Are you planning a summer vacation? We all know that when you travel on a budget it can be a little tough, especially if you have children. While traveling abroad offers an exotic or enlightening experience for most tourists, vacationing within the U.S. can be just as rewarding, not to mention cheaper. The following U.S. cities offer plenty of exciting and intriguing attractions at an affordable price.
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13 Affordable Summer Vacations
Whether you decide on a beach getaway or a city escape, you will find that there are many destinations right here in the good ‘ole USA that you can plan a vacation in that are affordable and fun! Check out my top 13 affordable summer vacation destinations below! These are in no particular order.
1. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
See why Ft. Lauderdale has all the bells and whistles of Florida that you are looking for this summer. There are wide stretches of beautiful, white-sand beaches, palm trees everywhere, and a beachside atmosphere that can rival any other resort destination in Florida. The “Venice of America,” which was given its nickname because of the over 180 miles of canals and waterways, is becoming once again a hot spot for not only couples and spring breakers, but for the whole family too.
While in town explore Fort Lauderdale’s renowned Sunrise Boulevard: Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, paddle boating, cocktails at Blue Martini, the Red Door Spa, shopping, and much more!
Nearby Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is also budget-friendly.
The Sunshine State is completely surrounded by spectacular beaches and they are absolutely free. Simply roll out the beach towel, slap on a little sunscreen, and soak up some of that wonderful Florida sunshine. Sit back and listen to the seagulls and the soft rolling waves of the ocean, not giving a second thought to the frigid cold you left behind.
2. Atlantic City, New Jersey
Here you will find many luxury hotels that are so affordable you may want to consider more than a long weekend here on the Jersey Shore. With a long boardwalk filled with fun, food, rides, and souvenir shops, this is the perfect vacation spot for everyone. In Atlantic City, you can lounge on the beach by day and hit up one of the many casinos by night. If you are simply looking for a nice beach atmosphere, check out this unique beach town.
You can find a hotel room in Atlantic City for as low as $41.
3. Grand Canyon
This incredible destination and tourist attraction is one of the most affordable in the Western part of the United States. It can be super crowded, but that won’t bother you as you take in this beautiful canyon. With over 5 million visitors per year, the Grand Canyon is a popular family vacation spot. There are many campgrounds and low-cost hotels and motels in the surrounding area.
4. Williamsburg, Virginia
Make summer plans to head to the Virginia Peninsula for not only an affordable place to visit, but there is a lot of colonial history to discover here. There are many good restaurants that are family-friendly and lo-cost, as well as, accommodations that can meet every budget. If you are a shopper, then the Williamsburg Outlets are a must-visit. Most of all, you will have a chance to walk in the footsteps of our Founding Fathers.
5. Las Vegas, Nevada
There are many options of what type of vacation you can experience in Las Vegas, which is why Sin City is such an affordable place to visit. You can experience the casino nightlife and stay in a lovely suite in one of the many casino resort hotels or you can go for a relaxing spa getaway. Both are super affordable and worth the price tag. There are a lot of family-friendly things to do as well, such as check out the Cirque de Soleil performances or head to one of the fun, interactive museums like the Neon Museum. Just think of Las Vegas as a huge theme park with something for everyone.
6. Brooklyn, New York
You can’t beat New York City in the summer, but to save a little money head over to Brooklyn where it is the perfect place to experience city life without the high price tag of Manhattan. Book one of the hundreds of places using Airbnb to make your vacation dollar go further. The restaurants, cafes, bars, and hotels are booming in the summer so you won’t have trouble finding great things to do. The pace in Brooklyn is a lot calmer and you can take a quiet stroll in the morning to grab a coffee without the hustle of the streets of New York City.
7. Cannon Beach, Oregon
There are many ways to make this gorgeous beach area a more affordable vacation destination on the Oregon coast. There are activities for solo travelers and families alike in this quaint, small town. Cannon Beach offers a humming downtown and a sandy expanse that draws castle builders, beach cyclists, and clam diggers.
Cannon Beach’s immense Haystack Rock provides the opportunity to explore tide pools, abundant with anemones, sea stars, crabs, and much more. Many months out of the year, trained staff from the Haystack Rock Awareness Program are on the beach to answer questions and increase awareness for this marine garden and National Wildlife Refuge.
In the shadow of Haystack Rock, sample fresh crab, and clams with sips of local brews and wines before the main attraction: a salmon bake and bonfires. Try your own hand at crabbing in the peaceful Nehalem Bay or clamming from a kayak at low tide, and don’t miss out on exploring Ecola State Park for inspiring views. Wrap up your coastal visit by learning to prepare the local catch and bounty from the experts at North Fork 53.
You may need to rent a beach house here because lodging is typically full. But with a kitchen, you can save a lot of money by not eating out. Do the research first and find a hotel that offers deals when you book during weekdays, so check that out to save some money. Our favorite hotel in Cannon Beach is Surfsand Resort, but it’s a bit spendy. Here’s a list of hotels that start out at $99 a night in Cannon Beach.
8. Phoenix, Arizona
If you are looking for sunshine all year long and don’t mind the heat, then Phoenix is the place for you. Phoenix has been ranked as one of the cheapest in the country many years in a row by SmartAsset magazine. Round-trip airfare is affordable and so are the hotel accommodations, not to mention the luxurious spas and resorts found in the surrounding area. Go ahead and go west and discover beautiful Arizona.
I recommend staying in Scottsdale, they have a ton of nice resorts. They are always running specials, especially during the summer. You can stay at an extremely nice resort for super cheap. Here’s a list of Phoenix Hotels.
9. Washington, D.C.
The nation’s capital features a host of museums, including the famed Smithsonian series, as well as a slew of iconic memorials, the majority of which remain free of charge like the Lincoln Memorial.
10. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Along with Myrtle Beach, there’s plenty to do in the warm and cozy state of South Carolina. They have some very nice scenery and the southern-style cooking is excellent. The locals are extremely friendly and there is no other place that offers the kind of hospitality you’ll find in South Carolina.
The prices are very reasonable, even in their gift shops where you can get anything from souvenirs to postcards. Check out the rustic, charming old homes of South Carolina and soak up some of the local color. Southern hospitality runs high in South Carolina where you’re treated like family.
11. Portland, Oregon
Blessed with plentiful outdoor trails, inexpensive coffeehouses, and scores of free art galleries, Portland, Oregon, provides a plethora of entertainment at a low cost. Here are our favorite Portland hotels.
12. Memphis, Tennessee
13. Denver, Colorado
One of the prettiest U.S. cities, Denver offers cheap entertainment in the form of over 200 parks, not to mention spectacular nearby hiking spots.
If flying to Europe or some exotic island isn’t in the cards, hopefully, one of these destinations will work for you and you can still find a more cost-effective option closer to home.
Where is your go-to budget destination?
More Budget-Friendly Destinations:
- 23 Affordable Weekend Getaways in the United States
- Utah Valley Vacation Guide
- Panama City Beach Travel Guide
- Dallas, Texas Travel Guide
- San Antonio: Where to Stay, Where to Eat, and What to Do
- Lake Geneva, Wisconsin Travel Guide
- Albuquerque, New Mexico Travel Guide
- Rapid City, South Dakota
- Gulf Shores Family Vacation
- The Outer Banks
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I use Skyscanner to find flights. I use it so much, I wrote an entire guide to finding cheap flights with Skyscanner! My second favorite site to find flights is Momondo, another great site for finding cheap flights.
Book a Place to Stay
If you prefer staying in a vacation rental instead, I recommend VRBO.
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Choose Activities and Tours
To find great activities in any area I use Get Your Guide and Viator. If we are visiting a city with lots of popular attractions I always check CityPass and GoCard to see if they have discount cards available.
When I want to book a full-on multi-day tour I use TourRadar. They’ve got fantastic weekly deals.