College life is one of the most cherished and memorable periods in a someones life. It represents freedom—a precious value that many students embrace and enjoy to the fullest. With this newfound freedom, college life introduces us to new experiences and opportunities we never knew before. For some people, it’s a time to focus on their careers and study diligently for a brighter future. For others, it means partying hard and living life to the fullest. Regardless of your path, embarking on an adventurous trip with your college friends is always a fantastic idea.

We all know that traveling with your colleague is always an amazing experience. We know that being in college means sticking to a budget, but taking a trip together can be the perfect highlight of the good memories you guys will make together.

As a formal college student, I have taken time to compile the list of captivating destinations that can be explored without breaking your savings. With the great memories of remembrance, here is the list of “cheap places for college students to travel in the USA”.

cheap places for college students to travel in the US

1. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is a vibrant city known for its rich culture, live music, and delicious cuisine. The city’s French Quarter is a hub of activity where you can wander the streets, soaking in the atmosphere and enjoying street performances at no cost. For college students who are history buffs, there are many affordable museums and historic sites to explore, such as the National WWII Museum and the St. Louis Cathedral.

Additionally, New Orleans is famous for its festivals, with Mardi Gras being the most notable. Many of these events are free and open to the public, offering an authentic taste of local culture. The city’s diverse food scene also provides plenty of budget-friendly dining options, from po’boys to beignets. With affordable accommodations available, New Orleans is a fantastic destination for college students looking to have fun without spending a fortune.

2. Austin, Texas

Austin is a lively city with a reputation for its music scene, outdoor activities, and culinary delights. Known as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin offers numerous free or low-cost music events throughout the year. Sixth Street is a popular destination where students can enjoy live performances in various genres, from country to indie rock, without an entry fee.

For those who love the outdoors, Austin’s numerous parks and lakes provide ample opportunities for hiking, biking, and water activities. Zilker Park and Lady Bird Lake are great spots to enjoy nature and relax. The city also hosts a variety of food trucks and affordable eateries, making it easy to sample delicious Tex-Mex, BBQ, and other local favorites. Austin’s eclectic vibe and budget-friendly options make it a top pick for college students who are on tight budget.

3. Asheville, North Carolina

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville offers a mix of natural beauty, artistic charm, and affordable fun. The city’s downtown area is known for its vibrant arts scene, with numerous galleries, street art, and live performances to enjoy. Many of these attractions are free, allowing students to immerse themselves in the local culture without spending much.

Outdoor students will find plenty to do in Asheville, from hiking the scenic trails of the Blue Ridge Parkway to exploring the nearby Pisgah National Forest. The city also boasts several budget-friendly attractions like the Biltmore Estate’s gardens and the Asheville Pinball Museum. With a range of affordable lodging and dining options, Asheville is a great place for college students seeking both adventure and relaxation.

4. Savannah, Georgia

Savannah is a picturesque city known for its historic charm, beautiful parks, and Southern hospitality. The city’s historic district is a treasure trove of cobblestone streets, antebellum architecture, and lush gardens, all of which can be explored on foot. Students can take advantage of free walking tours to learn about Savannah’s rich history and ghostly legends.

Forsyth Park is a popular spot for picnics, outdoor games, and relaxing under the iconic oak trees draped with Spanish moss. Savannah also offers a variety of affordable activities, such as visiting the Telfair Museums or enjoying a riverboat cruise on the Savannah River. With plenty of budget-friendly dining and lodging options, Savannah is an ideal destination for college students looking to experience Southern charm on a budget.

5. Portland, Oregon

Portland is a quirky city that offers a unique blend of urban and natural attractions. Known for its eco-friendly culture and vibrant neighborhoods, Portland provides numerous free and low-cost activities for visitors. Students can explore the city’s many parks, which are Forest Park and Washington Park, which offer hiking trails, gardens, and scenic views.

The city’s food cart scene is legendary, offering a wide variety of affordable and delicious options from around the world. Additionally, Portland’s numerous breweries and coffee shops provide cozy spots to hang out and enjoy local flavors. For a cultural experience, students can visit the Portland Art Museum or catch a performance at one of the city’s many theaters. With its laid-back atmosphere and budget-friendly options, Portland is a perfect destination for college students who wish to catch the fun without going over budget.

6. Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, known as Music City, is a fantastic destination for college students who love music and want to experience Southern culture. The city’s famous Broadway Street is lined with honky-tonk bars where live music plays every night, and many of these venues have no cover charge. Students can enjoy a variety of genres, from country to rock, all in one night.

For those interested in history, Nashville offers affordable attractions such as the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Johnny Cash Museum. The city also has beautiful parks like Centennial Park, home to a full-scale replica of the Parthenon. With its lively nightlife, delicious Southern cuisine, and numerous budget-friendly activities, Nashville is a top spot for a fun and affordable getaway.


7. Boulder, Colorado

Boulder is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and offers a mix of adventure, culture, and affordability. Located at the base of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder provides access to hiking, biking, and rock climbing, with trails like the Flatirons and Chautauqua Park being popular choices. The city’s Pearl Street Mall is a vibrant pedestrian area filled with shops, street performers, and eateries, many of which offer student-friendly prices.

For a cultural experience, students can visit the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History or catch a show at the historic Boulder Theater. Boulder’s commitment to sustainability and healthy living means there are plenty of affordable, organic dining options. With its stunning natural surroundings and welcoming community, Boulder is an excellent choice for college students seeking both adventure and relaxation on a budget.

8. San Diego, California

San Diego is a coastal city that offers a mix of beautiful beaches, cultural attractions, and affordable activities. Students can spend the day at iconic spots like La Jolla Cove, Mission Beach, and Balboa Park, all of which provide plenty of free or low-cost entertainment. The park is home to museums, gardens, and the famous San Diego Zoo, which offers discounted tickets for students.

The city’s Gaslamp Quarter is a lively area filled with restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues, many of which offer student discounts or happy hour specials. San Diego’s diverse food scene includes affordable options like fish tacos and burritos. With its sunny weather, stunning coastline, and vast numbers of budget-friendly attractions, San Diego is a perfect destination for college students looking to unwind and have fun.

9. Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is a charming Southern city known for its well-preserved historic district, beautiful architecture, and warm hospitality. Students can explore the city’s cobblestone streets and waterfront views for free, with landmarks like Rainbow Row and the Battery offering picturesque settings perfect for photography. Free walking tours are also available, providing insight into Charleston’s rich history and culture.

For those interested in nature, nearby beaches like Folly Beach and Isle of Palms provide affordable escapes where students can relax, swim, and enjoy beach sports. The city’s vibrant food scene features budget-friendly options, including local favorites like shrimp and grits and Lowcountry boil. With its combination of history, coastal beauty, and affordability, Charleston is a delightful destination for college students.

10. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is a fascinating destination that blends Native American, Hispanic, and Anglo cultures, offering a rich tapestry of art, history, and cuisine. The city’s historic Plaza and the surrounding streets are filled with galleries, shops, and street vendors, making it an enjoyable place to explore on foot. Many of the city’s museums, such as the New Mexico History Museum, offer student discounts, making them affordable options for learning about the region’s heritage.

Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate Santa Fe’s proximity to hiking and biking trails in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The city also hosts numerous free or low-cost cultural events and festivals throughout the year, such as the Santa Fe Indian Market and the International Folk Art Market. With its unique charm and budget-friendly activities, Santa Fe is a great place for college students to experience a different side of the USA without much spending.

11. Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis is a city steeped in music history, offering affordable attractions and a vibrant cultural scene. Beale Street is the heart of the city’s music scene, where students can enjoy live blues performances for free or at a low cost. The city is also home to iconic sites like Graceland and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, which often have student discounts.

For those looking to enjoy the outdoors, the Mississippi Riverfront and Shelby Farms Park provide beautiful settings for picnics, hiking, and cycling. Memphis is also known for its delicious and affordable Southern cuisine, including barbecue ribs and fried chicken. With its rich musical heritage and a plethora of budget-friendly activities, Memphis is an excellent destination for college students.

12. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh is a city that offers a surprising mix of urban sophistication and natural beauty, all at an affordable price. The city’s museums, such as the Carnegie Museum and the Andy Warhol Museum, often have discounted admission for students. Pittsburgh’s numerous parks, including Schenley Park and Point State Park, provide great places for hiking, biking, and relaxing with friends.

The city’s diverse neighborhoods each have their own character and affordable dining options, from the ethnic eateries in the Strip District to the cozy cafes in Lawrenceville. Pittsburgh’s cultural scene also includes numerous free events and festivals throughout the year, such as the Three Rivers Arts Festival. With its combination of cultural attractions and outdoor activities, Pittsburgh offers plenty of budget-friendly fun for college students.


13. Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City is a hidden gem that offers a rich cultural experience and plenty of affordable activities waiting to be explored. Known for its jazz heritage and barbecue, the city provides numerous free or low-cost attractions. The 18th & Vine Jazz District is a must-visit for music lovers, with live performances and the American Jazz Museum offering insight into the city’s musical roots.

For art students, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has an impressive collection and free admission. Students who love outdoors can explore the city’s numerous parks and the beautiful Country Club Plaza area. Kansas City’s affordable dining scene features everything from famous barbecue joints to eclectic food trucks. With its diverse attractions and budget-friendly options, Kansas City is an ideal destination for college students to spend their vacation.

14. Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City is a fantastic destination for students looking for a mix of urban and outdoor adventures. The city is surrounded by stunning mountains, making it an excellent base for hiking, biking, and skiing. Many of the nearby trails and parks, such as Liberty Park and the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, are free to access and offer breathtaking views.

In the city, students can explore the impressive Utah State Capitol, the Salt Lake Temple, and the numerous museums and cultural institutions that often offer student discounts. The city’s diverse food scene includes plenty of affordable options, from farm-to-table restaurants to food trucks. With its natural beauty and wide range of budget-friendly activities, Salt Lake City is a perfect destination for college students seeking adventure and culture.

15. Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque offers a unique blend of Native American culture, historic sites, and outdoor adventures, all at an affordable price. The city’s Old Town is a charming area filled with adobe buildings, museums, and shops, many of which are free to explore. The annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a must-see event that offers a spectacular display of hot air balloons and various free activities.

For outdoor enthusiasts, the Sandia Mountains provide opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and scenic tramway rides. Albuquerque’s affordable dining options include delicious New Mexican cuisine, such as green chile enchiladas and sopapillas. With its rich cultural heritage and a plethora of budget-friendly activities, Albuquerque is an exciting destination for college students.

16. Washington D.C.

The nation’s capital is a treasure trove of free attractions. The National Mall is home to iconic landmarks such as the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

Most of the museums in the Smithsonian Institution are free, providing an excellent opportunity to delve into art, history, and science. Don’t forget to try out the diverse and affordable food truck options scattered around the city, offering everything from gourmet dishes to comfort food​.

17. Madison, Wisconsin

Known for its lively college atmosphere, Madison offers affordable accommodations and plenty of student-friendly activities. Students can enjoy the annual Halloween Party on State Street or the Mifflin Street Block Party. Local bars like State Street Brats provide budget-friendly meals and drinks

18. Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls is one of the most breathtaking natural wonders in North America. The falls straddle the border between the US and Canada, and visiting them can be a budget-friendly adventure.

The area offers various affordable accommodations, especially in the off-peak seasons. Besides marveling at the falls, students can explore the nearby hiking trails and enjoy the vibrant nightlife on the Canadian side​​.


19. Denver, Colorado

Denver is perfect for nature lovers and those who enjoy winter sports. The city offers stunning mountain views and plenty of outdoor activities, including hiking and skiing. For non-skiers, Denver still has a lot to offer with its beautiful scenery and relaxing spa resorts.

The city is also home to several museums and art centers, which provide educational and enriching experiences. If you’re into craft beers, Denver’s local breweries are a must-visit and offer affordable entertainment options​.

20. Los Angeles, California

While Los Angeles is known for its glitz and glamour, there are plenty of affordable ways to enjoy the city. Visit the Griffith Observatory for stunning views of the city and the Hollywood sign, or spend a day at one of the many public beaches.

The city’s diverse neighborhoods offer a wealth of cultural experiences, from the vibrant arts scene in Downtown LA to the historic sites in El Pueblo. Budget-friendly accommodations can be found in hostels or by staying slightly outside the main tourist areas​​.

21. Panama City Beach, Florida

Panama City Beach is a quintessential spring break destination known for its stunning white-sand beaches and clear waters. It’s an affordable getaway with numerous budget-friendly hotels and motels.

The area also offers plenty of free activities, such as beachcombing, hiking in nearby state parks, and attending local events. For water sports students, there are cost-effective rentals for activities like paddleboarding and kayaking​. Panama City Beach is a great place to make some good memories with your fellow students.



Exploring new destinations doesn’t have to be expensive, especially for college students looking to make the most of their limited budgets. The USA is full of affordable travel spots that offer a mix of adventure, culture, and relaxation. From the lively streets of Memphis to the historic charm of Charleston, these cheap places for college students to travel in the US provide endless opportunities for fun and discovery. So gather your friends, plan your trip, and get ready to explore these fantastic destinations without breaking your savings.

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