Summer Family Fun On A Budget

With summer being the most popular time to travel due to children being out of school, you are more than likely to have family visit at one time or another. Whether for a day, a week – or longer – you want to make sure to show your loved ones a good time. My 8-year-old niece stayed with our family this past week for eight days. Being the mother of two children I knew the best way to keep from hearing the dreaded two words – “I’m bored!”-  was to keep her busy.

While I did hear it a few times, it was only during down times of our exciting week. Overall I believe I accomplished my mission of giving her a memorable trip. We started the week off at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. From Sesame Street Forest of Fun to Verbolten, she had plenty of options to choose from for her age and height. While a trip to Busch Gardens can be rather expensive, thanks to the affordable Fun Card provided by her grandmother (my mommy in law), we were able to make two trips to the theme park. Even with two trips there, we didn’t get a chance to do everything she wanted to do. While I was disappointed, as I knew she would probably not be back again to next year, it gives us something to look forward to tackling on her next visit.

Due to her love of water, I knew I also wanted to enjoy some time at a pool. I felt our best bet was to visit Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg. Although we paid for a one night stay, you receive two days at the water park, which is a great value for your money. We also used the discount for Huntington Ingalls employees which brought the cost of our trip down by over $100. As an Ask-A-Mom for Great Wolf and avid fan, I knew that we were in for a treat. After enjoying the indoor water park the first night, we headed outside and hung by the pool for a second day. We ended our trip back inside enjoying the water rides before heading home. By the end of the week, I had successfully worn all of us out to the point of not wanting to go anywhere else.

My goal was to have an awesome time, but on a budget. If you are looking for family fun this summer in Hampton Roads, but don’t want to spend a lot of money, consider using the following tips.

If you visit Busch Gardens:

1. If your family is able to visit the park more than once while visiting, opt for the Fun Card. You pay for one day admission but have the option to come back all summer long. If you want to also visit Water Country USA, take advantage of the 2-Park Flex Ticket ($92) for admission to both parks for seven (7) consecutive days. For all ticket options & purchases, buy tickets here.

2. Pack a lunch and utilize the picnic tables in the parking lot.

3. If you are a season pass holder, use your pass to purchase discount 1-day tickets for your family. ($15 off.)

If you visit Great Wolf Lodge:

1.If you or your spouse are employees of Huntington Ingalls, take advantage of the Preferred Pack Discount.  Log-in to the employee benefits page for the code. Other Hampton Roads employers may offer a discount as well, so be sure to check with your benefits. Regardless if you have a discount or not, Wednesdays are normally the cheapest day to book!

2. Pack your own snacks and foods to save on dining costs.

3. Get a group of family or friends together and go in on a room and share the cost.

*If you have any specific questions for visiting Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg, visit the Ask-A-Mom forum to ask me a question!


Do you have family visit over the summer? What are some of the fun things that you do on a budget?