Dozens of affordable family vacations, ‘cheap’ destinations for summer

Or just choose from our list of the top 11 U.S. travel spots

Couple hiking on affordable family vacation

Affordable family vacations don’t get any better than the Grand Canyon.

But if giant chasms aren’t your thing, there are a lot of other places to spend your time and your money.

“The United States is home to a wide range of vacation spots that offer plenty of things to do at reasonable prices,” said U.S. News & World Report, which, along with Women@Forbes, has plenty of ideas to make sure you get the most from your summer vacation.

But first, here’s our list of the best 11 affordable, family and/or cheapest vacations in the U.S. based on destinations that appear on more than one list below:

Our top 11 destinations

  1. Grand Canyon, Arizona
  2. Williamsburg, Virginia
  3. Yellowstone, Wyoming
  4. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
  5. Orlando, Florida
  6. Albuquerque, New Mexico
  7. Tucson, Arizona
  8. Nags Head/Outer Banks, North Carolina
  9. San Antonio, Texas
  10. Finger Lakes, New York
  11. Bar Harbor, Maine

This is what U.S. News had to say about the top destination on our list:

“‘Grand’ doesn’t begin to do this canyon justice. Measuring [about] 277 river miles in length, up to 18 miles in width and a mile deep, this massive chasm in northern Arizona is truly a natural wonder. For six million years, the Grand Canyon has expanded with the help of the mighty Colorado River, and for centuries, people from all over the globe have traveled to gaze out over its red and orange grandeur.”

The compilations below comprise destinations in 33 states, but 17 of those include at least two, so here is our ranking of the states that have the most vacation spots:

1. Florida (9)
2. New York (6)
T3. California (5)
T3. South Carolina (5)
T5. Tennessee (4)
T5. Arizona (4)
T5. Maryland (4)
8. Hawaii (3)
T9.  Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and Washington (2)

Couple viewing Grand Canyon

Great but affordable

Here is U.S. News’ 2019 ranking of the 18 best affordable vacation destinations in the U.S., based on expert opinions and the votes of U.S. News readers:

  1. Grand Canyon, Arizona
  2. Glacier, Montana
  3. Anchorage, Alaska
  4. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
  5. Williamsburg, Virginia
  6. Olympic National Park, Washington
  7. Portland, Oregon
  8. San Antonio, Texas
  9. Memphis, Tennessee
  10. Sequoia National Park, California
  11. Colorado Springs, Colorado
  12. Albuquerque, New Mexico
  13. Salt Lake City, Utah
  14. Nags Head/Outer Banks, North Carolina
  15. Greenville, South Carolina
  16. Killington, Vermont
  17. The Finger Lakes, New York
  18. Raleigh, North Carolina

The Grand Canyon remains grand champion on this list at No. 1, but a lot of reshuffling from last year also occurred. This list contained six other repeat entries – Gatlinburg and Williamsburg, both of which moved up the list, and San Antonio, Memphis, Albuquerque and Raleigh, which moved down. The other 11 destinations are new to the list this year, including Glacier, Olympic and Sequoia national parks.

To learn more about these vacation locales, visit Best Affordable Destinations in the USA online.

Family vacations

If you’re planning to travel with a family in tow, U.S. News has a slightly different take:

  1. Orlando-Walt Disney World, Florida
  2. Yellowstone, Wyoming
  3. Destin, Florida
  4. Grand Canyon, Arizona
  5. Washington, D.C.
  6. San Diego, California
  7. Yosemite, California
  8. Anaheim-Disneyland, California
  9. Maui, Hawaii
  10. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
  11. Honolulu-Oahu, Hawaii
  12. Outer Banks, North Carolina
  13. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  14. Sanibel Island, Florida
  15. Ocean City, Maryland
  16. Chicago, Illinois
  17. New York, New York
  18. Hilton Head, South Carolina
  19. Williamsburg, Virginia
  20. Branson, Missouri
  21. San Antonio, Texas

This list grew to 21 destinations from 15 last year with 11 debuting – Orlando-Walt Disney World, Destin, Washington, Yosemite, Anaheim-Disneyland, Maui, Honolulu-Oahu, Sanibel Island, Chicago, New York City and San Antonio. One destination – San Diego – moved up two places from last year, while the remaining nine slipped, including Yellowstone and Grand Canyon.

Five of last year’s top destinations – Niagara Falls, NY; Dallas-Fort Worth, TX; Portland, OR; South Padre Island, TX, and the Catskills, NY – fell off the list entirely.

To learn more about these vacation locales, visit Best Affordable Family Vacations online.

‘Cheap’ destinations

And if affordable isn’t, well, affordable enough, here are some “cheap” vacation destinations, also ranked by U.S. News:

  1. Yellowstone, Wyoming
  2. Bar Harbor, Maine
  3. Moab, Utah
  4. Grand Canyon, Arizona
  5. Niagara Falls, New York
  6. Williamsburg, Virginia
  7. Surfside Beach, South Carolina
  8. Albuquerque, New Mexico
  9. Annapolis, Maryland
  10. Fort Myers, Florida
  11. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  12. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  13. Tucson, Arizona
  14. Boca Raton, Florida
  15. The Finger Lakes, New York

Four destinations – Yellowstone, Niagara Falls, Ottawa and the Finger Lakes are new to the list this year. The other 11 destinations appeared on last year’s list but were reshuffled a bit, with Bar Harbor, Moab, Surfside Beach and Annapolis moving up the list, and Grand Canyon, Williamsburg, Albuquerque, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, Tucson and Boca Raton slipping down.

To learn more about these vacation locales, visit Best Cheap Summer Vacations online.

More ‘cheap’ destinations

And then there are these destinations from Women@Forbes, in no particular order, but most of which do not appear on any of the U.S. News rankings:

  • Mount Desert Island (Bar Harbor), Maine
  • Monterey, California
  • Traverse City, Michigan
  • Saint Michaels, Maryland
  • Greenport, New York
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Whitefish, Montana
  • Lexington, Kentucky
  • Astoria, Oregon
  • Boise, Idaho
  • Panama City, Florida
  • Nyack, New York
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Bloomington, Indiana
  • Greenville, South Carolina
  • Kauai, Hawaii
  • Snowmass, Colorado
  • Orlando, Florida
  • San Juan Island, Washington
  • Louis, Missouri
  • The Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Phoenix, Arizona

To learn more about these vacation locales, visit Cheap Summer Travel: 23 Places to Go in 2018 online.

Nine U.S. destinations appear on Women@Forbes’ The 38 Cheapest Places to Travel in 2019, which also includes destinations in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia:

  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Cooperstown, New York
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Miami, Florida
  • Flagstaff, Arizona
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Tucson, Arizona

There you go – almost everything you need to know to pick an affordable summer vacation spot.

Unless, of course, you want to go somewhere affordable beyond U.S. borders. In that case, look for these reports on top-rated (and other) affordable international destinations:

Then enjoy your summer, no matter where your road takes you.

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