11 Beach Cities To Vacation Cheaply

shutterstock_205685263_sc_730x350Vacationing on a budget can always seem difficult when trying to factor in the cost of lodging, transportation, food, entertainment, and emergencies. As the seasons change and the weather cools, beaches become nostalgic and something that all cold weather victims long for. When it comes to the United States, just about every coast (even the no-coast!) has some worthy beach destinations that are within a reasonable price range as far as the bigger picture is concerned. Low budget doesn’t have to mean low quality. You just have to know where to look! Many cities offer free activities and all inclusive resort packages to encourage their visitors to keep coming back. If you are thinking about your next trip, then consider these 11 beach cities where you can travel cheap.

1. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

When it comes to beach towns, South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach is one of the most iconic in the United States. It is full of kitschy tourist attractions, ocean fresh sea food, luxurious resorts, and even budget-friendly spots such as one that is literally named Affordable Family Resort. Like any vacation destination, Myrtle Peak has its peak seasons, but that doesn’t stop it from offering cheap options for food, quality lodging, and entertainment. Places such as Ripley’s Aquarium, the Hollywood Wax Museum, Medieval Times, and a nearby miniature gold course all offer wonderful options for entertainment and often give out promo codes via mailers or email for an added family discount. A family vacation to Myrtle Beach for under $1,000 is not unheard of.shutterstock_131635145_tx_730x350

2. South Padre Island, Texas

South Padre Island is located on the Gulf Coast and is part of Cameron County in Texas. It is a popular travel destination for college students, especially during spring break, and it is well known for its resort aesthetic and unique marine activities. Visitors of South Padre Island can enjoy dolphin watching, boating, swimming, and more while appreciating the active nightlife across the shore. South Padre Island is considered to be one of the top three cheapest spring break destinations on record, and budget travelers can particularly enjoy the array of parks and natural preserves such as Isla Blanca Park and the Laguna Madre Nature Trail. The island’s walkability makes it much more affordable as the need for transportation isn’t as necessary as some destinations. Many local resorts offer all-inclusive packages, but an average price for a night in a four star hotel is approximately $128 USD.shutterstock_289464911_pr_730x350

3. Puerto Rico

For travelers without a passport, Puerto Rico is the best option for a tropical beach getaway, especially on a budget. Visitors trying to see the world are in luck. Puerto Rico is home to the only rain forest registered in US territory and costs less than $70 USD. El Yunque National Forest features stunning waterfalls and hiking opportunities for nature lovers of all sorts. The availability of activities around Puerto Rico is vast and fairly cheap. Visitors can spend a day kayaking for a total of $35 per person, or they can take a dip in the ocean and go boogie boarding for a mere $10 per board rental. When it comes to lodging, the nicest of resorts and casinos are available for an average of $160 USD per night and are commonly all-inclusive deals that feature live entertainment and even dance lessons!shutterstock_68695060_fla_730x350

4. Pensacola, Florida

Pensacola is a kitschy beach town in Florida well known for its white sand, themed bars and clubs, gulf inspired cuisine, and the family friendly Boardwalk. While hotels in Pensacola are plentiful, many visitors take advantage of private vacation rentals. A condo or private beach house can easily be found for a range of $90 to $200 USD per night. Many of these rentals have full private docks leading to the ocean as well as large decks for outdoor gatherings. Anyone traveling to Pensacola can enjoy unique aquatic opportunities such as scuba diving. Common marine life sightings include lobsters, sea turtles, starfish, angelfish, manta rays, dolphins, octopus, and more. The fishing in Pensacola is also very bountiful with catches including red snapper, mahi mahi, and tuna.shutterstock_94357918_oregon_730x350

5. Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach is a stunning Pacific Northwestern destination found in Oregon that happens to be one of the most photo-worthy vacation spots. Cannon Beach is incredibly budget-friendly with hotels starting at around $61 per night. Fans of cooler weather and more of a “moody” vibe will take to Oregon shores very well and can enjoy layered wardrobes while digging their toes in the sand with a hot latte in hand. Visitors of Cannon Beach can indulge in a different atmosphere while the fog swoops in and bon fires ignite. The area is best known for its prominence of natural landmarks such as Haystack Rock and the Hug Point State Recreation Site. Travelers can also partake in fishing, clamming, and crabbing among satisfying their appetites with chef inspired locally caught seafood. Those in search of a bigger thrill can try their hand at a North Coast zip line adventure!shutterstock_64381141_laguna_ca_730x350

6. Laguna Beach, California

Laguna Beach is an Orange County coastal city located in California. It was popularized by the namesake MTV series, but it is known form more than just a few pretty faces and high school drama. Laguna Beach is chock full of regional art, gorgeous flora and fauna, roaring waves, and flawless local California cuisine. Laguna Beach appears to be a luxurious tourist destination, however visiting outside of the summer peak season will put you in an ideal spot for effective budgeting. The north side of Laguna Beach tends to be less expensive in terms of lodging, and a free trolley offers service to passengers along the Pacific Coast Highway during weekends. Average hotel rates are around $130 USD per night, but free entertainment can be found in unique street performances, sidewalk art galleries, coffee shop open mic nights, and everything in between.shutterstock_238052104_maine_730x350

7. Bar Harbor, Maine

If you have never seen a moose in real life, then a trip to Maine’s beautiful Bar Harbor might just present you with the perfect opportunity. Bar Harbor is located on Mount Desert Island as well as in Acadia National Park. The area is full of vintage yet quality motels for cheap nightly rates and offers a nostalgic full blown east coast experience. Most lodging includes free internet access and a close proximity to a free bus service around the island. Bed & Breakfast lodging is also very popular in Bar Harbor and offers an all-inclusive stay with a cozy atmosphere. Nearby activities include fishing, boating, hiking, whale watching, and exploration of the historic town. Noteworthy attractions include Cadillac Mountain, Thunder Hole, and the Asticou Azalea Garden.shutterstock_274579259_nc_730x350

8. Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

Wrightsville Beach is a modest town located near Wilmington, North Carolina. For travelers in search of a less populated yet equally cheap alternative to Myrtle Beach, Wrightsville Beach offers an array of sandy adventures and comfortable budget friendly lodging. It is much quieter in comparison to many beach towns, though that doesn’t mean visitors can’t get their fill of tourist excitement from local restaurants, nightlife, and attractions. Wrightsville Beach is best known for the peaceful Crystal Pier where visitors can indulge in fishing, fresh seafood, and even some calming yoga classes in the sand. Hotels typically include free breakfast and internet access along with an ocean view for just over $100 per night on average. shutterstock_440284384_santacruz_730x350

9. Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz is an iconic beach city in California with memorable natural features and ocean inspired activities. Santa Cruz has been a huge tourist destination for decades and is best known for its outstanding boardwalk. Surfing enthusiasts can appreciate the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum along with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Santa Cruz is surrounded by massive and breath-taking redwood trees, which expand along the coast and surrounding areas for a unique hiking experience. Quality hotels can be found for less than $90 per night on average, but a nearby stay will allow access to the bustling Municipal Wharf. Budget travelers can take the cash saved on low-cost hotels and take it to the downtown district where local shops and restaurants stretch far and wide.shutterstock_87083852_alabama_730x350

10. Gulf Shores, Alabama

The Gulf Shores in Alabama offer the best of beach qualities including warm weather, clear waters, aquatic athletic activities, profound wildlife observation, amazing regional food, and much more. The more common option for lodging in Gulf Shores and the nearby Orange Beach include private vacation rentals at local condominiums and cottages. There are low budget motel options, however Gulf Shores is known for being a very pet-friendly area. Private property owners are often more accepting of furry companions that might be joining you on the road. Local cafes offer cheap lunch options, but many visitors prefer to visit a nearby grocery store or farmers’ market for locally grown produce and fresh caught seafood for a romantic meal from their dining room. When it comes to attractions, the Gulf State Park is one of the most popular for nature enthusiasts.shutterstock_108131324_montauk_730x350

11. Montauk, New York

Montauk is a historic census-designated place found on Long Island in New York. It has been a subject in popular culture for decades and is famous for its presence throughout centuries of shipwrecks and arrivals ranging from the Revolutionary War to the arrival of slaves upon La Amistad in 1839. Montauk is a modern surf destination in the Atlantic Ocean and offers an assortment of activities to its visitors including oceanfront yoga classes and tours of the iconic Montauk Point Lighthouse. It is a relatively quiet area with quaint yet high quality dining and major educational and historical significance. Anyone traveling to Montauk is likely in search of a peaceful getaway with close proximity to the metropolitan excitement of New York City. Local hotels can be found for under $80 per night, which grants convenience and prime location near the beach as well as the Big Apple.