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10 Budget-Friendly Family Summer Vacation Ideas

February 28, 2020

Yes, you can plan a summer vacation that will wow your kids without breaking the bank.

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Known as "Kidsburgh" thanks to all the family-oriented activities in the area, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is an affordable and fun pick for families. Book tickets to popular attractions, like the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum and the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, on the VisitPittsburgh website to save up to 50 percent. Take a free guided tour of the Allegheny Observatory and explore Bicycle Heaven, the world's largest bicycle store and museum. Don't leave Pittsburgh without taking a ride on the Duquesne Incline for one of the best cityscape views in the country.

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Texas Hill Country River Region

It may get hot in Texas during the summer, but that makes a relaxing float along the crystal-clear Frio River in the Texas Hill Country River Region that much better. As the river merges with Buffalo Creek, take a selfie in your tube as you pass the largest tree in Texas. Kids will love exploring miles of scenic trails at Garner State Park. Sign up for a Frio Bat Flight Tour and prepare to be awed as 10 million bats emerge from Frio Cave just before sunset.

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Minneapolis, Minnesota is a great pick for outdoor-loving families thanks to kid-friendly (and free) favorites like the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, home to more than 40 outdoor works of art, including Spoonbridge and Cherry. Stay for 18 holes at the artist-inspired mini golf course. Cross the bridge into St. Paul to spend the day at the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory to visit with polar bears, giraffes, reindeer and sea lions. Rent bikes from any one of 200+ Nice Ride public bike share stations to explore one of the most bike-friendly cities in America.

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Florida's Nature Coast

Orlando and Miami may get the lion's share of attention in Florida, but kids will love Florida's Nature Coast on the lesser-explored Gulf Coast side of the Sunshine State. There you'll find manatees, waterfalls, mermaids, even a hippo named Lu at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. Three Sisters Springs on the Crystal River serves as a manatee refuge in the winter months but is a popular spot for paddling, swimming and kayaking in the summer. At Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, a magical twice-daily mermaid show will delight every member of the family.

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