Summer is the perfect time to explore all the awesomeness America has to offer, but if you’re on a budget, you might feel like your options are severely limited. Fear not, ambitious traveler: some of the country’s best landmarks are actually surprisingly affordable, and some are even free! So pack your bags and hop in the car—you have some sights to see:
7 of The Most Affordable Travel Destinations in the U.S.
Step up your U.S. history trivia knowledge and travel to Colonial Williamsburg for some education and culture. If you take advantage of one of the special discounted passes, you can visit multiple historical sites and amusement parks for a fraction of the cost. And don’t forget to ride The Jamestown Ferry for great views—it’s completely free!
The Grand Canyon
If you haven’t made a pilgrimage to this natural wonder in northern Arizona, it’s definitely worth a visit. Officially designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the iconic canyon measures approximately 277 river miles in length and up to 18 miles in width. While hotels inside the site can be pricey, camping at the canyon can be totally wallet-friendly, and if you save your visit for September (or a few other select calendar dates throughout the year), you can even skip the entrance fee altogether.
Maybe you don’t equate “beach vacation” with Mississippi, but believe it or not, Biloxi is full of sand, surf, and—cha ching!—plenty of casinos. Some of the properties may be high-priced, but if you book a bit in advance, you should be able to secure a spot at one of the town’s hotels for under $100 a night.
Where else can you visit Elvis Presley’s Graceland kingdom and tour the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll? Memphis is a super cool destination that simply doesn’t get enough attention for its multitude of tourist offerings—many of which are reasonably priced. If you opt for a Backstage Pass, you gain access to the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, Sun Studio, Graceland and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music for one flat rate of $84.
Foodies, take note! Greenville has been making headlines for its burgeoning reputation as a culinary capital, and there’s plenty more to do when you’re not getting your grub on. The Greenville County Museum of Art houses collections by legends like Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns, and the 20-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail is a must for bike riders.
Sequoia National Park
You can’t consider an outdoorsy California adventure complete until if you’ve hit up this majestic location, which is home to some of the world’s tallest trees. Snag a spot at one of the park’s 14 campgrounds to save money on lodging, and stock up on picnic items on your way in to avoid the marked up prices onsite.
People need to make a bigger deal out of this city’s stunning architecture and incomparable food scene. You can take in a ton of sights for free, like the Garfield Park Conservatory, and fill up on authentic cuisine for under $10 at classic spots like Portillo’s.
Ready to hit the open road? Make sure you have an insurer who has your back. If you haven’t yet made the switch to pay-per-mile car insurance, visit www.metromile.com today for a free quote.
Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.