We Rank the Best Places to Travel in the USA on a Budget

This story was inspired by: Big Apple to Big Easy Tour 

The United States might be home to the most expensive cities in the world (New York and San Francisco – we’re looking at you), but that doesn’t mean you can’t travel around the country on a budget. It is, after all, one of the largest countries in the world by land mass, and it is home to many amazing cities worth exploring. Flights to such big cities like Washington, DC and Los Angeles are surprisingly cheap while others have many affordable accommodations and even free attractions to visit, giving travellers many opportunities to save money.

Whether you travel on a group tour or independently, from the West Coast to the East here are ten of the best places to travel to in the USA if you’re on a budget.

Too excited to keep on reading? Take a look at the most popular tours to the USA here and start the adventure now.

Travel in the USA on a Budget

Venice Beach, Los Angeles

1. Los Angeles, California

  • Budget: Starting at $80 per day
  • Flights: From $63
  • Best for: Beach lovers, movie fans
  • Cheap eats: Kogi BBQ, Taco Window

As the starting point for most West Coast tours, The City of Angels might be home to the rich and the famous, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a room for budget travellers. Surprisingly, bargains are found everywhere if you choose to stay in lesser-known neighbourhoods or in a hostel

One-star hotels start at $45 a night with complimentary breakfast, cheap food trucks abound with delicious Mexican tacos that start at $1, and a 7-day Metro Pass for unlimited rides is only $25.



USA on a budget

Santa Monica Beach, Los Angeles

2. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Budget: Starting at $75 per day
  • Flights: From $47
  • Best for: Off-the-beaten-path travellers
  • Cheap eats: Tootie’s, YinzBurgh BBQ

Pittsburgh might not be an obvious choice for a travel destination for travellers looking for a group tour, but it’s got its share of memorable attractions—from a museum dedicated to Andy Warhol to bridge-peppered panoramas seen from lofty perches.

You’ll score some lower rates, especially if you stay in or around the airport area, and you’ll save even more with the city’s long list of free and inexpensive sights.

3. Savannah, Georgia

  • Budget: Starting at $60 per day
  • Flights: From $88
  • Best for: History hounds
  • Cheap eats: Fire Street Food, Sly’s Sliders and Fries

Charming Savannah is one of the prettiest cities in the United States, but it’s also one of the cheapest places to visit. You can score a hotel room for $36 a night with complimentary breakfast even in the busy summertime if you’re willing to stay outside the city proper.

Moreover, many of its main sights are free – Forsyth Park, River Street, the City Market and its historic centre, for example. Value eats are on hand as well.

Travel in the USA on a Budget

4. New Orleans, Louisiana

  • Budget: Starting at $50 per day
  • Flights: From $58
  • Best for: Jazz and Creole/Cajun culture fans
  • Cheap eats: Killer PoBoys, The Camellia Grill

In June, you can score $18 per night at a nice hostel and $45 at an inn as well as cheap but amazingly delicious eats that will set you back as low as $3 per meal. And this being New Orleans, there are many entertaining things to do without spending a dime.

The key to saving some money is to mix and mingle with the locals, listen to music at a venue without cover—just buy a beer or two, and if you’re lucky, join a Second Line Parade.

Travel in the USA on a Budget

New Orleans

5. Boston, Massachusetts

  • Budget: Starting at $90 per day
  • Flights: From $67
  • Best for: History hounds, bibliophiles
  • Cheap eats: Saus Boston, Kelly’s Roast Beef

Good ol’ Boston is a must destination for Americans as it, along with cities like Philadelphia and DC, has played a major role in American history. Though hotels aren’t as cheap in the city, there are many things to do that won’t burn a hole in your pocket.

Follow the Freedom Trail with a guide for only $12, see the USS Constitution Museum for the suggested donation of $5-10, and visit places like the Harvard campus, Faneuil Hall and Boston Public Library for free.

Boston, USA

Boston

6. Washington, DC

  • Budget: Starting at $100 per day
  • Flights: From $52
  • Best for: History hounds, architecture lovers
  • Cheap eats: Wiseguy Pizza, Chinatown Express

Hotels in Washington, DC aren’t as cheap as it is the capital city, and hundreds of politicians and dignitaries pass through it every day. However, the best thing about it as a tourist destination is that many of its museums, gardens and major attractions are completely free. Those include the National Mall, Air & Space Museum, the National Zoo and Ford’s Theatre. Additionally, the 7-Day Regional Bus Pass for unlimited bus travel is only $17.50.



Travel in the USA on a Budget

7. Atlanta, Georgia

  • Budget: Starting at $60 per day
  • Flights: From $47
  • Best for: History hounds
  • Cheap eats: Fat Matt’s Rib Shack, Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand

With hotel rates as low as $39 a night, flights as cheap as $50 and plenty of free attractions to visit, Atlanta definitely gets our vote for budget getaways. Plus, 7-day MARTA pass is only $23.75–that’s about $3.50 per day for unlimited rides–and there’s plenty of excellent eats for cheap.

The fact that it’s fast becoming one of the hippest places in America, following in Portland and Brooklyn’s footsteps, is just a nice little perk.

Travel in the USA on a Budget

Atlanta

8. Austin, Texas

  • Budget: Starting at $60 per day
  • Flights: From $73
  • Best for: Music nerds, foodies
  • Cheap eats: Wild Burgers, Chutney Bites

Austin is one of the country’s coolest cities, and there are plenty of tours that travel to this incredible place. It’s got chill vibes, friendly folks, good food, excellent music and the great outdoors. Yet you need not spend a lot to experience it all, as it also happens to be one of the cheapest cities to travel to.

June sees amazing deals on accommodations, starting at $23 at a hostel and $45 at a hotel, and there are a number of cheap, yet amazing places to eat.

Travel in the USA on a Budget

Austin

9. Denver, Colorado

  • Budget: Starting at $75 per day
  • Flights: From $47
  • Best for: Outdoor-lovers and adventurers
  • Cheap eats: My Brother’s Bar, Biker Jim’s

Denver has its share of cheap accommodations, with complimentary breakfast to boot, so there are plenty of savings to be had from the start. And it doesn’t stop there.

Aside from exploring the majestic Rocky Mountains, there are lots of things to do in this mountain city that will cost you $10 or less including exploring the night sky at the Chamberlin Observatory as well as visiting the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave.



10. Charleston, South Carolina

  • Budget: Starting at $90 per day
  • Flights: From $67
  • Best for: Those seeking Southern charm
  • Cheap eats: Jack of Cups, Early Bird Diner

Charleston oozes with Southern charm and old-fashioned European flair, with delicious seafood, memorable sunsets and idyllic plantations. It’s downtown may not have much in terms of budget options, but bargains are found in neighbouring cities.

Save money on accommodations starting at $64 a night in June, affordable eats and free attractions—watch the setting sun at the Battery, walk around the old City Market and relax at Folly Beach—then splurge a little by doing some shopping downtown.

We know you’re going to fall in love with the USA. Find your next tour here