4 Inexpensive end-of-summer family vacations
Summer's almost over! Before the leaves start to turn and the school bells ring, pack up the kids and head out for one last family vacation.
Nashville is constantly rated one of the most affordable cities in the United States for a family vacation, so before summer ends, check out all that Music City has to offer. Become one with nature at Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art, where the Howe Garden recently completed almost $1 million in renovations that include a state-of-the-art rain garden. Head over to the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere to view African elephants, cougars, alpacas and Galapagos turtles, and let the kids unleash their inner animal on the zoo's 66,000-square-foot playground. Finally, budding musicians will enjoy learning about the country music history of Nashville. Take them to the Country Music Hall of Fame's Musical Petting Zoo, which offers kids the chance to try their hand at the guitar, banjo and autoharp. For family-friendly lodgings downtown, try the Hampton Inn & Suites Nashville-Downtown, which features an indoor pool and daily free, hot breakfast.
Families will love the unique activities available in Huntsville, Alabama. Nicknamed "The Rocket City," Huntsville played a large role in U.S. space program as the development location for the Saturn boosters used by NASA and as the home of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. After touring the center, get in on some space action! Adults and children alike can live out their astronaut dreams at Family Space Camp through activities like simulated mission training and operations, rocket construction and astronaut simulators. Although meals and lodging are included in all family camp programs, another budget-friendly lodging option is the brand-new Home2 Suites by Hilton Huntsville. Easy on the wallet and packed with amenities, this all-suite property offers kitchens with full-sized refrigerators/freezers, complimentary Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast, laundry facilities and an outdoor saline pool.
It's hard to narrow down all of the wonderful family activities available in the Emerald City. With more than 400 parks and fantastic weather in September, start the family vacation outdoors! Discovery Park overlooks Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, and features a children's play area, tennis courts and a Native American arts and cultural center. Green Lake Park is a natural preserve for hundreds of species of trees, plants, birds and water animals, and also boasts a seasonal beach area, outdoor tennis courts and Seattle's largest wading pool. To view some of Seattle's biggest attractions at a fraction of the price, consider purchasing a Seattle CityPass which includes admission tickets to the Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, Seattle Aquarium, Experience Music Project|Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, Argosy Cruises’ Harbor Tour and an option ticket with the choice of visiting the Museum of Flight or Woodland Park Zoo. Book the "Happy Together" package at the Westin Seattle for deluxe accommodations, one complimentary in-room movie per night and free meals for kids under 12 with the purchase of one adult meal.
Summertime is synonymous with beach vacations, so take this last opportunity of the summer to dip your toes in the crystal-clear waters of Nassau. Nassau offers beautiful beaches to explore, snorkeling, boating excursions, sailing, water sports or simply soaking up the sun. Atlantis Paradise Island has a special deal for fall travel that includes a $250 resort credit when guests stay at Royal Towers, the most centrally located buildings on the property. Catering to families, Atlantis features a 141-acre water park with nine water slides and 11 pools, a 14-acre marine habitat where kids can swim with dolphins, a teen nightclub and an adventure-themed kids program.