Cheap Family Vacations in Southern Maine
Can you really have cheap family vacations in Southern Maine? Absolutely! This page will highlight some of the best hotel, restaurant and activity options in the area for those who are trying to save a buck (or several!) while vacationing in this beautiful part of Maine.
In my opinion, Southern Maine is one of the best parts of the state for vacationing with the whole family. With the miles upon miles of gorgeous sandy beaches, children of all ages just love to spend the day building sand castles, combing the beach for shells and sea creatures and jumping in the chilly waves with boogie boards (or without!).
If you pack a lunch and hop on the trolley from your hotel, you get to skip the high parking fees and costly restaurant meals and have a memorable day for very little cash. Spend just a little on a yummy ice cream treat and in your children's eyes you'll be the best mom or dad in the world! Cheap family vacations will still be special memories for the kids, no doubt.
Best Affordable Hotels for Families
An important part of cheap family vacations is the accomodations you choose. One of the most costly parts of any vacation, choose wisely and you'll have extra cash for eating or activities.
The Coast Village Inn and Cottages in Wells, Maine is a family friendly, affordable place to make your home base during your vacation. What I like about them, aside from the price, is the choices they have for accomodations. The Coast Village offers everything from motel rooms to suites to cottages that are either very small and bare-bones to larger cottages that sleep up to six.
By staying here, you are able to create a very cheap family vacation. The grounds are perfect for children to run around. They have a pool and picnic area with gas grills for guests to use. If you are staying in one of the cottages, cook up some of your own meals with food that you pick up at the very close-by grocery store and you have an inexpensive lunch or dinner. The trolley stops right outside the Coast Village Inn which makes for very convenient trips to the beach or other attractions without having to pay for parking. Cha-ching...more money saved!
Also in Wells, the N'er Beach Motel offers motel rooms, 1 and 2 room efficiencies and 1 and 2 bedroom apartments that can accomodate 4 to 6 people. The rates here are very resonable for families (children under 10 are free), albeit a bit more than the Coast Village Inn and Cottages.
The N'er Beach Motel has a heated pool, gas grills, a lobster cooker for those do-it-yourself lobster dinners (the absolute, most affordable kind!). A trolley stop is located right out front so you can park your car and leave it. If your family includes pets, there are pet-friendly rooms available. A ten minute walk gets you to Moody Beach! Cheap family vacations don't have to mean bad hotel experiences!
Old Orchard Beach Maine is also another town where you can find affordable lodging, restaurants and activities. The Elmwood Motor Court in Old Orchard Beach is a great place for cheap family vacations. The 3 acre grounds will provide plenty of room for kids to stretch their legs and the playground and pool will keep them busy for hours. The motel here has 2 bedroom units, and there are over 15 cottages, mostly 2 bedroom as well. The rates are extremely affordable by the night or week.
The Elmwood Motor Court is only open from Memorial Day to Coumbus Day weekend and they do not allow pets. You can save money here on meals by using their gas grills or cooking in your cottage. Relax by the fire at night around the firepits. Book early because with the reasonable rates, they fill up quickly.
Free or Cheap Things To Do in Southern Maine
So now that you've found a place to stay, you're looking for some inexpensive ways to fill your vacation days. The wide sandy beaches, of course, are the main attraction in the area so hopefully you have some great weather and can take advantage of the sun and surf.
Make sure you bring along some shovels and pails for younger ones and boogie boards, skim boards or beach games for the older ones. Bringing these from home will save a lot of money since they tend to be pricey if you have to pick them up near the coast. An inexpensive kite can provide hours of entertainment for kids on a windy beach!
Take the trolley (where available) to the beach from your hotel or motel to save money on parking which usually runs $15 to $25 per day. If you buy lunch at a grocery store or market before going, you can make your day at the beach very low cost.
Many of the coastal towns offer free concerts and entertainment during the summer weekends. Wells Harbor Park has concerts every Saturday night at 6:30 in the summer and Old Orchard Beach's Veteran's Memorial Park does too. Grab a blanket or some lawn chairs and enjoy the night of free entertainment. Old Orchard Beach also has fireworks every Thusday night at 9:45 during the summer. Cheap family vacations don't have to be boring - there's usually lots of free or cheap stuff to do in any town.
Take in some beautiful scenery while walking the Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Cliff Walk in York Harbor, Parson's Way in Kennebunkport or through the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Wells. Visit the famed Nubble Lighthouse in Cape Neddick and grab an ice cream at Brown's Ice Cream nearby (they're huge!).
Eating on a Budget in Southern Maine
I know when we go on vacation, food costs are one of our major expenses. I have learned ways to lessen the burden, however. One of the easiest meals to eat at your hotel or cottage is breakfast. With a small refrigerator in the room, you can keep a few things on hand to make the first meal of the day super affordable if breakfast is not available at the hotel. A box of cereal, milk, yogurt, fresh fruit, hard boiled eggs brought from home or some muffins make for a good, cheap breakfast. Remember to pack some bowls and spoons or bring paper and plastic.
Plan on doing some picnics either on the beach or at a local picnic spot. With the abundance of prepared items at grocery stores these days, you can make yourself a nice picnic lunch for much less than it would cost for lunch in a restaurant. Plan ahead and bring a cooler with you so you can pack your lunch and take it on the road. Also bring lots of snacks with you as these can really add up when buying them on vacation.
By the time dinner rolls around, you might be tired of doing it all yourself. In the Southern Maine area there are many restaurants to choose from. If you choose wisely, you'll be able to keep the bill down to a reasonable amount. Cheap family vacations don't have to mean McDonalds every night, right?
Seafood is pricey so think about splurging on it once or twice, then vary your meals after that with more affordable chicken or vegetarian choices. Having a kids menu is helpful, or split adult meals between kids so as not to have lots of leftovers. For variety, try some ethnic restaurants like Thai, Chinese or Vietnamese - these restaurants are often more affordable.
Cheap family vacations can be just as fun and memorable as expensive ones. All it takes is the right attitude, some thorough research and pre-planning. Be sure to check out local newpapers and other publications that can usually be picked up for free around town to check for events, discounts or coupons too. And don't forget to talk to the hotel or campground staff to get their suggestions for free and cheap things to do and the most affordable restaurants to choose. Have a wonderful time on vacation in Maine. With a little time and effort, you'll become the expert on how to have cheap family vacations!
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