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There’s no denying that travel can be an expensive hobby, especially if you don’t shop around for the best deals and plan your trip in advance. However, your chosen travel destination makes a big difference in how much you’ll spend in terms of car rentals, meals, hotels, flights, and other costs. Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway, family vacation, or romantic oasis, there are places in the U.S. that can fit within your budget. With all of these factors in mind, here are the most affordable destinations for U.S. travel this year.
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Florida continues to be one of the most popular budget-friendly U.S. travel destinations because there are actually many affordable cities to visit here. One of them is Orlando, which may surprise some people when they think about the high cost of Disney World tickets. Compared to most other U.S. cities, it’s much easier to find cheap flights to Orlando, and there are great hotel deals offered at various times of the year. Aside from the Disney theme parks, which admittedly can get pretty pricey, other fun things to do in Orlando are visiting the Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve, water parks, local arcades, and go-kart centers.
Las Vegas is another very affordable travel destination, that is unless you end up spending all of your savings at the casino! You can find cheap flights to Vegas from pretty much anywhere in the U.S., and there is a wide range of budget-friendly hotel options to suit every kind of traveler. Aside from the popular casinos and non-stop people-watching, carve out some time to hike around the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and check out a quirky museum or two.
Another great Florida destination for budget travelers is Fort Lauderdale. There are frequent and affordable round-trip flights to Fort Lauderdale throughout the year, which is what really makes this city stand out for its cost-saving potential. Meals and hotels may be a bit pricier overall than in Orlando or Las Vegas, but this is still a great place to visit for a romantic getaway or a family vacation. Don’t miss out on Fort Lauderdale Beach, Las Olas Beach, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, and Las Olas Boulevard when you plan a Fort Lauderdale vacation.
Reno is another Nevada city that tops our budget-friendly travel list. Hotels and meals are very affordable in Reno, and this is a great alternative to Vegas with fewer crowds and a more local scene. In addition to the many casinos that call Reno home, you can take a trip out to see Lake Tahoe about 40 miles away, take a stroll along the Riverwalk, see the National Automobile Museum, and watch the Great Reno Balloon Race if you visit in September.
Made famous by the epic Breaking Bad TV show and known for its desert landscapes, Albuquerque great place to take a trip if you’re looking to save some cash. Albuquerque has an international airport that offers decent prices on round-trip airfare. But the real cost-savings here come from the very affordable hotel rates and food options. To save even more money on a trip to Albuquerque, opt to drive here instead of flying, especially if you’re coming from a neighboring state. It’s fun to walk through Old Town, visit the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, and attend the famous Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta here.
Phoenix may be sweltering hot in the summertime, but this is where the “snowbirds” flock in the winter for perfect temperatures and plenty of outdoor recreation. Phoenix has quite a few free things to do in town, especially if you enjoy hiking and getting in touch with nature. There are plenty of large, pricey resorts with great pools to cool off here, but you can opt for more budget-friendly options for accommodations if you’re looking for an affordable trip. The Desert Botanical Garden and Camelback Mountain are popular local attractions.
Steeped in history, culture, and lots of free things to do, we also recommend taking a trip to San Antonio this year. This is a favorite place to travel for foodies on a budget because there is so much delicious cuisine here that is very affordable. One drawback to a San Antonio vacation is that the airfare is often a bit pricier than other destinations on this list. The Riverwalk is always popular here, as well as the missions and the Alamo.
The last Florida destination that we’ll mention on this list is Tampa. Tampa’s airport offers great rates on airfare, which makes it easier to back the whole family onto a plane to enjoy some fun in the sun. Busch Gardens, the Tampa Museum of Art, and lots of other museums in town are popular ways to spend a day in Tampa.
If you’re planning a road trip through Texas, make sure to stop in Dallas to see the sights without breaking your budget. Dallas is another great place to visit for foodies because top-notch, Texas-style meals are very affordable here. You may pay a bit more if you need to rent a car, but let’s be honest, getting around Texas without a car is pretty challenging. Make a point to see the Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Gardens and the Sixth Floor Museum/Texas School Book Depository when you’re here.
Salt Lake City is one of the most underrated travel destinations in the U.S., and it’s an awesome place to visit for families, couples, and solo travelers. Salt Lake City is wonderful to visit in the summertime for hiking, mountain biking, cultural activities, and sightseeing. Then in the winter, this is a top destination for skiing and other snow sports. However, due to its popularity as a winter destination, you’ll typically save money by visiting Salt Lake City in the spring, summer, or fall instead. Temple Square and the Great Salt Lake are also definitely worth a visit.