10 Best Cheap Places to Travel in the US
Are you looking to travel this summer, but don’t have the funds? There is something about summer that screams ROAD TRIP! Not to mention, if it is summertime I want to be laying by a beach reading – Not always possible with kids! ha
And although we would all love to see the world, not everyone has the budget to travel to a far off land overseas. But consider, the United States has some amazing locations that won’t break the bank. Yes, there are many cheap places to travel in the US that will leave your heart and your wallet happy this summer and leave memories that will last a lifetime.
My husband and I love to travel. People always ask us, “Do you take the kids?” The answer is yes. We love teaching our children about other cultures, geography, and history in general. However, we did take one short trip without them which is important for couples too.
It is important to note, we are also frugal. We love saving money and would rather live frugally throughout the year and spend our extra money on travel. My husband and I basically have no other hobbies except travel and coffee. (but we save money on coffee and use budget travel too.) We’ve also been known to splurge on a museum pass or two throughout the year!
The point is if you are going to spend money, experiences are a great choice over stuff. And if you like to travel, then you know you need cash to fund your wonder lust habit.
Therefore, visiting budget travel destinations can save money and will allow you to travel more often.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at my top ten Summer budget travel destination listed below.
10 Cheap Summer Travel Destinations in the US
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach is such a great place to take the family!! It’s beautiful and affordable. There are many budget-friendly and family-friendly activities.
The airport is simple to navigate and car rental is just a short walk away.
My kids and I went to Myrtle Beach last February, although we have been in the summer and it is very affordable. The flights for three people on Spirit were under $500 round trip from Michigan to South Carolina. My parents were already staying there so we shared a room to cut costs. Try booking a room with family or friends and save on your hotel room. We often ate breakfast and lunch in the room and went out to dinner.
Myrtle Beach has no shortage of restaurants and attractions.
The pier offers a huge Ferris wheel and you can stroll along the boardwalk and view the ocean.
Broadway at the Beach shopping center does not disappoint. With an aquarium, restaurants, and shopping you can’t go wrong. Check the dates because there are also fireworks some evenings offered at Broadway at the Beach.
Check out my favorite travel site here
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
This has been our travel spot for the past three summers. I will warn you, it is a super “hot spot” in the summer and by “hot” I mean heat. Yet, if you are just planning on the beach and pool then the heat shouldn’t be a problem. Load up on sunscreen and hit the sand.
Attractions in Fort Lauderdale:
- pirate ship
- water taxis
- children’s museum
- great downtown
- malls and shopping
- Lauderdale by the Sea is a short drive away
- Cheap Trolly running on the main roads
If you are traveling as a family, there is a children’s museum in the downtown area and a river walk. The kids will love looking at the fancy boats and enjoying the water view.
We also took our kids on a pirate-themed boat ride which was incredibly fun. To save money, we used Groupon to purchase tickets. Always, check Groupon while traveling to see if you can score discounts on attractions.
If you are traveling as a couple – which my husband and I did – there is plenty of romantic restaurants and nightlife to keep you entertained. Our favorite “couples” restaurant was Casablanca which featured live music in the evening.
Fort Lauderdale also includes free transportation. Since everything was so close, we didn’t bother to rent a car so that saved us money. We took a Lyft from the airport and made use of the Trolly systems which will run you $1 per ride. Many hotels also offer golf cart transportation as well.
We were also able to walk to the mall and grocery store from our hotel. If you are staying further down the strip, there is a huge CVS store and restaurants. You can save big by avoiding a car rental.
Check out my absolute favorite travel pillow here
I’m from Michigan’s and have been going “Up North” since I was a kid. Not only is it beautiful, but totally affordable with many free family activities including Traverse City’s Cherry Festival.
Camping is HUGE in Northern Michigan. Come see all of our pretty lakes. You can rent a boat or be like my husband and buy inflatable kayaks from Amazon. Which on a side note were totally fun and in my opinion, more comfortable than regular kayaks. We were the talk of the lake with these comfy kayaks!
Take a ferry ride over to Mackinac Island and see the famous Mackinac bridge as you ride.
Thinking of taking your car? Not on the Island. Cars are not allowed on Mackinac Island. Yes, transportation is by horse and carriage or bicycle only. The air is clean and the downtown is very quaint. This was my kids’ favorite place to visit on our trip last summer.
Some of my favorite places to visit in Northern Michigan:
- Mackinac Island
- Torch Lake
- Traverse City
- Sleeping Bear Dunes
- Tahquamenon Falls
- Cross in the Woods
Please Advise: Book five to six months in advance if you want to save. People love Northern Michigan and rooms and camping sell out early.
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My sister used to live in Arizona so I have been a few times. If you love hot weather than you can find some fabulous deals on flights to Arizona. There are ranches that offer hiking and horseback riding. You can also take a drive in the mountains and enjoy the views.
If you are a golf fan, then Arizona is for you as many cities are golfing destinations.
Pro Tip: If you have kids TSA can be a pain. We literally had 18 things going through the scanner on our last trip including electronics for the airplane and car seats. I always take my Swiss Army Backpack on all trips and this one is TSA friendly. You can check the price here.
Chicago is the home of a free zoo, shopping, and dining. If you stay right outside the city you can save, but if you check sites like this you can score a room right downtown.
Chicago, also known as the windy city, is located right on Lake Michigan. Chicago is also known for its shopping so try to stay close to the Magnificent mile or if you are further out, you can take a cab or Uber/Lyft.
Hotels are often expensive in Chicago, but we use a little booking tip to save. We book through Priceline’s “Express Bid” and check Betterbooking.com to see what other people ended up booking for the same express bid.
When using express bid, put in a location and a “star” number such as “four-star hotel.” If you do this you are guaranteed something decent, but unfortunately, express bid doesn’t tell you where you will stay until you book. So check Better Bidding to help you narrow down your hotel if you are anxious about booking a hotel and not knowing what you will end up with.
Try this strategy here.
Austin, Texas is a college town but a cool city nonetheless. With affordable flights and hotels, this is a great choice for a summer destination.
Watch bats fly over the river at night and take a stroll to enjoy true scenery. Take a dip in Barton Springs Pool and don’t forget to check out the University of Texas at Austin.
A city with a fun laid back atmosphere. Take the family down to see the bats by the river at night. It sure is a sight to see.
Pro Tip: Bring your own water bottle to the airport and refill it after TSA. I’m a big fan of Britta products and this portable water bottle has a filter so you won’t have to drink tap water. Check it out here.
Fort Myers, Florida
This is a fun city with beaches and boats!
It is very hot in Florida during the summer, but if you book an ocean room or have a pool, you can beat the heat. Because it is so hot, you can often find great deals on flights and rooms.
You can even take a three-hour tour to Key West for around $39 per person. We did a day pass, but you can also make arrangements to stay the night and travel back the following day.
It is beautiful and a must-see for summer!
Book your trip to Florida here.
Thank you to my dear sissy for living in all of these cool places. My sister married a great guy from Sacramento and ended up spending around ten years of her life in there. Since I love to travel, this gave me a great excuse to visit California.
One great reason for staying in Sacramento is that it is centrally located and hotels are affordable.
Plus, it is fun to check out Downtown Sac-Town and see the big bear.
Sacramento is a great destination because you are centrally located and can take day trips. The best day trips are as follows:
- San Francisco (about an hour)
- Wine Country (about an hour and a half)
- Lake Tahoe (about two hours)
A great idea for a trip is to book a cheap room in Sacramento and then plan day trips to the other surrounding cities. Don’t forget to check out Sacramento’s charming downtown.
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Las Vegas, Nevada
Okay, so if you gamble then yes, you will spend a ton in Vegas. But if you plan on sight-seeing the great news is you can get a cheap room and many local attractions are free! Some of the fee attractions we visited while in Vegas include the following:
- Bellagio Water Show
- Pirate Show
- People watch
- Street performers
Although, not the most family-friendly place if you are looking for a two or three-day trips with your hubby or your girls, then this is a great place to consider.
Many times you can sign up for rewards cards to popular casinos and get a free dinner or food credit. You can also play a low amount of money in slots or keno and get free drinks!
Find the cheapest Vegas hotels here
The Grand Canyon
One of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon is a beautiful sight to see.
If you are on a budget, you can camp for around $30 per car for a weekly pass into the amazing park.
You can also find free entrance days if you are really tight on money.
If you have a bit more money, try riding a donkey on the side of the canyon or walking out on the glass platform for the daredevils.
Cheap Places to Travel in the US Conclusion
If you are looking to get away this summer, you need not spend a lot of money. Pay attention to flight prices and hotels. You can often score great deals on Priceline Express and find your hotel by checking Better Bidding – or at least have an idea. Book a vacation this summer, but do it on a budget so you can see more of this amazing country.
What are your favorite budget travel destinations? Leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you!