25 Best Cheap US Summer Destinations To Visit (2023)


Last Updated on September 15, 2023 by Nicole

The United States offer budget travelers a lot of choices when it comes to amazing destinations for inexpensive summer vacations. Whether you prefer large American cities or small towns, exploring the outdoors, or relaxing on beautiful beaches, there are many affordable places to visit in the USA for your summer trip. Several of these budget-friendly destinations in America take you off the beaten path while others take you straight into some of the most popular vacation spots with tips for how to pay less for fantastic experiences. Here are 28 of the best places to visit in the USA for cheap summer holidays.

Table of Contents

This post may contain affiliate links. That means that I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you buy something through my site. This helps me run my website and produce the articles that I hope you find helpful.

Other Destinations

You may be curious about other summer destinations after reviewing this article. Here are a few articles to inspire!

If you are solely looking for a summer beach destination in USA, many of which are also inexpensive, please review 21 Beautiful US Islands To Visit In Summer.

For those looking for fantastic destinations in US with cooler summer temperatures, please see 28 Best US Destinations To Escape The Sizzling Summer Heat

For quick trip, check out 25 Amazing Summer Weekend Getaways in the USA. Most of them are only 30 minutes from a significant airport.

If you are looking for recommended spots for a particular summer month, please see:

If you can swing airfare to Europe, here are 28 Best Cheap Places In Europe For A Summer Vacation.

For simple travel tips to save you money, please take a look at 10 Best Money Saving Travel Tips.

If you would like to Travel Cheaper, Smarter and Easier, then join the thousands of subscribers who receive my weekly newsletter filled with the most up to date and best travel tips around. Sign up with this link!

Best Affordable Places In USA For Summer Holidays

Here are 25 of the best places to visit in the United States for cheap summer vacations.

For each destination, some of the best inexpensive or free things to do are highlighted, including summer festivals or annual events. In addition, affordable restaurants or budget friendly areas offering delicious food are included.

How best to reach the destination by public transportation is set out and accommodation for budget minded travelers are often suggested. Finally, expected average temperatures are outlined so that you can be properly prepared for your amazing US summer getaway.

best cities in USA for a cheap summer vacation
Chicago, Illnois (Photo courtesy of Catrina from 24 Hours Layover)

Chicago, Illnois

By Catrina from 24 Hours Layover

Chicago is one of the largest and most beautiful cities in the US. It is home to stunning architecture, beautiful beaches, great food and culture.

It is also one of the best cheap summer destinations in the USA as there are so many free things to do.

One of the best free things is take a stroll along the Chicago Riverwalk. This 1.25 mile walk along the south bank of the Chicago River takes you past fantastic restaurants, bars and beautiful art installations while you gaze at some of the splendour of Chicago’s architecture.

Also free is a visit to the impressive stainless steel sculpture Cloud Gate – known affectionately as The Bean in Millennium Park just off the Lake Michigan. The Bean is mirrored so you can see the reflection of the skyline in your photo, which makes this one of the best places to take pictures in Chicago.

Millennium Park is filled with beautiful art and gardens, playgrounds and an enormous water park so make sure you set aside an afternoon to fully appreciate all it has to offer.

Another great free activity in Chicago is to go to North Avenue Beach where in the summer months, you can swim or enjoy other water sports in Lake Michigan. With just a short walk from Chicago’s skyscrapers, you find yourself with miles of beaches and an 18 mile Lakefront trail for walking, running and biking. 

Even aimlessly strolling around Chicago, you will see so many unique things for free – such as the famous wall murals, the iconic Chicago Theatre and The Honeycomb Pavilion at Lincoln Park – which is why Chicago is such a great city to explore on a budget.

Chicago also has several free annual summer music festivals, such as the Chicago Gospel Music Festival each May, the Chicago Blues Festival each June (the largest free blues festival in the world), and the Chicago Jazz Festival in August. All the festivals are held in and around Millennium Park and are really incredible to witness if you are able to time your trip right.


The summer months in Chicago can be hot and a little muggy, with average high temperatures ranging from 74°F to 82°F. Expect a few inches of rain to fall in each of the summer months.

Best Way To Reach Destination

The quickest and easiest way to reach Chicago is to fly into Chicago O’Hare International Airport. A 45 minute train ride from the airport will get you to downtown Chicago for just a few dollars.

If you are driving to Chicago, it will take just over 12 hours to reach Chicago from New York. If you prefer to reach Chicago by public transport, you can get an inexpensive Greyhound bus from many American cities.

Cheap Food

For some great cheap food in Chicago head to Seoul Taco (a Korean-Mexican sweet food cafe), or grab one of the personal deep dish pizzas at Lou Malnati for which Chicago is famous.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Catrina says, “For a centrally located affordable hotel check out Travelodge by Wyndham Downtown Chicago. Or if you prefer a hostel, HI Chicago Hostel is a very reasonably priced hostel located in a convenient location.”

For other amazing things to do in Chicago, check out 22 Best Things To Do In Downtown Chicago With Teens. Several of these options are inexpensive while others are bucket list worthy and should not be missed when you visit whether you visit with teens or not.

best places in the USA for inexpensive summer holidays
Big Sur, California (Photo courtesy of Pafoua from Her Wanderful World)

Big Sur, California

By Pafoua from Her Wanderful World 

Big Sur in California is an iconic destination along the stunning coastline of central California. With rugged cliffs, redwood forests, and sweeping ocean views, Big Sur offers a variety of natural attractions to explore in the summer. It is also one of the best inexpensive destinations in the United States in summer.

The area is home to some of the most beautiful coastal hikes in all of California. Pay $10 to enter Point Lobos State Natural Reserve for hiking trails and breathtaking views over the Pacific Ocean.

Alternatively, explore the sandstone formations of Pfeiffer Beach with a $12 entrance fee. The beach is complete with sea arches and waterfalls–you’ll even find purple sand here!

Don’t miss snapping a picture of the famous Bixby Bridge–just pull off the road into the parking lot. Then continue driving to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park ($10 entrance fee) and hike to view McWay Falls, one of two tideways in California.

With its remote location, a road trip to Big Sur is a great place to get away from it all and relax in nature.


The weather is mild in the summer, making Big Sur an ideal place to visit to enjoy outdoor adventures. Temperatures range from highs of 70°F to lows of 50°F in the evening. Dress in layers as the coast does get windy, which can bring a chill.

Cheap Food

You’ll find Old Monterey Marketplace and Farmer’s Market on Alvarado Street in Monterey open on Tuesdays. You can buy local organic produce and sample some of the delicious international dishes prepared by the vendors. You’ll also find various handmade jewelry and crafts.

Best Way To Reach Destination

To get to Big Sur, fly into San Francisco International Airport and drive 2 hours south on Highway 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway.

You can also get to Monterey by public transportation by taking the Amtrak Throughway for 2 hours and transferring to a local Monterey bus for another hour.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Pafoua says, “Spend a night camping or glamping under the stars at Pfeiffer Big Sur Campgrounds. Or, explore the local towns like Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey with an affordable stay like Arbor Inn.”

best affordable beach destination in United States for summer getaway
Chincoteague, Virginia (Photo courtesy of Pamela from The Directionally Challenged Traveler)

Chincoteague, Virginia

By Pamela from The Directionally Challenged Traveler

Most people visit the breathtaking beaches of the East Coast via Virginia Beach or Ocean City, Maryland. However, there is a lesser-known destination nearby that can save you money while also offering fewer crowds.

Chincoteague, Virginia is a quaint beach town located a little north of Virginia Beach and is a hidden gem. The small island is home to wild horses, fresh seafood, and a NASA facility.

Wild horses are one of the main reasons why people visit Chincoteague. These majestic animals have been living on the island for centuries and can be seen roaming around in their natural habitat. It’s a truly unique experience you won’t find anywhere else in the world (and it’s absolutely free!).

In July, there is an annual pony swim which raises funds to help take care of the ponies year-round. It’s an awesome festival and you get to rub elbows with local celebrities.

There are plenty of other things to do in Chincoteague as well. One unusual activity is near Wallops Island where you will find a NASA facility that launches rockets. Many people think that Florida is the only place to see rocket launches, but you can actually see them in Virginia too.

Another free activity is enjoying the beautiful sandy beaches. You could do nothing else but lounge and explore the beaches during your visit in summer and you would have a wonderful time.

Whether you’re looking for a unique wildlife experience or breathtaking beaches, Chincoteague has something for everyone.


Enjoy tropical summer weather with average highs in summertime around 82 °F. Expect around 10 days each month with some rain and lots of humidity in July and August.

Cheap Food

The seafood is some of the freshest you’ll find on the East Coast and there are plenty of restaurants where you can enjoy it at an affordable price.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Most people visit Chincoteague by car. The closest international airports are Reagan Washington in Washington D.C. and Baltimore International. Then, it’s about a two-hour drive.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Pamela says, “The Atlantic Shores Inn and Suites is a budget-friendly hotel in the heart of Chincoteague. It’s also within walking distance of Island Creamery which is famous for its homemade ice cream.”

best national park in America for budget-friendly summer trip
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

By Alyssa from An Apple A Plane

Perhaps one of United States most iconic destinations, Yellowstone National Park lands high on the bucket list for travelers around the world. Located in Wyoming and conveniently attached to Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park is an extremely beautiful destination. It is also one of the most affordable places in the USA for a summer vacation.

Holders of the annual United States National Parks pass can enter and exit the Park as many times per day as they would like without a fee. This $80 card is highly recommended as it provides access to every US National Park for 365 days. One card per vehicle is required. This option ends up saving more money over time. Alternatively, pay $35 per vehicle for seven days.

Once inside the National park, the possibilities are endless. Visitors have access to the most famous viewpoints and trails. Something incredible about Yellowstone is that the most iconic destinations do not require an intensive hike, therefore it is accessible for visitors with a variety of physical abilities.  

Visit the world famous Grand Prismatic spring. Photos don’t even do it justice- it’s one of these things you just need to see in person. Walk the Fairy Falls uphill trail for the infamous viewpoint. Then, head down to the Midway Geyser Basin boardwalk, so you can explore it up close. 

Old Faithful geyser is another beloved park treasure that does not require much walking and is very accessible. There are several benches to sit and relax until Old Faithful erupts. 


Summer sees an evening low temperature of 32 Degrees Fahrenheit and an average high of 75 Degrees Fahrenheit. However, Yellowstone has had days with summer temperatures reach 80 Degrees Fahrenheit. Expect a few days with some rain each summer month.

Cheap Food

For inexpensive food, plan to stop at a grocery store on the way, like Gardiner Market or Albertsons, and grab items such as peanut butter and jelly, bread, and fruit. This can save lots of money as opposed to eating out daily. 

Best Way To Reach Destination

Fly into Bozeman Yellowstone International airport and rent a car. It takes 1.5 hours drive to reach the west entrance of the National Park. There is no public transportation option for this route.  

Inexpensive Accommodation

Alyssa says, “Consider camping at Yellowstone or one of the campgrounds outside of the National Park to further save money and explore this bucket list destination on the cheap.”

best cities to visit in united states in summer for budget travelers
Washington, DC

Washington DC

By Lisa from

One of the best cheap cities to visit in America for a summer holiday is Washington DC. There are plenty budget-friendly activities that will keep you busy for your entire trip.

The best time to visit Washington DC is during the 4th of July festivities. On July 3rd, you can attend a rehearsal of the National Concert that is broadcast on PBS every year. It is free to attend. Then, on the 4th of July, grab your blanket and head to the National Mall for the best firework display in America.  

One of the best things to do in Washington DC is to visit the many National Smithsonian museums. There are 20 different museums and they are all free.

This includes the most popular museums such as the Air and Space Museum, The Natural History Museum, The American History Museum, and the National Zoo. You could spend days exploring all of these amazing museums. 

Another amazing budget-friendly activity in Washington DC is viewing the National Monuments. The famous Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Jefferson Memorial are all located on the National Mall as well as many others. Touring the Washington DC Monuments at night is even better! 

If you plan ahead and you are an America citizen, you can contact your senator to get a free guided tour of the White House and the US Capitol Building. Alternatively, you can also book a free tour of the Ford Theater, the Library of Congress, and the National Archives.


Average highs in summertime are around 84 °F and evening lows around 68 °F. There will be around 10 days with some rain. Expect humidity in July and August.

Cheap Food

After touring, head to Georgetown for some great shopping and dinner. The famous DC Cupcakes and the Levain Bakery are located in this area. 

Best Way To Reach Destination

Getting to DC is not a problem. There are three airports from which to choose from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (“DCA”), Dulles International Airport (“IAD”), and Baltimore/Washington International (“BWI”). You can compare prices and see which is the most affordable.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Lisa says, “It is very nice to stay within walking distance of the National Mall, but accommodation may be a little more expensive. If you want to save money, you can book a hotel along the metro line. The metro is awesome for getting into the city.”

best places to visit in the usa for cheap summer vacations
Clearwater, Florida (Photo courtesy of Candice from Exploring the Gulf)

Clearwater, Florida

By Candice from Exploring the Gulf

Are you looking for a fun and affordable summer beach destination? Look no further than Clearwater, Florida.

Located on the beautiful Gulf Coast of Florida, Clearwater offers visitors an array of activities to enjoy without breaking the bank. From relaxing days spent soaking up the sun at one of its many beaches to exploring downtown’s unique shops and restaurants, there is something for everyone in this vibrant coastal city. It is one of the best US summer getaways for budget travelers.

Take a stroll on Clearwater Beach. The stunning white sand, crystal clear waters, and breathtaking sunsets make this destination a true paradise.

During the summer, you can stop by Pier 60 for a really fun summer festival. The event is held every night two hours before sunset. There are lots of fun vendors and street performers. Grab some dinner at HomeStyle BBQ before heading out to the Pier.

Another fun and inexpensive thing to do is take the ferry out to Caladesi Island. You will escape the crowds in Clearwater, and the boat ride is a lot of fun.


If you are looking for a tropical summer destination, Clearwater is ideal. During the summer months, you can expect warm and humid temperatures. Average highs are around 88 °F with average monthly rainfall around 6″. Overnight lows are in the upper 70s.

You can expect the water temperature in Clearwater Beach to be around 85 °F in the summer.

Best Way To Reach Destination

The closest international airport to Clearwater, Florida is the Tampa International Airport. Located in Hillsborough County and situated just 15 miles from downtown Clearwater, this airport is the perfect gateway to begin your travels.

With over 20 airlines providing service to over 80 destinations, Tampa International Airport offers visitors lots of options when looking to explore this Gulf Coast.

The cheapest way to get from the airport to Clearwater is by bus. The bus route takes about 2.5 hours and only costs a few dollars.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Candice says, “Gram’s Place and Sunset House and Gardens are two great hostels to stay at in Clearwater.”

best affordable destinations in united states for a summer holiday
Durango, Colorado (Photo courtesy of Caitlin from Twin Family Travels)

Durango, Colorado

By Caitlin from Twin Family Travels

Durango, Colorado is a great place to base yourself for a budget-friendly Southwest Colorado road trip in summer. Southwest Colorado is known for its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural history, making it an ideal destination for travelers looking to explore the majestic outdoors or discover ancient Native American ruins.

Durango is only an hour from Mesa Verde National Park, which preserves some of the most impressive archaeological sites in North America. Plan to spend an entire day here. Take a tour of a cliff dwelling or two, hike some of the trails, and learn about the history of this special place.

Visitors to Durango can also take in breathtaking views along the San Juan Scenic Byway, a winding mountain road that offers scenic views of some of Colorado’s most beautiful landscapes. Explore the towns of Silverton, Ouray, and Telluride while driving this iconic mountain road.

While in Telluride, take the free gondola to Mountain Village. The Telluride Jazz Festival is held annually in August. In addition to the amazing jazz music, this festival offers other activities including culinary experiences, yoga, hiking, biking, a walking tour, and shopping.


The average temperatures in Durango during the summer months are highs in the 70s and evening lows in the 40s. Rain is not typically an issue with an average of only one inch per month during the summer.

Cheap Food

The Durango Farmers Market is a great place to pick up fresh produce and local products.

Best Way To Reach Destination

The nearest international airport to Durango is Albuquerque International Sunport. It is about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Albuquerque to Durango. You will definitely need a car to explore this area.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Caitlin says, “For inexpensive accommodation, check out the Adventure Inn.”

best us cities for inexpensive summer trips
San Francisco, California (Photo courtesy of Gabriel from Chef Travel Guide)

San Francisco, California

By Gabriel from Chef Travel Guide

Even though San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg for an epic trip to the city by the bay. It is one of the best cities for a summer trip in America for budget friendly travelers.

The best part about a visit to San Francisco is eating all the city’s cheap and incredibly delicious food and visiting the countless attractions that are either very cheap or free.

A visit to Golden Gate Park is the perfect way to walk off all the delicious food in San Francisco. The entrance is free, and there is enough to see for a full day of entertainment. 

Other must-do experiences include a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and checking out the view of the Bay Area from the top of Twin Peaks, two prominent hilltops in central San Francisco. 

One of the biggest events in San Francisco in the summer is Outside Lands which features over 70 bands on multiple stages over three days.

San Francisco is packed to the brim with enough attractions and unique sites to keep you entertained for weeks, and the majority are all free to visit.


Average high in summertime is 70 °F and evening lows in the high 50s. There is little to no rain or humidity.

Cheap Food

San Francisco is one of the top culinary destinations in the world. A popular first stop for cheap eats is Chinatown, with its many takeout dim sum shops and bakeries. Stop at Good Mong Kok Bakery on Stockton Street for over-stuffed Har Gow and Shui Mai dumplings. 

If you are feeling some seafood, head to Fishermans Wharf for some clam chowder served in a San Francisco sourdough bread bowl. This is the quintessential San Francisco meal, and it will fill you up for around $10. 

Other amazing options include the world-famous Mission-style burritos at La Taqueria or a slice from Tony’s Coal-Fired Pizza.

Best Way To Reach Destination

San Francisco has two airports (SFO and OAK) from which choose, with both options offering direct access to the BART train that will deliver you right to the heart of the city.

Alternatively, the drive from San Francisco airport only takes 20 minutes to reach Union Square.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Gabriel says, “If you’re looking for a place to stay in San Francisco that won’t break the bank, HI San Francisco Downtown Hostel is an excellent option as it is conveniently located in the heart of Union Square.”

best budget-friendly beach destinations in America for summer vacations
Plymouth, Massachusetts (Photo courtesy of Amanda from Hey! East Coast USA)

Plymouth, Massachusetts

By Amanda from Hey! East Coast USA

If you’re looking for a cheaper US place to visit in the summer with beaches, history, and easy access from a major hub city, then you have to head to Plymouth, Massachusetts. 

While most folks flock to iconic Cape Cod for the summer, you can avoid trying to cross the bridge in busy Cape traffic and instead enjoy an idyllic summer escape in pretty Plymouth.

Of course, one of the best free things to do in Plymouth is to visit one of the many beaches! Just watch out for parking fees at peak times. 

Craving a little more greenery? Enjoy the 3 miles of walking paths in Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary. They only request a small donation for the Mass Audubon Society’s maintenance of this important conservation land.

Plymouth considers itself to be America’s Hometown, so you won’t find a better spot for July 4th fireworks and special events. July 3rd brings bonfires on the beach in Manomet, so you can head there first and then enjoy the typical parade and fireworks over Plymouth Harbor on the 4th.


In the summer, expect average high temperatures to be 82°F and lows around 61°F. On average, there will be around 3″ of rain in each of June, July, August and September. There is some humidity.

Cheap Food

If you head to Long Beach for a day out in the sun and sea, then you have to grab a bite at Sandy’s. Seafood and drinks are always better at the beach!

Best Way To Reach Destination

To get to Plymouth, fly into Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) and drive about 45 minutes south. 

Alternatively, you can take the Silver Line from Logan to South Station (23 minutes), and then hop onto the commuter rail train to Kingston (1 hour). Kingston is just about a 10-minute drive from Plymouth, so it might be worth getting a taxi from there. Otherwise, get the Liberty Link bus into Plymouth Center (20 minutes).

Inexpensive Accommodation

Amanda says, “It’s the perfect time of year to go camping, so check out Myles Standish State Forest and reserve one of their nearly 400 campsites for serenity and affordability.”

best cheap places to visit in the USA
Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Tennessee (Photo courtesy of Victoria from Southern Trippers)

Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Tennessee & North Carolina

By Victoria from Southern Trippers

The Great Smoky Mountains are one of the best cheap places to visit in summer in the USA. They sit right in between North Carolina and Tennessee and are home to an incredible mountain landscape where you can also learn all about Appalachian culture.

If you’re looking for fun and free things to do in the Smoky Mountains, go on a magical bike ride through Cades Cove. It’s a stunning, tranquil valley in Tennessee where you can admire the unique flashing pattern of resident fireflies over two weeks in June. 

Then, stop by Clingman’s Dome and take in the stunning panoramas of the area from the highest point in all of Tennessee. Try and visit before or close to sunrise so that you can take in the views without the crowds. 

Finally, embark on a lovely, 2.5-mile round-trip hike to Laurel Falls since the scenic views are gorgeous. Plus, the hike is easy enough for everyone in the family to enjoy. Just try and visit early in the morning or during the week since this hike is popular and usually brimming over with people on weekends or later in the day. 

You can also attend the very first 4th of July parade in the nation. This fun event starts at midnight on July 4th and showcases upwards of one hundred floats. 

If you’re in the area in August, the Songwriter’s Festival is a great four-day event where you enjoy multiple free concerts.


Pack a raincoat since summer means between 10 and 12 days of rain per month. You’ll also want to bring plenty of layers since daily highs can get up to 86F while daily lows can dip down to 59F. Expect humidity in June, July and August.

Cheap Food

Grab some delicious Cinnamon Raisin Pecan French Toast from the Old Mill Restaurant in Pigeon Forge. It’s a great low-cost, Southern comfort food restaurant that serves giant portions of food that you’ll love.

Best Way To Reach Destination

McGhee Tyson Airport is about a 45-minute drive to Pigeon Forge and a rental car will be necessary since public transportation is scarce. 

Inexpensive Accommodation

Victoria says, “Check into your room at the Tennessee Mountain Lodge, Riverside by OYO. It’s a well-maintained property with simple rooms and fabulous owners.”

best cities in United States to visit in summer for budget travelers
St. Louis, Missouri (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

St. Louis, Missouri

By Gary & Michell from Love And Our Laptop Lives

St. Louis, Missouri is one of the best affordable destinations in United States in summer.

No visit to St. Louis is complete without visiting Gateway Arch National Park. The Park surrounding the Gateway Arch is a beautiful place to stroll and enjoy the grounds which overlook the Mississippi River. In addition to the amazing views of the Arch itself, a museum and the Historic Old Courthouse are located in the park and can be toured at no cost.

If you choose to take in the amazing view of the city from the top of the Gateway Arch, you will need to buy a tram ticket. The tickets cost less than $20 and the trip to the top is an adventure in itself.

Free summer activities for families in St. Louis do not stop at our National Park. Vacationers and locals can visit the St. Louis Zoo, an award-winning zoo with more than 14,000 different animals, or the St Louis Science Center with over 750 hands-on exhibits, both at no cost.

You can also spend the day at Grants Farm, a historical farm landmark that was previously owned by our 18th president Ulysses Grant. In addition to hundreds of animals, Grant Farm features historic buildings, the log cabin home of Ulysses Grant, and the Busch family’s home. Guided tours and fee beer samples are available for all adults.


Average highs in the summer months are high 80s degree Fahrenheit, with around 3″ of rain each month and some humidity in July and August.

Cheap Food

St Louis is home to a wide variety of delicious dining options and a reminder that good food does not have to break the bank. Families can find a wide selection of burgers, over-the-top sandwiches, and toasty subs, pizza, tacos or pasta. Carl’s Drive-In, located on Route 66 is a local favorite that hits the spot for all ages.

Best Way To Reach Destination

All major airlines fly into St. Louis Lambert International Airport, the largest airport in Missouri. Once in St. Louis, a variety of budget-friendly transportation is available for travelers to get around the city.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Gary & Michelle say, “A huge variety of hotel accommodation is available in St. Louis. A favorite hotel is Union Station, located in a historic train depot. Although not the cheapest hotel in the city, it is still very good value. It also offers many extras including a free nightly fire and water show and the Grand Hall Light Show.”

best US summer getaways for budget-friendly travelers
Bend, Oregon (Photo courtesy of John from Your Destination Is Everywhere)

Bend, Oregon

By John from Your Destination Is Everywhere

Bend, Oregon, is known for its beautiful and diverse landscapes. In the summer months, this charming city is a superb location for summer holidays in the United States because it offers an abundance of cheap activities, from hiking trails to summer festivals.

One of the best things to do is to go out and chase waterfalls. There are lots of beautiful waterfalls near Bend that are bucket list worthy, from the 100-foot-high Tumalo Falls to the brilliantly blue Wizard Falls. They make for an excellent day trip and are totally free to visit.

The festival season is in full swing during Bend’s summer months. The Bend Summer Festival is a massive celebration with over 75,000 visitors. It features some of the best local cuisine, artists, and craftspeople, along with lots of jazz music and wine.

Finally, you cannot visit Bend without spending a night stargazing. With most of the rain deposits on the west side of the Cascade Range, the night skies here are clear and dark for most of the year.

The Oregon Badlands Wilderness, 20 miles east of Bend, is a great spot to do so. If you don’t mind driving a bit farther out, then the Prineville Reservoir State Park is even better as it’s been designated as an International Dark Sky Park. And for only a few dollars, you can visit the Pine Mountain Observatory and use their telescope domes.


The summer weather in Bend, Oregon is typically warm and dry, with many clear days. The temperature can be as high as 82F on hot summer days, and as low as 45F during the night.

Since summer is the dry season, Bend receives minimal rainfall. However, a light rain jacket might come in handy as the weather here can change unexpectedly.

Cheap Food

There are lots of dining options in Bend but favorites are Pizza Mondo and El Sancho, which serve Italian and Mexican cuisine, respectively

Best Way To Reach Destination

The closest international airport to Bend is in Portland, Oregon, which is a 3.5-hour drive away. If you are traveling from within the country, you can also fly to Redmond Municipal Airport just outside of town.

Inexpensive Accommodation

John says, “In terms of accommodation, the Cascade Lodge is an excellent budget-friendly option. Located less than a mile from the city center, this lodge has all the basic amenities plus an outdoor pool!”

best outdoor destinations in united states for cheap getaways
Juneau, Alaska (Photo courtesy of Karen from Forever Karen)

Juneau, Alaska

By Karen from Forever Karen

Juneau is Alaska’s capital and offers many inexpensive or free activities, including some lovely hikes and a chance to visit Mendenhall Glacier. It is a fantastic affordable destination in the US for summer vacations.

Part of the Juneau Ice fields, the Glacier has been rapidly receding, but it is still a remarkable site. From downtown Juneau, the city bus provides the cheapest option to get there. You’ll need to hike one mile to the visitor center from the bus stop.

In summer, you can often see house-sized icebergs, watch bears in Steep Creek, and see Nugget Falls. The Park offers various hikes for different hiking abilities.

To enjoy amazing views of Juneau, consider the hike to Mount Roberts. Expect to take up to two hours to ascent the switchback trail. The trail can be muddy in summer, so wear appropriate hiking boots.

At the top, you can see Gastineau Channel from the Father Brown Cross. Snow will still cover the higher peaks, depending on how far you hike. The trail down is a little more challenging. Should you opt to take the gondola down, you have to purchase a ticket or spend $15 at the gift shop.


Expect temperatures in the high 60s in summer. Since Juneau sits in a rainforest, rain falls more often as the summer progresses. June experiences 13 days of rain on average, which increases to 17 days by August. In September, expect 13″ of rain.

Cheap Food

For cheap food in downtown, the Alaskan Crepe Escape offers sweet and savory crepes and Grumpy’s Deli has soups, hot sandwiches, and rice bowls.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Surrounded by mountains, you can only reach Juneau by plane or boat. The Juneau International Airport is located 8 miles from downtown, so you can visit without a rental car. From the airport, you can take a taxi or Lyft downtown.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Karen says, “Juneau Hostel offers an inexpensive stay.”

best affordable American beach destination in summer
Destin, Florida (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Destin, Florida

By Wayne from Always On The Shore

Destin, Florida is one of the best places to visit in the Florida Panhandle. If you’re looking for fun and free things to do, it’s also a perfect summer beach destination!  

If you are keen to be on the water, you could rent a boat or take a guided tour to look for dolphins or out to Crab Island. However, less expensive activities are found on land.

HarborWalk Village is free to visit and is a nice area to explore. It offers waterfront views along Destin Harbor, shopping, dining, kids’ activities, and entertainment.  

For more waterfront dining and shopping, The Boardwalk of Okaloosa Island is just west of Destin in Fort Walton Beach. It’s really a great place to spend a whole day or several hours, because it’s on the beach and you can walk the pier or try fishing off the pier for a small fee. They even have all your bait and fishing needs located on the pier. There’s a playground and splash pad for the kids, so there’s enough to keep everyone happy while visiting. 

A fun thing to do at the pier in the summer is to check out the fireworks show. They have this every Wednesday night throughout the summer. 

Other cheap things to do in Destin include visiting the beaches. Henderson Beach State Park offers a beautiful beach with picnic areas, a hiking trail, and a playground for only a small fee. 

There are also plenty of indoor activities to do such as Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone and shopping at Destin Commons. 

Miramar Beach is just outside of Destin and the beach is free to visit. For a restaurant with good prices, Pompano Joe’s on Miramar Beach has excellent food. 


Destin is a fantastic location if you are looking for tropical weather. Summer temperatures get up to 85-90 degrees with an average 5″of rain in each of June, July, August and September. The summer months also sees lots of humidity.

Cheap Food

Once you’re done at the beach or pier in Destin, you can cool off with some gelato at the ice cream shop. Alternatively, you can grab some food at Rockin’ Tacos or Floyd’s Shrimp House. 

Best Way To Reach Destination

The best ways to reach Destin are from either the Panama City Beach or Pensacola airports. If you don’t rent a car, the best way to get to Destin is by taxi. Both airports are just an hour from Destin. 

Inexpensive Accommodation

Wayne says, “Henderson Beach State Park offers camping for those looking to stay. Another nice place is The Palms of Destin near Henderson Beach State Park.”

best US cities for an inexpensive summer vacation
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

By Debbie from

Philadelphia is amongst the most famous cities in America, being a symbol of American Liberty and Freedom, and it continues to hold an important place in history today. From its lively neighborhoods full of colorful personalities, vibrant culture, and mouth-watering cuisines to landmarks like Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, there are many free or affordable things to do in Philidelphia for summer getaways for budget travelers.

For Rocky Balboa fans and movie enthusiasts, put your energy to good use and ascend the Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a memorable photo. Don’t forget to to recreate his famous pose – both hands triumphantly raised in the air!

Next, head over to see the Liberty Bell. It stands in its own majestic center at Independence National Historic Park. Admission to see the Liberty Bell is free. However, arrive early to beat the crowds.

As the birthplace of two crucial documents that shaped the nation’s history, Independence Hall stands as a testament to where ground-breaking discussions and signature signings took place for both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. Tickets are complimentary, but they are time stamped during the busiest months from March to December.

Between the months of May and September, admission to Blue Cross River Rink Summerfest is completely free for everyone. A summer entertainment center, you can choose from roller skating, mini-golfing, a variety of gaming options, amusement rides, and delicious concession stand items – all for an affordable pay-as-you-go option. It is Philadelphia Waterfront’s favorite summertime tradition.


When summer arrives in Philadelphia from June through September, so does hot and humid weather. July and August have temperatures hitting 86°F (30°C).

Cheap Food

You will not want to miss trying a famous Philly cheesesteak! These mouth-watering sandwiches with bites of steak, sauteed green peppers and onions, and provolone cheese are a local delicacy, budget-friendly, and they hit all the right spots.

Reading Terminal Market, located beneath the iconic National Historic Landmark building (formerly a railroad terminal), provides an amazing tourist experience as well as fresh local produce, seafood, meats, and cheese to Philadelphia locals. Operating since 1892, this market has been bringing people together in Center City.

Best Way To Reach Destination

The premier gateway to Philadelphia is the Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). Just 6.9 miles / 11.1 kilometers from downtown, it’s the closest and most convenient choice for travelers to explore this vibrant city. Philadelphia is also conveniently situated a short 90-minute train ride from iconic New York City.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Debbie says, “An inexpensive but nice central hotel is Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District. It is within walking distance of must-see attractions like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.”

best cheap places to visit in the USA for a summer holiday
Lake Tahoe, California (Photo courtesy of Patricia from Ze Wandering Frogs)

Lake Tahoe, California

By Patricia from Ze Wandering Frogs

For those looking for outdoor adventures and inexpensive summer trips in America, Lake Tahoe is one of the top summer attractions in California. Located high in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the North Shore is home to the towns of Truckee and Tahoe City, and South Shore Lake Tahoe features the city of the same name. 

In the summer months, free activities include hiking on one of many trails around the Lake. Some of the popular hikes include Mt Tallack for incredible views of Lake Tahoe or even multi-day treks through the wilderness where you can enjoy the landscape of the Sierra High Route mountainous region. 

Several watersports are among some of the affordable summer things to do in Lake Tahoe. Kayaking and stand-up paddling around the turquoise water of the beautiful Emerald Bay are the perfect way to admire one of the most scenic parts of Lake Tahoe.

There are several festivals around Lake Tahoe in summer, from the Beerfest & Bluegrass Festival at Northstar in July to the Classical Tahoe Festival at Incline Village in August.    


The best time to visit Lake Tahoe is summer when the temperatures average 65-70° F. Days tend to be mostly sunny, but summer thunderstorms can happen occasionally.

Best Way To Reach Destination

San Francisco Airport is the busiest airport in Northern California with lots of flights, but the closest airport to Lake Tahoe would be Reno in Nevada. The drive from San Francisco is about five hours, though only 45 minutes from Reno. In addition, several free shuttles run from Reno to Lake Tahoe and take about one hour.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Patricia says, “Cities and towns like South Lake Tahoe, Tahoe City, or Kings Beach have campgrounds and budget motels.” 

best destinations in United States for an affordable summer trip
Stanley, Idaho (Photo courtesy of Jessica from The Uprooted Traveler)

Stanley, Idaho

By Jessica from The Uprooted Traveler

Stanley, Idaho, sitting at the base of the craggy Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho, is an epic outdoor playground for adventure lovers.

There’s endless budget-friendly things to do here to enjoy the incredible scenery. For example, hike to any one of the 300 alpine lakes that are sprinkled across the Sawtooth Valley. One of the best trails in the area is the Alice Lake Trail, where you’ll hike past multiple alpine lakes, through dense pine tree forests and be rewarded with jaw-dropping views of the surrounding landscape.

Alternatively, in the warm summer months, there’s nothing better than getting out on the water. On Redfish Lake, you can rent a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddle board as the Sawtooth Mountains tower above. Afterward, grab a beer at the Redfish Lake Lodge on a patio overlooking the lake.

After all that hiking and paddling, one of the best things about this area are the incredible hot springs in Stanley, Idaho, almost all of which you can enjoy for free. For example, soak in Pine Flats Hot Springs in your own private pool, as you overlook rafters take on the rapids along the Payette River rushing below.

Every summer, usually in late June, the city throws a multi-day live music festival. Tickets are typically on the cheaper side for music festivals. Alternatively, the good vibes typically spill beyond the festival, with lots of smaller bands performing at bars and restaurants (for free!) around Stanley. 


Due to its high elevation, Stanley stays relatively cool, with highs in the upper 70s and lows in the 30s throughout the summer.

If you want to take full advantage of Stanley’s outdoor paradise, schedule your visit for July or August, when the high elevation hikes are snow-free and the alpine lakes are just the right temperature in which to swim.

Cheap Food

Staying and keeping busy in Stanley is incredibly cheap, thanks to the plentiful camping and endless affordable outdoor activities, but eating out isn’t particularly affordable.

Make food back at your campsite to keep costs down. However, if you’re still looking for a moderately priced but incredible meal, check out the Stanley Baking Company and Sawtooth Hotel for creative dishes, prepared with fresh and local ingredients.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Getting to Stanley in and of itself is a bit of an adventure. Fly into the Boise Airport and make the two hour and 45 minute drive northeast.

There isn’t an easy way to get to Stanley via public transit, but if you want to avoid renting a car, you could evaluate whether it makes sense to take the Sun Valley Express to Sun Valley. Then take an hour-plus ride share to Stanley or alternatively, try to find a ride through the Idaho RideShare program.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Jessica says, “While getting to Stanley isn’t particularly easy, there’s plentiful dispersed camping and organized campgrounds to fit any budget. Otherwise, given Stanley’s teeny size (less than 100 residents!), the accommodations in town are quite limited.

However, if you can look past the outdated decor at the Mountain Village Resort, you’ll find a conveniently located home base. Perhaps, more importantly, you will also find one of the most Instagrammable (and private) hot springs in town, located in a rustic barn overlooking the Sawtooths!”

best outdoor destination in usa for budget travelers
Red River Gorge, Kentucky (Photo courtesy of By Jessica from Unearth The Voyage)

Red River Gorge, Kentucky

By Jessica from Unearth The Voyage

One of the best inexpensive places to visit in the United States in the summertime is Red River Gorge in Kentucky. Red River Gorge is a designated National Geological Area that formed over 340 million years ago and is an outdoor lovers paradise. It’s made up of an intricate canyon system of cliffs, natural bridges, and rock shelters just waiting for you to explore.

Some of the best free things to do in the Red River Gorge area is to go hiking. There are a ton of different amazing trails to do in the area, but some of the best are the hikes to Creation Falls (1.5 miles roundtrip) and Double Arch Trail (4.5 miles roundtrip.)

Another cheap thing to do is take the Skylift up to Natural Bridge. The Skylift costs $17 roundtrip, but to make it even cheaper you can take it one way for $11 and then, hike down. 

Every Saturday night in the summertime, you can attend a square dance Hoedown at Natural Bridge State Park. The dancing starts at 7:30pm, but arrive a little early for a practice dance. Joining in on the dancing costs only a few dollars. 


The weather in the summer at Red River Gorge can be quite hot, so make sure you bring lots of water! The average temperatures are around 86° in the daytime. There isn’t a ton of rain this time of year, but you may get caught in the occasional summer shower.

Cheap Food

One of the best and inexpensive places to eat at Red River Gorge is Miquel’s Pizza. The pizza is delicious and they have a variety of craft beers on tap all for great prices. 

Best Way To Reach Destination

The closest airport is Lexington, Kentucky, about one hour’s drive away.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Jessica says, “Some of the best cheap places to stay at Red River Gorge are camping right next to the gorge. Natural Bridge State Park campground is a really nice campground and costs around $30 a night for a site.”

best inexpensive road trip in America for a summer getaway
Oregon Coast, Oregon (Photo courtesy of Candice from CS Ginger)

Oregon Coast, Oregon

By Candice from CS Ginger

The Oregon Coast is one of the best cheap places to visit in the United States for a summer road trip. The weather is amazing, and there are so many great inexpensive places to stay. It is also a fantastic family destination and an area that you will love to return year after year.

Some of the best places to visit during an Oregon Coast road trip are the Samual H Boardman Scenic Corridor, Yaquina Head Lighthouse, and Oregon Sand Dunes National Recreation Area.

The Samual H Boardman Scenic Corridor has lots of great scenic viewpoints and hikes. Yaquina Head Lighthouse is an amazing place to go tide pooling and look for whales.

In Oregon Sand Dunes, you can crab, rent an off-highway vehicle (if in your budget), or hike. There are lots of great hiking trails in the area to explore the sand dunes.

Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock are more tourist destinations and a little more expensive than the other areas on the Oregon Coast, but they are great places to visit. While you are in the area, be sure to go tide pooling at Haystack Rock and hiking at Ecola State Park.


The average high temperature in the summer is going to be in the high 60s Fahrenheit with little to no rain and humidity.

Best Way To Reach Destination

There are two international airports in Oregon. One is in Portland and called the Portland International Airport. The other is the Rogue Valley International Medford Airport, located in Medford, Oregon. Portland is in the North, and Medford is in the South. You will need to rent a car to fully enjoy this coastal road trip.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Candice says, “The Oregon Coast is full of state campgrounds. Many are very close to the ocean and very beautiful. These are the cheapest places to stay and if you don’t want to camp, you can stay in one of their yurts.

Cannon Beach is more of a tourist destination, making accommodation a bit more expensive. You can check out nearby Seaside or Astoria for more affordable lodging accommodations.”

best US cities to visit for a cheap summer trip
Cleveland, Ohio (Photo courtesy of Therese from Fueled By Wanderlust)

Cleveland, Ohio

By Therese from Fueled By Wanderlust

The city of Cleveland, Ohio is a hidden gem that sits along Lake Erie and is particularly enjoyable during summer. During the warm months, there are plenty of free and inexpensive ways to experience this underrated rust-belt city.

Simply admiring historic architecture around Cleveland can help you visualize the city’s early 20th Century Golden era, when industry was booming. A stroll through the Old Arcade, once called “Cleveland’s Crystal Palace”, will transfer you to the time of Victorian grandeur. 

Additionally, take advantage of Cleveland’s waterfront during gorgeous summer weather. Head to the East Ninth Street Pier to enjoy the view and take a selfie in front of the Cleveland Script Sign which underscores the skyline.

Another free thing to do is view North America’s largest outdoor chandelier in Cleveland’s Playhouse Square. This is America’s second largest performing arts center (outside Broadway).

Visitors can also check out various festivals while in town, like the Feast of the Assumption, which is the perfect chance to explore Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood. 

Additionally, The Great Lakes Burning River Fest celebrates how far the city has come since the once heavily polluted Cuyahoga River shamefully caught fire. 


During a summer visit to Cleveland, expect temperatures ranging in the high 70’s to mid-80’s F.  Although this is Cleveland’s rainiest season, averaging about 2.8 inches each month, there will be mostly beautiful sunny days. Expect humidity in July and August.

Cheap Food

Affordable dining options in Cleveland include Barrio for tacos and Masthead Brewing Co. for craft beer and delicious pizza. Visitors should also visit the West Side Market in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood, which dates back to 1912, and order from Steve’s Gyros. This food stall’s delicious gyros have even been featured on the Food Network. 

Best Way To Reach Destination

To reach Cleveland, fly into Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and make the fifteen-to-twenty-minute drive downtown. The red line train also runs from the airport to Tower City every fifteen minutes, with the ride taking about thirty-five minutes.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Theresa says, “For those who don’t like to shave costs off of lodging, book a room at the Hyatt Regency to stay in the elegance of the Old Arcade. Alternatively, the DoubleTree is an affordable, well-located option near the lake.”

best US national parks in summer for budget travelers
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia (Photo courtesy of Anna from Stuck On The Go)

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

By Anna from Stuck On The Go

Shenandoah National Park stretches along the ridges of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northwest Virginia. It is one of the best places to visit in the USA for an inexpensive summer trip

Stunning mountain views, scenery, and wildlife are typically what bring people here. There is an entrance fee to the park but a single vehicle pass is $30 and good for seven days.

If you only have a day or two then take a scenic road trip along Skyline Drive and stop at the various overlooks. Skyline Drive takes you through the park from Waynesboro in the south to Front Royal in the north.

If you have more time then some of the best hikes in Shenandoah are Stony Man, Doyles River Falls, or Upper Hawksbill.

Old Rag is the most iconic hike in the park but it is very strenuous and takes a full day. Note that you also have to get a permit for Old Rag.

While there are no festivals that happen in the Park, you can attend ranger-led programs during the summer. The National Parks also have five fee-free days per year which you can find here.


Summer is the warmest time to visit with temperatures at 74/75 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also the rainiest season with between 8 – 10 days of rain per month.

Cheap Food

When traveling through the National Park, the cheapest food you’ll find is at Elkwallow Wayside, Big Meadows Wayside, and Loft Mountain Wayside.

However, if you can swing it, the Blackberry Ice Cream Pie at Pollock Dining Room at Skyland or Spottswood Dining Room at Big Meadows is absolutely delicious.

If you’re on a strict budget then stop at a grocery store in either Front Royal or Waynesboro and find a picnic spot along the route.

Best Way To Reach Destination

The closest international airport is Washington Dulles and the drive is about 56 miles from there which takes about an hour.

There isn’t a great public transportation option. For example, to get to the entrance station, you would have to take the metro, DC MotorCoach, Corridor Connector, and then the Front Royal Trolley. Then, you need a car to explore Shenandoah National Park fully so renting one is the best option if you fly.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Anna says, “There are four different campgrounds (other than a group site) in Shenandoah and the best inexpensive one to stay at is Mathews Arm. They don’t have electric hookups but it’s perfect for tent camping.”

best budget friendly destinations in America for a summer getaway
Door County, Wisconsin (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Door County, Wisconsin

By Paulina from Paulina On The Road

Door County, also known as “Cape Cod of the Midwest”, is popular for its charming coastal towns, cherry and apple orchards, fish boils, and attractive sites. With breathtaking views of the waterfront, it’s a perfect spot for a summer vacation.

The city offers many fun and inexpensive things to do as well. One of the best is to spend the day out on the beaches. Egg Harbor’s and Sister Bay’s Beach are amazing ones to consider. Alternataively, bring your tackle and rod and check out George K Pinney County Park or Baileys Harbor for fishing.

Door county offers many fantastic annual events and festivals in the summer.

Enjoy free music concerts all summer long at several venues all over Door County, such as Sister Bay Waterfront Park Pavilion, Martin Park in Sturgeon Bay, and the Peg Egan Performing Arts Center.

The Beer Festival in June allows you to taste 150 beer samples. Plus, you can savor luscious dishes and enjoy live music.

The classic Door County fair is a must-visit in early August for classic carnival rides, games, and entertainment. Moreover, for barbecue enthusiasts, Death’s Door BBQ Competition is held at the end of August. It offers live music, kids’ activities, and of course, lots of appetizing BBQ dishes.


The summer months in Door County offer average highs in the mid 70s F. Expect around 2.7″ of rain per month and a few days of humidity in July.

Cheap Food

Door County has an array of restaurants that offer great ambiance and food at reasonable prices. Some of them are Door County Creamery, Grasse’s Grill, Bluefront Cafe, and White Gull Inn.

Best Way To Reach Destination

The closest airport is Cherryland Airport, about an hour’s drive. Alternatively, Austin Straubel International Airport in Green Bay is the nearest international airport. From there, you can rent a car to Door County, about 2.5 hours drive.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Paulina says, “If you’re looking for an inexpensive stay, Julie’s Park Cafe & Motel, Bay Shore Inn, and Open Hearth Lodge are some of the best options to consider.

In addition, there are a number of resorts in Door County. Westwood Shores Waterfront Resort, Newport Resort, and Country House Resort are the best of them with outstanding views.”

best places to visit in the USA in summer for a budget traveler
Santa Cruz, California (Photo courtesy of Kristin from Global Travel Escapades)

Santa Cruz, California

By Kristin from Global Travel Escapades

One place that should be on your list for a summer beach getaway is Santa Cruz, California. For starters, compared to Santa Cruz’s wet winters, the weather is amazing during the summer months.

Despite the city having a reputation for being on the more expensive side, there are plenty of affordable or free things to do. For example, you can visit the iconic Santa Cruz Boardwalk to ride the amusement park rides, browse the shops, or grab a bite at one of the popular seafood restaurants.

Alternatively, if you want to just soak up the sun and relax, head to one of the many scenic beaches that Santa Cruz is home to. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a few seals or sea lions playing on the shoreline.

If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, consider visiting one of the nearby state parks for a day of hiking or biking amongst the redwood trees. You’ll be able to appreciate the calming atmosphere as you immerse yourself in Santa Cruz’s natural beauty.


Visitors can expect average high temperatures in summertime of about 68°F and sunny skies, perfect for exploring the city and its many attractions.

Cheap Food

If you’re looking to try some delicious food that’s both good and affordable, head to the neighborhood surrounding Santa Cruz Riverwalk Park. You can also check out the local farmers markets. Sometimes, there are food trucks and live music playing for a nice afternoon.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Those interested in visiting the coastal town can fly into San Jose International Airport. It’s a quick 45-minute drive by car or a 1 hour and 45 minutes bus ride.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Kristin says, “Check out The Inn at Pasatiempo or consider camping at the gorgeous nearby State Parks to help keep costs down.”

best budget-friendly outdoor adventure spots to visit in the united states in summer
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah (Photo courtesy of Stephanie from The Unknown Enthusiast)

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

By Stephanie from The Unknown Enthusiast

Bryce Canyon National Park and the surrounding area in southern Utah is a fantastic cheap outdoor adventure place to visit in summer. The red rock scenery is absolutely stunning, the rock formations are otherworldly, and the hikes are epic. 

In Bryce Canyon, you should hike the Navajo Loop to Queen’s Garden Trail, and visit the 4 main viewpoints in the Bryce Amphitheater. Bryce Canyon is known for its hoodoos (tall, skinny, knobby red-orange rock spires), and the hikes take you down through the hoodoos, whereas the viewpoints let you look over them. 

Bryce is also extremely well-situated for other day trips. Visit Zion National Park to do epic hikes like Angel’s Landing (you’ll need to score a permit, and definitely start hiking early for milder temperatures and fewer crowds), go to Canyon Overlook, or hike the Narrows. 

Alternatively, do the Kanarra Falls hike. You’ll need to make a reservation ahead of time, but this hike takes you through a stream in a slot canyon to reach a small waterfall (and feels very refreshing in summer).

For something a little different than enjoying the outdoors, the Utah Shakespeare Festival is put on in Cedar City (1.5 hours away) every summer, and features Tony-award winning productions of Shakespeare’s plays. 


Summers in southern Utah are very hot, but thankfully with little rain and no humidity. In Bryce, average highs are in the 70’s and 80’s, but in Zion National Park and other spots in southern Utah, highs are regularly in the 90’s and 100’s.

Plan on waking up early and doing most of your hiking first thing in the morning, taking a break during the middle of the day, and then going back out in the evening. 

Best Way To Reach Destination

The closest airports are Las Vegas or Salt Lake City (both of them are 4 hours away from Bryce). There’s no public transportation option from either city all the way to Bryce Canyon – the closest bus station is in Parowan, so you will want to make this a road trip or plan to rent a car.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Stephanie says, “The town of Bryce Canyon has some restaurants and places to stay, but it’s a very quiet and sleepy town, so there aren’t a ton of options. There are a lot of good camping areas around Bryce Canyon, including several campgrounds in the Park. Otherwise, the Bryce Canyon Inn is a well-rated and inexpensive lodging option just outside.”

Last Word

There are many wonderful places in the United States to go for cheap summer holidays. Whether you wish to venture north, south, east or west, or visit cities, small towns, national or state parks, or beaches, there is something for everyone and every budget.

the authorNicole
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to As an Amazon associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.