If the words “family vacation” give you images of Chevy Chase, Wally World and a two-second stop at the Grand Canyon, it’s time for an attitude adjustment. In spite of all the lampooning, families still travel together (and enjoy doing so, too). And according to a 2012 survey by the trend-tracking group Morpace Omnibus, almost 60 percent of families take their vacations during the summer months, for the obvious reason: the kids are out of school. But family vacations don’t have to include crowds and lots of standing in line. Maybe it’s time you took your family vacation during the off-season.
Off-season travel can be quite attractive for budget-conscious, crowd-wary families. It brings lower rates, better services and lower gasoline prices, Business Insider reports, which are huge benefits for families who prefer driving over flying. In fact, gas prices are even lower this year due to a mild hurricane season, United Press Interntational reports. So where can the 40 percent who decide to hold back in the summer find a good off-season vacation spot? Here are a few suggestions for regional off-season vacation spots that can help you reclaim the family vacation.
Affordable, East Coast Beach Combing
If you live on the East Coast, check out the Outer Banks of North Carolina, a 200-mile stretch of barrier islands off the coast. Families can save hundreds of dollars on weekly home rentals if they go outside June through August, Outerbanks.com reports. Even better, there is a lot to do during the off-season. Late spring and early fall seasons are considered the best times for fishing, kiteboarding and windsurfing, and there are several festivals held during this low-tourist time.
Year-Round Entertainment in Wisconsin Dells
In the Midwest, much of the Wisconsin Dells stays open year-round. The Dells, a feature of the Wisconsin River, are glacial gorges that melted after the last Ice Age about 15,000 years ago. This very popular tourist destination is best-known for its water parks and draws large summertime crowds, but several Dells waterparks are indoors and open year-long. Other indoor Dells activities include bowling, mini-golf, concerts, sauna packages—the list goes on and on. Outdoor winter activities include skiing and snowboarding, zipline tours and sleigh rides. You can find packages at dells.com and save even more money.
Cheap Skiing in the Southwest
In the Southwest, it’s hard to beat Arizona for winter sports. Although most people think of Arizona as a year-round oven , much of the state is in higher, cooler territory, making the Flagstaff area a winter mecca for skiing and snowboarding. The Arizona Snowbowl, located just seven miles north of this small, friendly and inexpensive city, makes for an affordable ski vacation, particularly if you opt to stay in one of Flagstaff’s many motels. While prices for the Snowbowl’s daily adult lift tickets do rise a bit during the Christmas season, junior rates for ages 8-12 are a bargain at $15, kids ages 7 and younger are free. Onthesnow.com features more about skiing on the cheap in Arizona.
If sledding is your thing, the parks around Northern Arizona University are large, hilly and free to all.
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