Cheap Vacation Ideas: 19 Budget Trips for 2020
Sometimes the hardest part of planning a vacation is answering the question "where should I go on vacation?" The beach? Overseas? The Great Outdoors? And where to go if you want to avoid spending a bundle?
Don't be overwhelmed—start using these cheap vacation ideas to inspire wanderlust, or head over to Groupon Getaways to browse live deals across the country and the world.
1. Lake Tahoe
While Tahoe ski resorts can be pricey, the rest of the area is marked by charming state parks that offer sensational natural beauty for a fraction of the cost. Stand high above the Lake at Emerald Bay State Park, accessible for a small parking fee.
2. Myrtle Beach
Traveling with family? One of your best cheap vacation ideas is Myrtle Beach, with its bustling, boardwalk, amusement parks, family restaurants, and arcades. And in the summer, there are several spots along the coast with beach access.
Maine’s official tourism slogan is “Vacationland,” and you’ll see why as soon as you reach the coast. Picturesque, rocky, and dotted with lobster-roll shops, Maine’s coast beckons travelers to dip their toe in the Atlantic and then browse its charming and not-too-tacky tourist towns. If you’re on a budget, spend a lot of your time at Acadia National Park, maybe the prettiest spot on the East Coast, and with an admission fee of $25 per vehicle for a whole week.
Cancún: Hotel Deals
Cancún is the place to enjoy any water-sport activity imaginable, from snorkeling and stand-up paddle boarding to sailing and Scuba diving. Sounds expensive? It’s cheaper than you might think—choose an all-inclusive resort to get the best bang for your buck. You could even bundle an all-inclusive resort with airfare (search for the ✈ symbol on Groupon Getaways Cancun deals).
5. Palm Springs
You can find some of the world's best spas for such treatments in Palm Springs, a 40s and 50s-style desert oasis for R&R, famous for its hot springs and golf courses. You might have to save up for a luxury spa session or a round of 18, but the desert also holds gorgeous state parks and retro-cool hotels that aren’t so expensive.
Around 11 million visitors come to Great Smoky National Park every year, and for good reason: entrance to the park is totally free. Spot black bears and elk, climb to the top of Clingmans Dome (the tallest point on the Appalachian Trail), and then head to kitschy Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge for a show. There are few inexpensive vacation ideas as family friendly as this.
Dominican Republic: Hotel Deals
Nothing says “vacation” like a picture-perfect Caribbean beach, a tropical drink in your hand, and a palm tree providing just the right amount of shade. To find it without breaking the bank, look to the Dominican Republic, and check out the all-inclusive resort packages on Groupon (usually in the resort-laden Punta Cana area).
The Twin Cities might not jump out as a hot vacation destination, just because ... aren’t the winters there really, really cold? Well, yes, but that means mild, uber-pleasant summers, and with 22 lakes in Minneapolis alone, it’s a major recreational spot for biking, swimming, and kayaking. Start your morning in the city’s Chain of Lakes and finish your afternoon at the post-modern Walker Art Museum. And if you do decide to visit in the winter, remember: Mall of America is just next door.
9. Las Vegas
One of the best cheap vacation ideas...assuming you keep yourself to a reasonable budget at the casinos. If you've never been to Las Vegas, you might be surprised how affordable a trip to Sin City can be, especially with snatching a hotel room, which go as low as $19/night. And if you want to catch an affordable show, there are plenty of options under $50.
10. Atlantic City
You’ll find similar prices to Vegas in Atlantic City, which in the summer doubles as both a casino hotspot and a beach destination. Keep your gambling expenses to a set maximum and you'll find both spots should be well within your budget.
If you're headed to Alaska, you can visit Denali National Park—home to North America's tallest mountain—for only $10 a person, making it one of the best budget vacation ideas for the summer. If you live in a hot climate, it might be refreshing to enjoy Alaska’s summer climate, when average high temperatures in Anchorage hover around 60 degrees.
Italy: Hotel + Airfare Deals
European vacations are not cheap, but you can see millenia-old ruins, sip amazing Tuscan wine, taste wood-fired pizzas...and maybe not spend as much as you think. Air- and hotel-inclusive packages to Italy could help you save, and while each package is different, many take you to whimsical Rome, Renaissance-obsessed Florence, and Venice’s iconic canals.
13. The Poconos
If mountains are more your style, try the Poconos of Pennsylvania, a scenic area with a number of romantic resorts and B&Bs. East Coasters have seen the Poconos as the perfect weekend getaway for decades, drawn by a number of small lakes and forested trails.
14. San Diego
Laid-back and perpetually warm, San Diego often seems like a winter paradise, especially for anyone living north of San Francisco. With the Pacific coastline as a backdrop, there are plenty of attractions you can see for cheap, including the spectacular Cabrillo National Monument on the Point Loma Peninsula. (Hint: if you’re heading to the world-famous San Diego Zoo, you can buy admission through Groupon.)
15. New Orleans
If some of our budget vacation ideas are a little too chilly for your taste (especially in the winter), head to the Big Easy, which is warm and welcoming during January, February, and March. The French influence here means you'll find plenty of delicious meals in candlelit restaurants.
16. Niagara Falls
Hey, for Americans, visiting Canada still counts as "going out of the country" for your vacation. Niagara Falls is your best bet for a budget international trip, since hotel deals there offer not only restaurant credits, but also vouchers for local entertainment and the casino. You also can pair a visit here with a trip out to the Niagara-on-the-Lake region, best known for its ice wine.
Year-round pleasant weather, comfort-food restaurants, important historical sites, and a museum dedicated to sampling sodas—what’s not to like about Atlanta? From the World of Coca-Cola to the CNN Studio Tour to the Birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr., Atlanta has more to see and do than you might think. We recommend saving some cash by picking up this deal to the SkyView Ferris Wheel, an Atlanta icon in Centennial Park.
You’re probably thinking: an Orlando vacation can be cheap? Well, it doesn’t have to be as expensive as you might think. A hotel in the land of theme parks can be quite affordable–there are several options on Groupon starting in the $35-$60/night rage. And while those theme parks can be pricey, at the very least you can snag a deal for a free theme park visit at Universal Orlando Resort.
If you have a travel bucket list, seeing the bright-green hills of Ireland has to be on it. And this might be a good opportunity for you to see it for yourself, since we often offer air-inclusive vacations for less than $1,000/person. Check here to find an Ireland trip that works for your budget.
You might be surprised which spots we picked for Illinois (it's not Chicago) and New York (it's not NYC).
We look at three types—yoga, weight-loss, and meditation retreats—to help determine the right resort for you.