Definitely give Dillard House a try.
I understand about how tight money can be. You're talking to the right guy, because I plan to write a lot of articles on ways to save money.
The first thing that came to mind for me was the Chief Vann House
, because the first time we visited Dillard House we were staying in Ellijay and visited the house. That may not be that close to you, but the state and national parks can often be great resources for cheap activities. You can find museums as well as outdoor activities.
Another place to check is a local college. For instance, here in Charleston, the College of Charleston has 3 different museums that are free to visit. The Avery Institute is a fantastic museum on African American history. There's a Communications Museum that has antique radios, televisions, motion picture projectors and a lot of other exhibits. Finally, there's a new natural history museum.
One inexpensive outing for families is to a U-Pick farm. Pack a picnic and head to the nearest fruit self-pick farm. You might be able to picnic on site or find a park nearby. Most have signs up saying that they expect people to eat a certain amount as they pick. Most smaller kids will enjoy this immensely. It's a fun activity and you end up with food for later. Watch my site for some great recipes for southern fruits.
Instead of Disney or Universal, check out some other parks like Six Flags or Carowinds, or even some of the smaller parks. Watch your local stores for discount tickets and coupons.
Other less expensive activities: Instead of paying huge fees at major sporting events, check out college or even high school sports. They may not be as talented yet, but often play with great heart. You might spot a future star. The same goes for stage productions; plays and musicals.
We like to go antiquing when we travel. Though we occasionally buy, just looking around can be fun. Many stores are almost history museums. It's fun for kids to try to guess what an old item was used for.
Speaking of museums, every year in September, there's a Free Museum Day
when many museums around the country provide free admission. Check the website for one near you.
I hope something here is helpful.