1. Washington, DC
At first glance, the nation’s capital may seem like a surprising choice for an affordable vacation. But this East Coast gem has plenty to recommend. DC’s best attractions won’t cost you a dime – including the world-class Smithsonian Museum, the Zoo, and majestic monuments around the Mall. Plus, you can often find valuable hotel deals on weekends when business travelers are out of town. The metro system has excellent coverage, meaning you can get the most from anywhere. Where you need to go to visit one of the top destinations in USA cities for just a few dollars.
2. Portland, Oregon
Other top destinations in the United States are Portland, Oregon Known for its microbreweries, cafe culture, and free-spirited residents, Portland is quickly becoming a star in the Pacific Northwest. The city’s famous food trucks allow you to enjoy global cuisine on the cheap, while wonderful microbreweries offer the best drinks and views. Weekend markets and interesting vintage shops add to the appeal. You’ll also find budget-friendly accommodations (like the Hawthorne Portland Hostel that doubles for over $64) and plenty of great outdoor activities, including hiking the Forest Park Trail, which has 80-mile trails.
3. Nashville, Tennessee
America’s glorious capital, Nashville is full of country-fused music joints and boot-stomping ‘Southern bars. Plan your evening outings for the week and you’ll rarely have to pay extra at the dozens of music-filled bars across town. Eating here is very affordable in a city known for its homely cuisine. Fried chicken is king, especially at the legendary Prince’s Hot Chicken, where a full meal for two can be had for under $20. As an added bonus, Nashville has some of the best value accommodations south, like Knights Inn Downtown which offers a bed for just $56 per night.
4. Austin, Texas
This is the best city among the top destinations in the USA. Spread on both sides of the beautiful Colorado River, this South Texas city has a lot to recommend it. With over 300 days of sunshine and mild winters, Austin offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. You can find scenic spots for hiking, biking, and canoeing, and relax in natural springs without leaving the city. When the sun goes down, the self-described ‘Music Capital of the World offers a fantastic range of sounds – from blues and jazz to folk and indie rock.
5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Just 90 miles from New York City, Philadelphia is like a mini, budget-friendly version of its northern twin. For a fraction of what you’d pay in Manhattan, you can eat at The Farm’s restaurants, and visit state-of-the-art theaters and barhop around Old Town. As the birthplace of American independence, Philadelphia also has a wealth of (free) historic sites. Foodies won’t want to miss strolling through the culturally rich Chinatown (the fourth largest in America) or an impromptu party in Europe and Latin America at the Italian markets.
6. New Orleans, Louisiana
A melting pot of French, African and Caribbean cultures, New Orleans feels like a world removed from its South American surroundings. Creole cuisine, colorful art-filled markets, and late-night revelry in the Faubourg-Marigny are just a few aspects of this complex but fascinating subtropical city. Although NOLA has become more expensive in recent years, with free hourly sessions throughout the city and cheaper accommodations outside of France, a hearty Cajun meal can be had to offer. Don’t drain your wallet.
7. Charlottesville, Virginia
Located near the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville is a charming small town. Known for its famous university and a fun, easy-to-use downtown dotted with cafes, restaurants, and brewpubs. Outside of town, you’ll find gorgeous hiking trails and dozens of up-and-coming vineyards with great views, wine tasting, and picnicking. Best of all, you won’t pay big city prices for lodging or dining in this affordable city of 45,000. Don’t miss the craft beer and good Southern food at South Street Brewery. Charlottesville also makes a great add-on to DC.
8. Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Nestled in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, friendly Eureka Springs is one of the most amazing small towns in the South. Its steep, winding streets are a quirky mix of Victorian homes, art galleries, kitsch shops, and perfect country music bars. Just outside the village, hiking, biking, and horseback riding unfold in the seemingly endless expanse of the Ozarks. And you’ll find unique lodging options that offer great value, including treehouse-style cottages and spa hotels.
9. Phoenix, Arizona
Surrounded by mountains, Phoenix makes way for a beautiful desert. And hotels and resorts offer unbeatable deals – especially during the summer months when prices drop. There’s plenty to see in the city, including the stunning 145-acre Desert Botanic Gardens and the Phoenix Art Museum with collections of works by Georgia O’Keefe and Diego Rivera. The nearby Heard Museum has one of the nation’s finest collections of Native American arts and crafts. Relaxing outside the city, an extensive network of trails takes you through canyons, over grassy hills, past indigenous petroglyphs, and up to scenic overlooks overlooking the town. Start the morning with an inexpensive, filling meal at Matt’s Big Breakfast.
10. Tampa, Florida
It is one of the best cities among the top destinations in the USA. For a sun-drenched beach vacation at a fraction of the price of Miami, Tampa is a top choice. Located on the sparkling Gulf Coast, Florida’s third-largest city is a revitalizing beach. and many downtown attractions, including a wonderful zoo and aquarium along the Riverwalk. Northeast of the city center, Ybor Town’s cobblestone streets with 19th-century architecture are a pleasant place to stroll. The main attraction, though, is the white sandy beach just a short drive from the center. Fort De Soto Park has some of the most spectacular beaches in the state. With kayak and bike rentals as well as miles of sparkling sand, you can easily escape the village scene, with private rooms from $50.