8 Affordable U.S. Destinations for a Weekend Getaway

By Lindsay VanSomeren on 3 May 2018 0 comments

Sure, the big-ticket, monthlong trips to Europe and Asia get all the glory, and for good reason. But did you know there are plenty of places you can take an awesome vacation right here within the U.S. at a fraction of the price? After all, spending hours and hours on a cramped plane is no one's idea of a good time, especially when you can take a fun road trip somewhere interesting over a long weekend.

Whether you're looking for a family-friendly getaway or a romantic weekend escape, these affordable destinations will recharge your batteries without draining your wallet. (See also: Best Credit Cards for Road Trips)

1. North Conway, New Hampshire

Even though North Conway has been rated as the most affordable ski town in the U.S. by TripAdvisor, there are plenty of things to do around here during any season. Take a no-cost hike during spring to see flowering trees, and waterfalls rushing with melted snow from the area's steep mountains. In the autumn, enjoy the blazing gold and red hues of the New England leaves on foot or by car.

Or hop aboard one of the scenic train rides you can take from here on the Notch or Valley trains, starting at $18. About an hour from North Conway, you can also ride the world's first mountain-scaling cog train, which takes you straight to the top of Mount Washington, the tallest peak east of the Mississippi.

Hotel rooms start at around $110 per night in June, and there are also several campgrounds and hostels available. (See also: 6 Essential Money-Saving Items to Take on a Camping Road Trip)

2. Willamette Valley, Oregon

If a relaxing and romantic weekend in the northwest is your style, the Willamette Valley wine country might be just for you. This 150-mile-long region stretching from Eugene to Portland is famous for its vineyards, wineries, and breweries (there are over 150 to choose from), and local farm-to-table cuisine. Most wineries and breweries offer tastings, some for less than $10. And if you get bored from all the wine, beer, and fresh produce, you can always check out Portland.

The Valley features plenty of fun and eclectic budget lodging options, such as The Vintages Trailer Resort, which offers lodging at prices as low as $102 per night in June. You can also rent a private home on Airbnb for under $100 per night. (See also: 7 Travel Hacks for an Affordable Road Trip)

3. Louisville, Kentucky

Home of the Kentucky Derby, Louisville is also a town steeped in history, bourbon, and fun. Be sure to check out the historic Brown Hotel to get a bite of the famous "Hot Brown" open-faced sandwich.

There are also plenty of free parks to visit, as well as numerous museums celebrating science, history, bourbon, art, Muhammad Ali, and sports. For a great discount on museums, check out Museum Row's Main Ticket, which offers access to seven of Louisville's top museums for $32 per person. If drinking liquor is more your style, many bourbon distilleries offer tastings and tours starting at around $20.

Accommodations are reasonable, too. Three-star hotel rooms start at around $100 per night in June.

4. Rapid City, South Dakota

Located right next door to the famed Mount Rushmore, Rapid City's been a staple of family road trips for decades. But there's way more to do here than just see the presidents' faces carved on the mountain. Other free attractions include the Chapel in the Hills, a life-size replica of the ancient Norwegian Borgund Stavkirke church; scenic byways; and numerous public parks full of storybook characters, giant dinosaur replicas, and water attractions.

You can easily find a hotel room in Rapid City in the $130 per night range, and as well as a few camping options from $39 per night.

5. Cleveland, Ohio

You might not think of Cleveland as a world-class destination, but think again. There are tons of free things to check out, like nearby Cuyahoga National Park, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland's free money museum, and the free Cleveland Museum of Art, which houses a permanent collection of works by Monet, Picasso, and van Gogh. You can even ride a trolley around downtown for free.

If you want to spring for some paid (but still cheap) adventures, check out the Cleveland Zoo ($14.95 per person), the Great Lakes Science Center ($16.95 per person), or the world-famous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ($23 per person if purchased in advance).

Lodging here is also very affordable. You can find three-star hotel rooms starting at about $60 in June.

6. Colorado Springs, Colorado

If you've always wanted to visit scenic Colorado but don't think you can afford the glitzy mountain ski towns, check out Colorado Springs instead. This city is tucked right at the base of the Rockies and offers many free activities, like the aptly-named Garden of the Gods and beautiful scenic drives (one of which goes all the way to the top of Pikes Peak, one of Colorado's famed "fourteeners" — mountains exceeding 14,000 feet in height).

You can also enjoy the sunny Colorado weather on the patio of one of the 32 local breweries, dive into history at one of the city's two castles ($9 or $10 per person, depending on which castle you choose), or visit the nearby ancient Anasazi cliff dwellings ($10 per person).

Once you tire yourself out from all that fresh air and activity, it's easy to find affordable accommodations here for under $150 per night.

7. New Iberia, Louisiana

Outdoor enthusiasts and mystery fans alike will find reasons to like this small town at the seat of Iberia Parish in southern Louisiana. You can walk through Spanish moss-covered forests and soak in the unique Cajun culture that inspired the mystery novels of David Lee Burke, creator of the fictional detective Dave Robicheaux.

But you don't have to have read the books to enjoy the area's fishing and bayou tours. Waterways make up nearly half of the parish — the Louisiana equivalent of a county. Or mosey through the area's plentiful gardens and parks; the town and surrounding areas are drenched in color during spring. Enjoy some local gumbo or shrimp étouffée to complete the experience.

Best of all, lodging in New Iberia is extremely cheap, starting at just $63 per night. If camping's more your style, you can stay in the KOC Kampground for as little as $30 a night.

8. Park City, Utah

If the great outdoors and history are your passions, then you need to check out Park City. This beautiful town surrounded by the Wasatch Mountain Range started out in the 1860s as a silver mining town. Later it became home to two ski resorts that hosted events during the 2002 Winter Olympics. That legacy is preserved at the Utah Olympic Park, which offers two free museums, along with paid adventure courses and a drop tower ($45 for adults and $30 for kids). You can also tour the facility ($12 for adults, and $7 for kids).

Once you've had your fill of adventures, peruse the historic district in downtown Park City. The town offers free public transportation, and the downtown area is full of one-of-a-kind businesses, thanks to its anti-chain policy (no Starbucks here!). Lodging starts at $112 per night.

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