Cheap Family Beach Vacation Ideas

Cheap Family Beach Vacations #1:

Carolina Beach is a small beach town in North Carolina that is a great cheap vacation idea for families looking to save some money and still enjoy their trip. Carolina Beach is a simple and unpretentious seaside town that offers beautiful un-crowded beaches, reasonably-priced accommodations and affordable things to do with the kids.

One of the fun spots in town is the local doughnut shop which serves up the second best donuts in the nation (MSN City Guide: "America's Best Doughnuts").

Carolina Beach NC
Carolina Beach NC boy in the surf

Even getting around town can be fun on one of the unique electric six-passenger golf cart taxi cabs. Nearby is the N.C. Aquarium which features a 235,000-gallon saltwater shark tank.

You can see alligators, sturgeon and other water creatures at The Cape Fear Conservatory and The Open Oceans Gallery. Carolina Beach has special spring and summer events that are either free or very affordable.

Events such as the Annual Pleasure Island Chowder Cook-Off. Or the "Film and Fireworks Series" where the family can enjoy a movie or fireworks under the stars at Carolina Beach Lake Park make this an excellent cheap family beach vacations idea.

Cheap Family Beach Vacations #2:

Georgia’s Cumberland National Seashore is a great wilderness beach. It’s not your typical touristy beach with crowds and lots of high priced shops and restaurants. If there is any crowd it will be the animals.

Cumberland National Seashore is a large barrier island with few people and lots of wildlife. There are 17 miles of shoreline with beaches of hard packed white sand, 50 foot sand dunes and shallow gentle surf good for swimming.

You can camp on the island and there are loads of cheap things to do. The island has 50 miles of walking hiking trails. Go fishing in the ocean or fresh water streams. Gather shrimp or crab in the marshes.

Take wildlife and scenic photos. Go bird watching for some of the 335 species of birds that live here. Comb the beaches for sharks teeth, moon snails, sand dollars and sea shells.


A Visit to Cumberland Island, Georgia

Cheap Family Beach Vacation Idea #3:

You won’t find fast-food restaurant chains, high-rise hotels or tacky tourist malls in Currituck Outer Banks, North Carolina’s serene beach. This secluded but popular beach destination offers a balance of fun activities and ecological attractions. It’s the perfect place for families to rediscover the wonders of nature.
  • Currituck Outer Banks Beach was named in USA Today’s top ten, and ranked among the cleanest in the country by the National Resources Defense Council.
  • Independent, locally-owned restaurants, farm markets, and local attractions like The Weeping Radish Brewery & Eco-Farm. It’s a delicious introduction to the "farmer to fork" concept, serving up organic vegetables grown on site, natural meats labeled by farm of origin and a 'behind the scenes' tour of the operations kids love.
  • Guided kayak tours through the Currituck Sound (part of the Intercoastal Waterway) reveal the salt marshes, tidal creeks and wildlife of the barrier islands and National Wildlife Refuge. Catch a glimpse of ospreys, herons, deer, black bears, red wolves, turtles and dolphins.
  • Oceanside vacation rentals homes that become "home away from home" for families. Homes offer spacious and affordable accommodations with plenty of room to gather. Expect large family rooms, dining areas, observation decks, outdoor grills, gourmet kitchens, private pools and entertainment centers.
  • And the best part – Currituck Outer Banks is within driving distance for most mid-Atlantic readers, saving gas, time and money. I haven't even mentioned the Currituck Beach Lighthouse (climb to the top and check out the view!), roadside farm markets, wild Spanish mustangs, Center for Wildlife Education or Jeep Adventure tours.

Cheap Family Beach Vacations #4:

South Padre Island, Texas
Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/drljohnson

South Padre Island, Texas is a terrific vacation destination for budget-minded families because of the wide array of free or low-cost family-friendly activities to choose from. South Padre Island is considered to be one of the top beach destinations in the country. Some of the Island’s most popular features are among its most affordable activities:

  • Enjoy sugary white beaches and warm Gulf Coast waters. Cheap Entry to Isla Blanca Park, a county park with beach access and other park amenities on the southern tip of the Island (and a popular surfing and jetty fishing spot).
  • Bird and nature watching. South Padre Island is a hub for birders, offering dedicated birding sites that are available to the public. Free.
  • Learn to build a sandcastle in just one hour. Lessons for all ages are available from any number of the Island’s sandcastle experts. Free and/or minimal cost.
  • Partake in South Padre Island's ecotourism activities. The island is a sea turtle habitat. From April through November, the island officially celebrates the turtle nesting season, which starts when the first nest is found and ends when the last hatchling swims away (usually April through August). Sea Turtle Rescue Center: Free, but a small donation is suggested. When the hatchlings are released toward the end of summer, the public is always invited to watch, at no cost.
  • Dolphin watch tours with an eco-tour of Island's surrounding marine wildlife; Cost: varies among tour operators; generally quite reasonable.
  • Visit the Port Isabel Lighthouse. Just across the Laguna Madre Bay from the Island, this is the only lighthouse along the Texas coastline open to the public. Minimal cost.
  • Sea Life Nature Center. Also in Port Isabel, offering a glimpse at the area's marine wildlife and ecosystems; Small donation requested.
  • South Padre Island's Coastal Studies Lab: Free.
  • Watch fireworks explode over the bay. As the official "Fireworks Capital of Texas" the Island sets off a dazzling display over the bay every Friday night during summer, with additional shows on summer holidays. Free.

Cheap Family Beach Vacation Ideas #5:

You will find some of the best small town beaches along the coast of Delaware. Bethany Beach is a great example. This is very much a small town atmosphere and is known as the "quiet resort". Unlike some larger more rowdy beach town, Bethany Beach is an excellent beach vacation spot for families. If you live in the northeast, you can drive here and save a bundle on travel expenses.

There is a half-mile long boardwalk. The water is good for summer swimming and you can surf and boogey board. You can try some crabbing in the bay. Any shopping you do in Delaware is tax free so that’s another way to save money on this great cheap family beach vacations idea.

Skimboarding at Bethany Beach Delaware

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