For a lot of people, summer means family vacation time! Finding the right vacation destination means taking stock of interests, deciding whether to drive or fly, and finding a good value for the money. Locations all across the United States offer affordable options for a great vacation that won’t break the bank. Here are five of the best options for a cheap vacation – so pull up your Manilla account, check your vacation funds, and find the right fit for you!

San Antonio is America’s seventh largest city, having claimed a place in history with the famous Alamo. Today you can also visit the River Walk, stroll along the city’s many walking paths, or rent a bike from B-Cycle and ride on the bike routes. Staying in San Antonio is relatively inexpensive; the priciest rooms are only about $100 a night. Check for hotel deals and other tourism information at Visit San Antonio.

Kansas City is a surprising cultural experience in the midwest. The  Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts opened last year and now features performances from the Kansas City Ballet, the Lyric Opera, and the Kansas City Symphony. Another popular tourist site is the Crossroads Arts District; rich with nearly 100 galleries, stores, and restaurants housed in renovated warehouses. Hotel rooms average under $150 per night.

Chicago can be a very expensive city to visit, but with some planning it can be a very affordable vacation destination. Hotels in the outer suburbs are much less expensive than staying downtown and most are easily accessible by the city’s subway/elevated train, or the “El.” Take advantage of the many free festivals and fairs happening during the summer in downtown Chicago, and plan your visit around free days at the museums for a great vacation deal.

Rockland, Maine is home to one of the many “family camps” along the East Coast.  Medomak Camp is a slice of history, and an affordable one at that.  The flat rate covers all meals  in the mess hall; including a lobster feast! Also included are kids activities like crafts and archery, and adult activities like yoga. Each afternoon families spend time on the lake swimming, sailing, or kayaking. At night the family can partake in scavenger hunts and sit around the evening campfire together.

Local, state, and national parks offer affordable options for camping vacations. Food costs stay low because it is generally eaten at the campsite and not a restaurant; and park fees generally cost less than an inexpensive hotel. Some offer cabins rentals for campers who do not have a tent. Look for a campground with a pool and a playground and watch your kids make new friends even during a short stay! Check county, state and national municipality websites for reservation information, visit for federal spaces, or look for private campgrounds on Reserve America or KOA.

Jennifer Rees lives in Grand Rapids, Mich., and is the author of BigBinder, a blog for parents in Grand Rapids that encourages others to engage in cultural, culinary, and other fun activities and events with their kids.

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