Best Winter Vacation Ideas for Families: Affordable Vacation Spots for Kids of All Ages

Bermuda's gorgeous beaches are the perfect place to unwind. Photo by Mommy Poppins
Bermuda's gorgeous beaches are the perfect place to unwind. Photo by Mommy Poppins
1/6/24 - By Gina Massaro

The days are shorter and colder, and the winter blues are setting in. Why not cure them with a family vacation? While a trip to an all-inclusive resort or one of our warm and sunny winter vacation ideas would be nice, our wallets don't always agree. Luckily, there are plenty of fun and affordable vacation spots that won't break the bank.

Here are 17 low-cost winter vacation ideas for families in the US and abroad. Many of these affordable vacation spots have lower prices and thinner crowds in the winter months, making winter the perfect time to visit—even during February break. For more fun family vacation ideas any time of year, check out our Family Travel Guide.


Note: All of the destinations on this list (except for the international ones) offer many hotel options that cost $100 to $200 per night. We've included one affordable family hotel pick for each US destination that fits within that price range.

Winter Vacation Ideas: Atlantis Paradise Island, Bahamas
Atlantis offers plenty of warm-weather fun for the whole family. Photo courtesy of the resort

Affordable Winter Vacation Ideas Abroad

1. Atlantis, Paradise Island

Believe it or not, this sprawling Bahamas resort can be an affordable getaway, especially if you are willing to travel outside of the December holiday break and the February winter recess. Mid-week rates start below $300 a night, which includes admission to the Aquaventure Water Park and the world's largest open-air marine habitat with more than 250 species of animals. And let's not forget the pristine private beach with crystal-clear Caribbean water. It's called Paradise Island for a reason.

2. Belize 

While Belize is a Central American country, it's often grouped in with the Caribbean nations due to its former ties as a British colony. It's also the only English-speaking Central American country. Belize is rich in history, and the Mayan ruins are a must-see. Beautiful beaches, lush landscapes, and easy-to-spot native animals make Belize a fantastic destination for families. The average temperature is around 83 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter, which also doesn't see as much rainfall.

Quick Hotel Pick: VRBO villas and cottages are the way to go if you're looking for an affordable family vacation in Belize, where you can also save money by preparing your own meals.

RELATED: Best Family-Friendly Hotels Where Kids Stay Free

 Take a Cruise: Best Winter Vacation Ideas for Families: Affordable Vacation Spots for Kids of All Ages
Cruises are so much fun, you may not want to leave the ship. Photo by Mommy Poppins

3. Cruises

Cruising out of Florida, Los Angeles, or Galveston, Texas will net you surprisingly affordable cruise options, even during school breaks. East-coast cruises go to the Bahamas, Jamaica, cruise-line private islands, and Central America. Texas and Los Angeles cruises typically sail to Mexican destinations. Cruise ships alone have so much to do onboard, you almost won't even need the offshore excursions.

4. Niagara Falls, Canada

While Niagara Falls isn't a warm destination, going in the winter certainly has its benefits: it's one of the most affordable vacation spots on this list. There's also plenty to do besides visiting the Falls itself, including an indoor water park, Ripley's Believe It or Not, an indoor aviary, and a bustling arcade. Toronto is just over an hour away and boasts a long list of its own attractions.

Quick Hotel Pick: The Hilton Niagara Falls is a popular choice for families, with an indoor pool, three on-site restaurants, a variety of rooms and suites (many costing under $200 per night), and a fantastic location overlooking both the American and Canadian Falls. ​

  Nickelodeon Punta Cana, : Best Winter Vacation Ideas for Families: Affordable Vacation Spots for Kids of All Ages
If your dream vacation is one where the kids are running free while you are sipping on a piña coladas by the pool, then Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts in Punta Cana is the place for you. Photo by Jaime Sumersille

5. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Punta Cana is an extremely popular warm-weather vacation spot due to its miles and miles of gorgeous beaches and its welcoming vibe. The sheer number of fantastic all-inclusive resorts means they must offer competitive rates to attract families.

Quick Hotel Picks: One of our favorite Punta Cana all-inclusives, Nickelodeon Punta Cana, is offering up to 50% off winter stays. At Club Med Punta Cana, another favorite, kids under 4 stay free, while those ages 4-11 get up to 50% off and ages 12-15 stay for up to 20% off.

RELATED: 45 Fun Things To Do in Phoenix, Arizona with Kids

Grand Canyon:  Best Winter Vacation Ideas for Families: Affordable Vacation Spots for Kids of All Ages
There's nothing like seeing the Grand Canyon in person. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

Affordable Winter Vacation Ideas On The West Coast

6. Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Grand Canyon is very affordable and offers so many ways for families to enjoy this wonder of nature. There's traditional camping, which won't run you much in terms of cost, or glamping in an RV or cabin. There are luxurious resorts as well, and they're surprisingly inexpensive. Families with older children can traverse the canyon on horseback or mule. There are also endless hiking opportunities, and views are different depending on where you are in the canyon.

Quick Hotel Pick: The Grand Hotel, located just one mile from the Grand Canyon's south entrance, features an indoor heated swimming pool with a spa. Its rustic vibe and lobby fireplace will give you all the cozy feels.

7. San Diego, California

San Diego is home to SeaWorld, Sesame Place, Legoland, and one of the best zoos in the United States, the San Diego Zoo. There are so many kid-friendly museums, such as the Fleet Science Center and the New Children's Museum. Families can also explore beautiful parks like Balboa Park, not to mention all of the gorgeous beaches. 

Quick Hotel Pick: The Dana on Mission Bay is close to SeaWorld and features multiple swimming pools, lawn games, water sports, and more. It has also done away with its resort fees, making it a budget-friendly choice for families. 

8. Las Vegas, Nevada

With tons of kid-friendly museums and shows, theme parks and arcades, and delicious restaurants, Las Vegas isn't just for adults. It's also one of the most affordable winter vacation ideas on this list, with hotels starting at just around $50 a night—even in February, when many school districts have winter recess. Vegas is very hot, making it a nice reprieve from Old Man Winter, but you can cool off in the awesome hotel pools. Even better, Las Vegas has many babysitting services, so adults can get in some fun, too.

Quick Hotel Pick: Despite being one of the most affordable hotels on the Las Vegas Strip, Circus Circus is packed with activities for kids, including a five-acre indoor amusement park called the Adventuredome, a splash zone and pool with water slides, and free circus acts.

RELATED: Best Florida Beach Vacations for Families

Sanibel Island:  Best Winter Vacation Ideas for Families: Affordable Vacation Spots for Kids of All Ages
Sanibel and Captiva Islands are the perfect places to hunt for seashells. Photo by Mandy Mitchell

Affordable Winter Vacation Ideas in the South

9. Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Florida

What makes these gorgeous Gulf Coast islands so affordable is their multitude of free and cheap activities for families, like hiking, biking, and swimming and lounging on the beaches. The biggest draw for kids, though (and what the islands are famous for) is the shelling. Hundreds of thousands of seashells wash up on the shores daily, and families can spend entire days collecting these gems.

Quick Hotel Pick: In 2024, Pink Shell Beach Resort in nearby Fort Myers is offering fantastic winter deals, like a free fourth night in January and 20% off rooms and villas through April 30.

10. Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is the capital of country music, but there's so much more to see and do besides the Grand Ol' Opry. The Tennessee Central Railway Museum lets visitors ride a vintage train. The Discovery Center at Murfree Spring is an interactive children's museum with water features, pretend shops, and more. And hockey fans can check out a Nashville Predators game at Bridgestone Arena.

Quick Hotel Pick: Holston House Nashville is a downtown Hyatt property with a rooftop pool, an on-site restaurant, and a luxurious feel despite its low price.

11. Atlanta, Georgia

This southern city is home to lots of kid-friendly attractions, including Zoo Atlanta and the Georgia Aquarium. Toddlers can jump into Adventure Bay and feel like they're part of the Paw Patrol at the Children's Museum of Atlanta. And there are plenty of fun winter activities, including ice skating and gorgeous winter hikes.

Quick Hotel Pick: Rooms at the Courtland Grand Hotel near downtown Atlanta, which boasts a pool and an oversize Jacuzzi beneath a retractable roof, start at less than $150 per night in the winter.

12. Savannah, Georgia

With average high temperatures in the 60s and fewer crowds, winter is a great time to explore Savannah. The Savannah Children's Museum is completely outdoors, with exhibits including a maze and a sensory garden. Older kids will love going on a ghost tour, and Tybee Island is only a 20-minute drive if you crave some beach time.

Quick Hotel Pick: Centrally located in Savannah's historic district (about half a mile from the riverfront), Embassy Suites by Hilton Savannah features outdoor pools, a restaurant, games for kids, and laundry facilities.

13. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama

This beach area nestled along Alabama's Gulf Coast is one of the most affordable winter vacation ideas on this list, with hotel rooms typically costing less than $150 a night. With mild temperatures and fewer crowds, winter is the perfect time to visit. The beach and Wharf shouldn't be missed, especially the large Ferris wheel. There are lots of water sports to enjoy on warmer days, as well as hiking, fishing, arcades, and more.

Quick Hotel Pick: The one-bedroom suites at the beachfront Phoenix All Suites Hotel and Phoenix All Suites Hotel West include fun bunk beds for kids and gorgeous balconies overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. There's also an outdoor pool, a kiddie pool, an on-site laundry room, and covered parking.

RELATED: Best Outdoor Water Parks in the US

Winter Vacation Ideas: Schlitterbahn Water Park Resort in San Antonio, Texas
Make a splash at San Antonio's Schlitterbahn Water Park Resort. Photo courtesy of the resort

14. San Antonio, Texas

There are so many fun things to do with kids in San Antonio, including a fantastic children's museum with an ADA-accessible treehouse. Brackenridge Park is home to the San Antonio Zoo, the Witte Museum, and a miniature train ride. There are also theme parks, like Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Morgan's Wonderland, Schlitterbahn Water Park Resort, and SeaWorld San Antonio.

Quick Hotel Pick: Embassy Suites by Hilton San Antonio Riverwalk Downtown, located in the heart of the city, includes free made-to-order breakfast and a complimentary evening reception that make it extra affordable for families.

15. Charleston, South Carolina

While this charming southern city has a great aquarium and children's museum, its historic Revolutionary War past shouldn't be missed. Visit Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon for a one-of-a-kind look at US history, including a dungeon where Revolutionary War prisoners were held. Seafarers can also go for a pirate cruise along South Carolina rivers.

Quick Hotel Pick: Stay at the trendy Hyatt Place Charleston/Historic District and enjoy free breakfast and an indoor pool. Bonus: It's just blocks away from the children's museum and the Charleston Museum.

Take a tour of the French Quarter in New Orleans:  Best Winter Vacation Ideas for Families: Affordable Vacation Spots for Kids of All Ages
There is so much to see in the famed French Quarter. Photo courtesy of French Quartour Kids

16. New Orleans, Louisiana

Similar to Las Vegas, New Orleans isn't a locale people usually think of when it comes to family vacations, but steer clear of Bourbon Street and you'll find a city full of culture, fun, and family-friendly destinations. There is a gorgeous aquarium with a walk-through tunnel, an insectarium, the Audubon Zoo, and a nature center. Check out the French Quarter for culture, dining, and music.

Quick Hotel Pick: Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Mississippi River, Hilton New Orleans Riverside is located just a few blocks from the aquarium and the French Quarter (and on a streetcar line), as well as epic shopping at Riverwalk.

17. South Padre Island, Texas

South Padre Island has some of the best beaches in Texas, all featuring buttery soft, white sand. While it's a popular spring break spot for the college crowd, South Padre Island is perfect for families any other time of year. Winter is very mild and makes for perfect hiking weather. Kayaking, paddleboarding, and windsurfing are also popular. There are multiple beachfront resorts and vacation rental properties to choose from, as well as campgrounds on both the north and south ends of the island, making South Padre Island one of the most affordable winter beach vacations for families.

Quick Hotel Pick: Holiday Inn Resort South Padre Island - Beach Front starts at a little over $100 per night and boasts three pools, a gaming lounge and activity center, poolside movies, and family activities. Kids 19 and under stay free, which means they don't have to pay the hotel's amenity fee to enjoy these activities.

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