9 Best Cheap US vacations: popular and off-the-beaten-path locations

Story by: Gael Fleming     Date: 26 August 2022   

5 minutes reading time United States

Most people don’t think of the US when they want a cheap vacation somewhere else in the world. Countries in Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, or Central America that are known for being cheap are definitely more popular as cheap vacation spots.

But there are many cheap vacations in the United States! You can travel the US on a budget, and there are many interesting, multicultural cities and beautiful national parks to choose from.

Check our best 9 affordable big city vacations in the United States:

1. Miami in Florida

Miami, Florida cheap us destination

Miami is surprisingly one of the best places in the US to go on a cheap tropical vacation. You can find really cheap flights outside of busy times like weekends and holidays. In Miami, Florida, food is also cheap. Spend your vacation soaking up the sun, relaxing on the beach, and just walking around to see the sights. If you don’t go out as much, Miami is actually very cheap.

2. New Orleans in Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana cheap us destination

New Orleans is a great place for people who love art, music, and architecture. This fun Southern city is a great place to go on a cheap US vacation because it is very cheap all year round. There are cheap places to stay and eat, and there is a lot of public art that won’t cost you a dime.

See the beautiful buildings in the French Quarter and the art in Jackson Square. You can also just walk around and find lots of street art and free jazz clubs. If you go in January, you can see the Mardi Gras parades.

3. Portland in Maine

Portland, Maine cheap us destination

New England is usually a pricey part of the United States, but if you go there when it’s not summer, you can save money on flights and hotels. Portland, Maine, is a hip town with lots of interesting shops, art galleries, great restaurants, and cool bars. Take a day trip outside of the city to see the wild and beautiful Maine seashore’s rocky beaches and lighthouses.

Between September and November is a good time to go. Even though it will be a bit chilly, the fall will be a good time to go because prices will be lower and there will be fewer people. You might even get to see the famous autumn leaves of New England.

4. Washington DC

Washington DC, cheap us destination

Washington, DC, is not one of the least expensive places to live in the United States, but it is a cheap place to visit. Find a cheap hotel or stay in a hostel if you’re only going to be there for a few days.

You can spend your days visiting famous places like the Washington Monument, the White House, Capitol Hill, and the many amazing Smithsonian Museums. All of these can be seen for free!

If you want to learn more about the culture and history of the US Capital city and save money at the same time, you could volunteer for a project. You can work for your room, meet lots of interesting people, and learn about the city from someone who lives there.

5. Philadelphia in Pennsylvania

 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania cheap us destination

Philadelphia is a great place to visit for a vacation full of history and fun. This lively city is easy to see on a budget because public transportation is cheap, hotels are cheap, and there are a lot of free things to do.

Be sure to visit the United States Mint, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the National Constitution Center. All can be seen for free, and they are all important parts of American history.

6. Memphis in Tennessee

Memphis, Tennessee cheap us destination

Memphis captures Tennessee’s love of music and Southern charm, and it’s a cheap place to visit. So, Memphis is a great choice for a cheap vacation in the US. There are some cheap hostels and motels for young people, and there are also a lot of cheap hotels.

Memphis is full of places to see live music, music studios, museums, famous landmarks, and historic sites. The main place for music is the Beale Street Historic District, where you can often find venues with low or no cover charges. You can also get cheap food at BBQ places in the area.

7. Chicago in Illinois

Chicago, Illinois cheap us destination

Chicago is a well-known tourist destination because it is one of the most popular places to visit in the United States. It’s not known for being cheap, but you can do a lot of free things like visit museums and sights. You can also do simple housekeeping work as a volunteer in a hostel in exchange for free housing. With a free place to stay and a lot of free time, it’s easy to see Chicago without spending a lot of money.

8. Phoenix in Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona cheap us destination

One of the best cheap vacation spots in the US is the capital city of Arizona. There are a lot of cool hikes and natural areas to check out in this desert area. South Mountain Park and Camelback Mountain are great places to go hiking, but you should avoid going in the summer because it can get very hot.

Some of the best things about Phoenix are the Desert Botanical Garden, the many interesting museums, and the fun things to do at night.

9. Detroit in Michigan

Detroit, Michigan cheap us destination

The Motown Museum is one of the best things to see in Michigan’s biggest city, which is known for its unique museums and interesting landmarks. Most people don’t think of Detroit as one of the best places to go on vacation in the US, but there is a cool work exchange program that can be a lot of fun. In a family-run guest house, you can work on social media, do maintenance, or teach other volunteers English.

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