Everybody loves a bargain, especially when it comes to traveling with family—the cost of hotels, dining and activities can really add up quickly! The good news: if you travel with a keen eye and pay attention to packages and deals, you won’t have to sacrifice important amenities or lose that ineffable look of wonder on your kids’ faces. We’ve rounded up 10 places where you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck, so flip through the album below to see them all.

Enjoy the Wind in Chicago, Il

Chicago has loads of family-friendly (free or nearly free) activities that will light up your vacation.

What to Do
Visit the Lincoln Park Zoo, a free zoo with an interactive farm, and be sure to check out The Patio at Café Brauer—you can bring Fido, listen to music played by the Old Town School of Folk Music (Wednesday nights all summer long), and enjoy a Blueberry Crisp or Cookie Skillet.

Chicago also has free and discounted days at many of their world-class museums: Art Institute of Chicago, Adler Planetarium, Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicago Children’s Museum, Chicago History Museum, The Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, National Museum of Mexican Art, and more.

Visit Millennium Park, which has countless fun free events and activities for families such as live music and yoga at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, art exhibitions throughout the park, a huge playground with views of Chicago’s skyline, Crown Fountain (kids can splash and run through this art installation), and of course, the ever-popular Cloud Gate aka “The Bean.”

Where to Stay
Built in 1929, the Intercontinental Chicago Magnificent Mile is like walking into a slice of Chicago’s rich past. This stunning hotel, with a beautiful and historic lap pool, is located right on the Mag Mile, making it easy to get your family to all that Chicago has to offer. If you book their Parking Package, you’ll get free valet parking. The little girls in your crew will love The American Girl Experience package, which includes a tiara at check-in, American Girl accessories, turn-down service with cupcakes and milk, and a specialty breakfast for two girls. Plus, the whole family will love dining at Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse, complete with a Table 23. Prices start at $169 per night.

Intercontinental Chicago Magnificent Mile
505 N. Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
312-944-4100
Online: icchicagohotel.com

photo: Wendy Altschuler

What’s your favorite budget-friendly vacay spot? Share with us in a Comment below. 

— Wendy Altschuler