Families looking for an inexpensive vacation would do well to look to Palm Springs and Orlando, Fla. TripAdvisor's vacation rental index released Thursday ranked both as places where families would find the most affordable summer stays.
Palm Springs came in cheapest with a price tag of $1,256 for a week's vacation in a two-bedroom rental between July and September. Based on a family of four, the price includes a single-day bicycle rental, basic groceries and dinner at a restaurant.
The cost works out to about $180 a day, but it doesn't factor in the blistering summer heat that makes it nearly impossible to go out and do anything during the day. Temperatures in the desert resort town Thursday were about 95 degrees, and triple digits were promised for the weekend.
If you like the low prices but don't want to spend every air-conditioned second inside, head for the cool high country of the San Jacinto Mountains. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway ($23.95 for adults, $16.95 for children 3 to 12 years old) takes passengers to around 8,500 feet in elevation with hiking and dining options at the top.
Using the same pricing index, Orlando ranked second with a cost of $1,268, which seems to be a good deal too. But the price doesn't factor in tickets to Disney World, Universal Studios Florida, Legoland Florida or any other theme parks the kids undoubtedly would want to visit.
The three other destinations in the top five are Gatlinburg, Tenn., with nearby Dollywood and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, at $1,399, followed by Myrtle Beach, S.C., at $1,433, and Sanibel Island, Fla., at $1,485.
No surprise that the priciest weeklong vacations were found in La Jolla at $2,497, and Martha's Vineyard, Mass., at $3,661. Both offer endless beach opportunities for families with kids of all ages -- without the crushing heat.