Armed with the right knowledge, travel can be much more affordable than most people think–even travel within the United States, which is often thought to be a rather cost prohibitive destination. There is immense diversity within these borders, and with a little creativity and willingness to seek out lesser-known cities, travelers can visit the US on a budget.
The following surprisingly affordable US travel destinations prove it! I plan to do a lot more United States travel in coming years, and I’ll definitely be planning stops in these beautiful cities.
10 Surprisingly Affordable US Travel DestinationsTravel the US on a budget! Check out these 10 affordable destinations #budgettravel Click To Tweet
Asheville, North Carolina
Free music, cheap eats, and waterfalls make Asheville, North Carolina an easy place to stay awhile if you’re looking for adventure on a budget. Lodging can go as low as 45 dollars a night with an Airbnb home and many are within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and parks.
Drive the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway to find waterfalls, outlooks, and hikes or browse the North Carolina Arboretum, Malaprop’s Bookstore, and the Basilica of Saint Lawrence all for free. Then grab a $7 dinner at Twisted Crepe before heading to the drum circle. -Rochelle, Daytrips and Daydreams
Outer Banks, North Carolina
In the Outer Banks, you will find a different kind of beach than those often found on advertisements for tropical destinations: there are shells sprinkled across the sand instead of untouched powder, and rolling waves instead of water that is quiet and clear. It’s a magical place full of small towns just waiting to be discovered. Since this region stretches on for 200 miles, many lesser known spots can be found, which translates to lower prices.
Personally, I have a nostalgic draw to Atlantic Beach–though the town itself is not going to win beauty prizes, the beach at Fort Macon is both free and beautiful. Nearby Beaufort is picture-perfect and worth seeing, along with Emerald Isle and many others. The towns of the Outer Banks vary dramatically, and among them are plenty of bargains–and beautiful coastline regardless of where you choose. -Kate, Our Escape Clause
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina is the ultimate US travel destination if you love early American history, unique architecture, and delicious southern cooking. While Charleston can certainly set your bank account back if you stay in one of the historic five-star hotels and opt for the $100 slice of coconut cake (yes, I’m serious!), Charleston can be remarkably cheap too if you know what to do.
Two nights at the NotSo Hostel will cost you well under $100 or you could opt for a lovely room on Airbnb for a similar price. Free Tours by Foot offers three different free walking tours seven days a week that is tip-based. Take the local city bus or use your own two feet to get around. Get lost around Broad Street and just take in the beautiful historic mansions for free. It’s totally worth it and you may even run into Bill Murray who lives in Charleston. -Katelyn, Diaries of a Wandering Lobster
Greenville, South Carolina
Recently, Greenville’s gained a reputation as an up-and-coming destination–and when my mom and I passed through on a road trip, I totally understood why! Its downtown has a cool, laid-back vibe, and features the beautiful Falls Park and its (yep, you guessed it!) waterfall. For me, Greenville’s biggest highlight is the Swamp Rabbit Trail, a twenty-mile path created in old railway bed that connects downtown to the neighboring town of Travelers Rest. Greenville’s emphasis on the outdoors makes it an affordable getaway, leaving you more money to spend on its thriving foodie scene! -Katie, Hummingbird Away
I love living so close to Miami. There are many neighborhoods to visit, but Wynwood is by far my favorite. It’s a super inexpensive place to visit because you could go there and spend no money at all! Wynwood has a ton of amazing wall murals painted for blocks and I love to wander around, checking out the gorgeous, brightly colored street art.
There are also some inexpensive places to grab an afternoon bite like Coyo Taco or you can head to The Salty Donut for a tasty, Instagrammable donut. Join in on an art walk the second Saturday of each month! -Taylor, Travel Colorfully
St. Augustine, Florida
If you love history, Spanish architecture, savory food, or a small-town feel, then St. Augustine, Florida should be on your ‘must-visit’ list! Thankfully visiting this quaint city won’t break the bank either. The CouchSurfing scene is strong in SA, but if crashing on someone’s couch isn’t your style, many 3-star hotels cost around $80 per night.
The streets are lined with small cafes and family-owned restaurants; eating at these would set you back about $30 per day. Luckily the most enjoyable part of St. Augustine is free – walking around town and St. George’s Street, to take in the sights, sounds, and smells. Many attractions cost under $15. Check online for discounted tickets! -Kendal, Getaway Girl
Visit the birthplace of “The King” on a budget! Tupelo, Mississippi is the birthplace of Elvis Presley. Seeing the exterior of the home where Elvis was born is free, but you can venture inside for only $8.
Want more Elvis experiences in his hometown? Eat where Elvis ate at Tupelo’s oldest restaurant, Johnnie’s Drive-In, and try a famous doughburger for less than $2. Wandering through Tupelo Hardware, where Elvis’ mom bought his first guitar, is completely free, and so is visiting the Elvis statue in the Fairpark nearby. -Jennifer, Just Chasing Rabbits
Napa Valley is the most popular wine destination in California, but with well-appointed hotels costing at least $400/night and wine tastings that start around $60/person, it doesn’t come cheap. For a more affordable alternative, head to Buellton, set in the beautiful rolling hills of Santa Ynez Valley, just north of Santa Barbara.
Accommodations can be found for half the cost, and many of the nearby vineyards offer free tastings and tours. As an added bonus, Firestone Walker, one of the best craft beer producers in the US, has a taproom and brewpub in Buellton to appease the beer lovers too! -Julie and Drew, Drive on the Left
You might not expect a city the size of Seattle to be budget-friendly, but there are a surprising number of ways to keep yourself entertained in the Emerald City without spending a dime! Any time of year is wonderful to visit Seattle, but the Pacific Northwest is especially beautiful in the summer months, with the added benefit of less rain. Free outdoor activities abound–visit Gas Works Park on the shore of Lake Union, get lost in the excitement of the historic Pike Place Market, or take in the most iconic view of Seattle–the Space Needle and imposing Mount Rainier side by side–from atop Kerry Park.
As for accommodation, many charming Airbnb listings can be found for $50 per person per night, and sometimes much less. Ever wanted to try out tiny living? How about a charming beach house with stunning views of Puget Sound? Or perhaps an airy, modern loft? In Seattle, you can!
Boise, the capital and most populous city in the state of Idaho, has a multitude of free and cheap activities, many of them geared toward nature enthusiasts. Hike the many trails at Barber Park, play tennis or volleyball at Camel’s Back Park, or stroll along the miles of scenic pathways in the Boise River Greenbelt. Travelers can also visit the expansive Idaho Botanical Gardens ($7 admission for adults) or attend one of the many events and festivals held on site, such as the Winter Garden aGlow.
Search Airbnb for Boise listings and you’ll find fun and funky outdoor options like yurts and glamping tents intermingled with beautiful centrally located apartments, with prices anywhere from $25-90 per night. Find affordable (and organic) American fare at local eateries like Boise Fry Company and Bardenay.
What are your favorite affordable US travel destinations? Did they make this list?