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Cheap Vacation Destinations in the US: Complete Guide

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Are you feeling the travel bug biting at your heels? If you feel like getting away, there’s no need to visit an exotic location overseas, and going to the beach is overrated as well. The United States is full of exciting destinations for your next vacation.

Vacationing locally at national destinations is an excellent way to save money on your traveling expenses. If you decide to go to lessor-visited destinations, then you can expect to save tons of money on meals, accommodation, and entertainment.

We put together this list of the top destinations in America for an affordable vacation.

Enjoy your time relaxing while you explore impressive natural wonders and breathtaking scenery – without worrying about your bank balance.

Cheap Vacation Ideas

Read: Cheap Vacation Ideas: Budget-Friendly Trips Guide

Oklahoma City

Appropriately named, “The Big Friendly,” Oklahoma is a fantastic state to visit for your budget vacation. The locals are kind and gracious, and everyone seems to be smiling. The state capitol makes an excellent destination, with plenty for the entire family to do.

Oklahoma City

The historic Route 66 makes its way through the city, with plenty of museums and landmarks dotted along the roadside. Most of the attractions in the state are free, and you can find other inexpensive attractions to keep the kids busy as well.

The American Banjo Museum and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, are popular for the little ones. Take them along for a session at Frontier City, a water park with a Wild West-theme. There are coupon codes available online for additional savings on these attractions.

Biloxi, Mississippi

Biloxi is the heart of the Mississippi state. Visit the lighthouse in the evening for a spectacular view of the lights as you take in the scenery of this Gulf city. It might surprise you to learn that Biloxi is one of the most popular gambling destinations in the United States.

Biloxi, Mississippi

You’ll find plenty of hotels along the waterfront that offer affordable rates that are a fraction of what you would pay for hotels in Atlantic City or Las Vegas. The entertainment on offer suits more of an adult theme during the evening. However, during the day you have the beach for the kids and plenty of activities along the waterfront.

The adults can visit the bars in Fishbone alley, visit a micro-brewery, or go on a wine-tasting tour at Boggy Creek Vineyard.

Daytona, Florida

If you’re a Nascar fan, then why not make a pilgrimage to the home of the sport? Daytona is a legendary city for Nascar fanatics, and you can visit the Daytona International Speedway with your kids for a fun day out that doesn’t cost a fortune.

Daytona, Florida

After the excitement of the racetrack, head to the beach for dinner as the sun goes down. Tickets for raceways can be expensive, but we found good deals on Groupon for family tickets.

Branson, Missouri

Branson is home to the “Titanic Museum.” This site pays homage to the supposedly unsinkable ship. Take a tour and get to know the events surrounding the design, development, and history of the ship.

Branson, Missouri

Pose for photos with the life-size replica of the Titanic, and look at actual wreckage from the original vessel. Your kids might start to tire of Celine Dion singing on repeat. Whisk them away to the world’s largest toy museum or one of the amusement parks nearby.

Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas

If you want to experience the real-life “City Slickers,” then head on down to Dallas Fort-Worth. Sign you and the family up for the Fort-Worth Herd Longhorn Cattle Drive held at Fort-Worth Stockyards Historic District. Learn more about cowboy culture at the Stockyards, and view a cattle drive demonstration.

Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas

Dallas also offers some exciting destinations as well. Get big-city entertainment attractions at affordable prices, and use the free trolley service to get around town. Fort-Worth also plays home to the JFK Historic Site, Texas State Fair, and the Cowboys football team.

Raleigh, North Carolina

Taking a vacation in Raleigh gives you plenty to do, and there’s so much on offer that you’ll struggle to get through it all in one trip. The capital city of North Carolina has museums that don’t charge any entrance fee.

Raleigh, North Carolina

You can pick up discount coupons online for games or concerts at the PNC Arena. Take the family shopping at Crabtree Valley Mall, and head out for dinner at one of the city’s affordable but outstanding restaurants. The accommodation is cheap for a town that offers tourists so much value.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

If you want to escape to the mountains for your vacation, then visit Gatlinburg, Tennessee. This city is in the beautiful backdrop of the Smoky Mountains, and there’s plenty of attractions on offer for tourists. Take the family on a lift-car ride and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

If the kids get bored taking it all in, then visit the mountain coaster, or take them to the museums around town. Gatlinburg is an excellent choice for the family that likes to get outdoors. Enjoy seasonal skiing in the mountains, or take a hike along one of the many mountain trails. There’s plenty of affordable accommodation available, and restaurants have reasonable prices as well.

Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville is another city with plenty to do for the whole family. Take a trip downtown and visit the St. Johns River for a dramatic view of the skyline. Take a tour through the Cummer Museum, and view the beautiful artwork, and relax in the tranquil outdoor garden.

Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville is a mecca for craft brewing, and you find dozens of micro-breweries scattered across the city. Take the kids to the Jacksonville Zoo for a fun day out, and then stop past Sweet Pete’s candy store for a treat. Look online, and you’ll find plenty of hotel deals for under $100 a night.

Memphis, Tennessee

Visit the home of Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. Take a tour through Elvis Presley’s iconic home, and revel in the nostalgia of the King, in a time where America was experiencing a musical revolution. Tours of Graceland can be somewhat expensive. However, you’ll be able to get free access to the outdoor meditation garden if you show up before 8:30 am.

Memphis, Tennessee

Pose for pictures in the garden with the house in the background, and take a walk around the grounds for free.

Visit the legendary Beale Street blues clubs, and catch musical performances at the Historic Overton Park. Visit the University of Memphis for a tour of the art museum, as well as the Pink Palace Museum as well. Tuesday afternoons are a great time to go for free tours.

Salt Lake City

Take an affordable family vacation in Salt Lake City. The Great Salt Lake covers an expanse of 1,700-square miles, making it one of the largest lakes in America. Utah’s capital city is also a pilgrimage site for the Mormon religion, with the city’s cathedral being one of the most impressive structures in Utah.

Salt Lake City

Spend a day at the Great Salt Lake State Park, where admission is only $3 per vehicle. Take in the culture of the city and visit The Utah Museum of Fine Arts and take the kids to the Hogle Zoo, with both locations offering affordable admission for families.

Phoenix, Arizona

Take a family vacation to the desert to bring some heat to your lifestyle. Phoenix may be in the heart of a sand-locked desert expanse, but there’s still plenty of entertainment on offer for the family. Visit the historic Tovrea Castle, and the Mystery Castle.

Phoenix, Arizona

If you’re an avid golfer, Phoenix has some of the best greens and fairways in the country. Wander through the Desert Botanical Garden and view of the best of what the local landscapes have to offer.

Phoenix has excellent public transportation, allowing you to get anywhere for cheap on the metro rail and bus service. There are dozens of hotels offering accommodation for under $100-per night.

Williamsburg, Virginia

Take a tour through the colonial history of Williamsburg in Virginia. This destination is the ideal vacation spot for history buffs, and you can spend your days in a time-warp back to the 1600s. Start your all-American vacation with a tour through the historical sites around town.

Williamsburg, Virginia

If the kids start to tire of the endless history lesson, take them to the Busch Gardens theme park. Have some family fun on the rollercoasters, and enjoy an affordable meal at one of the authentic restaurants scattered around town.

Tucson, Arizona

Get a taste of the old West and visit Tucson for an affordable vacation destination. If you want to warm up after the wintertime, don’t head to the beaches with the rest of the crowds. Spending your holiday in Tucson will warm you up, and you won’t have to deal with the high prices on the coastline.

Tucson, Arizona

The city has plenty of museums, historic sites, and parks to visit. Take a tour through the Saguaro National Park, and have lunch at an authentic Mexican restaurant. Visit the movie set of “Old Tucson,” and take a time warp back to the old West, when life was a lot different.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Take your family to Albuquerque for your family vacation. This city has plenty of annual events to keep you busy during your stay. Take a tour through the skies at the hot-air balloon festival, or increase your cultural awareness through attending the Native American Gathering of Nations Powwow.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque is the home of the hit television series, “Breaking Bad.” While it’s not really suitable for a family vacation, you can take a tour through Walter White’s home. Accommodation is affordable around Albuquerque, with some hotels charging as little as $50 per night.

San Antonio, Texas

Take a trip to San Antonio with your family, and remember the Alamo on your visit. Formerly known as the “Mission San Antonio de Valero,” the Alamo is a Historic site in San Antonio, worthy of a visit with your family on your affordable vacation.

San Antonio

Take a guided tour through the historic mission, and experience the thrill of a reenactment. You get free admission, and there are daily lectures and book signings as well. Wander along the city’s River Walk, and take in some window shopping at the boutique stores before you head to a local restaurant for an affordable meal that’s full of flavor.

There are plenty of luxury hotels for accommodation. However, if you want to save a few bucks on your stay, look through the hundreds of Airbnb listings on offer.

Las Vegas, Nevada

It might surprise you to learn that Las Vegas is an affordable family vacation destination. The strip has plenty of affordable accommodation, and you’ll find some rooms for less than $100-per night. If you’re feeling hungry, chow down at one of the hundreds of buffets available at the city’s restaurants.

Las Vegas, Nevada

There’s so much to do in Las Vegas, from shows to theme parks, and let’s not forget about gambling in the evening. However, don’t visit the casinos with your credit card, as the excitement of the casino floor might tempt you to start gaming, and the house always wins.

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the great wonders of the world. Last year, more than 4.5-million tourists visited this destination in the Southern United States. Taking a family vacation at the Grand Canyon is fun for the family, and easy on your bank account.

The Grand Canyon

Take tours through the canyon, and experience some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Enjoy the sunset over the canyon, and take in the beauty of the natural world. You get entrance into the park for $30 a vehicle, and the park also offers free entrance days as well.

Camp in the park to make extra savings, with campsites costing between $12 to $50 per night. The park also offers dog kennels, laundry facilities, and showers.

In Closing – Review Travel Sites Online for Deals

There are plenty of travel sites to help you get discounts on your vacation expenses. Airbnb offers an excellent service for finding accommodation anywhere in the United States.

If you have a rewards program on your credit card, remember to run all your expenses through the facility and receive cash-back on your spending.

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Oliver Dale is Editor-in-Chief of MoneyCheck and founder of Kooc Media Ltd, A UK-Based Online Publishing company. A Technology Entrepreneur with over 15 years of professional experience in Investing and UK Business.His writing has been quoted by Nasdaq, Dow Jones, Investopedia, The New Yorker, Forbes, Techcrunch & More.He built Money Check to bring the highest level of education about personal finance to the general public with clear and unbiased reporting.oliver@moneycheck.com


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank or credit card issuer and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.


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