From historic cities and beach vacations to the natural wonders of national parks and scenic wineries, where to spend an inexpensive weekend in the U.S.

By Tetiana PavlichenkoMay 2, 2024 20:50 PMUS
From historic cities and beach vacations to the natural wonders of national parks and scenic wineries, where to spend an inexpensive weekend in the U.S.
From stunning nature to sleepy towns and loud metropolises, choose the destination of your choice. Source: Image PETE CHACALOS/Pixabay

If your mind and body need a break and you don't have the time or money for a full-fledged vacation, take the opportunity to take an affordable and relaxing weekend getaway close to your location in the United States. Going out of town for a couple days for a change of scenery can help replenish your energy levels and not waste your entire budget on it, if you plan your weekend properly. Even a short respite and time spent outdoors can have an amazing effect on your health and well-being. If you're looking for an inexpensive weekend getaway in the US, take advantage of these 15 destinations in major cities. Whatever you choose, each destination will bring you a welcome recovery and won't hit your pocket too hard.

From Los Angeles to Hermosa Beach, California

From historic cities and beach vacations to the natural wonders of national parks and scenic wineries, where to spend an inexpensive weekend in the U.S.
Find your perfect oceanfront beachfront hotel vacation destination. Source: Image Estrategy, CC BY-SA 3.0/

For an inexpensive trip from Los Angeles to the USA, the town of Hermosa Beach is ideal. It's just a few miles from the coast, so you should expect a good selection of charming beach hotels. For example, you can enjoy the sound of the waves, views of the bay, and free in-room yoga classes with an audio guide by staying at the laid-back Sea Sprite Hotel, or experience the elegant beach vibe of the H2O Hermosa Hotel by admiring the ocean waves from each room's private terrace or quiet rooftop lounge. A few steps from the pier, you'll find a café or restaurant to suit every taste.

Fill your days with swimming in the waves, lazing on the sand, or rent a bike to explore the waterfront homes. You can also walk to see the murals on the city walls and buildings with your own eyes. If you have enough money, top off your experience with brunch at The Lighthouse Cafe, a jazz cafe dating back to 1949, or a show at The Comedy & Magic Club.

New York – Montauk, NY

Thebest places for an affordable weekend getaway in the US near New York City are on Long Island, and if you drive further east in the state along the Montauk Highway, you can plan a wallet-friendly vacation. The town of Montauk is the easternmost point of Long Island, which can offer travelers an abundance of great hotels, restaurants, and beaches, as well as historic sites and wineries.

There are several beautiful parks in the area where you could stay for your short vacation. For example, Heather Hills State Park boasts an oceanfront beach and camping areas with campfire, picnic, fishing and playground areas. There are also scenic trails for hiking and biking. Another great destination for affordable bargains in the US in this region is Montauk Point State Park. Here you can stroll along the rocky coastline and nature trails while taking in the ocean views. Nearby, you can visit the historic Montauk Lighthouse, established in 1796, and a museum dedicated to the region's role in U.S. history.

Washington, D.C. to West Virginia

The Eastern Panhandle region of West Virginia is convenient to visit from Washington, DC. It is only two hours away, but will delight you with its small-town atmosphere. A weekend here will be filled with admiring nature, history, and exciting shopping, such as in West Virginia's oldest town, Shepherdtown. Located on the Potomac River, it will also offer award-winning restaurants and a thriving music and arts scene, including many theatrical performances.

The historic charm of Harpers Ferry, which sits at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, will appeal to many travelers, and you can top off this trip with a visit to the National Historical Park. Here you'll find hiking trails, rock climbing areas, and a zipline for thrill-seekers. In Berkeley Springs, rejuvenate in the natural hot springs that vacationers have been seeking for several hundred years. Then it's worth visiting antique stores and local restaurants, and finish off your budget weekend in the USA at a distillery in Charles Town or Martinsburg.

Seattle to San Juan Island, Washington

If you dream of spending aninexpensive weekend vacation in the US on an island, head to San Juan Island. You'll need to spend a few hours driving from Seattle or take the ferry from Anacortes to get there. Upon arrival, a wonderful time in nature awaits you: hiking, biking, and walking on the beach. Fishing, kayaking and canoeing will also be enjoyed. After enjoying a reunion with nature, head to a winery, cider mill, and brewery for a tasting.

The island offers travelers a variety of accommodations to suit every budget. For example, at the Lakedale Resort, you can book a log cabin, yurt, lake house, a motorhome site in a campground, or a chic birch cottage in a glamping site.

San Francisco – Paso Robles, California

As an option for where to spend an inexpensive weekend in the US, a nice drive from San Francisco to Paso Robles is worth considering. Traveling approximately 200 miles south, travelers can experience the benefits of communing with nature and outdoor activities. Enjoy the tranquil setting of Lake Nacimiento, surrounded by miles of scenic shoreline, forests, mountains and beautiful waterfalls. It's perfect for rejuvenating your inner resources while watching wildlife, spending time soothing fishing and exploring hiking trails.

Travelers can stay in this town at one of the bed and breakfast inns, book lodging, or rent a room at The Piccolo Hotel downtown. The pedestrian-friendly city has plenty of places to visit, including cute cafes, restaurants, boutiques and antique stores. The wine tastings that Paso Robles is known for are a lot of fun. Admire the stunning Denner Vineyards tasting room (reservations are required), visit the family-owned Thacher Winery and enjoy outstanding wines at Alta Colina, where you can also stay overnight in a vintage trailer by the pond.

Portland – Sherwood, Oregon

From historic cities and beach vacations to the natural wonders of national parks and scenic wineries, where to spend an inexpensive weekend in the U.S.
Stay overnight in a restored 1948 retro trailer. Source: Image

If the start of your little road trip is set in Portland, you won't have to travel far to get out of the city. Less than 20 miles from Sherwood is the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, which may be one of the best and affordable places to visit in the US for a weekend getaway. It's a great option for relaxing while exploring the trails and viewing the wetlands from the observation deck. It has a diverse flora and is home to many birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles. After a scenic drive through the rolling hills, you can stop at a winery for a tasting.

My Tiny House Village micro-resort, located on an old farm, is well suited for having a fun time on a small budget. It has a collection of miniature houses with original creative decorations, and nearby is a winery and plenty of interesting places to visit. Then there's The Vintages Trailer resort in the Willamette Valley, with restored retro trailers and luxury amenities like a pool and lawn games.

Dallas, Texas, to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Traveling approximately 200 miles north on I-35 from Dallas, you'll reach Oklahoma City and discover great places for affordable weekend getaways and outdoor activities in the United States. Along the Oklahoma River, the city's Elling neighborhood offers paddle boarding, canoeing, and kayaking opportunities. After a day of outdoor activities, move into the evening to nearby Bricktown: the former warehouse district is now a collection of restaurants, nightlife and other entertainment.

It's also a great option for bringing your pet along for the trip. You'll find dog-friendly parks here, including the Myriad Botanical Gardens. As you stroll around, you'll see over 1,000 species of plants, a sky bridge overlooking the rainforest, and a beautiful waterfall. Exciting adventures will await at the Frontier City Amusement Park with entertainment for all ages, and if you're lucky with your schedule, you can also visit the Oklahoma City Horse Show. Include the entertaining National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in your itinerary as well.

Denver – Fort Collins, Colorado

An hour's drive from Denver in the USA is the city of Fort Collins, where you can spend an affordable weekend visiting local breweries and distilleries and tasting their spirits. These can be combined with outdoor recreation such as hiking or biking, bird watching and horseback riding. The nearby lakes, reservoirs and rivers also offer plenty of entertainment: you can go kayaking, rafting, canoeing and swimming.

At least a day should be spent in downtown Fort Collins with its stores, museums, galleries and restaurants. The restored historic buildings and picturesque streets and alleys of this city served as inspiration for the main street of Disneyland in the United States. Here in Old Town Fort Collins, the Armstrong Hotel provides a comfortable and convenient stay for the right price.

Atlanta – Asheville, North Carolina

If your starting point for finding affordable weekend getaways in the United States is Atlanta, then drive about 200 miles north and you can stay in the city of Asheville. Here, the focus will be around the city's art scene, which you can enjoy as you stroll through the River Arts District. There are hundreds of works and studios on display here, from pottery and ceramics to paintings that you can immerse yourself in exploring. Along the way, stop in for coffee at Ultra Coffeebar or Wedge Brewing Company.

Asheville's gastronomy has reached a new level that will surprise even those who aren't used to saving money. Complete your vacation with an impressive gustatory experience by trying, for example, pork stew at 12 Bones Smokehouse, southern cuisine at Tupelo Honey, and sweet tooths must visit Vortex Donuts. After satisfying your appetite, expend those extra calories while hiking the scenic trails through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Places to stay in Asheville are plentiful for every taste and budget, from cozy cabins to comfortable hotels.

From Chicago to Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana

From historic cities and beach vacations to the natural wonders of national parks and scenic wineries, where to spend an inexpensive weekend in the U.S.
Explore the stunning vistas of U.S. national parks. Source: Image Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 3.0/

Less than an hour's drive from Chicago is a true natural wonder that could be the perfect destination for a short weekend trip across the US on a tight budget. Indiana Dunes National Park is 15 miles long and is located along the southern shore of Lake Michigan. A visit to the park involves a full weekend itinerary that includes hiking and biking, horseback riding and relaxing on the beach.

At Mount Baldy Beach, you can spend the day not only enjoying the sand and sun, but also learning about the local feathered population by hiking the Great Marsh Trail. Adventurous travelers can take part in the Diana of the Dunes Challenge and follow in the footsteps of a local legend, exploring the natural wonders of the area. Overnight travelers can, of course, stay in hotels, bed and breakfasts, or vacation homes around the dunes, but naturally, the real immersion in nature will happen if you pitch a tent.

Philadelphia – Richmond, Virginia

Great places to spend an affordable weekend in the US for Philadelphia residents are located a few hours south, where the historic city of Richmond is located. There are a large number of attractions here that won't cost you anything, including galleries, museums and concerts. You'll start by taking a tour of the city, which has a history dating back several centuries, followed by a stroll through local wineries where you can enjoy a beautiful view and a glass of wonderful wine.

There's a great place to stop in every corner, such as the Quirk Boutique Hotel, where a stay will give you an authentic feel for the historic city. You shouldn't leave Richmond without visiting at least a few of its more than 900 restaurants, including James Beard Award nominees like Peter Chang and Mama J's.

Nashville – Blue Ridge, Georgia

Spend an inexpensive weekend in the U.S. amidst picturesque scenery that doesn't require a big budget can be found 200 miles from Nashville in Blue Ridge. In the warmer months, travelers come here for rafting on the Ocoee River, pontoon boat rides on Blue Ridge Lake and hikes to one of the 16 waterfalls in the area. Fall attracts them with the variegated colors of the scenery, and at this time, there's nothing better than a visit to Mercier Orchards to pick apples and sample cider and apple fritters.

To see some of the best sights in the country, it's worth taking a ride on the scenic Blue Ridge Railroad along the Toccoa River. You can also stop in the mountain towns of Copperhill and McKaysville to explore their restaurants, historic sites and stores. From vacation rentals to cottages, tree houses, and hotels, there's a great option for any type of vacation, whether it's a chic romantic weekend getaway or a budget-friendly family trip across the United States.

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