Travel | Family fun

Alterna-vacations: 5 Budget-Friendly Northwest Vacation Makeovers


Want to skip the hassle and cost of a vacation that involves a plane ride and find a destination closer to home this summer? Here are five budget-friendly destinations that offer all the recreational activities, sun and fun your family craves, but are only a car ride away.

Tri-Cities instead of California wine country

Why go: If you are craving the guaranteed sun, wine tasting and outdoor activities of California wine country, the Tri-Cities is your budget-friendly getaway. The Tri-Cities consists of the cities of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland in Eastern Washington, about a three-and-a-half hour drive from Seattle.

What to do: Rent a bike from Greenies in downtown Richland and bike the Richland Riverfront trail, go on a guided kayak trip with Columbia Kayak Adventures or hike for miles in the surrounding hills.

The Columbia River Exhibition of History, Science and Technology (CREHST) in downtown Richland offers fun, hands-on exhibits for kids. The Playground of Dreams and adjacent Aquatic Splash Park in Columbia Park in Kennewick are always kid-pleasing favorites. Get a taste of the journey of Lewis and Clark by visiting Pasco’s Sacajawea State Park and its Interpretive Center.

If you're planning a kid-free getaway to the Tri-Cities, try a winery tour. In Richland, J. Bookwalter Winery and Bistro and Barnard Griffin Winery (which welcomes kids, too, as long as you are with them) are within walking distance of each other. Or visit vineyards by horseback, with the help of Red Mountain Trails, which offers several trail rides and tours, including a sunset vineyard tour.

Where to stay: The Red Lion Hanford House in downtown Richland offers “park-once-and-walk-everywhere” convenience, an outdoor pool and beautiful river views with rates starting at $110. The Hampton Inn Richland has an indoor pool and is adjacent to a park and the river trail; rates start at $140. For an inexpensive couples getaway, consider the riverfront Clover Island Inn in Kennewick, which includes an outdoor pool and bikes for borrowing. Rates start at $84 for two adults.

Next: Wenatchee instead of Leavenworth

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