Home PACKING 20 Cheapest Destinations in North America

20 Cheapest Destinations in North America


I’ve asked the travel experts, and they have reported back with the top 20 cheapest destinations in North America for you to travel on a budget!

From the ice-capped mountains in Montana to Canada’s bohemian island of Salt Spring, I have collected the top cheapest places to travel to in North America.

So grab your free travel planner, equipped with budgeting guides and itinerary worksheets, and get ready to explore the most affordable countries in North America, featuring some of the best vacation spots in the USA, Canada, Mexico, and more!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure here.

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cheap vacation spots Canada North America

Canada

Canmore, Alberta

cheapest destinations in Canada Canmore

Recommended by Dean and Laynni from Routinely Nomadic

Located in the dramatic foothills of the Canadian Rockies, Canmore is an outdoor adventure hub and natural wonderland that serves as one of the cheapest destinations in Canada. Surrounded by some of the most impressive mountain scenery in North America, it features easy access to several top hiking destinations, including Kananaskis Country, Banff National Park and Yoho National Park. Dozens of Canada’s best day hikes can be reached within an hour’s drive of Canmore, including favorites such as Big Beehive, Smutwood Peak and the incomparable Tent Ridge Horseshoe.

While Canmore is not exactly a shoestring backpacker destination, it is significantly more affordable than its world-famous neighbor, Banff, just 20 kilometers up the road. Yes, Banff is beautiful and also has that whole mountain ski lodge feel to it, but prices for food, accommodation and novelty moose sweatshirts will make your eyes water.

Canmore, on the other hand, offers much more affordable vacation rentals (especially on long-term stays), several decent value outdoor equipment shops and plenty of reasonably priced restaurants and pubs (don’t miss the views at the Iron Goat or the happy hour specials at The Drake).

While there is enough great hiking around Canmore to keep you busy for months, it is also a great place to enjoy mountain biking, there are several lakes for swimming (in summer) or skating (in winter), and some world-class golf courses. And if you need a day to rest from all your exertions, there are some epic scenic drives to enjoy.

Montreal, Quebec

cheapest destinations in Canada Montreal

Recommended by Devin from Deventuretime

Montreal, Quebec is a great cheap vacation spot in Canada. Between the affordable restaurants, alcohol, and sightseeing, it is the perfect destination for college students and those wishing to save some money on their vacation in North America.

The city is known for its lively nightlife, delicious poutine, festivals, and European feel. There are different events happening around the city consistently, making it a great place to visit all year round. Although, it certainly gets cold during the winter!

While you can explore the highlights of Montreal in one day, it is a great place to visit for a long weekend. There are plenty of budget-friendly accommodations costing less than $100 CAD per night that are also located near the must-visit sites. Many of these places also offer free breakfast as well! To keep transit costs at a minimum, opt for staying near Downtown Montreal and walk between attractions.

During a visit to the city, be sure to head to Old Montreal. This part of the city feels like a European city, boasting cobblestone streets, buildings with gorgeous architecture, and plenty of shops to explore.

Here, you can grab a cheap bite at one of the many cafes and restaurants that serve poutine, crepes, and Montreal-style bagels! After, head to the Old Port and take a walk along the water and enjoy the views.

Nanaimo, Vancouver Island

cheapest destinations in Canada Nanaimo

Recommended by Lotte from Phenomenal Globe

Most people visiting Vancouver Island tend to visit Victoria and often Ucluelet or Tofino. While all of these are lovely, an often-overlooked destination is Nanaimo. Nanaimo is located on the east of the island and as the ferry lands here from Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay to be exact) it’s very easy to get to and is one of the cheapest vacation spots in Canada.  

There are many free things to do in Nanaimo, as well as in the surrounding area, making it a very affordable destination. Stroll along the harbor front, explore the Old City Quarter with its beautiful 1850s heritage buildings or learn more about the city at Nanaimo Museum (the entrance fee is just $2). 

For amazing views over Nanaimo and Vancouver Island, climb nearby Mount Benson. There is an 8km loop trail leading to the top (1000 meters above sea level) and back down. The total elevation gain is over 700 meters so this hike does require a moderate level of fitness. Again, the views from the top are breathtaking so it’s definitely worth the effort! 

If you are looking for a nice but affordable place to eat, check out La Stella Trattoria. This place serves delicious pizza from a woodfired oven for very reasonable prices. Alternatively, visit the local supermarket and buy supplies for a picnic at lovely Westwood Lake, west of town.

Toronto, Ontario

cheapest destinations in Canada Toronto

Recommended by Carolin from Happy When Abroad

With over six million inhabitants, Toronto is not only Canada’s largest city but also a popular cheap travel destination in Canada and North America. The metropolis offers numerous activities for every time of the year and for every kind of budget.

Besides climbing up the famous CN Tower, going on a boat tour to watch the city’s unmistakable skyline should also be high on your Toronto Bucket List. Even though Toronto is a big and popular city, and some attractions and restaurants might appear rather expensive compared to smaller cities, there are many activities for students and other budget-friendly travelers as well!

Free activities include, for example, strolling around the colorful harbor front while enjoying the view over Lake Ontario, walking around the Distillery District, admiring the screens at Yong-Dundas Square as well as diving into the Bohemian vibes at Kensington Market.

Graffiti Alley is also a place where you do not have to spend any money and can take beautiful photos of the painted walls. Besides many smaller restaurants, St. Lawrence Market is the perfect spot to buy some cheap and delicious food.

Finally, Toronto is also the perfect starting point for exploring other famous cities in Canada’s East such as Ottawa and Montreal, starting an outdoor adventure, or visiting the nearby Niagara Falls– all offering cheap vacation spots in North America.

Victoria, Vancouver Island

cheapest destinations in Canada Victoria Vancouver Island

Recommended by Luke from Wild About BC

The city of Victoria on the southern tip of Vancouver Island is a beautiful place to spend a few days exploring as a cheap vacation spot in Canada. The inner harbor in Victoria, which is right in the city center, is particularly charming. Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, is also a very affordable getaway, especially when compared with the likes of Vancouver and Whistler. Accommodation here is cheaper and there are lots of great free and cheap things to do in Victoria.

Like most cities one of the best things to do here is explore on foot. The inner harbor is a great place to start where you will get stunning views over the busy waterways. Then make your way around the harbor and head to Fisherman’s Wharf, which is a mini community of colorful floating homes. Grab a quick bite to eat or simply watch the local seals swim in and around the boardwalks that connect the floating homes.

One of the coolest streets in Victoria is Fan Tan Alley, which is officially the narrowest street in Canada. There are several boutique shops and eateries hidden away in this tiny alley. Victoria is also home to some great beaches so when the weather is warm you can enjoy a few hours lying in the sun. Willows Beach in Oak Bay is the pick of the bunch as it is a nice sandy beach with calm waters to swim in.  

Luckily the best food here also comes at a budget. Red Fish Blue Fish offers a range of seafood but they are famous for their fish tacos. They serve their food out of a small shipping container down on the docks of the inner harbor and it’s relatively inexpensive.

cheap vacation spots Cuba North America (1)

Cuba

Havana

cheapest destinations in North America Havana Cuba cheap

Recommended by Carley from Home to Havana

Just a 45-minute flight from Miami and surprisingly easy for citizens of the United States to visit, Havana, Cuba can be an inexpensive getaway and once-in-a-lifetime travel experience in North America. With the perfect combination of activities and sights for culture and history buffs, plus being close to the beach, this cheap destination in North America has it all.

Exploring the streets including sights like Calle Obispo and the colonial plazas like Plaza Vieja and Plaza de San Francisco is an easy self-guided architectural walking tour for the books. Staying at a casa particular in Old Havana is one of the best ways to enjoy the colonial architecture of the city – many of these private apartment rentals are in restored colonial homes, and cost a fraction of the price of a hotel room, though are often much nicer.

A day in Havana wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Coppelia ice cream parlor – built after the Cuban Revolution, it is one of Havana’s most beloved institutions – and a walk on the Malecón sea wall to watch the sun set over the ocean.

Finish the evening with a visit to the Fábrica de Arte Cubano, a mixed-use art gallery, concert venue, bar, and club with a cover of just $2.00 and enough things to see and do to keep you busy all night. 

cheap vacation spots Mexico North America

Mexico

Merida

cheapest destinations in North America Merida Mexico cheap

Recommended by Shelley from Travel Mexico Solo

As one of the most up and coming Mexico cheap travel spots, Merida is also one of the most affordable places to visit in North America, specifically in the Yucatan Peninsula. From inexpensive and beautiful Airbnbs in Merida, to delicious cheap eats and street food, Merida is an affordable, tropical travel destination.

Located just a few hours from some of Mexico’s biggest tourism hubs, like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya and Tulum, Merida is still somewhat off the beaten path. For this reason, Merida is still very affordable for the Yucatan.

Known as the cultural capital of the Yucatan Peninsula, and a central hub of Mayan culture, Merida offers many great things to do and see. Begin your visit with the free walking tour of Merida’s Centro Historico (historic downtown), offered by the Office of Tourism.

Besides the walking tour, Merida has many parks to enjoy, like Parque Hidalgo, Parque Santa Lucia and the main park in Plaza Grande. Located on the outskirts of downtown, head to the Parque Zoologico del Centenario (Centenario Park Zoo), which is free to see their many exotic animals and birds.

Merida, and all of Mexico, has a rich street food culture. It is easy to eat very well, and sample many famous Yucatecan foods, right on the street. If you want to sit down and eat, head to Mercado Santa Ana and the other mercados (markets), for a no-frills, inexpensive meal with locals.

The closest beach to Merida, Puerto Progreso, is easily accessible on the Auto Progreso. This luxury-style bus goes between Merida and the beach all day, and costs only about $2 per ride for the 35-minute trip. Progreso is also a great and inexpensive place to spend the day.

Back in Merida, head to the city’s famous old school canintas for cold beer and mezcal. Do a self-guided Cantina Crawl to the well known places like El Cardenal Cantina and Eladio’s to enjoy botanas. Similar to tapas bars in Spain, in many Merida cantinas, if you’re drinking, they offer complementary botanas, or snacks.

Morelia

cheapest destinations in North America Morelia Mexico for cheap

Recommended by Michelle from Silvas Travel Tribe

Located along the Don Vasco Route, Morelia is one of the cheapest destinations in Mexico and North America. The colonial architecture of the historic downtown in Morelia Michoacan provides hours of exploration. Opportunities to discover free architectural treasures and amazing food, an exchange rate of almost 20 Mexican pesos to 1 US dollar will get you far.

Visit the historic center, dominated by the grand Baroque cathedral. Built in the 1600s, the pink limestone towers overlook the square, standing watch Saturday nights over a sound and light show with fireworks. Cross the Plaza de Armas to enjoy café culture. A sidewalk table at Panoli with coffee and pastry is less than 80 pesos. Listen to live musicians and people watch.

Down the main avenue to the Nacional College of San Nicolas, dating to 1570, hosts a library. These multistoried stacks provide a window into history stored in richly stained wooden cases. Next door the Mercado de Dulces showcases local candies and artisans. Traveling two blocks gets you Gaspachos El Guero. Some say you haven’t visited Morelia until you’ve had gazpacho. This customized fresh fruit dish fills a cup big enough for two for 60 pesos or less.

Head toward the romantic setting of the Garden of Roses. Appreciate the architecture of the Conservatorio de las Rosas. Designed as a convent in 1595, the building now hosts one of the world’s oldest music conservatories.

Finally take a sunset stroll down Calzada Fray Antonio. This tree lined avenue stretches the length of the downtown area ending at a beautiful fountain and a stretch of the city’s original 1500s aqueduct.

Oaxaca City

cheapest destinations in North America Oaxaca City Mexico for cheap

Recommended by Rachel from Average Lives

Oaxaca City is an extremely affordable vacation spot in Mexico and in North America– one that should be high on your vacation bucket list. There are lots of free things to do and even the museum entry tickets and the day tours are all budget traveler friendly.

Oaxaca is most famous for Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) when the city comes to life. However, the city is fun to visit all year round if you cannot make this special event. 

The best and most affordable things to do are to go on a free walking tour around the city, admire the colorful buildings, churches and explore the markets. Also, you should not miss a trip to Hierve el Agua (a frozen waterfall).

You can get there via bus or taxi, or you can opt to take a tour. The tour is around $10 and will take you to the waterfalls, Milta ruins, a weaving shop, Thule tree, and a mezcal distillery. It’s a bargain. 

While you are in Oaxaca, there are plenty of affordable food and drink places to try. The best include visiting the open-air Tiacoula Market to find local specialties, Mezcal tasting at Mezcaloteca, and finally, craft beers and Oaxacan nachos on a rooftop at La Mezcalerita. You will quickly fall in love with this vibrant city – there’s no doubt about that.

Valladolid

cheapest destinations in North America Valladolid Mexico for cheap

Recommended by Dani from No Hurry To Get Home

Valladolid, one of the cheapest vacation spots in Mexico, is a quaint colonial town in the Yucatan Peninsula that still remains a bit of a hidden gem in Mexico.

Not only is accommodation and food extremely budget-friendly in Valladolid, but there’s also an array of fun (and totally free) things to do in town. Walking around the street Calzada de Los Frailes to take in the beautiful and colorful architecture that lines the street is the perfect way to start to get to know the city.

Another must-do is visiting the main market, where you can buy fresh food and even sit down for an authentic meal (Yucatecan food is considered one of the best in Mexico)! Next, check out the main plaza where you can visit the Iglesia San Servicio (tip: visit it again in the evening to witness a fascinating light show that tells the story of Valladolid).

Another of the best things (and super cheap) things to do in Valladolid is to rent a bike and visit the nearby cenotes that surround the town. A must is cenote Oxman and you can then hit up the nearby X’keken & Samula. Entry prices to cenotes vary, but you can expect to pay no more than $15 for the entire adventure including your bike rental, entry fees, food, and even a drink or two!

Valladolid, as a cheap destination in North America, is also close to some of the most iconic landmarks of Mexico, including Chichen Itza, Las Coloradas, Rio Lagartos, and turquoise beaches that still haven’t been ridden by tourists as they have in nearby Tulum.

cheap vacation spots Mexico North America

United States

Boston, Massachusetts

cheapest destinations in North America Boston for cheap

Recommended by Dymphe from Dyma Abroad

One of the best affordable vacation spots in the US and North America is Boston. Boston is a lovely city and the capital of the state of Massachusetts. The city is one of the larger cities in the United States and played an important role in US history.

Besides that, the atmosphere in Boston is amazing. This makes the city worth visiting for your vacation. However, what makes this city a great affordable destination specifically is that there are a lot of free things to do in the city! Just walking through the city and enjoying the atmosphere is great! Along the way, you see some amazing architecture and lovely views.

Besides that, there is so much to do and see in this city. One of the best things you can do in Boston is to go to any of the museums. A great one is the Museum of Fine Arts where you can see a collection of beautiful paintings from all over the world. You can visit it for free every Wednesday after 4 pm.

Another great place to go is the Boston University Art Galleries. This place is always free. Besides that, there are many parks that are relaxing (and free) to walk through. The Boston Public Garden is a great example of a park that is worth visiting.

Other lovely free things in this affordable US city include walking the Freedom Trail, going to a Hatch Shell concert, and going to the USS Constitution.

Bozeman, Montana

cheapest destinations in North America Bozeman for cheap
Recommended by Kay from The Awkward Traveller

Montana is one of America’s overlooked gems when it comes to holiday destinations, especially as one of the most affordable vacation spots in the USA and in North America. Bozeman, Montana, specifically, is an incredibly affordable destination because of its proximity to unparalleled (and often free!) outdoor activities and small town charm.

If you are a nature lover, you are spoiled for options for hiking, wildlife viewing, and scenic drives through the American northwest. Bozeman is a little over an hour’s drive from one of the country’s most beautiful national parks, Yellowstone, but for a free hike experience you can head to the Hyalite Reservoir area for dozens of trailheads ranging in difficulty and accessibility.

Animal lovers can head to Sentinel Ranch, a large alpaca farm, to get up close and personal with cute farm animals. For activities within the city, Bozeman is extremely walkable with most of its shops and cafes all concentrated in the small downtown area, and since they are all local boutiques, you can easily spend a whole day window shopping through the unique finds and art galleries.

Bozeman also happens to be Montana’s foodie capital, with the best restaurants in Bozeman like Jam!, La Tinga, and Blackbird all offering farm-to-table produce and fresh menus. Plus, since Bozeman is home to a major Montana university, it also has a very lively and youthful atmosphere surrounding the city, meaning live concerts from local artists and free pop-up events happening almost every weekend.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

cheapest destinations in North America Cape Cod for cheap

Recommended by Shobha from Martha’s Vineyard Tourist

Even in the summer Cape Cod is an affordable vacation destination in the US and North America, especially for families. There are family-friendly resorts in Cape Cod to suit all different types of budgets. Alternatively, there are also bed and breakfasts, inn and motels. Check out the campgrounds if you are pitching a tent or bringing a camper van.

Lots of activities revolve around the beach. The beaches are free if you don’t need parking spaces. With so many beaches, it is super easy to bike to the beach! Alternatively one of the best campgrounds is right next door to the Cape Cod National Seashore which is an easy walk to the beach.

Bring your bikes for easy and picturesque cycling on the 22 mile Cape Cod Rail trail, created from an former railroad track. Alternatively you can hike or run on miles of multiuser tracks. If you are not bringing kayaks or cycles, it is easy to rent sports equipment and relatively cheap to do so for weekly rentals.

Clamming is a fun and cheap activity for families. We recommend having a bonfire on the beach where you can make your own clambake. Or, just have the fire and buy a clambake from a local store to eat on the beach! The sunsets on Race Point beach near Provincetown are gorgeous and the beaches tend to clear out in the evenings.

There are lots of clam shacks where you can fill up on fresh delicious seafood. The restaurants vary in price from fancy to budget. The budget restaurants are still great with family-friendly dining such as burgers, pizza and diner food.

For history buffs, take a free walking tour of the Kennedy Legacy Trail in Hyannis. Another option is a walking tour of the historic 17th century captains’ houses in Barnstable village.

Estes Park, Colorado

cheapest destinations in North America Estes Park for cheap

Recommended by Jenny from Limitless Hiker

Estes Park in Colorado is an affordable vacation destination in the US and North America. There are a variety of affordable lodging accommodations within Estes Park, and it’s less than a 10 minute drive into Rocky Mountain National Park. If you’re visiting in the summer and fall months, you can choose to camp inside of the park, which makes this vacation destination even more affordable!

Entrance to the park is $35 per vehicle which lasts 7 days. Or alternatively, if you will be visiting a lot of national parks in a year, for $80 you can purchase an annual parks pass, which admits you into every US national park without additional fees. Campground reservations, require additional payments but are usually around $16. 

Within Rocky Mountain National Park, you can spend your day hiking (which is free), hang out by any lakes, or drive the distance to Grand Lake and back. 

If you’re visiting in the winter, not all of Rocky Mountain National Park is open, but there are a variety of trails that are open, including the hike to Dream Lake. You can rent snowshoes for $25 and head on your hike. Alternatively, in the summer and fall months, the entire park is open. You can spend everyday hiking a variety of trails including the only 14er (14,000 ft mountain) inside the park, Longs Peak.

Estes Park is also a very cute mountain town. There are a variety of ice cream and taffy shops which you can stroll through. There are also different small boutiques to window shop through or buy small souvenirs from.

Las Vegas, Nevada

cheapest destinations in North America Las Vegas for cheap

Recommended by Debbie from World Adventurists

Vegas attracts swarms of tourists every year to the famous Las Vegas Strip. You can spend as little or as much money as you want in Vegas, while still having the time of your life on your affordable vacation in the US and North America.

With no shortage of rooms in Vegas, it really is a vacationers market. Our favourite free activity is to spend a day wandering the hotels. Vegas is one-of-a-kind with unique themed hotels that look like every famous city you can think of; stay mid-week for the best deals.

The Bellagio Conservatory is full of beautiful flower sculptures that change every season. The Bellagio fountains go off every thirty minutes during the day, and every 15 minutes at night. Wander through the Grand Canal at the Venetian. Stroll Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas for people watching, the dome show, and a fun atmosphere.

One attraction you won’t want to miss is taking your photo in from of the Welcome To Las Vegas sign. Arrive early to beat the line.

There’s also plenty of fun experiences beyond the Las Vegas strip, such as the neon graveyard. If you decide to take part in some exciting activities, a Go Las Vegas Pass can help you save money.

For some good eats on the cheap, Secret Pizza in the Cosmopolitan has decent pizza for a low price. At the popular Tacos El Gordo, you’ll find Tijuana-style tacos that will have you ordering extra because they are so tasty and well-priced.

Moab, Utah

cheapest destinations in North America Moab for cheap

Recommended by James from Parks Collecting

Moab is a great and very affordable vacation destination. There are plenty of cheap accommodation choices, from affordable Airbnbs (which also allow you to self-cater), motels and even campgrounds right in town. The entire town is set up for tourism, so there are also a range of dining options.  There is even an entire food truck park, where you can get great cheap food and eat it al fresco.

Moab is one of the adventure capitals of the country and makes a great base to explore the area. Some of these activities can be expensive, but there are also plenty of things to do for free (or almost free). 

Arches National Park is just five miles away. There are several amazing hikes you can do in Arches, including the incredible Devil’s Garden Trail, and the sunset hike to Delicate Arch. The Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park is also nearby – just 32 miles away. You can drive around the area and stop off at multiple viewpoints or take short day hikes.  

Dead Horse State Park is also just 32 miles from Moab, where there are more stunning views and free hikes (after the park’s $20 admission fee). If you have a kayak or small boat, you can also float down the Colorado River for free (the bridge on route 191 is a good place to put in).

Orlando, Florida

cheapest destinations in North America Orlando for cheap
Recommended by Lisa from Planning Away

Orlando is one of the top vacation destinations in the USA.  It is the land of amusement parks and fun! Planning ahead can save you so much money! Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, and Legoland are all competing for your time and money! Because there are so many options in one place, deals are always available.  

Disney World is not cheap, but you can get different discounts offered throughout the year. “Play, Stay, and Dine” has been one of the best ways to enjoy Disney and save a lot of money, sometimes up to $3000 off. After 5 days ticket prices per day go down significantly.  So the longer you play at Disney the better! It is recommended to plan at least 9 months in advance for a Disney vacation. This will give you time to make monthly payments and budget for your upcoming trip.  

One day at Universal is extremely expensive, just as much as Disney World if not more. If you have more than one day Universal always offers great deals throughout the year. One of the most common promotions is “buy 2 days get 2 free.”  This makes Universal Orlando so much more affordable. Again the longer you play the better! 

SeaWorld is amazing! SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, and Aquatica are all located in Orlando.  SeaWorld runs amazing promotions all the time. One great promotion I have seen is “buy one park get into another park for free.” Legoland is designed for kids under 10.  It is fun and affordable. Going two days is your best option as prices are significantly lower! 

There are so many amazing places to stay in Orlando. Staying on site at the amusement parks can be costly (but very convenient). If finding affordable accommodations are a top priority make sure to look at Airbnb.  There are so many amazing options.   Using credit cards points is another great way to save. 

There are so many things to do in Orlando and nearby. Going to the beach is a fun and free option. Although, you do have to consider renting a car and driving. Orlando can be affordable if you plan it right! It is a dream destination that you can achieve on a budget in North America and the United States.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

cheap vacation spots in North America Philadelphia for cheap

Recommended by Derek and Mike from Robe Trotting

One of the biggest cheap cities to visit in the US and North America is the east coast gem of Philadelphia. It’s home to many free-to-visit historical attractions, some of the world’s best museums, and the budget-friendly food scene is delicious. Philadelphia has so much to do with a cost of living that’s 4% below America’s national average.

Philly is a city full of things to do without the sticker shock of visiting Boston, New York City, or Washington DC. The city has plenty of affordable lodging, especially if you book a Philadelphia Airbnb for your trip. 

If you stay in Old City, you’ll be close to some of the main historical attractions in Philly like the Liberty Bell, the exhibit at the former Presidential Mansion, and Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed. Best of all, those famous landmarks can be experienced for free by booking a guided tour at the Independence Visitor’s Center. 

If you want to splurge for a high-end meal, there are some premier restaurants in Philadelphia, but budget eats are just as delicious. The famous Philadelphia cheesesteak is a must-try item and it will be hard to resist other regional favorites like soft pretzels, tomato pie, and water ice. If you stop at Reading Terminal Market, an open-air food hall, you can sample all sorts of local treats for an inexpensive meal.

San Diego, California

cheap vacation spots in the USA San Diego for cheap

Recommended by Katie from La Jolla Living

The best things to do in San Diego are free, thanks to year-round sunshine that makes outdoor activities accessible in all seasons. Visitors come from across the globe for a quintessential Southern California beach day along the County’s 70 miles of coastline, with Coronado Beach and La Jolla Shores Beach the two most popular spots.

You can hike trails, go mountain biking, snorkel in La Jolla, take art walks, go tide pooling, tour famous gardens (like Balboa Park), and explore museums with cheap or no admission (like the free Old Town San Diego museums that showcase the history of California). People seek out these fun activities no matter their budget.

The dish that San Diego is famous for, the fish taco, will only set you back a few dollars at Oscar’s Mexican Seafood in Pacific Beach. Another must-try in town is a California burrito (it has french fries inside) from one of Lolita’s seven locations. San Diego is a craft beer city so put a few tasting rooms on your itinerary or stop into local stores to pick up suds from one of the 200 craft breweries.

Accommodations don’t necessarily break the bank if you know where to look. Cheap hotels in San Diego can be found in the central Mission Valley / Hotel Circle area. The renovated Town and Country Resort prices well (the pool even has a water slide) and across the way, you’ll find the retro and fabulous Kings Inn motel with its famous Waffle Spot restaurant. In Little Italy, try the boutique Porto Vista Hotel within walking distance to some of the city’s best restaurants and shops.

Washington DC

cheap vacation spots in the USA Washington DC for cheap

Recommended by Jennifer from Family Travel Guides

Washington, D.C. is a vibrant, fun, and surprisingly affordable vacation spot in the US. There is so much to do in the city beyond politics! DC is full of free world-class museums, beautiful nature spots within the city and surrounding areas, and lively neighborhoods to explore.

Starting with museums, DC has 18 different Smithsonian museums, gardens, and galleries – all of which are completely free! It is incredible to pop into one or two like the Natural History Museum to see the Hope Diamond, the Air and Space to touch a moon rock, or the Hirshhorn to explore modern art. And the national monuments on the mall are all free to check out anytime, day or night!

If outside is more your jam, check out Rock Creek Park for free which is located in the middle of the city with over 2,000 acres of trails, creeks, bridges, and even a historic cemetery. For kids, the city has some incredible free playgrounds like the National Mall replica Rosedale Community Center or the epic sports-themed at RFK Stadium. And in northern Virginia just a couple miles away, there are some of the best free playgrounds in the area!

Finally, DC is definitely a foodie town. DC has a ton of delicious cheap eats including local brands &Pizza and Cava. And make sure you try some Ethiopian or Afghan food as they have the largest populations in DC outside of their countries. Ethiopian Affordable Spot – Habesha Market on U street. Afghan Affordable Restaurant – Lapis in Columbia Heights.



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