Where is the best place to vacation with children that won't break the pockets?
If your looking to do some swimming, a lake or beach would be good. Instead of looking for big resort/ tourist towns try finding small out of the way areas. Campgrounds can be fun, especially if there is hiking. The ones I've been to usually charge $5 a car load for each night your staying. Again, try the ones that don't have many visitors and the prices should be cheaper. Here in my part of Tx there are a few wildlife refuges that have guided tours. They have exotic animals and charge to help fund the refuges. I'm the oldest of 5 kids so vacations for us were always tricky, these were the kind of things we did.
I would say the places less frequently traveled also. We took a trip to Charleston a few weeks ago, and found many places that were free and had lots of fun. I payed for parking at a few places no more than $5, but that is going to happen in high traffic areas. I always look for places that are free or close to it, and most of the time I will stop at a rest area close or a visitor's information center and get the discounted coupon books.
You aren't too far away so I say beach! I know NC has several great beaches, but if you want to get a little farther from home you could go to Charleston, SC. It's a wonderful place to take the kids. There are multiple different beaches. You could see a different beach every day. The La Quinta in North Charleston is a decent cheap hotel (Best price can be gotten from rest stop coupon book). If you have tents or a camper the KOAs down there have many amenities. The aquarium isn't too cheap but could be a nice splurge. The kids could go to The Battery and play on the statues. You could go to Waterfront park while there (no cost) and walk around letting the kids play in the fountains while y'all check out the views.
If Charleston specifically isn't for you then you have plenty of other options if you live in NC. Take the kids for a couple days in Bat Cave and Chimney Rock. or go to Lake Lure. Take them Gem Mining which is pretty cheap. There are a ton of options within just a few hours of anywhere in NC.
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