Work is hectic, the family is crazy, you need a vacation now - we all know the feeling. One problem though… you bank account doesn’t agree. Forget about Disney World or L.A., here are six amazing destinations you can travel to without blowing your budget.
The Grand Canyon
It goes without saying that the Grand Canyon is an incredible must-see destination in the States, and whether you get there via flight or road trip, the cost to do so is rather reasonable. From Phoenix, the park is about 3.5 hours and flights are usually less than $300 from most major cities. If you prefer to drive, you are looking at just $300 total for gas from Chicago or just $75 from Los Angeles. Most of the park lodges run $150+ per night but if you don’t mind getting in touch with nature, we recommend camping. Typically the park camp sights are just $30 or so per night but you can also check out Airbnb for some more “authentic” options such as this Tipi camp site. Aside from food, the costs of everything else (hiking, biking, etc.) is practically nothing. Not a bad deal if you have a few friends willing to tag along.
If you are even remotely a fan of blues, rock ‘n’ roll, or barbecue then you are long overdue for a trip to Memphis. Not only do musical heritage and good food abound here, but it just so happens that Memphis currently holds the title of most affordable city in America. Five-star hotels such as The River Inn of Harbor Town run under $200 per night while penthouse apartments can be booked for a low as $50 per night. And a tasty slab of ribs with sides at the famous Rendezvous… under $20. Oh, and did we mention the free live music on the historic Beale Street? The only thing you might have to buy a ticket for is Graceland - which by the way is totally worth it.
Denver’s location lends itself to the perfect combination of city and nature. And if you have a dog, then forget the pricey puppy sitter. Most hotels and a growing number of bars and restaurants allow Fido to tag along at little to no cost. We recommend hitting up 16th Street Mall, a busy pedestrian thoroughfare lined with shops, restaurants, entertainment, and some pretty fantastic people watching spots. If you prefer to head outside of walking distance though, be sure to grab the light rail which is not only convenient but usually less than $3 per person if you stay within the city limits. Of course, a trip to Denver is not complete without a visit to Red Rocks Park. Not only does the park host the concerts and events but it is an unbelievably perfect spot to hike, bike or just take in the local wildlife and day passes are just $7 per car. Oh, and did we mention flights from most major cities can get as low as $100 roundtrip.
If all you need is a long weekend getaway, be it with friends or your significant other, Charleston’s southern hospitality and savory (but cheap) seafood food make it a top choice. No matter where you head, the locals always have a smile on and are more than eager to steer you in the direction of their favorite local dives. Of course, Charleston is best known for its luscious plantations which visitors can tour for hours on end for a minimal price. Unbeknownst to many out-of-towners though, Charleston has a number of popular beaches, such as Folly and Sullivan’s Island, which are free to access and allow guests to bring their own snacks and beverages. And for those who prefer to be a bit more active, kayaks and paddleboards are readily available for $30 or less for a full day.
With sayings like “Keep Austin Weird” floating around it has become obvious that Austin is the new hipster epicenter. And while the influx of millennials has made living here a bit more costly, visitors can still expect a fun time without emptying their wallets. Funky hip hotels like the Heywood or Hotel San Jose are in abundance and typically run under $200 per night. And of course, most are located near the trendiest restaurants and bars so need to spend big bucks on Ride Austin or Fasten (the local alternatives to Uber and Lyft). The biggest claim to fame here though has to be the ridiculous number of food trucks and pop-up restaurants. It seems like every week there is some new cuisine or must try dish that is just begging to be devoured. Best of all though, most dishes range between $6-20 each with full tasting gourmet tasty menus in the $50 range.
You may be questioning whether this is a destination for you, but what if we told you that Portland has more microbreweries per capita than any city in the world? That’s right… 66,000 people and 17 breweries (the best known being Allagash). Aside from that, the seaside town is historic but funky and offers everything from luxury hotels to Airbnb yacht rentals, all for less than $50 per person per night. If you are looking to explore, boat rides to check out the historic lighthouses or spot whales are just $25 or so per person. Alternatively, visitors can opt for an open air trolley to take them downtown as well. Best of all though, the seafood is beyond fresh and a lobster dinner should only set you back about $30. Pretty claw-some if you ask us ;)