10 Budget Family Vacation Ideas


National Wildlife Refuges

Some of the most stunning scenery and truly wild life is on display at a National Wildlife Refuge near you, from soaring eagles to stealthy alligators, and from prairies billowing with blazing star to swamps festooned with Spanish moss. You can hunt, fish, hike, kayak or just take in the wonders from photography blinds and observation decks. Look for special events when planning your vacation. You can make crafts and learn how to plant a butterfly garden at the Butterfly Festival in Florida or take a birdwatching hayride on Virginia's Chincoteague Island. Check to see whether camping is allowed, as policies vary from one refuge to another. Some refuges encompass historical sites, including New England lighthouses and Native American pueblos in New Mexico.

About 100 of the 555 refuges in the U.S. charge fees [source: National Wildlife Refuge System]. Some have a small admission fee. Others charge only for hunting and fishing permits. Most or all of the fees go back into maintaining the habitat. Other activities, such as guided tours, may be available from private vendors.

National Wildlife Refuges are just one of many operations, both public and private, that rely on volunteers to keep running. That leads us to our next suggestion.