The United States is the third largest country in the world, after Russia and China, making it a great place to explore via travel. It offers diverse landscapes, bodies of water, and cultures, depending on the region you visit.
Exploring the U.S. doesn't have to be an expensive endeavor. With some research and planning, you can discover some of the best cheap places to travel in the United States.
This article will unveil some of the most budget-friendly travel spots across the country, providing a range of unforgettable experiences, seasonal activities, and fun.
Cheap Places To Travel in The US: Cities
Each city listed below offers a range of affordable accommodations, including cozy bed and breakfasts and budget-friendly hotels. Plus, there are plenty of free or low-cost activities for all ages in these locations.
1. Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is best known for its beautiful fall foliage. However, it is a fantastic spot to visit in the spring too. Nestled in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is a hidden gem for budget-conscious travelers.
Fun Local Activities To Try in Asheville:
- Hiking (with or without a tour guiding), including exploring the Appalachian Trail, the Great Smoky Mountains, or searching for waterfalls
- Brewery visits
- Local food experiences, including eating street food from local truck vendors
- Wander through the historic district, including the famous Biltmore Estate
- Explore local markets, gardens, and Asheville's vibrant downtown
2. Austin, Texas
Texas has become known for its budget-friendly prices and fun attractions, and Austin is the perfect example. This laid-back vibe makes it great for travelers looking to relax and explore without spending too much money.
Austin is known for its lively music scene, vibrant food culture, and unique blend of Texas charm.
Austin Offers a Range of Budget-Friendly or Free Activities:
- Visiting trails in Lady Bird Lake or Barton Creek Greenbelt, where you can also swim, paddleboard, or kayak
- Exploring the downtown area with its unique street art, independent stores, and food trucks
- Listen to local live music or attend a festival
3. Branson, Missouri
Branson is a small town nestled in Missouri's Ozark Mountains. The stunning natural beauty and abundance of outdoor activities make Branson an ideal spot for budget-conscious travelers looking for adventure.
Branson Offers Plenty of Opportunities To Explore on a Dime:
- Fishing and swimming in local creeks and rivers
- Exploring trails in the Ozark Mountains
- Visiting Bluff View State Park for breathtaking views of the Ozarks
- Hiking to local waterfalls
- Tubing down the Current River
Plus, Branson is near Silver Dollar City if you want to ditch the astronomical prices of bigger theme parks but still have access to fun rides, shows, and other activities. Silver Dollar City entry fees are a fraction of the cost of alternative theme parks but is still lots of fun.
4. New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is another affordable option that is an incredibly diverse city in the southern United States. Whether you're looking for a romantic getaway or a place to explore history and culture, this vibrant city has it all, even for those on a shoestring budget.
New Orleans Offers Plenty of Cheap or Free Activities:
- Visiting local museums, galleries, and venues
- Exploring the French Quarter with its unique architecture and vibrant nightlife (with a walking tour or on your own)
- Attending street events like parades, jazz festivals, and live music performances
- Touring the Garden District
- Indulging in delicious Creole cuisine or taking a cooking class
5. Las Vegas, NV
It's possible to go all out and spend a lot, quickly making Vegas one of the most expensive destinations. Thankfully, a trip to Las Vegas is also the perfect spot for budget travelers that want sun, warmth, and a hefty dose of people-watching.
You can gamble on the strip, explore downtown art galleries and museums, or attend live performances like Cirque du Soleil shows. Or you can choose a hotel with a pool and spend your days relaxing in the sun.
Free Attractions and Sightseeing in Vegas:
- The Bellagio Fountains
- Mirage Volcano
- The Fremont Street Experience
- Street performers at The Venetian and across the Strip
- Exploring the nearby Red Rock Canyon or Lake Mead National Recreational Area
6. Tampa, Florida
Florida is a popular destination for snowbirds, spring breakers, and anyone looking for beach time and budget travel. Tampa is a fantastic city known for its culture, history, nightlife, and beaches, but it experiences fewer crowds than other popular destinations in the state.
Whether looking for a beach break or a chance to explore the city without breaking the bank, Tampa is a great tropical-climate destination without splurging on a Caribbean destination.
Budget-Friendly Activities in Tampa:
- Exploring Tampa's Riverwalk and Botanical Gardens
- Go for a swim, enjoy a day at a white sand beach, and explore the coastline
- Visit a manatee viewing area
- Go on a downtown walking tour
Bonus Cities: Winter Wonderland Destinations
Traveling in colder months is an excellent option if you love winter and all it offers, such as snow activities and cozy destinations. Fewer people tend to travel to popular destinations when it's cold outside, making it a perfect time to find cheap travel destinations. Just remember to pack all your layers.
With that said, here are a few more budget-friendly options to consider in the wintertime:
- Denver: Not only is Denver one of the most affordable cities to visit in winter, but it also offers plenty of outdoor activities like snowshoeing, skiing, and sledding. Plus, downtown has a vibrant nightlife for those looking to explore the city's culture and history.
- Chicago: You can get insane deals on local Chicago hotels in the middle of winter. If you're willing to brave the cold, you can explore all Chicago offers indoors, such as great food, shows, and museums, without the summer price tags.
- New York City: NYC is a mecca for entertainment, food, and culture. Plus, you can score cheaper hotel prices and catch Broadway shows during winter.
Cheap Places To Travel in The US: National Parks
For the more adventurous, national parks are notoriously some of the cheapest places to travel to see the US and its unique nature. With a national park pass and camping gear, you can explore some of the most beautiful places in the country without breaking the bank.
Note: National parks have become extremely popular in recent years. Plan ahead and consider traveling during shoulder seasons, which is before or after peak season, to avoid big crowds and big price tags. This is especially sound advice if you plan to stay in a hotel.
Here are just a few national parks to check out:
- Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
- Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
- Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
- Yosemite National Park, California
- Glacier National Park, Montana
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee
- Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
- Zion National Park, Utah
- Acadia National Park, Maine
To get the most out of these iconic places to visit, check out any lesser-known state parks and ask a local ranger for other tips on what to see and places to go while there.
Tips for Stretching Your Dollars While Traveling
The key is to plan and research if you want to stretch your money while traveling. Here are some tips for stretching your budget:
- Visit a destination during shoulder season. This means visiting places before or after the primary season with less demand.
- Get creative with lodging. There are many options to explore when staying somewhere, depending on preference, the length of the trip, and the size of your travel party. These can range from a traditional hotel to renting an entire home, staying in hostels, or even camping in an RV or tent.
- Look for deals on flights and hotels, such as package deals to resorts. If you're flying, stay flexible on the dates to travel on cheaper days and save on airfare.
- Redeem credit card travel rewards. With a strategy for racking bonus points, you can score free flights, hotels, and more with a few credit cards.
- Avoid tourist traps. These can be expensive and overrun with tourists, leaving you without an authentic experience.
- Find free or cheap activities. Take advantage of any free activities or attractions available in the city. Some of the best things to do in any town will always be free, such as free walking tours, visiting parks, exploring neighborhoods, and experiencing the local nature. Thus, consider a destination rich in outdoor fun.
- Find local coupons and deals. Use reputable coupon websites like TravelinCoupons to find a bargain. They do hours of research for you in each destination to give you access to all the possible savings on flights, hotels, and local attractions and activities. They have you covered at all of your favorite cheap travel destinations.
- Try something different. If you have a lot of bucket-list destinations you want to hit all at once, see what cruises are available out of popular destinations like Florida and other Eastern ports.
Ultimately, be open-minded and see what opportunities come your way to score the best travel experiences on a low budget.
Explore The US on Any Budget
Traveling on a budget in the United States doesn't mean compromising on memorable experiences. The above provides just a few fantastic options if you're looking for budget-friendly travel in the US.
No matter your interests or season, there's an affordable destination. By exploring these affordable destinations and taking advantage of the deals available in the local area, you can create an incredible travel itinerary that won't leave you broke.
Embrace the spirit of affordable travel and embark on unforgettable experiences across the United States to fantastic travel destinations.
Susan is the owner of Travelin’ Coupons, a website focused on finding the best deals for attractions, tours, museums, hotels and more! Susan has over 20 years of experience working in the travel industry, spending half her careers working in hotels and the other half working for attractions.