Cheap 15 Weekend Getaways in the USA
Affordable weekend getaways depend on dependable budget hotels, affordable transportation, and plenty of free things to do or low-entry tourist attractions.
Many of the best cheap getaway destinations in the United States are cities rich in cultural activities, such as public concerts, art gallery walks, and regular community events. (Weekend Getaways in the USA)
Other top budget destinations include areas with abundant natural attractions, from the mountainous northeast hiking trails to the rocky vistas of Denver’s Red Rocks Park.
The best time to find good deals to stay is in the off-season, avoiding visiting during significant events like Washington DC’s Cherry Blossom Festival or Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Many of these top destinations have access to cheap public transportation, allowing tourists to avoid driving and parking fees or expensive taxi rides in the city.
Discover the top places for affordable sightseeing with our list of the best cheap weekend getaways in the United States.
- Washington, DC
The nation’s capital is packed with more free tourist attractions than any other American city, thanks to museums and historical buildings that are free to the public.
Tourists can spend at least a full day sightseeing along the National Mall if the weather is nice. Stretching from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol Building, this pedestrian area is home to several veterans’ memorials honoring soldiers who fought in various conflicts, the iconic Washington Monument, and the Reflecting Pool.
Several of the city’s free museums, most of which are operated by the Smithsonian Institution, are located along the mall, including the National Museum of American History, the National Gallery of Art, and the National Air and Space Museum.
The United States Botanic Garden is located at the eastern end of the large park near the Capitol building.
Another top free tourist destination, especially popular with families, is the National Zoological Park, which is home to a wide variety of animals, including the furry panda. (Weekend Getaways in the USA)
New Orleans, Louisiana
As long as you avoid visiting during one of New Orleans’ significant events like Mardi Gras or the Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Big Easy can be one of the most budget-friendly cities for a quick weekend getaway. You can find hotels in all price ranges.
It’s cheap to get around thanks to the streetcar system, and walking the historic neighborhoods of the French Quarter is half the fun of visiting this charming city.
Between people-watching, street performers, and live music, tourists can enjoy unlimited entertainment at no cost wherever they turn. (Weekend Getaways in the USA)
- Kansas City, Missouri
The US The unofficial barbecue capital of Kansas City, Kansas City, is known for its place in jazz history.
It is home to a remarkable number of free attractions and a free streetcar that serves the Crossroads Arts District, River Market, and Power and Light District areas.
River Market is home to City Market, an impressive farmers market, and several restaurants and local shops.
Tourists can find plenty of things to see and do at Kansas City’s Crown Center, which hosts free public events, live music, and even free summer movies.
Another exciting event is First Fridays, a gallery walk in the Crossroads Arts District held on the first Friday of each month, featuring the artwork and food trucks, street artists, and local artisans.
There are plenty of free things to do with kids in Kansas City, as well as the Dina Rose Children’s Farmstead, a petting zoo that offers pony rides and the chance to see what a traditional small farm would look like. Kids can get creative at Kaleidoscope, a free arts and crafts studio run by Hallmark.
There are also several admission-free museums, including the Money Museum in the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
History museums include the Frontier Army Museum; Haskell Indian Nation University Cultural Center and Museum; and Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center, which explores African Americans’ contribution to the city.
There are also several free art museums, including the Norman Museum of Contemporary Art; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art; and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, which is home to masterpieces ranging from ancient to modern.
There are also several free nature programs and parks, including the Ernie Miller Park and Nature Center and the Lakeside Nature Center in Swope Park, where visitors can participate in various interactive activities.
Visitors can also visit the Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary and the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Garden for free. (Weekend Getaways in the USA)
- Austin, Texas
Austin is a beautiful city that offers affordable hotel options and plenty of things to do for all ages that won’t break the bank.
Zilker Metropolitan Park is an excellent place to start, which is home to many free attractions or only charges a nominal fee.
The park is located on the shores of Lady Bird Lake and offers a wide range of recreational facilities for all ages.
For kids, the expansive Zilker Playground and the mini train known as the Zilker Zephyr are favorites, while adults appreciate the free live music at the Zilker Hillside Theater. The park also has a lovely Botanical Garden and the Austin Nature and Science Center.
Perhaps the most interesting of Austin’s zero-cost attractions is the night flight of the world’s largest urban bat colony.
One and a half million Mexican free-tailed bats have made their home under the N. W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge, and each evening, from March to November, they take to the sky in search of insects.
Visitors can look out over the water from most vantage points around the bridge or below. You can learn more about bats at the Statesman Bat Observation Center, located at one end of the bridge.
Visitors can find many things to do at the University of Texas at Austin, home to several museums, including the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, Texas Memorial Museum, Center for Natural Sciences, and the Harry Ransom Center, which houses an extensive collection of rare literature.
Another excellent Austin museum worth its low admission price is the Mexican-Arte Museum, home to changing exhibits and installations focusing on all aspects of Mexican and Latino culture. (Weekend Getaways in the USA)
- Portland, Oregon
Oregon’s largest city is home to many cheap or free attractions, including natural wonders, cultural events, and children’s activities.
Just outside the city along the border with Washington state, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is another top natural attraction that offers scenic views and hiking trails. You can visit this area on a day trip from Portland.
Washington Park is home to free attractions, including the Hoyt Arboretum; a living museum; and the International Rose Test Garden, which blooms from May to September. Visitors can also enjoy the Portland Japanese Gardens and the World Forestry Center for a small fee.
Affordable family attractions include the Oregon Zoo and the Portland Children’s Museum, while the use of the park’s playground is free.
For those looking for various hiking trails in Portland, check out Forest Park, which has several trail entrances.
In downtown Portland, book lovers can spend hours perusing the shelves of Powell’s City of Books, an independent bookseller with not only a surprising number of titles but also daily events.
Pioneer Courthouse Square, also known as “Portlands Living Room,” is where you’ll find most of the city’s events, including festivals and free concerts; It is also the best place for people watching.
The Crystal Hotel is a hip yet affordable place to stay in downtown Portland, with pet-friendly rooms, a pool, bike rentals, and evening entertainment. (Weekend Getaways in the USA)
The mile-high city is an excellent choice for a cheap weekend getaway thanks to its many free and inexpensive attractions and accessible public transportation to the downtown area.
Mall Ride offers free bus service along 16th Street Mall, a shopping and entertainment district between Union Station and Civic Center Station.
Larmier Square is a historic and lively spot in the heart of this district, where you can find food and an assortment of local shops.
Denver is also home to several parks, each with various attractions. City Park is located east of downtown and is home to the Denver Zoo, the top thing to do with kids in Denver; The park also hosts free jazz concerts in the summer.
Washington Park is located south of downtown and covers 150 acres, including two small lakes, plenty of walking trails, and picnic spots.
A short walk from the city center, the city-owned Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater offer some of the best views. (Weekend Getaways in the USA)
St. Augustine, Florida
This East Coast gem isn’t the first Florida city people think of, which makes it a far more affordable option for those looking to get away for the weekend.
As the oldest permanent European settlement in the country, this small town is affluent in historical sites. Fort Matanzas, operated by the National Park Service, is open to the public at no charge. It is home to the impressive Castillo de San Marcos, commissioned by the Spanish in the sixteenth century.
St. Augustine has many historic homes and museums, and the architecture can be admired by walking through the historic district.
For an in-depth look at life in the city’s early days, visit the Colonial Quarter, a living history museum that will educate and entertain all ages.
For kids who want to go on a historic yet exciting adventure, the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum is a top pick. These are some exciting things to do in St. Augustine.
For those looking for a few days in Florida’s sunshine, St. Augustine has 42 miles of beaches, all of which are free.
From tranquil wildlife preserves to beaches full of amenities and families, visitors will find an excellent variety to choose from. St. Augustine offers some great fishing opportunities if you want to get out on the water. (Weekend Getaways in the USA)
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas may seem like an expensive city, and it can be. Still, there are so many things to do for free, and thanks to an abundance of hotels, tourists can easily find accommodation comparable to most major cities. Much more affordable than that.
The best place to start the sightseeing is Las Vegas Boulevard, also known simply as “The Strip,” which is home to iconic Vegas landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas, the volcano at The Mirage Hotel, and the stunning fountain at the Bellagio.
Tourists can catch a free water and light show at the fountain in the evening, then head to Fremont Street for a free outdoor show any night of the week.
Visitors can also enjoy the stunning natural scenery of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, located just outside the city.
Visitors can explore the area via a 13-mile scenic drive and learn more at the Visitor Center, which has exhibits and information on hiking and biking trails. Guided tours are available from several local operators. (Weekend Getaways in the USA)
Atlanta is home to a wide variety of historic sites, museums, free public events, and many others that charge a nominal admission fee.
Families looking for an Atlanta getaway can have fun for free at the Fernbank Science Center, which features space travel exhibits, live animals, and more.
The whole family can enjoy a free movie in Central Park during the summer. The Federal Reserve Bank Money Museum is another fun family attraction where you can go for up to a million dollars in gold bars.
Tourists can also visit many of the city’s most important civil rights sites, and the Sweet Auburn neighborhood is a great place to start.
The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, located on Auburn Avenue, is also open to the public at no charge, where you can tour his birthplace and visit his grave.
Other historic sites include the National Archives, the Georgia State Capitol Building, and the historic Oakland Cemetery.
Art lovers can find several events, including the First Friday ArtWalk in Marietta Square, a fun place to visit at any time, thanks to its small boutiques and beautiful surroundings.
Castleberry Hill Art Strokes in the Warehouse District offers free guided tours, and admission to the Atlanta Contemporary Museum of Modern Art is also free. (Weekend Getaways in the USA)
White Mountains of New Hampshire
The Granite State is famous for its outdoor activities throughout the Lakes region, but the White Mountains in northern New Hampshire are the crown jewels.
The least expensive time of year to visit is springtime, known to locals as “mud season,” but affordable accommodations can be found during the summer, fall foliage, and ski season.
During the warmer months, one of the most popular and affordable activities is exploring New Hampshire’s hiking trails, whether conquering one of the peaks of the White Mountains or traveling along the Appalachian Trail.
Tourists driving through the state can take back roads and check out some of the historic covered bridges for a more scenic drive. (Weekend Getaways in the USA)
Asheville, North Carolina
Located on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville and the surrounding area offer many free and low-cost things to do, thanks to plentiful natural and cultural attractions.
Tourists can fill a weekend by simply enjoying the pull-off spots by driving the scenic route and photographing spectacular views.
Active travelers can also take advantage of the seemingly endless trails that crisscross the landscape.
The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area towns just off Main Street are home to many communities, including many opportunities to learn about local Native American tribes.
Cherokee city is home to a museum dedicated to culture, and during the summer, tourists will find many Cherokee festivals throughout the region.
The city of Asheville has a lot to offer, including an accessible Urban Trail. This 1.7-mile route includes more than 30 educational stations highlighting essential sites and historical events throughout the city.
Downtown, tourists can find many excellent local restaurants and shops and enjoy street performances in good weather.
History lovers can also visit the Biltmore Estate to see the Vanderbilt Mansion and explore the grounds. Other things to see and do near Asheville include Pisgah National Forest, Western North Carolina Nature Center, North Carolina Arboretum, and Botanical Gardens. (Weekend Getaways in the USA)
Leaf Peeping in Manchester, Vermont
A weekend in Vermont can be expensive, especially during the foliage season, but there is plenty to see and do for free or at minimal cost if you know where to look.
Manchester View is an excellent hotel that won’t break the bank. It is conveniently located near Stratton Mountain Resort and its younger brother Bromley Mountain in Manchester.
A variety of rooms are available for couples, groups, and families, including a private balcony or deck area, fireplaces, and spacious soaking tubs. This pet-friendly hotel has an outdoor pool and recreation area, and rooms include breakfast.
In and around Manchester, tourists have plenty of options for admiring the foliage or simply enjoying the beauty of the green mountains.
Even novice hikers can explore the trails of Mount Equinox and the Equinox Preservation Trust Forest, and there is no charge to use the trails for hiking, mountain bike riding, and horseback riding.
The courses are also free to use in winter for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Routes vary from half a mile to three miles, with Robin’s Lookout Trail offering excellent views of Equinox Pond and the canyon.
There are endless roads to explore by car or bicycle, and motorists can drive to the top of Mount Equinox for a fee.
Tourists will find a complex of antique shops, art galleries, farmers’ markets, and outlet malls in and around Manchester. Manchester is also close to several other natural sites, including Ly Brook Falls and Prospect Rock. (Weekend Getaways in the USA)
Niagara Falls, New York
Tourists will find Niagara Falls, New York, an incredibly affordable destination that allows visitors to admire one of the most iconic landmarks in North America.
There are many ways to see the falls, and those who don’t want to splurge on a Made of the Mist boat tour can still see a lot while hiking Niagara Falls State Park.
A vintage trolley connects the park’s main areas, and for a small fee, visitors can get exceptional views from the Observation Tower.
The visitor center also has several free exhibits and special programs, including a “4-D” film that makes you feel (literally) like you are being misted by the falls themselves.
Other notable attractions around Niagara Falls include the Aquarium of Niagara, which features more than 200 species of aquatic life and a range of exhibits on marine science.
Residents include penguins, harbor seals, and sea lions, the latter of which perform shows daily. History buffs will want to explore Old Fort Niagara, an 18th-century fort vital in monitoring the Great Lakes’ activity.
Be sure to bring a passport to see the torrents from the north side of the river in Niagara Falls, Canada.
In addition to a new perspective of the stunning waterfalls from the ground, visitors can enjoy breathtaking views from the Whirlpool Aero Car, which passes over the whirlpool at the base of the falls.
Tourists will also want to ride on the Niagara Skywheel to view the falls and gorge. This ride is in the Clifton Hill amusement park, which is free to enter, with pay-to-ride attractions.
Tourists with a vehicle can also enjoy a lovely scenic drive along the Niagara Parkway, which leads to the quaint town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. (Weekend Getaways in the USA)
Gulf Shores, Alabama
Alabama’s Gulf Coast provides an affordable beach getaway for couples, families, and friends. Gulf State Park is one of the most popular spots, offering RV hookups for overnight guests and low per-vehicle rates for day use.
The park’s Nature Center offers a variety of free activities, including fishing classes, guided nature hikes, animal encounters, and other educational programs.
Visitors will also find a great selection of recreational amenities, including a pool and splash pad, tennis and volleyball courts, and more.
Kayak, bicycle, and paddle board rentals are also available for an extra fee, and the park’s 25 paved miles of trails are open to pedestrians and people-powered wheels. Visitors can also enjoy the park’s championship golf course for an additional fee. (Weekend Getaways in the USA)
Santa Claus, Indiana
This adorable town is the perfect place for an inexpensive family getaway, where kids and the young at heart can feel the joy of the holidays any time of the year.
The affordable Santa Claus Museum and Village offer plenty of Christmas-themed amusements and activities, including meet and greets with Santa’s reindeer and elves. Kids can also leave their letters to Santa, which will be answered at Christmas.
Around town, visitors will find plenty more holiday spirit, including nearly two dozen Santa Claus statues.
During the holiday season, tourists can also enjoy a beautiful drive-through Christmas light show and the vast town Christmas tree decorated with patterned lights.
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