Cheap Summer Bucket List Destinations in the US

If you’re looking to create unforgettable memories without straining your budget, we’ve curated a list of the best cheap summer bucket list destinations in the United States.

Use this guide that features US travel ideas to explore new places, immerse yourself in vibrant cultures, and bask in the beauty of nature—all while keeping costs in check.

cheap summer bucket list US vacation ideas

From the charming mountain town of Asheville, North Carolina, to the eclectic city of Portland, Oregon, and the soulful streets of New Orleans, Louisiana, these destinations offer a perfect blend of affordability and captivating experiences.

We’ll take you on a virtual journey through these budget-friendly havens, where you can discover stunning landscapes, indulge in local cuisines, explore historic sites, and consume yourself in lively cultural scenes— all while keeping your wallet happy.

So, get ready to plan your perfect summer getaway without worrying about breaking the bank. These destinations in the United States offer an array of exciting opportunities that won’t drain your savings.

Grab a copy of our list of Free Things to Do in All 50 States that includes 3 places to visit or activities to do for each state!

free things to do in all 50 states
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Cheap Summer Bucket List Destinations in the US

Whether you’re a nature lover, a music enthusiast, or a foodie, our list of cheap summer destinations in the US has something for everyone.

Below you’ll find tips on finding affordable accommodations, uncover hidden gems, and budget-friendly activities for each of the bucket list destinations.

Check out our other USA Bucket List Travel Ideas – plus download the free checklist of things to see, do, and eat in each state!

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville, North Carolina

Nestled in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, a vibrant arts scene, and outdoor activities. Known for its laid-back atmosphere, the city boasts stunning landscapes, including the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Hiking enthusiasts can explore trails such as the Appalachian Trail or take a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

For a taste of history, visit the impressive Biltmore Estate, a grand mansion surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens. While there may be an admission fee for the estate, Asheville itself offers affordable accommodations, budget-friendly dining options, and local craft breweries to enjoy.

Asheville, NC Hotels

Asheville, NC Tours

Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas

Austin, the capital of Texas, is a vibrant city known for its thriving music scene, food trucks, and outdoor activities.

Start your exploration on South Congress Avenue, where you’ll find an array of unique shops, restaurants, and live music venues. Cool off with a dip in Barton Springs Pool, a natural spring-fed swimming pool located within Zilker Park.

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Texas State Capitol, where you can learn about the state’s history and admire its stunning architecture.

Austin’s food truck culture offers a variety of affordable dining options, ranging from tacos and barbecues to international cuisine.

As the self-proclaimed “Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin hosts numerous music festivals and boasts a vibrant nightlife scene, with many venues offering free or inexpensive shows.

Austin, TX Hotels

Austin, TX Tours

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, the capital of Tennessee, is known as the ultimate destination for country music lovers. Start your visit by dousing yourself in the city’s rich musical heritage at the Grand Ole Opry, a famous venue that has hosted legendary performers for decades.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum offers a comprehensive look at the history and evolution of country music. Wander down Broadway, where honky-tonks fill the air with live music day and night.

Explore the vibrant Gulch neighborhood, known for its trendy shops, restaurants, and art galleries. For a taste of the local cuisine, indulge in the famous Nashville hot chicken, a spicy and flavorful specialty.

Nashville offers a range of accommodations to suit various budgets and is a city where you can enjoy a lively and affordable summer experience.

Nashville, TN Hotels

Nashville, TN Tours

New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana

Known for its lively music scene, rich history, and distinctive cuisine, New Orleans is a city that exudes a unique cultural charm. Explore the vibrant French Quarter, with its colorful architecture, street performers, and lively atmosphere.

Stroll along the historic streets, visit the iconic St. Louis Cathedral, and indulge in the city’s famous beignets and gumbo. For a taste of New Orleans’ rich musical heritage, immerse yourself in the live jazz performances found throughout the city.

Take a leisurely walk along the Mississippi River, or venture beyond the city to experience the natural beauty of the Louisiana Bayous.

With its abundance of affordable accommodations, street food options, and free or low-cost attractions, New Orleans is an enticing and budget-friendly destination.

New Orleans Hotels

New Orleans Tours

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Portland, often referred to as the “City of Roses,” is a haven for nature lovers, food enthusiasts, and art aficionados. This city should be one of your places to Visit in Oregon in summer!

Here are a few ideas as you create your Portland bucket list. The city is renowned for its extensive parks system, with Forest Park being one of the largest urban forests in the United State.

Nearby Washington Park is home to popular attractions like the International Rose Test Garden, where you can absorb the fragrant beauty of thousands of rose varieties.

Powell’s City of Books, occupying an entire city block, is a paradise for bookworms. Food carts scattered throughout the city offer a wide range of affordable and delicious culinary options.

For outdoor adventures, take a day trip to explore the astounding Multnomah Falls or hike in the stunning Columbia River Gorge.

If you enjoy taking pictures of landscapes, you’ll find a variety of Oregon photography locations near Portland and along the coast!

Portland, OR Hotels

Portland, OR Tours

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is a city that captivates visitors with its unique blend of Native American, Spanish, and contemporary influences. Explore the historic Plaza, the heart of the city, surrounded by adobe buildings, galleries, and shops selling Native American crafts.

Art admirers will appreciate the city’s numerous art galleries, showcasing a diverse range of artistic styles and mediums. Visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum to admire the works of the renowned American artist.

Outdoor enthusiasts can take advantage of the nearby Sangre de Cristo Mountains, offering opportunities for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

Be sure to sample the flavors of New Mexican cuisine, with its distinctive dishes featuring green chiles, such as enchiladas and posole.

Santa Fe, NM Hotels

Santa Fe, NM Tours

These money-saving summer destinations within the United States provide a range of experiences, from exploring the great outdoors to submerging yourself in vibrant cultural scenes.

With careful planning, you can enjoy cheaper accommodations, inexpensive or free attractions, and the chance to create lasting memories without straining your wallet.

Cheap Summer Destination Ideas in the US

Here's a list of even more budget-friendly destinations across the United States that offer plenty of activities, attractions, and events without breaking your wallet.

USA Lodging & Accommodations

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