You can bring down the high cost of aquariums, zoos and other kid-friendly attractions by using CityPass, which promises up to 50 percent off the regular admission of major attractions in nine U.S. cities and Southern California.
SmartDestinations.com's Go Select program is a similar concept offered in five U.S. cities that allows you to assemble your own pass for up to 36 percent off regular prices. A package for San Diego for Legoland, the San Diego Zoo and a two-hour harbor cruise costs $111.30, a 17 percent discount on the gate price of $134.
For the theater and other cultural offerings, London and New York are well-known for their half-price ticket booths, but you can find virtual ways to snag cheap tickets. For instance, Philadelphia offers a weekly FunSavers email with savings of up to 50 percent on local theater, dance, music performances and other events.
Despite the importance of making every vacation dollar count, don't forget why you wanted to get away in the first place.
"If you really want to save money, have a staycation and stay home," Fan says. "We're still coming out of this great recession, so you want to be aware of saving, but you also want to have a good time without compromising."