U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

Best Cheap Summer Vacations

U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

Thanks to balmy temperatures, long days and school recess, summer is a popular time to take a vacation. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most expensive times to travel, making it difficult to find a budget-friendly destination. To help you in your search, U.S. News considered affordability and traveler appeal to determine the best cheap summer vacations. Vote for your favorite destination below to help determine next year's ranking. 

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#1 Grand Canyon

#1 in Best Cheap Summer Vacations

It doesn't get more affordable than camping, and this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a unique place to rough it. You'll have to contend with crowds along the South Rim, but the photo possibilities will be well worth the cramped quarters. Camping sites are just $15 per night during warm months. Bring along your own food to save even more. Read More »

Grand Canyon at sunset View 35 photos
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#2 Williamsburg

#2 in Best Cheap Summer Vacations

If you're seeking a serious dose of history, Williamsburg may be the right vacation for you. Step back in time at Colonial Williamsburg, visit the site of the first settlement at Jamestown or pick up an authentic souvenir from the Jamestown Glasshouse. Plus, because of Williamsburg's location in Virginia, all these historical hot spots are easy for East Coast-based travelers to reach. Read More »

Colonial Williamsburg View 29 photos
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#3 Fort Myers

#3 in Best Cheap Summer Vacations

This Florida outpost offers an assortment of cheap summer options to please every type of traveler. When you're not soaking up the sun on nearby beaches, spot local flora and fauna at places like Manatee Park and the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Or, indulge in a history lesson at the winter estates of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. Read More »

Fort Myers skyline View 15 photos
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#4 Albuquerque

#4 in Best Cheap Summer Vacations

If you can stand the scorching temps, you'll be rewarded with a variety of travel deals in Albuquerque during the summer months. Immerse yourself in Native American culture at places like the historic Old Town district and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Then, take in incredible views from the Sandia Peak Tramway, the longest aerial tram in the U.S. Read More »

Mass Ascension View 34 photos
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#5 Fort Lauderdale

#5 in Best Cheap Summer Vacations

Like the Caribbean, Fort Lauderdale and other coastal Florida cities see the most visitors during the winter and spring, meaning you can snag cheaper flights and hotel rates if you plan a summer trip. The smaller crowds also guarantee that there will be more beachfront up for grabs, so you won't have to fight for a prime location. Read More »

Skyline View 24 photos
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#6 Tucson

#6 in Best Cheap Summer Vacations

As a desert city in Arizona, it is imperative that you remember to bring a water bottle everywhere you go during a summer vacation in Tucson. This historic town does not disappoint its tourists though, and visitors will be able to drive (or take a guided bike tour) between specialty museums like the Pima Air & Space Museum or The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures. Read More »

Saguaro Sunset View 38 photos
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#7 Boca Raton

#7 in Best Cheap Summer Vacations

The typically expensive Boca sees its lowest hotel prices of the year come summertime. What's more, many of the resident snowbirds have flown the coop for the season so crowds are virtually nonexistent. Plus, many of the city's attractions, such as Mizner Park, the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center and Sugar Sand Park, are free to enjoy. Read More »

Boca Raton Main View 16 photos
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#8 Daytona

#8 in Best Cheap Summer Vacations

Speed and sand are probably the first things that come to mind when you hear Daytona, Florida. The home of the Daytona International Speedway draws visitors to it impressive 23 miles of beachfront. The crowds spike and prices peak during spring break season, but Daytona becomes a great budget travel option in the summer. Read More »

Daytona Beach Spread View 13 photos
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#9 Biloxi

#9 in Best Cheap Summer Vacations

With its brazen Southern charm, this affordable Mississippi retreat offers beach access at a low cost. That is, if you don't gamble away your savings at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. You can also spend the day touring Biloxi's cultural sites like the Beauvoir and the Biloxi Lighthouse. Read More »

Beach Time View 16 photos
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#10 Tampa

#10 in Best Cheap Summer Vacations

Far fewer tourists descend on Tampa in the summer, so you'll find thinned crowds at popular spots like Busch Gardens and the Florida Aquarium. To save money on attraction entrance fees, consider purchasing the Tampa Bay CityPASS. Read More »

On the Waterfront View 20 photos
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#11 Myrtle Beach

#11 in Best Cheap Summer Vacations

Clean beaches, exciting amusement parks and a variety of golf courses are all highlights in this South Carolina city. The wide array of entertainment options makes Myrtle Beach an ideal vacation spot for families. Plus, it's a more affordable option compared to other beach getaways in the summer. Read More »

Myrtle's Morning Pier View 18 photos
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#12 Moab

#12 in Best Cheap Summer Vacations

Moab is unique in that it borders two of Utah’s national parks. Arches National Park sits to the north, where visitors can marvel at precarious looking sandstone monuments like the famous Delicate Arch. South of the town is Canyonlands National Park, which offers stunning views of Utah’s expansive desert landscapes. All this makes Moab a budget-friendly destination for nature lovers. 

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#13 Annapolis

#13 in Best Cheap Summer Vacations

The capital of Maryland, Annapolis is a great summer destination for history buffs. Annapolis played a pivotal role in the Civil War and the War of 1812. Today, it's home to the U.S. Naval Academy which houses a museum and beautiful grounds. When you’re not learning about the city’s storied past, go sailing on the Chesapeake Bay or enjoy a meal at one of the many seafood restaurants. Read More »

Heart of Historic Annapolis View 15 photos
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#14 Bar Harbor

#14 in Best Cheap Summer Vacations

Bar Harbor is basically a postcard that has found its way into the real world. The town is flanked by Acadia National Park on one side and Frenchman Bay on the other, so it has an abundance of options for both outdoor enthusiasts and water sports fans. Summer is the best time to visit because the weather is warm and dry.

Bar Harbor
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#15 Surfside Beach

#15 in Best Cheap Summer Vacations

Nicknamed "The Family Beach," Surfside Beach is a 2-mile strip on the South Carolina coast. Visitors can look forward to games, fishing and a summer concert series. Surfside also features an assortment of youth attractions designed with accessibility in mind. The city’s beaches and pier are exceptionally well-maintained, guaranteeing summer travelers a clean and safe getaway.

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