If you’re on a strict budget, planning a vacation can feel like an impossible dream. Popular locations like Disney World, Hawaii, or New York have so much to offer – but can cost so much to pull off. Luckily, there are plenty of wonderful U.S. cities that are as fun as they are affordable. Consider any of one of these 10 money-saving destinations for your next vacation:
FAMILY FUN & OUTDOOR ADVENTURESMartin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Site
BEACHES, BOARDWALKS, & PARKSCoaster coastal rail system that travels from Oceanside to San Diego for $11 round-trip – and kids under six ride free.
The average nightly rate for a room is only $128, ranging from $20/night to several hundred. If you’re up for a true budget-friendly experience and are comfortable sharing a bathroom and kitchen facilities (and even sleeping quarters) with other guests, check out the range of hostels in San Diego. Plus, many hostels also offer private accommodations for families and couples. A nightly stay at a hostel is typically less than $30.
See & Do
There is something for everyone to enjoy in San Diego:
- One of the best family-friendly bargains is a day at the beach
- If you choose a beach with a boardwalk, like Pacific Beach or Mission Beach, bring your inline skates or rent a bike to see even more of the coastline, culture, and shops.
Other great options include:
BIG EASY = BIG FUN & FLAVORJazz & Heritage Festival and Café du Monde.
BLUES, ZOOS, & BBQfree shuttle to Graceland. However, Memphis is easy to navigate, so traveling by car is simple.
The Peabody Hotel to watch the ducks parade through the hotel lobby and swim in the fountain – an activity that is free to the public.
See & Do
If you are with kids:
- Make sure to visit the Mud Island River Park, which is accessible by monorail, and is free, but the monorail ride will cost a few dollars
- Don’t forget to make a stop at
San Antonio, TX
Infused with Mexican culture, San Antonio is famous for its Tex-Mex cuisine, fiestas, and marketplaces – not to mention the history of the Alamo. And with the city’s recent expansion of one of their most popular attractions, the Hotel Havana, a refashioned 1914 building decorated in a vintage Cuban style, for $115/night. If you want to go cheaper, choose to stay at San Antonio’s only hostel, the Alamo and the B-Cycle at a rate of $10/day.
For those who like a good party:
- Head to San Antonio in late April for
Kansas City, MO
Kansas City is an affordable destination for barbecue and high culture. In the heart of the Midwest, Kansas City is surprisingly diverse in culture, art, and cuisine. It also has tons of the Q.
See & Do
Kansas City offers a couple of free attractions, including:
- Tours of the Boulevard Brewing Company
- Another free attraction, Crossroads Art District, which features more than 70 art galleries
- More information about Kansas City and its free attractions and deals is available at the Plaza Art Fair and Barbecue Blaze Off.
MUSEUMS & MOUNTAIN HIKESMallRide service. Beyond the downtown borders, Denver’s public transportation system is affordable and reliable, costing anywhere from $2.25 – $5. Denver also offers a bike-sharing program for $8/day.
Hotel prices are competitive, and range from about $50 to several hundred dollars – but to get the best deal, stay at a hostel. The AAE 11th Avenue Hotel & Hostel, which offers rates of $19/bed, per night, or private rooms for $43/night.
See & Do
A variety of activities await:
- One of the most well-known attractions in Denver are the breweries
- Tours of the Coors Brewery are free, but you need to drive to Golden, Colorado, which is about 30 minutes outside of Denver
- Then slow down a bit and go to one of the many free or inexpensive museums and tours: Denver Story Trek, Colorado State Capitol.
If you rent a car:
- Drive over to Colorado Springs to see the breathtaking views of the Pikes Peak
Phoenix offers more than 300 sunny days a year – perfect for those who may love the sun but not the beach. While temperatures are scorching hot during the summer, winters are mild. The desert surroundings offer a unique landscape for visitors, and finding adventures in this southwest gem does not have to be expensive.
Flying might be your best option, as Phoenix is a major hub for the Southwest. If you can get to Flagstaff, it’s possible to go the rest of the way to Phoenix by bus.
Travel around Phoenix by the new Piestewa Peak right in the heart of Phoenix.
- Mountain bikers should go to Heard Museum to learn about Native Americans of Arizona and New Mexico – the cost of an adult admission ticket is only $15
- And if you love art, know that every first Friday of the month hundreds of galleries and shops are open to the public for a city-wide art walk.
ENTERTAINMENT, GARDENS, & NASAHuntsville International Airport that’s only a fifteen-minute drive from downtown. Driving by car and Greyhound are also viable options, and several major highways connect to the city.
Hotel prices range from $48 to several hundred, and the average cost for one night at a hotel is only $113. Use the hotel search on Museum Day Live is an annual event at the NASA Rocket enter that celebrates “boundless curiosity” hosted by the Smithsonian magazine. Tour the space camp and robotics camp at the largest spaceflight museum in the world.
- Huntsville Botanical Gardens explore 120 acres of beautiful landscapes at the botanical gardens. There’s a two-acre children’s garden and aquatic areas to enjoy.
For free entertainment, locals love: