Starting this weekend, the San Diego Zoo will have thousands of the colorful insects on display at the Butterfly Jungle.

The zoo's Wild Animal Park will play host to the Hidden Jungle, an aviary that looks like a South American rain forest. Guests walk through as thousands of species of butterfly, including the blue morpho pictured here, flit from plant to plant, looking for pollen. A close encounter is almost guaranteed, as the butterflies often mistake people for flowers.

Our newsletter delivers vacation inspiration straight to your inbox.

Check Prices