Are you someone who loves to travel but is on a tight budget? Fear not, as plenty of affordable destinations within the United States offer ample activities and adventures without breaking the bank. Whether you’re looking for a laid-back beach vacation, outdoor adventure, or city escape, plenty of budget-friendly options exist.
If you’re an avid traveler, you know that exploring new places doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag. With some planning and research, you can find affordable destinations that offer unique experiences and unforgettable memories. Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple, or a family, plenty of budget-friendly destinations within the United States cater to every type of traveler.
So, where should you go on your next budget-friendly adventure? In this article, I’ll share the 15 best affordable destinations in the United States that offer plenty of activities and experiences without breaking the bank. So, If you want to know, Keep reading!
Best 15 Places for Travel on a Budget in the US
1. Visit Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is one of the most popular budget-friendly destinations in the US. With over 2,000 campsites and fees starting at $15 per night, camping is a great way to save money while enjoying the park’s natural beauty. Five of Yellowstone’s campgrounds can be reserved ahead of time, while the rest are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.
If camping is something other than yours, nearby cities have budget-friendly lodging options. West Yellowstone and Cody offer a few options but keep in mind that conventional hotel rooms are often distant and hard-to-book during the busiest seasons.
To get the most out of your visit, consider spending 1 to 5 days in Yellowstone. You can also visit nearby travel destinations before or after your trip, such as Grand Teton National Park or Jackson, Wyoming. Remember that summer will always be the peak season for Yellowstone, so plan accordingly.
2. Explore Glacier National Park
If you’re looking for an affordable vacation spot in the US, consider Glacier National Park. This natural gem offers an awe-inspiring experience for nature lovers and adventurers alike. Glacier National Park is a must-visit destination with over 700 hiking trails and breathtaking views of lakes, glaciers, and mountains.
To save money, consider visiting during the shoulder season, from May to June or September to October. During this time, lodging and activities are usually less expensive, and the park is less crowded. You can also camp at one of the park’s many campsites for as little as $10 per night.
If you’re on a tight budget, there are plenty of free activities to enjoy in the park, such as hiking, wildlife watching, and scenic drives. Going-to-the-Sun Road is a must-see attraction, offering stunning views of the park’s landscape.
Pack your food and drinks for your trip to save even more money. There are picnic areas throughout the park, and many campsites have grills and fire pits for cooking. You can also bring your camping gear and save money on lodging.
Glacier National Park is an excellent option for an economical vacation in the US. Its stunning natural beauty and affordable activities make it a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the great outdoors.
3. Go to Moab, Utah
Moab, Utah, is a great option if you’re looking for an affordable adventure. With its stunning natural beauty, it’s no wonder that Moab is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The city is surrounded by two national parks, including the iconic Arches National Park, home to over 2,000 natural sandstone arches.
One of the best budget travel tips for Moab is to take advantage of the many free activities available. You can hike in the parks, visit the Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage, and explore the city’s many art galleries and shops. For a small fee, you can also take a guided tour of the parks or rent a bike to explore the area.
Regarding accommodations, Moab offers a range of options to fit any budget. You can camp in the parks or stay at a budget-friendly motel or hostel. For a unique experience, consider staying in a glamping tent or a yurt.
4. Visit Cannon Beach
Looking for a budget-friendly vacation destination on the West Coast? Look no further than Cannon Beach, located about 90 miles west of Portland. This famous beach town offers easy access to the Pacific Coast Highway and a variety of affordable activities.
Stroll along the beach, snap photos of the iconic Haystack Rock, or explore the nearby Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint. For a unique experience, head to Tillamook for a tour and tasting at the Tillamook Creamery.
With its stunning natural beauty and affordable attractions, Cannon Beach is a must-visit destination for budget-conscious travelers.
5. Explore Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs is a fantastic option if you’re looking for an affordable vacation spot in the US. The city offers a variety of low-cost travel options, including free shuttles to popular hiking trails like the Manitou Incline.
In addition to hiking, Colorado Springs has plenty of other economical travel destinations to explore. Garden of the Gods, a stunning natural park with red rock formations, is free to visit and offers excellent photo opportunities. You can also visit the USA Olympic Training Center for a guided tour at a reasonable price.
When it comes to accommodations, Colorado Springs has many budget-friendly options. ColoRADo Adventure Hostel is a highly rated hostel with affordable rates and a great location . Downtown Colorado Springs also has many cheap hotels and motels to choose from.
Colorado Springs is a great destination for those looking for affordable travel options in the US. Its stunning natural beauty, low-cost activities, and budget-friendly concessions are worth considering for your next vacation.
6. Go to San Diego
San Diego is an excellent choice for tourists on a tight budget because it offers many free and inexpensive attractions.
Start your trip with a visit to Balboa Park, which offers free admission to its gardens and many museums on Tuesdays. From there, head to the USS Midway Museum, where you can explore a retired aircraft carrier for a reasonable fee.
For a beach day, check out Coronado Beach, which offers free public access and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. If you’re traveling with kids, Belmont Park is an excellent option for amusement park rides and attractions, with many free activities available.
When it comes to food, San Diego has plenty of affordable options. Grab some delicious street tacos from Roberto’s or Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop. And remember to try a California burrito, a local specialty filled with carne asada, cheese, and french fries.
San Diego is one of America’s best-budget travel destinations with its beautiful beaches, world-renowned attractions, and budget-friendly options.
7. Visit Washington, D.C.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly travel spot in the US, Washington, D.C., should be on your list. The city has numerous free attractions, including the National Mall, the Smithsonian Museum, and the National Zoo. You can also explore historic landmarks, such as the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, without paying a dime.
Regarding affordable travel in the US, Washington, D.C., is a great option. You can save even more money by taking advantage of the city’s public transportation system, which includes buses and a metro. Plenty of cheap restaurants and food trucks also serve delicious food at reasonable prices.
If you plan to visit Washington, D.C., on a budget, consider staying in a hostel or a budget hotel. You can also find great deals on flights and accommodations by using travel websites and apps.
8. Explore Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming is an excellent option if you’re looking for an affordable national park. U.S. News ranked it #1 in the list of Best Cheap Vacations in the U.S. for 2023. From the 13,770-foot Grand Teton to the Jackson Lakes, Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park is a paradise for photographers and hikers alike.
Getting into Grand Teton National Park is relatively inexpensive. Just $25 ($20 for motorcycles) will get you a seven-day pass to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. If you hike or bike into the Park instead of driving, you’ll only have to pay $12. In the winter, the Park has a $5/day fee.
There are many things to do in Grand Teton National Park that won’t break the bank. You can explore the park’s many hiking trails, go fishing, or take a scenic drive. Many free ranger-led programs also include guided hikes and wildlife viewing tours.
9. Go to Asheville, North Carolina
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly travel destination in the US, Asheville, North Carolina, is a great option. With its stunning natural beauty, vibrant arts scene, and affordable concessions, Asheville has something for every budget traveler.
To save money on food, check out the local farmers’ markets and food trucks or grab a bite at one of the many affordable restaurants in the city. For entertainment, explore the many free or low-cost attractions like the North Carolina Arboretum, the Folk Art Center, and the Asheville Pinball Museum.
Regarding accommodations, Asheville has plenty of budget-friendly options, including hostels, campgrounds, and affordable hotels. Be sure to book in advance to get the best deals.
10. Visit the Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains should be at the top of your list if you’re searching for an inexpensive place to travel in America. The park is an affordable US travel destination since it’s easily accessible by car from many major Midwestern and East Coast cities.
One of the best things about the Great Smoky Mountains is that there is no admission charge for entering the park. You can explore hundreds of miles of hiking trails, waterfalls, historic structures, and more for free.
To save even more money, consider camping in the park. There are several campgrounds to choose from, and fees are very reasonable. If you prefer more comfortable accommodations, affordable cabins and lodges are nearby.
Be sure to check the weather before you go, as roads and trails in the Smokies close for various reasons, such as inclement weather, changing seasons, and bear sightings. Also, be prepared for rain and weather changes in all seasons.
11. Explore Lake Tahoe
Looking for a budget-friendly vacation spot in America? Look no further than Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe, located on the California-Nevada border, is a popular destination for weekend escapes. You can easily reach it from many Northern California cities, including San Francisco and Sacramento.
Accommodations are one of the areas where you can save while visiting Lake Tahoe. You can find affordable hotels, motels, and vacation rentals, especially during the off-season.
There are plenty of cheap things to do in Lake Tahoe, too. You can go hiking, biking, or kayaking in the summer or skiing and snowboarding in the winter.
12. Go to Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon, is a budget-friendly travel destination in the US. With plenty of accessible and affordable attractions, there’s no need to break the bank to have a good time. Visit the Pioneer Courthouse Square, the heart of downtown Portland, for free events and concerts. Stroll through the Portland International Rose Test Garden or the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden to enjoy the beautiful flora without spending a dime.
For book lovers, Powell’s City of Books is a must-visit spot. This iconic bookstore is the world’s largest independent new and used, offering a vast selection of books at reasonable prices.
If you’re a foodie, Portland won’t disappoint. The city is known for its food carts, which offer a variety of cuisines at affordable prices. Check out the Portland Saturday Market for tasty treats and unique handmade goods.
To save money on transportation, use the city’s public transportation system, TriMet. A day pass costs only a few dollars and gives you unlimited access to buses, light rail, and streetcars.
13. Visit Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park is a beautiful option if you’re looking for a budget-friendly US travel destination. Once you’ve paid for your park pass, your recreation is free. There are only further fees to hike, canoe, bicycle, or swim if you need to rent equipment. If so, plan and ask about any deals.
You should spend around $173 daily on your vacation in Acadia National Park. This is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors. Past travelers have spent, on average, $45 on meals, $46 on local transportation, and $192 on hotels for one day. Keep in mind that prices may vary depending on your travel style.
While in Acadia National Park, you can drive Park Loop Road, a 27-mile loop through Mount Desert Island. This scenic road connects several of Acadia’s popular spots, such as Cadillac Mountain, Jordan Pond, the carriage roads, the Beehive Trail, and Sand Beach.
You can also go hiking and practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan, stay on the trail, pack out what you bring to the hiking trail, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.
14. Explore Sedona, Arizona
Are you looking for a beautiful natural setting that is affordable? Go to Sedona, Arizona, if you can. Known for its spiritual energy, hiking trails, and stunning scenery, this quaint town is located in the center of Red Rock Country.
While Sedona is a popular tourist destination, exploring the area without breaking the bank is still possible. Start by taking advantage of the many accessible hiking trails, such as the Cathedral Rock Trail or the Bell Rock Pathway. You can also enjoy a scenic drive through the area along the famous Red Rock Scenic Byway.
When it comes to accommodation, there are plenty of affordable options in Sedona, including budget-friendly hotels and vacation rentals. You can also save money by preparing meals instead of eating out at restaurants.
15. Go to Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a charming city that offers a unique blend of Native American, Spanish, and Mexican cultures, making it a great place to explore on a budget.
One of the best things about Santa Fe is that many of the city’s top attractions are free or low-cost. You can visit the historic Santa Fe Plaza, the Palace of the Governors, and the beautiful Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi without spending a dime.
If you’re interested in art, check out the many galleries and museums in the city, including the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and the Museum of International Folk Art.
Regarding accommodations, Santa Fe has plenty of options for budget travelers. You can stay in a cozy bed, breakfast, charming inn, or hostel. If you’re looking for something more unique, consider booking a stay in an Airbnb or a vacation rental.
As for food, Santa Fe has a wide variety of affordable options. You can sample delicious New Mexican cuisine at local favorites like The Shed, La Choza, and Tomasita’s. If you’re on a tight budget, head to the Santa Fe Farmers Market for fresh produce and other local goodies.
Overall, Santa Fe is one of the most affordable places to travel in the US, offering plenty of cheap travel options for budget-conscious travelers.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Budget Destination
When planning a budget-friendly trip, it’s essential to consider several factors to make the most of your money. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a budget destination:
Cost of Living
The cost of living in your chosen destination can significantly affect your budget. For example, cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have a higher cost of living than other cities in the US. Therefore, it’s a good idea to research the cost of living in your potential destination before deciding. You can use websites like Numbeo to compare living costs in different cities.
Transportation costs can add up quickly, especially if you’re traveling to a destination that requires a flight. When choosing a budget destination, consider how you will get there and how much it will cost. You can save money by selecting a destination easily accessible by car or bus. Additionally, some cities have excellent public transportation systems that can help you save money on transportation costs.
When choosing a budget destination, it’s essential to consider the cost of activities in the area. Some goals have plenty of free or low-cost attractions, such as museums, parks, and outdoor activities. Researching the area’s affordable activities can help you save money and make the most of your trip.
You can use websites like TripAdvisor to find inexpensive activities in your potential destination. Considering these factors, you can choose a budget-friendly destination that meets your travel needs and saves money.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are some cheap vacation spots in the US?
There are many cheap vacation spots in the US that you can visit without breaking the bank. Some of the most affordable destinations include Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and Branson, Missouri. These places offer plenty of activities and attractions that will suit you.
What are the cheapest places to travel to in the US?
If you’re looking for the cheapest US travel places, some of the most budget-friendly options include cities like Austin, Texas. Portland, Oregon, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. These destinations offer a variety of free and low-cost activities that you can enjoy without spending a lot of money.
What is the least expensive state to vacation in?
The least expensive state to vacation in depends on your travel preferences, but some of the most affordable options include Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. These states offer a variety of outdoor activities, scenic drives, and cultural attractions that won’t hurt your wallet.
What is the least expensive way to travel to the US?
The least expensive way to travel to the US depends on where you’re coming from, but some of the most affordable options include budget airlines like Spirit and Frontier and road trips. If traveling internationally, consider flying into a central hub like New York or Los Angeles and taking a domestic flight to your final destination.
What are some cheap vacation ideas for families?
If you’re planning a family vacation on a budget, consider visiting national parks like Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon, taking a beach vacation in places like Myrtle Beach or Gulf Shores, or exploring cities like San Antonio or Washington, D.C. Many museums and attractions offer free admission for children, making these destinations more affordable for families.
What are some cheap vacation packages in the US?
You can take advantage of many affordable vacation packages in the US, including all-inclusive resorts in places like Cancun and the Dominican Republic and budget-friendly cruises to destinations like the Bahamas and the Caribbean. You can also find deals on vacation packages to popular destinations like Las Vegas, Orlando, and New York City.
Traveling on a budget in the US can be an exciting and rewarding experience. You can save money without sacrificing travel experience by making intelligent choices and planning.
Some of the best ways to save money while traveling in the US include staying in budget-friendly concessions like hostels or camping, using public transportation, and eating at local markets and food trucks. Additionally, taking advantage of free attractions and activities can help you save even more.
Remember to research your destination to find the best deals and discounts. Many cities offer free walking tours or discounted admission to museums and attractions.
Overall, traveling on a budget in the US requires some extra planning and flexibility, but it can be a great way to see the country without breaking the bank. So pack your bags, grab your map, and hit the road for an affordable adventure you won’t forget!