K.C. was a featured writer for Yahoo! Travel before joining trips to discover in 2013. She is the author of Best Travel Guide for First Time Visitors to Ireland, an Amazon bestseller every year between 2013 and 2016. She has been a featured expert on Newsweek, Travel + Leisure, Travelocity, among others.
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A romantic escape doesn’t have to mean jetting off to Paris or Fiji. There are plenty of short and sweet jaunts that can be made, including budget-friendly options. Whatever you’re looking for, from white sandy beaches and swaying palms to lakeside retreats and mountain gems, you’re sure to find the perfect, and affordable, destination among these cheap weekend getaways.
The Florida Keys offer a Caribbean-like destination without the need for a passport or a pricey flight. It can easily be reached at just an hour from Miami International Airport and there are cheap flights available from cities throughout the country. While Key West can be pricey, there is plenty of budget-friendly accommodation in Key Largo along with free and cheap things to do. Enjoy beautiful beaches, spectacular sunset watching, and snorkeling in Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, on your own or with a guided tour. Visiting the Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center is free and offers close encounters with pelicans, hawks, herons, ospreys, and other birds that can’t be released back into the wild.
Niagara Falls was once the world’s honeymoon capital and it’s still an iconic natural wonder that can make for a fun and inexpensive couples getaway. You’ll find affordable accommodation just minutes away from the stunning falls. After taking in the views, embark on a classic boat ride by taking the elevator down from the Observation Tower. The Maid of the Mist tour is inexpensive and will bring you to the base of Horseshoe and American Falls. Afterward, you might take a walk on one of the many trails on Goat Island or rent a bike and pedal around together.
A re-creation of a Bavarian Alpine Village, Helen is located in the northern reaches of Georgia’s mountains. You might think you’ve stepped into Bavaria here with the cobbled alleyways and colorfully painted wooden homes. The architecture is postcard-worthy and you’ll be close to some fabulous natural attractions. You might even consider staying in a romantic cabin just outside of town. In the summer, enjoy tubing down the river or walking scenic trails. A hike to Anna Ruby Falls is practically a must.
Charming Savannah, one of the most romantic cities on the eastern seaboard, offers lots of opportunities for romance with parks like Forsyth, ideal for strolling hand-in-hand beneath shady oak trees draped in Spanish moss. Spend time at beautiful beaches and take advantage of free walking tours that will bring you to see the downtown sights. You can easily take an independent tour of historic landmarks like antebellum homes, forts, and the neo-gothic synagogue that’s often named among the world’s most beautiful. There are plenty of cheap delicious eats that can be followed up with a famously delicious ice cream at Leopold’s, a Savannah institution too.
Lake George offers jaw-dropping scenic beauty surrounded by the Adirondacks. In the summer, you can take advantage of three beautiful beaches and inexpensive or free watersports like swimming, tubing, or affordable boat rentals. There are lots of hiking trails that bring together lake, mountain, and wildlife views, while the town itself is fun for a walk with lots of shops, venues for wine tasting, and ice cream. In the town park, the amphitheater hosts free entertainment every night. On Thursdays in July and August, fireworks light up the sky too. And don’t rule out Lake George for a romantic winter getaway either.
A town that truly exemplifies New Mexico’s nickname, “The Land of Enchantment,” here you’ll find plenty to do that doesn’t cost a thing, from hiking high desert mesas and mountains to viewing paintings that were created by Taos masters. Walk around historic Taos Plaza which dates back to 1796. It has a park with benches and shady trees, shops in the old adobe buildings, and an old courthouse with some interesting haunted tales. San Francisco de Asis Mission Church is one of the finest extant examples of a Spanish Colonial New Mexico mission church and a great place for a couples selfie. With some 60 independently-owned eateries serving delectable northern New Mexican cuisine along with other delectable fare, you’ll find plenty of affordable eats.
While Seaside is a popular destination for a family vacation, couples love it too and one of the most romantic settings can be enjoyed only minutes away. Take advantage of the cheaper accommodation and budget-friendly eats here and check out Cannon Beach nearby. A trail crossing Tillamook Head runs between the two towns, providing spectacular vantage points for viewing the waves that crash against Tillamook Lighthouse offshore. You might pick up lunch to go from Bell Buoy of Seaside and enjoy a picnic. It offers some of the best fresh seafood around at affordable prices, including local Dungeness crab. Seaside’s promenade runs alongside the sandy beach, ideal for a stroll or a bike ride.
Asheville is home to one of the few true castles in America, the Biltmore Estate. The 250-room French Renaissance chateau can be explored along with the beautiful gardens, while free wine tastings are available at the property’s winery. Or, hike the trails in Chimney Rock State Park, like the trek that leads to Hickory Nut Falls. In town, wander through the River Art district where old warehouses were converted into art spaces and delve into the brewery scene by taking a brewery walking tour.
Gulf Shores offers over 30 miles of pristine white, sandy beaches that sparkle in the sun and you’ll find budget-friendly accommodation as long as you avoid the spring break period. It’s a great alternative to pricier destinations in Florida, providing the perfect ingredients for fun in the sun. There are gorgeous turquoise waters for swimming, a wide variety of eateries in every price range, and fun nightlife with many beach bars, including some with options for live music and stages that are right on the sand.
If you’d like to avoid the crowds, get off the beaten path, and enjoy breathtaking scenery without high prices, it’s hard to beat the Keweenaw Peninsula. The northernmost part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, it juts out into Lake Superior and was the site of the country’s first copper boom. You’ll find many opportunities for relaxation and outdoor adventure here, including hiking and kayaking. The Mount Bohemia Nordic Spa is a must-visit, offering an authentic Nordic hot-and-cold experience with an outdoor heated pool, hot tub, traditional Finnish sauna, a cold plunge pool, and icy-cold waterfall. Base yourself in Eagle River and enjoy a gorgeous beach that’s ideal for sunset watching with miles and miles of shoreline for agate hunting too.
Maine is renowned for its magnificent rugged coastline, with Kennebunkport being a great place to stay and enjoy it on a budget-friendly escape. Take a drive along Ocean Avenue to enjoy jaw-dropping views of the ocean and a blowhole called Spouting Rock, spend time at the beaches during the warmer months, or snowshoe in the woods during the winter. The Waterhouse Center offers ice skating, while there are many delicious eats, including lobster stew and lobster rolls. The historic district is steeped in local lore, with homes of sea captains and shipbuilders, unique shops with all sorts of treasures, and the famous Mabel’s Lobster Claw Restaurant.
Palm Springs can be an ideal spot for a romantic escape in California when you’re in need of lots of sunshine and warmth. You’ll find beautiful pools and countless golf courses, spas offering couples massages and other rejuvenating treatments, along with shops and art galleries to explore. Take the famous tram up to Mount San Jacinto State Park where you can enjoy hiking with a spectacular view. Just a couple of miles from downtown, Tahquitz Canyon is a great place to learn about Native American culture and hike a trail that leads to a waterfall.
In Glenwood Springs, enjoy all that the Rocky Mountains have to offer. Depending on the season, you’ll have opportunities for fishing, hiking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, skiing, and other winter sports, along with the world’s largest outdoor mineral hot springs pool. The Glenwood Hot Springs Pool also has a spa for enjoying unique rituals inspired by the Ute tribes that used the springs for medicinal purposes centuries ago, along with massages, body wraps, and facials. Just down the road, the Yampah vapor caves are the only known naturally occurring vapor caves in North America for a natural mineral-rich steam bath. And, to top it off for those who visit in the summer, on Wednesday evenings there are free concerts at Two Rivers Park.
While Las Vegas has become rather pricey, the small town of Reno offers a more budget-friendly alternative without the big crowds. Accommodation and meals are affordable here and you can enjoy all sorts of low-cost entertainment. Explore the outstanding craft beer scene, check out hundreds of cars at the National Automobile Museum, including the car from James Dean’s “Rebel Without a Cause,” and enjoy strolls on the Riverwalk. Just a short drive away, you’ll find scenic trails for hikes in the mountains and fun in, on, and around the water in beautiful Lake Tahoe, including beaches for sunbathing.