The U.S. has a plethora of incredibly unique places to explore, from exquisite National Parks to the coastline of California.
Now just hearing about these incredible places has probably got you envisioning large wads of money leaving your bank account. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you are traveling on a budget but don’t want to miss out on the best that the U.S. has to offer, we’ve got you covered. There are loads of alternatives to going into debt by checking into a penthouse suite in NYC.
Below are the best cheap vacation spots in the U.S. that guarantee a great adventure without a great big cost.
Whenever you visit a new country with different cultures and people, it’s always best to know some of the do’s and don’t prior to your arrival.
So, before you jet off on your trip, make sure you know everything you need to about traveling to the USA.
Now that you’re set, let’s take a look at some of the cheapest places to visit in the USA.
Cheap Vacations in the U.S.
If you live in the USA and are looking for inexpensive trips to take on the weekend, you’ll find them here.
And if you are traveling from afar and want to plan an affordable trip to different cheap places to travel in the U.S., you’ve also come to the right place.
Let’s dive straight into the beautiful places you could be spending your next American adventure.
San Luis Obispo, California
When you think of California, you may think of the glamorous Hollywood Boulevard and an exorbitantly priced cocktail in one of the nearby bars. Or sipping on fine wines in Napa Valley.
However, a trip to California doesn’t have to break the bank, and vacationing in San Luis Obispo will show you why.
San Luis Obispo (also known as SLO) has gorgeous beaches, hiking spots, and one of California’s best farmer’s markets. And its best-kept secret, three underrated wine regions.
You can also find affordable accommodation around SLO. Check out the Peach Tree Inn for a comfortable stay.
Either join in on the surfing or watch from the shores of Pismo Beach, hike the Bishop Peak trail or sip on Chardonnay in the nearby Edna Valley.
The best part is that these activities are free (besides the wine – but even these prices are affordable). This is definitely our favorite pick for the best cheap summer vacations.
If you’re a nature lover and want to take advantage of the beautiful landscapes America has to offer, you’ll be in for a treat at Moab. This town in Utah is unique as it borders Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.
In Arches, you can admire the famous red rock sandstone formations while Canyonlands boasts exquisite expansive desert landscapes. Moab is quite literally the best of both worlds, especially for the outdoor adventure seeker.
In and around Moab you’ll find different inexpensive accommodation options. From campgrounds within the park to motels and vacation rentals surrounding it. One of the best places to pitch your tent is the Sand Flats Recreation Area.
If you are keen to grab a meal and a drink in Downtown Moab, you’ll be spoilt for choice between a number of health-focused eateries.
The Moab Brewery is a must for a cold beer and after that, you can spend a bit of time discovering the quirky shops downtown.
The Finger Lakes, New York
We all know that New York ranks as one of the most expensive cities in the world, and a trip to the Big Apple can be detrimental to your bank balance.
But don’t despair; the Finger Lakes region of New York has a number of affordable attractions and activities that are bound to keep you smiling.
Boating, fishing, swimming, and engaging in water sports are great ways to spend a day on the lakes of the region. And you can tailor the activities to fit in with your budget.
Also a scenic wine region, this is a great place to spend an afternoon wine tasting without spending a fortune.
The Finger Lakes Gorge also has an abundance of hiking trails that weave through the lakes. Be prepared for gushing waterfalls and immense natural beauty.
Most of the trails are free but when you decide which trail you would like to embark on, make sure you check if there’s a fee for parking at the starting point or any other extra costs.
The Dorm Hotel is a great place to stay while in Finger Lakes. It’s modern and comfortable and still ensures you stick to your budget.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
The city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a cultural hub with rich Native American influences and stunning never-ending scenery. From the modern downtown area to the stoned buildings of Old Town, you won’t tire of exploring the largest city in New Mexico.
A great way to explore the art scene in Albuquerque for free is to join one of the ARTScrawl gallery tours that happen twice a month.
This won’t cost you a cent and you’ll be able to discover and explore some of the best art galleries on offer in New Mexico.
This city is also home to a number of interesting museums such as the Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Museum and the American International Rattlesnake Museum.
Both museums make for fascinating day activities and admission to each is nominal, with each charging a $6 admission fee.
Albuquerque is famous for being the hot air ballooning capital of the world, and if you are willing to splurge – a hot air balloon ride is the way to do it.
If you’d prefer to admire the balloons from the ground, the best time to do this is during the nine-day International Balloon Fiesta in October.
It won’t cost you a thing to find a good spot to sit and gaze up at the special-shaped balloons floating across the sky.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Calling all avid hikers and nature lovers – this is one of the best cheap places to travel in the U.S. This is the perfect affordable outdoorsy vacation that is perfect for families, couples, and solo adventurers.
Glacier National Park is breathtakingly scenic and offers over 700 miles of hiking trails meandering through valleys, glaciers, and waterfalls.
You’ll need to pay an individual entrance fee of $15 or a private car fee (including all passengers) of $25; both are 7-day passes during the low season.
But bear in mind that some National Days are free-fee days, so be sure to check these out if you’d like to enter the park without paying.
Once you’re in the park you’ll be able to swim, climb and hike to your heart’s content. You’ll also be able to take advantage of the free ranger-led day hikes and stargazing at Logan’s Pass.
If you have a car with you be sure to take a scenic drive on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
There are plenty of great spots to set up camp within the Glacier National Park, so pack your gear and save on accommodation costs. If you’d rather stay just outside of the Park, Glacier Haven Inn is a great spot.
This small mountain town is one of the best vacation spots in the U.S. for budget-conscious families and groups.
Situated just outside of the Great Smoky Mountains, it’s also a great starting place if you are trying to plan a cheap trip into the mountains.
Gatlinburg is geared up for any season that you decide to visit. Fall is particularly beautiful as the town glows in the amber autumn colors. But if you visit in winter, you’ll be able to ski, and in summer, you’ll have hiking and white water rafting at your fingertips.
The town also offers a variety of free places to enjoy fishing, biking, and bird-watching, so there really is something for everyone in Gatlinburg.
If the weather isn’t playing ball, you can take a ride on the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway or visit Ripley’s aquarium.
There are loads of accommodation options that will suit your budget but for an authentic experience, try and book into a rustic mountain cabin.
Discovering Cheap Vacation Ideas in the U.S.
So, there you have it – some of the cheapest places to travel right now in the USA. There’s a spot on this list to suit everyone’s needs and budgets. A trip to the U.S. (or a weekend getaway for the locals) doesn’t have to be a costly exercise.
From breathtaking hikes in some of the USA’s best National Parks to hot air balloon rides in Albuquerque, there is a lot for you to see and do that won’t break the bank.
All it takes is careful planning and knowledge of the best cheap vacation spots in the U.S., and you’re good to go.
If you often vacation on a budget and need some more vacation ideas, check out how to plan a cheap trip to Machu Picchu, as well as how to get around Berlin on the cheap.
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