It safe to say that most of us these days have cottoned on to the fact that travel doesn’t need to be expensive. That being said, we all know that expensive or cheap’ is such a relative term. Though, there are some cities to visit in the USA that aren’t quite as expensive as others.
Thing is, even the richest have budgets! The only difference is that it’s just a bigger budget but a budget none-the-less (something I’ve said on here time and time again). So, truth be told, most of us are interested in getting as much value as possible out of our hard earned cash. This is especially true when it comes to travel.
Now, some of the cheapest cities to visit in the USA aren’t always ones on the well-trodden path. For instance, you might find ways to explore New York or Los Angeles on a budget, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s one of the cheapest cities to visit in the USA.
With that in mind, I wanted to share some of my very favourite and cheaper cities to visit in the USA. Some are pretty well-known outside of the USA, though, others are a little off-the-beaten-track. Whatever the case, I’m hoping I can share some new spots to consider when exploring the USA.
Take a look, below, at the cheapest cities to visit in the USA. Have the best time exploring! 🇺🇸
1.) Washington DC
We’ll go straight in with Washington DC as something of an unusual choice because this might not be the first city to spring to mind when you think of the cheapest cities to visit in the USA.
Now, you’d be right in thinking that the best Washington DC hotels can be a little more expensive than more regional cities. That being said, you’ll save a pretty penny in many other ways.
For instance, there are many free Smithsonian museums to explore, though there are many other spots too. Places like the National Mall, the largest library in the world ( Library of Congress) and U.S. Capitol Building are all totally free to explore. Though, you will need to book your tour of the U.S. Capitol Building, here, before visiting.
Also, don’t forget, you can actually visit inside the White House for free, too. You just need to contact your US State Representative to arrange a visit.
2.) Knoxville, Tennessee
Okay, so when you think of Tennesee, it’s likely you think of incredible cities like Memphis or Nashville? That being said, there’s a smaller city that’s often overlooked when visiting Tennessee and that is Knoxville.
Now, it might not be the same size as Nashville or Memphis but it’s a city that’s pretty amazing to spend a good few days exploring. Better still, it’s one of the cheapest cities to visit in the USA as accommodation and experiences are much less expensive.
Once here, make sure to grab a tipple at the Peter Kern Library Speakeasy, see the Knoxville Museum of Art and watch a show at the Tennessee Theatre.
3.) San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio’s has a totally rich infusion of American history and Mexican culture that makes it one of the best cities in the USA to visit. Better still, luxury Hotel prices are relatively low, and there’s plenty to see and do whilst you’re here.
Once you arrive, make sure to explore the Alamo (for free) grab some yummy Mexican-fusion dishes or strolling down the Paseo del Rio, the city’s river walk.
It’s a pretty fun city to visit and probably one of the cheapest cities to visit in the USA… especially when compared to NYC.
4.) Atlanta, Georgia
As a key airline hub for the US, Atlanta is reasonably cheap and easy to travel to by air. It’s got loads of domestic flights and a shed load of international flights that fly into the city. For this reason, seat prices can be lower than other regional city airports. This all means you’ve got more money to spend ‘on the ground’ in Atlanta.
You can avoid pricey excursions by escaping into the Appalachians for a scenic hike, or make a trip to Stone Mountain Park. Though, if you’re not much of a hiker, you’ll probably want to miss this.
Better still, there are plenty of great free or low-cost attractions in the city, too, such as the Fernbank Science Center, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, and the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center.
5.) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
For instance, dining out is particularly cheap as many restaurants run a BYOB policy (for the uninitiated, BYOB simply stands for Bring Your Own Booze/Bottle/Beer/Beverage).
Plus, the Southern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority offering a one-day pass for trains, buses, trolleys and subways at a small cost, getting around Philly is pretty cheap.
Once here, make sure to visit the Museum of Art, the Liberty Bell and grab yourself a massive Philly cheesesteak sandwich.
6.) Denver, Colorado
Denver is the perfect US city if you’re looking to combine a hiking trip with a city break and save a few dollars in the process.
The ‘Mile High City’ has some pretty affordable accommodation prices, even if you’re looking for luxury spots. Plus, Denver has a number of free hiking and cycle trails with breathtaking views across the city. Also, don’t forget to visit the Botanic Gardens, see the Red Rock Amphitheatre and the Denver Art Museum.
Plus, getting around the downtown area by public transport is also free with Denver’s MallRide service so that’s a massive plus.
7.) San Diego, California
When you think of visiting the best places in California, you might think of cities like Los Angeles or San Francisco? That being said, you shouldn’t forget about some of the other big cities, too. San Diego is certainly one of those.
For instance, San Diego is cheaper than its neighbours on pretty much everything from hotel rates to car rental, and there’s a lot to do and see there.
Get outdoors and save a few dollars on attractions by spending a day at the beach, and don’t forget to bring your skates for the boardwalk. The fare for the ferry across to the island of Coronado is around $5 each way, making it for a rather cheap day trip from the city.
8.) Kansas City, Missouri
The impressive thing about Kansas City is the sheer number of free, fantastic attractions available. This alone makes it one of the cheapest cities to visit in the USA.
From the Boulevard Brewing Company to the Harley-Davidson Plant (which is more interesting than it sounds), there’s no way that trying to spend less will leave you bored here.
Now, this sounds boring, but, the competition between a large number of airlines serving Kansas City International has resulted in loads of low airfares. This all means more money can be saved to spend in Kansas City itself.
Oh yeah, and the city’s famous barbeque cuisine is totally delicious and pretty affordable to boot!
9.) Houston, Texas
No matter how closely you’ve got your eye on price, the luxury hotels in Houston are surprisingly modest compared to global cities.
Once you’re here, you can even visit a number of this multicultural city’s attractions for free. For instance, make sure you visit the Menil Collection of Art, the Holocaust Museum Houston, and the Rothko Chapel.
Reasonable car hire fees make the beach at Galveston Island (one hour away) an affordable day trip from the city. Just make sure to book a ‘compact/economy’ viechle. This way the rental cost will be lower and the fuel usage much better.
10.) Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Once here, make sure to explore Las Olas Boulevard, see Bonnet House and gorge on all the food at Louie Bossi. Also, don’t forget to take a trip to Hollywood, Florida that’s just nearby.
It’s got some incredible street art and murals that you can’t miss.
11.) New Orleans, Louisiana
Like Washington DC, accommodation in New Orleans isn’t the cheapest but the trip balances out when you take into account the range of free entertainment and spots to see across the city.
For instance, you can keep costs lower by enjoying New Orleans street performances, seeing impressive architecture and exploring the cities parks. That being said, you can even spend a small amount going to watch a performance at Preservation Hall, it really is a must-do!
Also, don’t forget to gorge at Mother’s for lunch. They make a beast of a lunch and it’s pretty famous in the city.
12.) Phoenix, Arizona
With more than 300 sunny days each year, Phoenix is the ideal location if you’re looking for guaranteed sunshine and pretty reasonable prices.
Both the average airfare and hotel rates in Phoenix are low and Metro travel around the city is super cheap. These two factors, help put Phoenix up there as one of the cheapest cities to visit in the USA.
If you’re an art fan be sure to time your trip so that you’re around to enjoy the city-wide art walk on the first Friday of the month.
That being said, if you want to escape city life, take a hike up Piestewa Peak or enjoy the mountain bike trails at the South Mountain Park and Reserve. They really are gorgeous, just remember to pack water.
13.) Indianapolis, Indiana
The culturally distinct districts of Indianapolis are connected by bike trails, making this not only an interesting city to visit but one with an easy, cheap and fun way to get around. If you’re a beer fan, the city boasts around 30 breweries and an ever-growing microbrewery scene. Also, don’t forget to visit White River Park for some chill time in the city.
Hotel prices in the city are relatively low, which means you can save a pretty penny.
14.) Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis has a long history that’s perfect if you want a mix of culture, history and amazing rooftop parties.
As one of the cheapest cities to visit in the USA, it’s got lots of things to do for free. For instance, admission to Mud Island River Park is free, costing just a couple of dollars for a monorail ticket to get there. With many bars and clubs not asking a cover charge, dining out and enjoying the music scene is particularly affordable.
That being said, if you don’t mind spending a few dollars, head over to Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland. It really is a unique place to see. Afterwards, go visit the National Civil Rights Museum and Lorraine Hotel to learn more about the civil rights struggle and Dr Martin Luther King.
15.) Albuquerque, New Mexico
As one of the largest city in New Mexico, Albuquerque has some extremely competitive hotel rates, making it one of the cheapest cities to visit in the USA.
Once here, don’t miss out on the Sandia Peak Tramway, which, rising to 10,378, it provides the perfect viewing point for the views of Albuquerque and the Sandia Mountains. Also, make sure to see the Petroglyph National Monument and the old town itself.
It really is a gorgeous city to explore.
16.) Salt Lake City, Utah
Whilst you might be ready to point out that travelling to Salt Lake City isn’t exactly cheap, the low prices on hotels and car rental here will easily make you your money back.
Popular for skiing, the city also has a good few free attractions such as; Hill Aerospace Museum and the Salt Lake Masonic Temple. Afterwards, pop over to see the Utah State Capitol Building and Red Butte Garden.
For a tasty treat, gorge at Valter’s Osteria. They make the best Italian food in the city and it’s so much fun.