8 Affordable Beach Towns Across the USA

Enjoy a dreamy getaway on a budget at these inexpensive oceanfront locales.

U.S. News & World Report

8 Affordable Beach Towns Across the USA

Affordable beach towns across the USA
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Discover uncrowded sandy spots that won't burn a hole in your wallet.

With more than 12,000 miles of coastline, the U.S. offers a variety of options for soaking up the sun while sinking your toes in the sand. But some beach spots (think: Malibu, California, and the Hamptons) can be pricey to visit, especially once summertime rolls around. To help you save money without sacrificing on location, U.S. News rounded up eight of America's most affordable beach destinations. These locales feature an array of inexpensive activities, accommodations and restaurants.
Chairs on the beach at Ocean City, Maryland
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Ocean City, Maryland

A popular vacation spot for Baltimore and District of Columbia residents, Ocean City features 10 miles of white-sand beach and a 3-mile-long boardwalk with carnival rides, souvenir shops and restaurants. Both are free to visit, and complimentary beach activities like movie screenings, sandcastle contests and fireworks shows are offered regularly between Memorial Day and Labor Day. But remember, summer is the town's peak season, so book hotel rooms well in advance to score the lowest rates.
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Discover uncrowded sandy spots that won't burn a hole in your wallet.

With more than 12,000 miles of coastline, the U.S. offers a variety of options for soaking up the sun while sinking your toes in the sand. But some beach spots (think: Malibu, California, and the Hamptons) can be pricey to visit, especially once summertime rolls around. To help you save money without sacrificing on location, U.S. News rounded up eight of America's most affordable beach destinations. These locales feature an array of inexpensive activities, accommodations and restaurants.

Ocean City, Maryland

A popular vacation spot for Baltimore and District of Columbia residents, Ocean City features 10 miles of white-sand beach and a 3-mile-long boardwalk with carnival rides, souvenir shops and restaurants. Both are free to visit, and complimentary beach activities like movie screenings, sandcastle contests and fireworks shows are offered regularly between Memorial Day and Labor Day. But remember, summer is the town's peak season, so book hotel rooms well in advance to score the lowest rates.

Gulf Shores, Alabama

If you love outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking, chances are you'll enjoy visiting Alabama's Gulf Shores. This Gulf Coast paradise boasts a plethora of free beaches, including Gulf State Park, where you can surf fish or cozy up to the on-site fireplace on cooler days, and Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, an animal sanctuary that features various hiking trails and welcomes nesting sea turtles annually from May to October. Plus, the local tourism bureau, Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism, regularly posts hotel, restaurant and attraction deals on its website.

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Although this quaint coastal town only encompasses 1 square mile, Rehoboth Beach is packed with wallet-friendly accommodations and attractions. Beach houses can be rented for a fraction of the cost of hotel rooms when booked several weeks or months in advance, and the shoreline and its adjacent boardwalk offer an affordable, family-friendly atmosphere. What's more, visitors can enjoy complimentary summer concerts at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand and explore the Rehoboth Beach Museum for free.

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach boasts nearly 4 miles of sandy shoreline with jaw-dropping rock formations and wildlife, such as puffins and whales. Complimentary events, including a sandcastle contest and an arts festival, are hosted at various times throughout the year, while area hiking paths – such as those found in Oswald West State Park and the Ecola Creek Forest Reserve – are free to explore year-round. Plus, travelers can save on their accommodations by opting to rough it at one of the area's campgrounds.

St. Petersburg, Florida

Often referred to as the Sunshine City, this West Florida locale is known for its multitude of affordable outdoor attractions. Weedon Island Preserve offers ample opportunities to fish, hike and bird watch, while Fort De Soto Park and St. Pete Beach are ideal for lounging and enjoying water sports such as canoeing and paddleboarding. If you would rather take in some picturesque views, head to the beach in the late afternoon to watch the sun set.

South Padre Island, Texas

One of Texas' most budget-friendly beach towns is South Padre Island. Though spring breakers flock to the area in March, opt for a stay outside the spring break season and you'll find reasonably priced hotel rooms and less crowded sands. Plus, several South Padre Island attractions – such as the Dolphin Research & Sealife Nature Center, the Laguna Madre Nature Trail and Sea Turtle Inc. – offer cheap or free admission.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach's mild waves and abundance of affordable accommodations and attractions appeal to an array of beachgoers. Families can take a spin on one of the Family Kingdom Amusement Park's rides or watch a minor league baseball game at the TicketReturn.com Field. Meanwhile, music lovers will enjoy catching a performance at the Carolina Opry or the Alabama Theatre. The Carolina Opry even offers vacation packages that include tickets to two shows and three nights at a local resort.

Santa Cruz, California

Situated about halfway between San Jose and Monterey, California, Santa Cruz offers 29 miles of public beaches, including Natural Bridges State Beach and Santa Cruz Main Beach. Though you'll likely spend a large chunk of your time by the water, free non-beach activities, such as summertime concerts at Esplanade Park and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the West Cliff Drive walking and biking path and the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, are available as well.
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Christine Smith, Editor

Christine Smith is an Editor for the Travel section at U.S. News, where she manages the annual ...  Read more

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