Need A Cheap Vacation? Here Are The Top Budget-Friendly U.S. Destinations For Your Next Trip

Have you been itching to get away and travel somewhere new? Maybe a nice foreign beach with white sands and clear waters sounds good. Unfortunately, that can also get expensive. In many cases, venturing off somewhere away from home can cost an arm and a leg. This might be keeping you from sight-seeing and making new memories. If you’re in need of a budget trip, you’ve come to the right place. Yes, some destinations are more pricey than others, but we’ve got you covered on all the great U.S. vacation spots that won’t put a strain on your bank account.

The Mile High City

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It’s called the Mile High City because it sits at an altitude of 5,280 feet. Denver, Colorado has a lot to offer with its unique mixture of the Rocky Mountains and cosmopolitan culture. The views are breathtaking, and there are plenty of free trails to explore. This is the perfect vacation spot for those in search of a mountain retreat and city getaway combined.

Hotel prices range from $50 to several hundred dollars, but you’re sure to find a good selection via Airbnb. Denver also has a MallRide service that allows you to travel for free around downtown. Also, there are many free and cheap museums to seek out.

Forget Miami Or Orlando. Try Pompano Beach, Florida

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We’re well aware that the main destination everyone wants to enjoy in Florida is Miami. However, for a fraction of the price, you can experience the warm ocean, beautiful golden sand, and relaxing sun in Pompano Beach. Also known as the Heart of the Gold Coast, this beachy spot is located north of Fort Lauderdale.

Average airfare there is around $278 depending on where you’re traveling from, and the city is an “affordable and family-friendly alternative to other South Florida hotspots,” says Lonely Planet’s Evan Godt. Every May, there is a fishing rodeo that takes place, and contestants can earn over $18,000 from their catches. There is more than enough to appreciate in Pompano Beach.

Everyday Is Beach Day In San Diego

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There are a few landmark locations that are massive tourist destinations across California. San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego are just a few. Unlike the others, the latter would be more ideal if you’re looking for great weather year-round and a bargain trip.

San Diego offers a variety of attractions that are also very kid-friendly. Your best bet is to rent a car if you plan on staying inland but around downtown, you can get around for $5 with a public transportation day pass. Head to the harbor for good eats or take the kids to LEGOLAND. Your schedule will be full if you plan a trip here and it won’t hurt your pockets that much at all.

Next Stop Is Kansas City, Missouri

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Kansas City is a land of barbecue and high culture. Travel + Leisure magazine’s yearly America’s Favorite Cities survey voted Kansas City at the top spot for affordability. This Midwest metropolis offers a surprising amount of diversity in its culture and food. Be aware, however, that the summertime does get a little hot and crowded.

Since Kansas City is in the middle of the country, it doesn’t take too long to travel there from any destination. There are free attractions galore, including the Kaleidoscope. It’s a fun studio for kids who wish to be more creative.

The Home Of The Blues, Memphis

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Over the last few years, Memphis has gone through a revival in an attempt to make the city more inviting and safer. Memphis is known for its music history (Elvis!) and barbecue. Many think this city is more for adults due to its riveting nightlife, but there are also attractions for kids.

Traveling around Memphis is best when you use public transportation, thanks to services like the free Graceland shuttle. The Memphis Zoo has fair ticket prices of $15 per adult and $10 for children. And when the kids are with a sitter, many bars and club do not have a cover charge.

This next destination is perfect for those who love beautiful views.

Explore The Outdoors In Utah

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If you’re into camping and exploring the outdoors, Moab, Utah is a terrific place for you. With two national parks in the town (Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park) and plenty of recreational land all over, this is a dream come true for those who seek adventure.

You are able to camp for free, or you can find yourself a lovely Airbnb not far from the great scenic views. There are tons of activities like rafting, rock climbing, and kayaking. And if that isn’t enough, you can rent Jeeps and go off-roading. Also, there is the Archview RV Park where you can get a basic cabin for only $78 a night.

Say Hello To The Alamo! San Antonio, Texas

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More than three million tourists visit San Antonio every year, and it’s for more than the rich history. Not far from the Mexican-American border, Mexican culture runs through the cuisine, activities, and shopping places. Also, the River Walk was recently expanded so there’s no better time to visit than now.

As for sleeping arrangements, Budget Travel suggests the Hotel Havana which is $115 a night. Getting around the city is also fairly simple. The city has a great bus system, so that would be your best bet for transportation.

Everyday Is Mardi Gras In New Orleans!

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Okay, every day isn’t Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but it sure feels like it in the French Quarter. Your best bet for living accommodations is to find a reasonably priced Airbnb. That route will also give you more of the New Orleans vibe, staying in a home furnished and decorated by a local resident.

To get around, you need to give the famous New Orleans streetcars a try. For only $3 you can get around via streetcar or local bus as many times as you want for the day. If you do happen to come during Mardi Gras, be prepared to have some wild nights.

Tourist-Friendly Portland

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Portland, Oregon is another place that is great for those who like the outdoors. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a boatload of breweries and boutique shops. There are tons of activities in every category that will keep you from breaking the bank.

The city is known to have one of the most tourist-friendly public transportation systems in all of America. Getting from the airport to the city will run you just a little over $2. Portland is also one of the best “foodie” cities in the country.

A Different Vibe In Alexandria, Virginia

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With prices for hotels averaging $140 per night, hotels in Alexandria cost half of what you’ll find in downtown D.C. Alexandria’s cobblestone streets will make you feel like you’re in a completely different world compared to the nation’s capital, but places like the White House and Lincoln Memorial are less than ten miles away.

If you want to get the full experience of Alexandria, you have to grab a table outside of Hank’s Oyster Bar on a Friday night. There is also a hub called the Torpedo Factory Art Center for those who love arts. It features 82 artists’ studios.

Anyone enjoy theme parks?…

Wonderful Anaheim

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Not quite in the thick of Los Angeles, but for sure more affordable, Anaheim is the perfect place to go if you want to avoid the hustle of the city and want to enjoy your time. “Home to a major league baseball team and professional hockey teams and positioned with access to some of the best SoCal beaches, Anaheim has a little something for everyone in the family,” says destination editor Sarah Stocking of Lonely Planet.

The biggest tourist destination is Disneyland, but there a bunch of gems around Anaheim. If you’re into eating, you need to head to the aesthetically pleasing food court called the Packing District. It’s a space dedicated to various eateries that is sure to please any foodie.

The City Of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia

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Since New York and other Northeast cities might be a little on the expensive side, a cheaper alternative is Philadelphia. The City of Brother Love has many historical sites, different foods, and an exciting BYOB policy at many restaurants. Make sure you take an Uber home.

For about 30% less than New York City, you can find hotels from $130 on average. The first thing you should do when you arrive is head to the Independence Visitor Center where you get a free overview of the city and all the attractions.

A Creative Hub: Santa Fe, New Mexico

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If you are a nature lover, spa seeker, or art enthusiast, then Sant Fe, New Mexico is the place for your next vacay. The city is filled with natural beauty and has deep roots in Hispanic, Native American, and Anglo heritages. It’s the oldest capital city in America.

There are over 13,000 folk art objects on display from more than 100 countries at the Museum of International Folk Art, where admission is only $12. And the winter promotion rates for luxury hotels can run you around $99 per night!

Have Some Fun In Atlanta!

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Here’s a list of attractions that cost less than $10 or are free: Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Site, the Center for Puppetry Arts, and the Fernbank Science Center. Already, Atlanta should strike your interest.

The best way to get around in Atlanta is by the rail system, MARTA. Renting a car is also an option if you’re not going to be within the city limits, but you must be warned that the traffic is terrible.

H-Town A.K.A. Houston

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The fourth largest city in America, Houston might not seem like an exciting place to visit, but it is one of the most multicultural cities there is. In case you didn’t know, Houston is home to NASA (“Houston, we have a problem”), so if you’re into the space scene, this is the city for you.

Hotel prices range from $40 to $113, so there’s a place for nearly every budget. If you’re really in a pinch with money, you can spend as low as $17 a night at the Houston International Hostel. Renting a car is your best option for getting around, but be sure to sneak in a beach day on Galveston Island.

Welcome To Oklahoma City!

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“Oklahoma City has worked hard over the years to become more than just a cow town,” says Ben Buckner, Lonely Planet’s editor for the Western U.S. That means you shouldn’t overlook this Western city as a travel destination. If you come during basketball season, you will be able to check out the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena, which is one of the loudest arenas in the NBA.

The average cost per night in a hotel is $99, but we’re sure you can find an even lower rate on Airbnb. Be sure and check out the amazing 19th and 20th-century art you can view at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

Soak Up The Sun In Phoenix

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With more than 300 sunny days a year, Phoenix, Arizona is great for those who enjoy the sun but don’t need the beach. Those with RVs can think about staying at the award-winning Desert’s Edge RV Village. Don’t fret, there are also budget hotels too. And once in Phoenix, you can pay $3.50 for an all-day pass to ride the METRO Light Rail Taxi anywhere the Rail doesn’t take you.

If you visit, you should also be aware of the scorching temperatures during the summer — bring your SPF! If you can withstand the heat, some of the best biking and hiking trails are in Phoenix.

The Scenic South Lake Tahoe

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One of the tallest, largest, oldest, and deepest lakes in the world, Lake Tahoe is a spectacular place to visit. And for all you beer lovers, there is a special beer map for visitors.

Staying at the Lake Tahoe Resort, Heavenly, starts at $109 per night and is excellent for families. It’s conveniently located in the middle of the village so you can walk right up to the gondola, which is ideal when you’re carrying around skies or a snowboard. There’s a little bit of something for everyone here, and the views are stunning.

See You In Anza-Borrego State Park, California

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Usually when you live on the west coast, Joshua Tree and Palm Springs are the top destinations for desert vacations. Fair, but if you head about an hour and a half from Palm Springs you’ll find Anza-Borrego State Park.

You’ll be away from all the crowds and in the presence of breathtaking desert landscapes. This is the perfect place to get away whether you’re young or old and it won’t cost you too much at all compared to pricey Palm Springs.

A Location Fit For A God, Colorado Springs

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Colorado Springs is on the border of the Great Plains and the Colorado Rockies, making it easily accessible from all over the country. In town, there are a bunch of free attractions. The best way to get around is by car, and you’ll need one to do some of the attractions like Pikes Peak.

During the night, many of the bars and clubs don’t have a cover charge. If you really want to save money, it’s best to avoid traveling here during the summer because that is peak tourism time.