The Best Last-Minute Family Getaways And Deals

Thanksgiving is one of the most treasured holidays in the U.S. It's also perhaps the longest-standing American tradition. It dates all the way back to 1777 when all 13 colonies took part in the first unified day of Thanksgiving. Since then, the holiday has become synonymous with stresstraffic jams, crazy shopping, and overeating. People who are not going to grandma's house for the Turkey Day often make plans for the holiday at the last minute.

Park City, Utah

You can create an experience of a lifetime with a little bit of planning and you don't have to break the bank. You can find an abundance of deals in town so you can save on lodging – many places offer 20 percent off and third night for free, dining, equipment rental, shopping, transportation, and activities. For more savings, take the bus, attend free concerts, and explore the many museums and galleries in Park City. It is also a great destination for hiking. After all, the city is home to some of Utah's finest slopes...and some more.

The Catskills, New York

If you live in the NYC area and are looking for a quick trip to romantic inns and for fun activities, as well as affordable ideas for the kids, the Catskills are a good fit. About 100 miles from the city and 40 miles from Albany, most of the area is protected within the Catskill Park, a 700,000-acre forest preserve. Hike the Slide Mountain, which is the highest mountain peak in the Catskills at 4,180 feet; go zip lining at Hunter Mountain. It offers the longest and highest zip line in North America, a scenic Skyride chair lift to the summit, guide services for fly fishing, thrilling off-road rides, and miles of hiking through the dense woods.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

If you live in the Washington, D.C. area and are looking for cheap last-minute weekend getaways for couples and day trips, stop at Shenandoah National Park. Skyline Drive practically beckons the road-tripper to adventure, and the hike up Old Rag Mountain is one of the best day-hikes in the Mid-Atlantic. Both if these adventures are practically free. Visitors get to explore more than 200,000 acres of beautiful mountainsstunning waterfalls and rich wildlife. Hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail in perfect 60-degree weather is a dream come true.

Eugene, Oregon

Oregon offers many cheap vacations. You can find hotels for about $40 a night, according to Kayak. Go to stunning beaches and stay overnight at unique cities, one of which is Eugene, the second largest in the state. Take the kids to the Museum of Natural and Cultural History, the Science Factory, and the Mount Pisgah Arboretum, a 209-acre living tree museum open every day. Visit the Cascades Raptor Center, a nature center and wildlife hospital for raptor birds; it is a top attractions in the city.

Nashville, Tennessee

Ditch the cold and travel south to finally experience the famous warm hospitality and delicious food the region is known for. There are plenty of adventures to embark on as well. Hike to spectacular lakes, tour captivating castles, see unique wildlife, and explore national parks. Of course, make time to listen to incredible music. For these and other reasons, the Music City is one of the best places to travel in the winter in general. Concerts (many of which are free), art exhibits, unbelievable shopping deals, and awesome special events – they are all scheduled to warm your heart in the colder months.

Jacksonville, Florida

This is a quick weekend getaway for people looking to book a last-minute trip to the so called Boldest City in the South. Some of the many adventures to do on a budget include biking the tree canopied Baldwin Trail, going on a Budweiser Brewery tour and tasting, and beach hopping. See the Historic San Marco Square, famous for its stylish art galleries and chic boutiques. Jacksonville is also a very pet-friendly city with awesome dog parks, so feel free to bring Fido. He will, too, have lots of fun.

Columbia, Missouri

This is a lively college town. As such, it has a very energetic vibe and affordable prices. A quick search online shows many hotels where the nightly rates are around $80. Go on the Columbia Culinary Tour. For great art and entertainment go to the Ninth Street Historic District. Those of you who prefer outdoor adventures should visit the Rock Bridge Memorial State Park for awesome hiking and biking. As you can imagine, football is important in this town. Check out the Mizzou Tigers' schedule and go to a game to see what all that college football fuss is about. 

Chicago, Illinois

The Windy City has always been a favorite Thanksgiving destination because of its famous parade, known as "Chicago's Grand Holiday Tradition," which is one of the largest in the country. It's fun and entertaining with giant balloons, marching bands, dance groups, drum lines and celebrities. It's a very big city so you can be sure you're going to find plenty of hotels deals. You can find accommodation downtown for about $190 per night, according to TripAdvisor. The Christmas market, featuring traditional German cuisine, is another favorite spot. Don't miss ice-skating in the famous Millennium Park; it's free on Fridays.

Greenville, South Carolina

Surrounded by Blue Ridge Mountains, Greenville is an emerging destination, so go now before more people learn about it. See the city's one-of-a-kind Liberty Bridge. Make the most of the chance to visit world-class collection of museums and theaters. If you want a more active vacation, Greenville will accommodate you as well. There are a lot of lakes, rivers and mountain hills to explore while biking, hiking, and trail running. Go on signature culinary tours featuring breakfast, barbecue, and chef's table experiences for about $50, and don't miss the West End walking tour to learn about the city's roots for $13. Go on adventure tour of Lake Jocassee's wild rivers, swimming holes, and waterfalls for $35.

Phoenix, Arizona

This beautiful city nestled in the stunning Sonoran Desert is the fifth largest in the country. It's multicultural but with a low-key vibe, making it a wonderful choice for a last-minute getaway for people living on the West Coast. The best way to travel is by METRO Light Rail; an All Day Pass is only $4. You can save money on a hotel by camping and spend your day hiking for free along the Echo Canyon trails. Camelback Mountain, Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix Zoo, and South Mountain Park are among the city's main attractions.

Seattle, Washington

You can find very good flight deals to Seattle right now. Flights from New York start at around $230. Few cities are as tough to describe or as worthy of exploration as the ever-changing Seattle. With each neighborhood carving out its own slice of culture, there is no shortage of things to do or see. Revel in the rich art and music scene, dine in incredible new restaurants or check out nearby outdoor adventure and hike the North Cascades or paddle Puget Sound.


The off-peak season in Hawaii is after the summer and before Christmas. Get better deals and spend the holiday on the island. Tourists usually go to Hawaii for its stunning beaches, bustling nightlife, family adventures, and surfing. Add a delicious dinner that many restaurants and hotels offer. Just imagine you working on your tan while folks at home deal with ice and snow. The beautiful islands are home to many astonishing spots – some of them are even secluded shores you don't know about.

A cruise

Summer is over and the crowds have gone away. This brings cruise prices down by a lot as there are significantly fewer bookings. It doesn't take long to find great discounts for cruises to St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and many more exotic destinations. Being onboard award-winning ships with crazy adventures such as skydiving will certainly not ruin your trip. Doing all that during the holidays instead of staying home cooking large meals is even better.

National parks

The easiest cheap vacation destination is almost always a national park. All you need is a car and off you go on an adventurous road trip. Just make sure you are prepared for possible car troubles along the road. Parks have tons of kids programs to keep the littles ones entertained, and hotels are offering huge discounts; most of them serve big Thanksgiving meals. You can find cottages in Yosemite for $60 per night, according to Don't stay home and slave over the oven. Get back to nature and celebrate with an adventure.