The United States is not known for being a cheap place to travel, and there are not many cheap places to travel in the US. In fact, venturing around the US can become a very costly affair, which is one of the reasons we choose to mainly travel abroad.
However, there are some US destinations and cities that are cheaper than others. And if you look hard enough, you’ll be able to find some awesome hidden gems and experiences that won’t break the bank! From hiking in the beautiful US National Parks to enjoying a free museum, or eating a cheap Philly Cheesesteak, there are plenty of inexpensive attractions and sights everywhere you look.
Keep reading for all the best affordable vacation spots in the US, including some tips to travel on a budget in America.
The Cheapest Places to Travel in the USA
1. Phoenix, Arizona
- Daily Budget: $159 pp
- Budget Accommodation: SpringHill Suites Phoenix North
- Best for: City Desert Vibes, proximity to Tucson, starting a Southwest road trip.
- Cheap eats: There are a lot of great Mexican eats in Phoenix. Try Los Dos Molinos, La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop, or Chino Bandido.
- Cheap Things to do: Hike Camelback Mountain, see the murals and street art in Roosevelt Row, Japanese Friendship Garden
Phoenix is mostly known for its sunny, warm weather but it’s also known for being one of the cheapest places to travel to in the United States. Airfare and hotel prices are, on average, lower than many other places and it’s cheap to travel around Phoenix once you’re there too! It’s also a fantastic place to start an Arizona road trip!
Watch for free museum days when certain museums offer free entry. Some museums are free all the time like the Arizona Capitol Museum, and the Phoenix Art Museum offers free admission on Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on the first Friday of each month from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Other cheap attractions include Enchanted Island Amusement Park, Papago Park and the Desert Botanical Garden. Escaping the city is easy too. Just head to the South Mountain Park and Reserve and spend some time hiking the trails.
2. Knoxville, Tennessee
- Daily Budget: $129 pp
- Budget Accommodation: Best Western Plus Knoxville Cedar Bluff
- Best for: Southern hospitality with a vibrant arts scene
- Cheap eats: Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, Hard Knox Pizzeria, Litton’s Market & Restaurant
- Cheap Things to do: Visit Market Square, bike ride on the Greenway, hike in the Smoky Mountains
While not one of Tennessee’s biggest or most famous cities, Knoxville is still a great place to visit and one of the most exciting cheap places to travel in the US. One of the things it’s widely known for is affordable lodging and attractions and there are many options to choose from on both fronts! Take in a show at the Tennessee Theater or wander around town searching for some of the colorful murals.
Be sure to check out some of the amazing free things to do including the Knoxville Botanical Gardens, McClung Collection, Marble Springs State Historic Site, Old Gray Cemetery and the Knoxville Museum of Art. You can also join a Cradle of Country Music Walking Tour free of cost.
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3. Santa Fe, New Mexico
- Daily Budget: $150 pp
- Budget Accommodation: El Sendero Inn
- Best for: Art and Culture Buffs
- Cheap eats: The Shed, Tia Sophia’s, Tune-Up Cafe
- Things to do: Visit the New Mexico State Capitol, Santa Fe Farmers Market, Santa Fe National Forest
Bordered by the scenic Sangre de Cristo Mountains and renowned for its lively atmosphere, vibrant culture and fascinating history, Santa Fe, New Mexico is a budget traveler’s dream! There’s so much to see and do and you don’t need a lot of cash to enjoy many of the attractions.
Some of the free and low-cost attractions around the city include the Santa Fe Plaza, Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, New Mexico State Capitol, the Nedra Matteucci Galleries, New Mexico History Museum, Santa Fe Farmers Market and Randall Davey Audubon Center.
The Longmire Walking Tour is also free but if you prefer to explore the more natural areas of the city on your own, you can go hiking along the Dale Ball Trails.
4. San Antonio, Texas
- Budget: $135 pp
- Budget Accommodation: Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott San Antonio Downtown/Market Square
- Best for: Strolling and eating TexMex
- Cheap eats: Taquitos West Ave, Pete’s Tako House, Mama’s Cafe, Rosario’s Mexican Cafe y Cantina
- Things to do: Walk the beautiful San Antonia Riverwalk, The Alamo, San Antonio Missions
If immersing in culture is your kind of thing while traveling, San Antonio offers up a vibrant mix of American history and Mexican culture and at a cheap price too! Some of the nicest hotels in the city tend to have cheaper prices than the same hotel would have in any of the other major cities in the United States.
There are also many free things to do including walking the Paseo del Rio, or River Walk as it’s commonly called, and exploring the King William Historic District.
Free attractions include The Alamo, Institute of Texan Culture, Briscoe Western Art Museum, McNay Art Museum, the Witte Museum, La Villita Historic Arts Village, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and the Japanese Tea Garden. The San Antonio Museum of Art is also free on certain days.
5. Salt Lake City, Utah
- Daily Budget: $145 pp
- Budget Accommodation: The Innkeeper Studio
- Best for: Outdoor adventures, mountains, skiing
- Cheap eats: The Red Iguana, Sweet Lake Biscuits & Limeade, Moochie’s Meatballs, Rusted Sun Pizzeria
- Cheap Things to do: Red Butte Garden, Gilgal Sculpture Garden, Tracy Aviary
While it may not be all that cheap to fly to Salt Lake City from certain destinations, it’s certainly cheap to travel around the city! Since it’s a popular destination for skiers coming to enjoy the area’s ski resorts, it’s a great place to go in winter when the prices of car rentals and hotels are even lower. If you are a holder of an Ikon Pass, you can ski at some of the best Salt Lake City resorts including Snowbird, Brighton, and Solitude!
However, if you prefer to go in the summer, you’ll still find great deals and the attractions are open for the high season. Many of these attractions are free or very cheap to enter including the Hill Aerospace Museum, Salt Lake Masonic Temple, Family History Library and Joseph Smith Memorial Building, the Utah State Capitol, City Creek Center and the Governor’s Mansion.
From SLC you can also hike near the city, go mountain biking, or visit the Bonneville Salt Flats which are just a 1.5 hour drive from the city.
6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Budget: $140 pp
- Budget Accommodation: Apple Hostels of Philadelphia
- Best for: History Buffs
- Cheap eats: No trip to Philly is complete without a cheesesteak, and you can get an excellent cheap one at Steve’s Prince of Steaks!
- Cheap Things to do: Explore the Reading Terminal Market, Mutter Museum, Betsy Ross House
Often touted as the ultimate alternative to expensive New York City, Philadelphia is home to some of the top attractions in the northeastern United States. Upon arrival, be sure to acquire a one-day, all-access pass from the Southern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority to travel cheaply on local trains, buses, trolleys and subways.
As you explore this fascinating city, you’ll find many free attractions including the Liberty Bell Center, Independence National Historical Park, The Rocky Statue and the Rocky Steps, Independence Visitor Center, Valley Forge National Historical Park and the Once Upon a Nation Storytelling Benches.
Dining out in Philly is cheap too because many local restaurants have a unique policy that allows guests to bring their own drinks. That’s right, there are BYOB restaurants in just about every Philly neighborhood – how’s that for cheap destinations in the US?
7. Bar Harbor, Maine
- Daily Budget: $170 pp
- Budget Accommodation: Bar Harbor Villager Motel
- Best for: Northeast adventures
- Cheap eats: Stewman’s Lobster Pound, Side Street Cafe, Island Chowder House
- Cheap Things to do: hike in Acadia National Park, stroll through Bar Harbor’s Historic District, Bar Harbor Farmer’s Market, relax on Sand Beach
Bar Harbor, which can be found on Mount Desert Island in Maine, is a fairly cheap destination any time of year but it’s cheapest in the off-season which is pretty much anytime but summer and early fall.
The area is known for its many parks which include the stunning Acadia National Park, which is home to beautiful beaches and incredible views, and many smaller green spaces such as Agamont Park.
Wander along the many hiking trails, check out unique attractions such as the Land Bridge to Bar Island and Little Village Gifts and Art Gallery.
8. Denver, Colorado
- Dailiy Budget: $135 pp
- Budget Accommodation: 11th Avenue Hostel
- Best for: Mountain and outdoor adventures
- Cheap eats: Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs, Voodoo Doughnut, Illegal Petes
- Cheap Things to do: Explore the Denver Botanic Garden, Hike in the Rocky Mountains, Denver Zoo, tour the Coors Brewery.
If you’re looking for an affordable destination that combines a city break with outdoor adventure, Denver is definitely a place you should check out for your next vacation. You won’t have to worry about paying a hefty price to get around the downtown area because MallRide service offers free public transportation.
Some of the free attractions in Denver include the Colorado State Capitol Building, Colorado Music Hall of Fame, Colorado State Capitol Building, Clyfford Still Museum, The Money Museum, Colorado Governor’s Mansion, U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research and The Denver Art Museum.
Free museum days are also hosted throughout the year so be sure to check into it during your visit and remember the beautiful hiking and biking trails around Denver are free to use any time.
If you visit Denver in the winter, you’re never that far from some of the best Colorado Ski Resorts (not cheap for day tickets), though if you have the Epic Pass you can certainly make use of it at all Vail Resorts.
9. Kansas City, Missouri
- Daily Budget: $125 pp
- Budget Accommodation: My Place Hotel-Kansas City/Independence Mo
- Best for: City Escape
- Cheap eats: Vietnam Cafe, The Bite Foodtruck, In-a-Tub
- Things to do: Tour the Boulevard Brewing Company, Hike or bike on the Katy Trail, shop at the Country Club Plaza
Kansas City may not be on your radar for top vacation picks but if you’re looking for a cheap place to visit in the USA where you’ll find many things to see and do, it should be! Many airlines serve Kansas City so airfare tends to be cheaper than you’d expect but that’s not the only way you’ll save money.
The city is also home to many free attractions including the Harley-Davidson Plant, Kemper Museum, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Loose Park and the American Jazz Museum.
Other free things to do include riding the KC Streetcar, checking out the City Market and visiting the more than 200 fountains that can be found around the city.
10. Glacier National Park, Montana
- Daily Budget: $160 pp
- Budget Accommodation: Glacier Homestead
- Best for: Mountain hiking, lake enjoyment
- Cheap eats: Pack a picnic and eat at the campgrounds. Try the Two Bear Grill and the Luna Fiamma Pizza food trucks or head into Whitefish for some fantastic restaurants
- Cheap Things to do: Hike! Glacier National Park has over 700 miles of hiking trails, many of which are free to access. Some popular hikes include the Hidden Lake Trail, the Highline Trail, and the Avalanche Lake Trail.
Located in Montana, Glacier National Park is an outdoor lover’s paradise and one of the cheapest destinations in the United States. Near Whitefish, Montana you can easily enjoy hiking on the many trails in Glacier. In the summer admire spectacular mountain scenery, swim in pristine lakes and rivers and take a scenic drive along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
As you explore the area, you’ll find several picnic areas and nature centers where you can learn about the flora and fauna of the area. The best part about a trip to this park? A seven-day pass only costs $35 and you have access to all this and a variety of ranger-led activities such as guided hikes and stargazing events.
11. Houston, Texas
- Daily Budget: $150 pp
- Budget Accommodation: Club Quarters Hotel Downtown
- Best for: City and Culture
- Cheap eats: Houston is known for their delicious and cheap tacos – try Tacos Tierra Caliente, Taqueria Taconmadre, and Tacos La Bala. Houston has a thriving food truck scene, some affordable options are Bernie’s Burger Bus, The Waffle Bus, and The DoughCone.
- Things to do: Houston has a vibrant arts and culture scene and there are often free outdoor concerts. Some popular events include the Bayou City Art Festival and the Houston International Jazz Festival.
Despite being a large city, Houston is surprisingly cheap, particularly when it comes to booking nice hotels that would cost an arm and a leg in any other major US city!
Once there, you can enjoy many other free and inexpensive attractions including the Menil Collection of Art, the Holocaust Museum, Rothko Chapel, Market Square Park, the Art Car Museum and the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center.
It’s pretty cheap to rent a car too and if you decide to go that route, Galveston Island is a fantastic day trip destination that’s only about an hour away.
12. Indianapolis, Indiana
- Daily Budget: $135 pp
- Budget Accommodation: Indys Hidden Gem
- Best for: Sports and city vibes
- Cheap eats: Yats (Cajun and Creole), King Ribs, Three Carrots
- Cheap Things to do: Wander the White River State Park, see a minor league baseball game with The Indianapolis Indians, Attend the annual IndyFringe Festival
Not typically considered one of the coolest places to visit in the US, but Indy certain provides great value.
Whether you love drinking craft beer, or you love being outdoors, Indianapolis has something for everyone. It also happens to be a super cheap place to travel in the USA! With lower hotel rates, visitors have more money to spend on attractions.
That being said, many of the city’s attractions are free including the Daily Light Show on Monument Circle, Indianapolis Art Center ArtsPark and the Lockerbie Square Historic District. It’s also very affordable to get around, especially if you’re a cyclist because the various districts that make up Indianapolis are connected by bike trails.
13. Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Daily Budget: $165 pp
- Budget Accommodation: San Mateo Inn
- Best for: Transport back in time
- Cheap eats: Frontier Restaurant, Tia Betty Blue’s, Cocina Azul
- Cheap Things to do: Wander the Old Town and see the historic adobe buildings, visit the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, enjoy a self guided mural tour
Albuquerque is another US city offering cheap hotel rates and fantastic restaurants with reasonably priced menus. There are many affordable things to do around the city including riding the Sandia Peak Tramway to enjoy amazing views of the city and surrounding mountains.
Some attractions are even free such as the University of New Mexico Museum, the Petroglyph National Monument and the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology.
Of course, hiking on the La Luz Trail and wandering around the beautiful Old Town district are always free, too!
14. Grand Canyon, Arizona
- Budget: $150 pp
- Budget Accommodation: Country Inn
- Best for: Desert adventures
- Cheap eats: Maswik Cafeteria, Bright Angel Bicycles & Cafe, Canyon Village Marketplace
- Cheap Things to do: Take a scenic drive, go hiking on one of the many trails, partake in a Ranger Program. The park offers a variety of free ranger programs, including guided hikes, talks, and campfire programs. Stargaze under the clear desert sky.
For a grand total of $35 per vehicle, you’ll get full access for an entire week to one of North America’s greatest natural attractions, The Grand Canyon. Hotels near the Grand Canyon are decently priced, especially if you base yourself in Page (near the North Rim), but why stay in a hotel when you can have the ultimate outdoor adventure by camping in this amazing place?
Besides, it’s a great way to cut costs and save money for other things like if you want to take a side trip to Las Vegas or one of the other fabulous national parks in the region. Hiking is the most popular activity in the Grand Canyon and some of the top sites to check out include Cave of the Domes, Grand Canyon Village and Horseshoe Mesa.
15. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
- Daily Budget: $186 pp
- Budget Accommodation: The Hostel
- Best for: Winter adventures, hiking, nature
- Cheap eats: Grab some bread and lunch meat at the store and enjoy a picnic!
- Cheap Things to do: Wildlife watch, you’ll be able to see elk, bison, moose, and grizzly bears. Go hiking on the Jenny Lake Trail or take a scenic drive. Walk Morman Row. For a restaurant experience try Dornan’s Chuckwagon.
Hiking, climbing, kayaking, camping, wildlife viewing. Are these activities you like to enjoy on your vacation? If so and if you like to travel on a budget, Grand Teton National Park is the perfect place for your next outdoorsy outing.
You’ll be able to participate in a wide range of activities and visit many attractions, including Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center and the scenic Teton Park Road, for the small price of $35.00 for a weekly pass.
Top tip – stay out of Jackson if you are on a budget, accommodation and restaurants are pretty pricey here. Better to camp in the summer as the fees range from around $15 to $30 per night or check out affordable lodging at Colter Bay Village and Headwaters Lodge & Cabins.
16. San Diego, California
- Daily Budget: $200 pp
- Accommodation: Samesun Ocean Beach
- Best for: California livin
- Cheap eats: San Diego has EVERYTHING. For tacos check out Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop, for pizza Bronx Pizza, for burgers Hodad’s, get pho at Pho Hoa, and fish tacos at Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill.
- Things to do: San Diego is home to some of the best beaches in the US. Check out La Jolla Cove, Coronado Beach, and Pacific Beach. Enjoy Balboa Park.
California is known for its glitzy cities and we all know those cities aren’t cheap to visit. There is one city that has just as much to see and do but a trip there comes with a cheaper price tag. That city is San Diego and if you’re looking for a sunny, warm, beachside destination to take your next getaway, this is the perfect place!
Almost everything is cheaper here (than other places in California that is) including hotel bookings and car rentals and it’s even cheaper to fly to San Diego than it is to the bigger nearby cities. Mission Bay Park, San Diego Embarcadero, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and Balboa Park are just some of the free attractions around the city.
Of course, lying on the beach soaking up the sun is always free. Head to Moonlight State Beach, La Jolla Shores Beach, or one of the many other sandy stretches situated around the area. Or take a day trip to Coronado, the ferry only costs $10.00 for a round trip.
17. Moab, Utah
- Daily Budget: $150 pp
- Budget Accommodation: FunStays Glamping Setup
- Best for: Hiking and mountain biking
- Cheap eats: Eklecticafe, Love Muffin Cafe, Milts Stop & Eat, Moab Diner, Moab Garage Co
- Cheap Things to do: Hike to Delicate Arch, go mountain biking, catch sunrise in Canyonlands
Located in Utah, Moab is a quiet, small town with big attractions and budget-friendly activities. The town is located close to Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park which means there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy a range of outdoor pursuits such as hiking, biking, kayaking and rafting.
The hotel rooms in the area are reasonably priced but the best accommodation to enjoy Moab’s great outdoors and observe the incredibly clear night skies is to pitch a tent, at one of the town’s campgrounds. If you happen to be there during the summer, be sure to check out the free concert series that takes place on certain days.
18. New Orleans, Louisiana
- Daily Budget: $175 pp
- Budget Accommodation: Madame Isabelle’s House
- Best for: Culture, party, food
- Cheap eats: Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar, Cafe du Monde, Liuzza’s by the Track and The Gumbo Shop.
- Cheap Things to do: Stroll the French Quarter, visit the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, enjoy a food tour
New Orleans can be anything you want it to be. It can be an extravagant, expensive, all-out party or it can be a low-key, affordable vacation. If you want to visit The Big Easy on a budget, it’s certainly doable and your visit can be just as fun and memorable.
The city is known for its free street performances that take place all year round and just roaming around the city admiring the architecture and people-watching are entertaining as well.
New Orleans is home to many parks and green spaces so escaping the crowds is easy but if you want to learn about the history and immerse in the local culture, there are many free attractions.
These include the Lower 9th Ward Living Museum, Sazerac House and the Frenchman Art Market. Free tours, like the one at Nola Brewing Co., are also available.
19. Asheville, NC
- Daily Budget: $190 pp
- Budget Accommodation: GLō Best Western Asheville Tunnel Road
- Best for: Waterfalls and Breweries
- Cheap eats: Biscuit Head, White Duck Taco Shop, 12 Bones Smokehouse
- Cheap Things to do: Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway, tour the River Arts District, visit the Botanical Gardens at Asheville, Brewery Hop
Whether you’re into history, nature, outdoor adventure or just relaxing in a pretty destination, there’s something for everyone in Asheville, North Carolina. This is especially true if you’re a budget traveler because there are many free and cheap things to do in and around Asheville.
Go for a scenic ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway, go hiking in the Pisgah National Forest, visit the Botanical Gardens, check out the Folk Arts Center and spend time in the great outdoors in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. During the summer, be sure to check out the city’s downtown buskers and free festivals.
Asheville can be an expensive place to get accommodation in the summer. So if you’re on a budget check into Sweet Peas Hostel or Bon Paul & Sharky’s Hostel – you can always book private rooms if you don’t want to share.
20. Atlanta, Georgia
- Daily Budget: $168
- Budget Accommodation: eKstasis Hostel & Urban Farm
- Best for: Southern city charm
- Cheap eats: The Varsity (Atlanta institution), Sweet Auburn Barbecue, Gato Bizco Cafe
- Cheap Things to do: Visit the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, Atlanta BeltLine, walk through Centennial Olympic Park
Atlanta is a major hub for both domestic and international flights which makes it a fairly cheap city to fly into compared to some of the other major cities. The city is also home to many amazing attractions, many of which are cheap or free to access.
Try the Fernbank Science Center, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta Monetary Museum, the Center for Puppetry Arts, the Georgia Capitol Museum and the High Museum of Art.
If you love the great outdoors, you can reach the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area and the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve in under an hour and enjoy hiking, fishing, biking and many other outdoor pursuits.
21. Destin, Florida
- Budget: $170 pp
- Budget Accommodation: Destin Inn & Suites
- Best for: Beaches and sunshine
- Cheap eats: The Donut Hole, The Pancakery, Louisiana Lagniappe
- Cheap Things to do: Explore the HarborWalk Village, hike in Henderson Beach State Park, go fishing
Florida is one of the most popular destinations in North America but there’s one city in the state that often gets overlooked in favor of well-known destinations, such as Orlando and the Florida Keys, and that’s Destin.
The best thing about Destin, besides the amazing attractions, is it’s very cheap to visit. The most popular attraction is the white, sandy beaches. It’s always free to lie in the sun all day long if that’s your kind of thing! Other free and nearly-free attractions include Henderson Beach State Park, Destin Harbor Boardwalk, HarborWalk Village, Destin Commons, Jolee Island Nature Park, Crab Island and the alligator show at Gator Beach.
Many of the five-star hotels offer rooms for less than $200 depending on the season but there are also many other accommodations available that cost even less.
22. Memphis, Tennessee
- Daily Budget: $150
- Budget Accommodation: La Quinta by Wyndham Memphis Airport Graceland
- Best for: Southern Charm
- Cheap eats: Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, The Four Way, The Green Beetle
- Things to do: Visit the National Civil Rights Museum, bike the Mississippi River Park,, visit Graceland
Culture, history, lively parties and world-class attractions. Memphis has it all! It also has many free things to do which makes it a super cheap place to visit in the USA. Many of the bars and clubs don’t charge cover so there are opportunities to check out that live music scene the city is known for.
Mud Island River Park, the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Pink Palace Museum and the Art Museum of the University of Memphis are just some of the places that offer free admission. Even Elvis Presley’s home at Graceland is pretty cheap to visit!
23. St. Augustine, Florida
- Daily Budget: $200 pp
- Budget Accommodation: The Flagler Inn
- Best for: Historic landmarks and beaches
- Cheap eats: The Floridian, Gas Full Service Restaurant, The Kookaburra Coffee
- Cheap Things to do: Relax at St. Augustine Beach, enjoy a free tasting at the St. Augustine Distillery, visit the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse.
Cheap accommodations and attractions are not all St. Augustine is known for. The city is considered to be the oldest in the country so you can bet there are some fascinating attractions to visit!
Castillo de San Marcos National monument, The Old Jail, Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, Fort Matanzas and the St. Augustine Distillery are just a few of the top attractions that don’t cost an arm and a leg to visit.
If you want to spend a day outdoors, beautiful St. Augustine Beach is only five miles away.
24. Washington DC
- Daily Budget: $150 pp
- Budget Accommodation: Woody Westover in Hillcrest DC near Capitol Hill
- Best for: Museums, US Landmarks
- Cheap eats: Ben’s Chili Bowl, District Taco, Amsterdam Falafelshop
- Cheap Things to do: Smithsonian museums, walk the National Mall, visit the United States Botanic Garden
Many people assume that Washington DC is an expensive destination because it is, after all, the capital city. However, it’s quite cheap to visit if you plan ahead and know where to go and what to do. There are several free Smithsonian Museums to visit around the city and the national mall is a fun place to explore.
You can also see the world’s biggest library at the Library of Congress and the U.S. Capitol Building is a must-see attraction that’s also free to visit. Would you like to see the inside of the White House while you’re in town?
This can be arranged through your State representative in advance and you won’t have to pay a cent! There are also several free tours you can join including the Old Town Alexandria Walking Tour and the Historic Georgetown Town Tour. Washington DC is also known for its many parks and green spaces so you can spend some time exploring the more natural side of the city.
25. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Budget: $120
- Budget Accommodation: Oasis Hotel
- Best for: Beaches and sunshine
- Cheap eats: Primanti Bros, Tacos and Tattoos, Rhythm and Vine
- Things to do: Sunbathe on the beach, Stroll through Las Olas Boulevard, Take a Water Taxi Tour
Fort Lauderdale is only 30 miles away from Miami but the two cities are like night and day when it comes to affordability! Miami is known for its high-end lifestyle but that doesn’t mean quieter Fort Lauderdale lacks amazing things to see and do!
The best part is many of these things are free to access such as The Anne Kolb Nature Center and the Buehler Planetarium & Observatory. Las Olas Boulevard is a lively place to explore and as you walk around this city, you’ll see beautiful murals and street art.
26. Saugatuck, Michigan
- Budget: $150
- Budget Accommodation: Blue Star Motel
- Best for: Quiet Lakeside living, LGTBQ friendly, artist vibe
- Cheap eats: The Butler, Phil’s Bar & Grille, Lucy’s Little Kitchen
- Things to do: Enjoy the sand and the sun at Oval Beach, Saugatuck Center for the Arts for free exhibits, cast a line at the Saugatuck Pier
Saugatuck is one of the best places to visit in Michigan and one of the best cheap places to travel in the US. Initially known as a port and lumber town, gained prominence as a prominent artistic center and a popular tourist spot by the late 1800s. Today it’s where Michiganders head to relax at a scenic setting along Lake Michigan.
It’s a relaxing place to visit year-round, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy the beauty of Saugatuck – in fact most of the best things to do are free!
Enjoy Oval Beach, walk to the Kalamazoo River Light, stroll around downtown and walk into the numerous art galleries before having a cheap bite to eat at one of the best Saugatuck restaurants.
How To Save Money When Traveling the USA
Traveling on a budget is all about how you travel
Share your expenses
Find travel buddies, bring the family, do a friend’s road trip, plan a girls weekend! Most things will work out cheaper if you travel as a group and can share expenses. Book a hotel room with two beds, and fit up to 4 people in it. Split a car rental, share a parks pass, split a pizza. Travel is best shared with others!
Stay in Hostels
Staying in a hotel is not a mandatory part of travel. If you are a solo traveler seek out hostel dorm beds, which can be found in many US cities. If you are a group, consider booking an apartment-style Airbnb and split the cost.
If you are traveling the US in the summer, or where the weather is typically agreeable, one of the best ways to save money is to camp. Depending on where campgrounds charge anywhere from $15-$30 per night.
Consider a Campervan
Booking a campervan may seem expensive initially, but when you consider it is your rental car and accommodation, and that you can cook meals out of them they actually can work out to be quite budget-friendly. We like to check Outdoorsy for campervan rentals.
Cook Your Meals
Eating out in the US is a costly affair. Most meals cost at least $15 per plate, not including a 20% tip added on. To save money, shop at the grocery stores and cook your meals in when you have a kitchen.
Travel in the Off Season
High season travel means high season prices. The high season in the US is not just “summer.” It all depends on where you are traveling. For example high season in the American Southwest is between December and April, because in the summer the temperatures soar to over 100°F.
In the Carolinas, the high season is during the summer as many people want to enjoy the beach. In the Northeast, high season is the summer and in the fall as visitors from around the country flock to chase the fall colors. Do your research to find out when high season is where you are traveling and book your trip outside of those months.
The slower you travel the less you move around. Moving around, especially by plane or by road tripping increases costs. Stick to just one or two destinations or regions to save on costs.
Get a Travel Credit Card
If you travel often it’s imperative you have a travel credit card. Travel credit cards offer lucrative sign up bonuses which result in free or heavily discounted travel. Plus there are many perks to travel credit cards like having lounge access, trip delay insurance, and even free rental car upgrades (which allowed us to get a Mustang convertible when we traveled to Tucson last year). See our favorite travel credit cards here.
Sign Up For Going
Get an account with Going, which searches the internet for the best possible flight deals and “error fares.”
Get an America the Beautiful Pass
If you plan to visit several US National Parks, purchase an America the Beautiful annual pass for $80. This will save you money on park entrance fees in the long run, and it helps support our stunning National Parks.
TRAVEL THE USA
We hope this list of the cheapest places to travel in the USA helps you plan your perfect trip. For more travel around America, check out these articles:
- 21 Best Things To Do In Marquette, Michigan
- 26 Best Things To Do In Sedona, Arizona
- Hiking Angels Landing Zion – 20 Helpful Things to Know
- 50 Best Small Towns in America (Best From Each State)
- 21 Amazing Things To Do In Petoskey, Michigan
Plan For Your Trip
- Protect Your Trip: We don’t travel without travel insurance, nor should you. You never know what can happen while traveling, so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Find Cheap Flights: Sign up for Going (formerly Scotts Cheap Flights) to get notified when prices get ultra low.
- Book a Rental Car: We use Discover Car to book all our rental cars! You can also read our top tips for renting a car abroad here.
- Travel Adapter: Make sure you find a good adapter to keep your personal electronics charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for a cheap one once you land. Purchase one here.
- Travel Backpack: We like the Nomatic Travel Backpack for our travels. Check the price here.
- Our Favorite Travel Shoes: Our answer to this question is always ALLBIRDS! Check them out on their site!
- Get a Travel Credit Card: We travel worldwide for free because we have leveraged our spending into points. See why you should get a travel credit card and how you can do the same with our favorite travel credit cards.