The United States is not excluded from the list of places to travel on a budget. Despite the fact that life in the States is generally expensive, there are some fascinating places that you don’t need to break the bank to visit.

Whether you want to soak up some culture, lounge on beaches, enjoy nature, or experience iconic American sights, you don’t have to settle for lackluster destinations to save money. Read on as we navigate you through the list of cheap places to vacation in the United States that offer plentiful sights, activities, dining, and lodging options to delight travelers throughout all seasons.

Cheap places to vacation in the United States

1. Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque, New Mexico, is often regarded as an affordable vacation destination in the United States, not because it lacks amazing locations, but rather because it offers plenty of opportunities to have a great time without breaking the bank.

There is much to do and see in Albuquerque, a city that offers a distinctive fusion of entertainment and history set against a striking desert backdrop. Visitors can enjoy miles of stunning free walks and zero-fee bike routes in Albuquerque, as well as centuries-old adobe architecture in the Old Town and the Petroglyph National Monument.

The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History is one of the city’s top-notch museums. With its inexpensive lodging options, inexpensive dining options like Frontier Restaurant and Flying Star Cafe, and free attractions like the Albuquerque Museum, the city is a great place to take a vacation all year round.

2. San Antonio, Texas

It is no longer a topic of discussion how San Antonio is budget-friendly in the United States. Located in south-central Texas, San Antonio is one of the most populous cities in the Southwest region of the state.

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Texas and a significant historical site is the Alamo. It can be found right in the middle of San Antonio. Visits to this 18th-century mission-turned-museum commemorating the 1836 fight are entirely free.

The San Antonio River Walk is another noteworthy and reasonably priced San Antonio attraction. Wander down this well-known boulevard, dotted with shops and cafes. A superior view of the city can be obtained by climbing the Tower of the Americas in Hemisfair Park later.

3. Williamsburg, Virginia

Immerse yourself in American history at Williamsburg, which, along with Jamestown and Yorktown, forms the Historic Triangle. Its most well-known feature is Colonial Williamsburg, a living history museum that provides respectable value for the money while not being especially inexpensive (adult admission is $49). Actors portraying ordinary colonial life are clothed in period costumes and can be seen in the streets, shops, and workshops.

Take a short trip to the Schooner Alliance to experience the atmosphere of vintage sailing vessels. As you sail the York River, you’ll pass the site of the nation’s independence victory. After that, visit historic Jamestown to see more monuments, exhibitions, and living museums.

Visit Water Country USA, Busch Gardens, or the Williamsburg Indoor Sports Center for some modern family fun.

4. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia is a fantastic destination for a trip that is both exciting and rich in history. It’s easy to explore this dynamic city on a budget thanks to affordable accommodation, affordable public transportation, and a bounty of free attractions.

Philadelphia attracts tourists all year long without breaking the budget thanks to its Revolutionary War heritage, art museum scene, and delectable cheesesteaks. Numerous sites, including Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, are free to enter.

There are several inexpensive options available in the well-known Philadelphia dining scene, ranging from food trucks and cafes to local restaurants. Outside of the downtown center, travelers can discover excellent hotel prices. Access to over 30 attractions, including the National Constitution Center and other historical tours, can be discounted with the handy Philadelphia Pass.

Make sure to see the United States Mint, Independence Hall, the National Constitution Center, and the Liberty Bell. All of these important relics of American history are open for free visits.

5. Washington, DC

Washington, DC, is an expensive place to live, but it’s cheap when it comes to vacation.

World-famous sites like the Washington Monument, the White House, Capitol Hill, and the other amazing Smithsonian museums are perfect places to spend your days. You can visit all of these for free!

Consider volunteering for a project if you want to learn more about the history and culture of the US capital while also saving money. You can get a local perspective on the city, meet a lot of interesting people, and work for your accommodations.

6. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe’s history has resulted in the blending of American, Spanish, Mexican, and Indigenous cultures. It is therefore among the most fascinating cities in the nation. Take a tour of the early 17th-century historic center, which houses the Palace of the Governors, home of the New Mexico History Museum. After that, attend a performance at the Santa Fe Opera or visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

Additionally, you ought to go to the Bandelier National Monument, which has Pueblo People’s relics and historic homes. Alternatively, organize a trip to the foothills of Sangre de Cristo outside.

Of course, the best thing about this wonderful city is that it’s relatively cheap. New Mexico is generally considered cheap for every tourist alike.

7. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago is a highly visited tourist destination and one of the most popular travel destinations in the United States. Although it isn’t renowned for being inexpensive, there are many free activities, like sightseeing and museum visits.

In addition, you can receive free lodging by performing simple housekeeping tasks as a volunteer in a hostel. You may easily tour Chicago on a tight budget if you have plenty of free time and a free stay.

8. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is renowned for its delicious Cajun and Creole food, exciting music scene, jazz bars, and rich history. Even while transport to and from hotels and flights around Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest might be expensive, if you book ahead of time and go off-peak, you can still get good rates.

Once there, visitors can make the most of their money by enjoying inexpensive po’ boys at Parkway Bakery, attending free evening performances at venues like Maison Bourbon Jazz Club, taking one of New Orleans’ free or inexpensive ghost tours, and perusing the galleries and street art in the Warehouse District.

9. St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine, Florida, is not only one of the best cheap places to travel in the US year-round, but it’s also the oldest city in the United States. St. Augustine, with its vibrant streets, breathtaking views of the beach, historic sites, and lovely climate, offers affordable options for all travelers.

Visiting the old fort, Castillo de San Marcos is a must-do activity in St. Augustine. It costs only $15 and provides a window into the city’s history. After that, take a leisurely stroll down St. George Street to take in the best dessert shops, local artisan shops, and Spanish architecture! In addition, admission to St. Augustine Beach is free.

10. Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis captures Tennessee’s Southern charm and musical soul, and you can travel there at a reasonable price. Memphis is a fantastic choice for inexpensive US trips. For young people, inexpensive motels and a few hostels provide affordable lodging; budget hotels are also widely available.

Memphis has an abundance of live music venues, recording studios, museums, historical sites, and landmarks to explore. The main music district is Beale Street Historic District, where you may frequently find places that charge little to nothing for admission. Also, enjoy some inexpensive meals at nearby BBQ restaurants.


11. Gatlinburg, Tennessee

The main reason for Gatlinburg’s fame is its proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Explore the Appalachian Trail, go waterfall hiking, and keep an eye out for black bears at the nation’s most visited national park. All these places can be explored without charging a single fee.

However, failing to explore Gatlinburg itself would be a mistake if you spent your whole stay at Great Smoky. Enjoy genuine Gatlinburg moonshine, handcrafted beers and ciders, or regional wines in this quaint little town. You can also dance to live country music at Ole Red Gatlinburg or see a hilarious musical comedy play at Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre & Music Hall.

12. Austin, Texas

With its well-known barbecue restaurants, live music venues, and unofficial motto, “Keep Austin Weird,” Texas’ capital has long been a popular destination for low-budget vacationers. There are many free activities available, including swimming at Barton Springs and bat viewing at Congress Bridge, as well as visiting the city’s murals and street art.

For affordable dining, food trucks are the best option; they provide everything from tacos to banh mi. Additionally, prominent places like The Continental Club on South Congress Avenue, which keeps Austin rocking day and night all year long, offer free or inexpensive live music to tourists.

When next you’re thinking of cheap places to vacation in the United States, think about Austin.

13. Nags Head, North Carolina

Head to Nags Head on North Carolina’s Outer Banks for an inexpensive, yet incredibly relaxing beach vacation. If you don’t feel like napping in the sun while the sound of the waves lulls you to sleep, don’t worry—Nagas Head offers plenty of activities for adventurers as well, like parasailing, hang gliding, and walking/hiking the trails at Jockey’s Ridge State Park, which spans 426 acres and boasts the tallest active sand dune system in the eastern United States.

The stunning circa-1872 Bodie Island Lighthouse is a must-see, and Jennette’s Pier extends 1,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean and is home to charming mom-and-pop shops.

14. Asheville, North Carolina

With its abundance of microbreweries, art galleries, and cultural events, Asheville is a charming mountain city. Hikers love it, especially because of its closeness to the Blue Ridge Mountains, which allow you to readily explore trails, waterfalls, and summits for nothing.

Wandering through the River Arts District is another fantastic free activity. Many local artists’ studios and workshops are available here, and they are frequently open to the public. In the evening, spend your time at a lovely club or pub with live music.

15. Phoenix, Arizona

Being the largest city in the desert state, Phoenix also serves as Arizona’s capitol. Phoenix’s almost constant heat and year-round sunshine make it a popular winter getaway in the United States.

There are numerous low-cost ways to go to Phoenix. First, reserve a stay in Mesa, which has affordable hotels and is among the best places to stay in Phoenix. Alternatively, rent a cheap place near some free activities and prepare all of your meals there.

When looking for a budget-friendly destination in the United States to spend your winter, Phoenix, Arizona, is an ideal destination to visit.

16. Grand Canyon, Arizona

President Theodore Roosevelt famously remarked, “In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which, so far as I know, is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world,” when he established the national monument in 1908.

Much more than a century later, his advice is still very relevant.

This natural wonder is breathtaking in its sheer size, measuring 277 river miles in length, up to 18 miles broad, and a mile deep. Its layers of red rocks, sculpted over millennia, are breathtaking.

You can ride a donkey down the canyon’s depths or take a helicopter ride over it to see things from a different angle. Do you want to keep an eye out for wildlife? Simple. Wildlife of about 500 species can be found here.

For about $35 per car, you may tour this globally recognized and esteemed location.

17. Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park is yet another excellent destination for travel in the United States. Situated in the northern Montanan Rocky Mountains, this vast wilderness area is a haven for those looking to spend genuine time in nature.

There’s much free exploration to be done here, and rangers frequently conduct activities like stargazing and hiking. Spending time in the pristine wilderness is what it means to be in the Glacier National Park. $25 per car gets you access, which isn’t too bad for one of the best national parks in the United States.

18. Redwood City, California

Situated on the San Francisco Peninsula, Redwood City is only thirty minutes away from San Francisco. Redwood City is a wonderful alternative to San Francisco because of its inexpensive hotel options. For visitors on a tight budget, Northern California City also offers plenty of free activities.

Hiking in Redwood City’s Edgewood Park & Natural Preserve is highly recommended, offering breathtaking vistas of the entire Bay Area. For an opportunity to observe birds in the wetlands, nature enthusiasts are encouraged to visit the Bair Island Wildlife Refuge & Trail.

19. Las Vegas, Nevada

One of the greatest destinations in the US for vacations is Las Vegas. The largest city in Nevada can be visited in any way you choose—it can be cheap or expensive, wild or peaceful.

In Las Vegas, there are countless enjoyable activities to choose from, many of which are surprisingly inexpensive or free. One of the favorite things to do in Las Vegas “Sin City” for free is to stroll around downtown.

Stroll around the Strip while people observe the bizarre Vegas characters. Catch the thrilling Fremont Street Experience Viva Vision Light Shows. Another inexpensive Vegas attraction is the Bellagio Hotel’s fountain shows, which are similarly free to attend.

20. Bar Harbor, Maine

Although Bar Harbor isn’t the most affordable location on this list, costs are reasonable considering everything the area has to offer. With a population of just 5,535 people, the town’s most notable attraction is the breathtaking Acadia National Park. You can reach gorgeous lakes tucked away in the mountains, beautiful coastline treks, and places for rock climbing for just $35 per car.

Once you’re back in town, you’ll love strolling through the vibrant downtown district and soaking in the views of the port and sea scents. And if you’re feeling very flush, treat yourself to some fresh Maine lobster or take a boat excursion. You can go whale watching right outside the town at the appropriate season.

21. Destin, Florida

While South Florida beaches frequently garner the most attention, the Panhandle region of the state is far from inferior to them. Being nearer Georgia and Alabama and hugging the Gulf of Mexico makes Destin more accessible for individuals who wish to travel there by automobile. Without the clamor and noise of locations like Miami, the city boasts picture-perfect beaches with smooth, white sand and crystal-clear water.

Water sports are, of course, the main attraction here. In addition to parasailing, diving, kayaking, jet skiing, and boating are all available. Away from the beach, you can play golf at one of the city’s courses or explore the wild dunes in the Topsail Hill Preserve State Park.

Life in Destin is relately cheap, so when wondering about cheap places to vacation in the United States, I recommend Destin, Florida.

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