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Summer is a great time to take a break from your busy schedule and travel. The only problem is most vacations don’t come cheap. The key is finding a place where the activities don’t cost too much, lodging is affordable, and/or the cost of goods isn’t extravagant. The following three American locations are destinations that won’t thin out your savings account too much.
One of America’s most epic national parks, Yellowstone National Park covers nearly 3,500 square miles and arguably gives travelers from anywhere the best bang for their dollar. It’s only $25 to enter via car or $12 if on foot, and that pass is good for a week. Lodging ranges from $100 to $200 and up, but campgrounds ($15-$30) are the more economical and more entertaining option. Most campers bring their own food, which increases savings. With dramatic mountain peaks, multicolored pools and all sorts of geysers, few places on Earth provide such scenes of unspoiled natural beauty. The wildlife, which includes grizzly bears, bison, wolves and moose, makes the trip all the more magical.
Gulf Shores, Alabama, is home to numerous pristine beaches and offers all the fun of many eastern Florida coastal towns at a lower price. Gulf Shores Public Beach and Gulf State Park are two fine beaches where you can sunbathe, sail or ride the waves. One great aspect of vacationing here is the diversity of places to stay. Hotels and condos typically range from $90 to $150, which is reasonable, but if you want to save more money, stay at an RV park, in a cottage or cabin, or at a campsite. The price of goods is also not high, and most restaurants and bars in town have affordable menus.
This may come as a surprise, but Washington, D.C., makes this list as a great budget destination because most major attractions are free, including Arlington National Cemetery, the U.S. Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial, National Air and Space Museum, the White House, Washington Monument and much more. You can spend zero dollars on sightseeing. Lodging, though pricier than average, isn’t overly expensive. As long as you don’t book a high-end hotel, you can get something comfortable for $130 to $200 per night. Eating out can be expensive, but the capital city does have lots of food trucks and ample budget eateries. Also, the city is very walkable, and public transportation is highly efficient, allowing you to cut down costs on getting around.