It’s time to start planning your summer trips! Here are 8 wallet-friendly Northeastern vacation destinations with free attractions. Plus! If you make some of these into day trips you could possibly not spend any money.
The City of Saugerties is located in upstate New York nestled between the scenic Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River. It’s an idyllic trip that is perfect for couples or families who just want to unplug and unwind. There’s a variety of options for the outdoor lover. Take a tour of the 110-acre Catskill Animal Sanctuary or hike along the Hudson River at the Falling Waters Preserve. At Kiersted House, home to the Saugerties Historical Society, visitors can enjoy live bands on their lawn and a free series of "Sunset Concerts" the first Friday of June, July, August and September. Hotel rates might be slightly more expensive during this time. Just a note: The City hosts a very popular annual Garlic Festival every year in late September that draws a rather large crowd.
Located approximately 90 miles northeast of New York City, Beacon is a small town with a growing art scene thanks to the Dia: Beacon. This museum occupies all 240,000 square feet of a former Nabisco Factory along the Hudson River. Children under 12 get free admission to the museum. Play disc golf (throwing a Frisbee-like disc into a net) at the Beacon Glades Disc Golf Course, an 18-hole disc golf course, all par 3s. It's open to the public at no charge. If you’re looking to make it a weekend trip, there’s also great hiking and camping at Malouf’s Mountain a family friendly fully catered hike-in, hike-out campground (meaning the site is only accessible by foot) that allows you to choose your camping experience.
Lodging in Washington, D.C. may not be the most budget friendly but the attractions are. Washington, D.C. makes a wonderful historic weekend family trip because of the plethora of free options. All 15 of the Smithsonian Museums are free of charge as well as the National Zoo. Thanks to rather cold winters, the city comes alive in the summer with cultural festivals peppered throughout the streets of the nation’s capital. Families can grab a bite from a food truck and have lunch in the National Mall before visiting the iconic Lincoln, Jefferson and newly erected Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorials.
Rehoboth Beach in Delaware has been deemed the “Nation’s Summer Capital” because of its popularity with residents of Washington D.C., Virginia and Maryland. It’s a rapidly growing city located on a five star beach that offers several options including dining, entertainment, and lodging for every budget. Access to the beach is free of charge! Families can camp at Delaware Seashore Park, take advantage of the twilight package at Jungle Jim’s, or check out a handful of specialty shops at Penny Lane Mall. The nearby Dewey Beach has a free family movie night on Mondays and a free family Bonfire on Wednesdays.
Image Source: J. Smith for Visit Philadelphia
Quite possibly the second most historic city when it comes to American history, Philadelphia has more to offer than cheese steaks and photo-ops next to the LOVE Statue. This American city is bursting with an art and vintage shopping scene. Take a free and friendly historic tour of Philadelphia or attend any of the free activities at Penn’s Landing. Philadelphia contains all of the cultural diversity of a major city, while remaining less congested. Hotels can get a bit pricey in Philadelphia though, so if you would like to schedule an overnight stay cut down on costs by using lodging alternatives such as Airbnb or Barclaycard Hotel Deals.
Southwest Harbor is considered one of Maine’s best kept secrets. It’s located on Mount Desert Island on the opposite side of more popular Bar Harbor so it provides families with a great opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle. Because it is less popular, this town is budget friendly. Atlantic Brewing Company in summer months offers free tastings and tours every day. A family of four can rent a complete beach side cottage during the high season for under $175 a night! Visiting the nearby Acadia National Park is a must.
Just 45 miles south of the U.S. Canadian border, Burlington is Vermont's largest city. This city is loved by both young and old because of its clean, crisp air and laid-back vibe. During the summer the streets are filled with free festivals and outdoor concerts. If you’re an ice cream lover, this is your time! Burlington is the home of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream so you can tour the factory and sample a few flavors. Tickets are a steal at $4 for adults and children under 12 are free. Looking for something free? Head to Summervale! Every Thursday in July and August enjoy free food tastings, live music, kids activities and more.
What’s a Northeastern summer without a trip to the Jersey Shore? Wildwood is located in South Jersey, not far from Cape May. The beach is free and also happens to be known as one of the best in New Jersey. It also has a two-mile long boardwalk that is buzzing with excitement. Wildwood is great for a day trip, however if you are planning to stay overnight it is suggested that you visit June or September to beat the crowds and the increased prices.
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