12 Budget-Friendly USA Winter Vacations (+ Cheap Things To Do)
These budget-friendly winter vacations offer a wide range of cheap things to do and inexpensive accommodation options!
When most people think of winter getaways, the first places that come to mind are tropical locations like Hawaii or Florida. However, there are plenty of other great options, many of which won’t break the bank.
As any traveler knows, one of the biggest challenges of vacationing on a budget is finding activities that are both cheap and interesting.
Cheapest Winter Vacations in the USA
Oceanside is a great option for a budget-friendly winter getaway. It’s located in San Diego, it has beautiful beaches and there’s plenty of activities to keep you busy.
Oceanside is known for its 1,942 feet long pier, which is perfect for walking, biking, or rollerblading. There are also plenty of shops and restaurants if you’re looking for a fun holiday atmosphere.
Cheap Things to Do in Oceanside
One of the most popular attractions is the Oceanside Pier. Stretching nearly 2,000 feet into the Pacific Ocean, the Oceanside Pier is a great place to fish, walk, or simply enjoy the view.
The Oceanside Harbor is also a popular spot for both tourists and visitors. It’s one of my favorite places to spend a few hours in this area of San Diego. Visitors can take a scenic cruise around the harbor or rent a paddleboard or kayak and explore on their own.
The Oceanside Farmers Market is another great option for those looking for cheap things to do in Oceanside. Held every Thursday morning, the market features fresh produce, flowers, artisan goods, and more.
For those interested in surfing, the California Surf Museum is a fun place to learn about the history of surfing in California.
And if you’re looking for some time on the beach, Tyson Street Beach & Park is a great spot to spend the day sunbathing, people watching or enjoying a beach picnic.
Average Winter Temperatures in Oceanside
A low of 45°F and high of 65°F.
Read more: Where to Stay in San Diego: Best Neighborhoods & Hotels
While Hawaii is typically thought of as a summer destination, winter is actually my favorite time to visit. The weather is still warm and sunny, but the crowds are smaller and the prices are cheaper (assuming you don’t visit over the holidays).
Cheap Things to Do in Oahu
No trip to Oahu is complete without witnessing the Friday night Waikiki Beach fireworks. As the sun sets over the ocean, the sky is lit up with an incredible display of color and light. It’s the perfect way to end a day of exploring all that Oahu has to offer.
If you’re looking for a place to relax and take in some natural beauty, head to Ko Olina. This coastal area is home to four lagoons connected by a mile-long path. Whether you want to stroll along the water’s edge or take a dip in the refreshing waters, Ko Olina is a great place to spend an afternoon. Best of all, it won’t cost you a thing.
And finally, don’t miss the Chinese New Year celebration. This annual event is always free, but you may want to bring some cash for the delicious food that will be on offer. From traditional Lion dances to incredible displays of martial arts, the Chinese New Year celebration is always a lively and memorable event.
Average Winter Temperatures in Oahu
A high of 78° F and low of 64° F
Read more: Oahu On A Budget: Save Money On Food, Activities & Hotels!
Colorado Springs, Colorado
If you’re looking for a winter getaway that’s both affordable and picturesque, look no further than Colorado Springs.
This charming city is nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains and is home to plenty of great shops, restaurants, and attractions.
Cheap Things to Do in Colorado Springs
Garden of the Gods is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Colorado Springs, and for good reason. The park is home to a spectacular collection of red sandstone formations, and it offers breathtaking views of Pikes Peak.
Garden of the Gods is also a great place to go hiking. Best of all, admission to the park is free. So if you’re looking for an affordable way to spend a day in Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods is a great option.
A few other destinations to check out are the Space Foundation Discovery Center (admissions under $15), Historic Cripple Creek (an important part of Colorado Gold Rush History), and Old Colorado City.
Average Winter Temperatures in Colorado Springs
A high of 43° F and low of 17° F
South Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada
South Lake Tahoe is a popular winter destination for both Californians and Nevadans. The area is home to several ski resorts, as well as countless other outdoor activities. The scenery at Lake Tahoe is stunning!
I personally lived in the heart of South Lake Tahoe and found wintertime to be just as beautiful as summer in South Lake Tahoe.
Cheap Things to Do in South Lake Tahoe
If you’re looking to enjoy the beauty of South Lake Tahoe without breaking the bank, there are plenty of options available.
One of my favorite things to do in the winter in Tahoe (besides heading to the slopes at Sierra At Tahoe or Heavenly) is snowshoeing. This is a great way to see the beauty of Tahoe without all of the summer crowds.
Another great option is Vikingsholm, a historic castle located on the shores of Lake Tahoe. This unique structure was built in the 1920s and is open to the public for tours. With its breathtaking views and rich history, Vikingsholm is a must-see for any visitor to South Lake Tahoe.
Average Winter Temperatures in South Lake Tahoe
A high of 42° F and low of 23° F
Austin is a great winter destination for those who want to enjoy warmer weather! The city is home to a vibrant music and arts scene, as well as plenty of great food.
Cheap Things to Do in Austin
One of the best things about Austin is the live music scene. Several venues throughout the city feature live music outdoors, including rock and alternative at Mohawk Austin, dance at Cheer Up Charlies, and all genres at the Far Out Lounge.
For the ultimate Austin music tour, visit Austin City Limits (ACL) Live at The Moody Theater and get a behind-the-scenes look at the place where America’s longest-running television music series is taped.
Another fun Austin activity is renting a bicycle and biking the 10-mile Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail that skirts the glittering waters of Lady Bird Lake.
Average Winter Temperatures in Austin
A high of 61° F and low of 41° F
Read more: Austin Travel Guide: Where To Stay, What To Do + Packing Tips
Finger Lakes, New York
The Finger Lakes region of New York is a popular winter destination for those who love wine and spectacular scenery. The area is home to many fantastic wineries you can enjoy — even in the winter — as well as several state parks and lakes.
Cheap Things to Do in the Finger Lakes
There are many cheap and even free things to do in the Finger Lakes region of New York State!
One such activity is hiking or skiing along the Keuka Lake Outlet Trail, which offers stunning views of Keuka and Seneca Lakes. The trail runs along the only natural waterway connecting the two Finger Lakes.
For history buffs, the Yates County History Center is a must-see, with its mix of permanent and temporary exhibits.
And no trip to the Finger Lakes would be complete without a visit to the Windmill Farm & Craft Market, where you can find local goods and produce.
So whether you’re looking for a scenic hike, an educational experience, or some good old-fashioned shopping, the Finger Lakes has you covered!
Average Winter Temperatures in the Finger Lakes
A high of 33° F and low of 16° F
Daytona is a city on Florida’s Atlantic Ocean coast and is a popular winter destination for those who enjoy warmer weather and the beach!
The city is home to many great attractions, including the Daytona International Speedway and the Daytona Beach Boardwalk.
Cheap Things to Do in Daytona
There are plenty of things to do in Daytona without spending a lot of money.
Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory, where you can try free and delicious samples!
Explore the Michael Crotty Bicentennial Park. The park stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Halifax River and features tennis and racquetball courts, a fishing pier, an exercise trail, a softball field, and picnicking facilities. Admission to the park is free.
Another great option for those looking for cheap things to do in Daytona is the Southeast Museum of Photography. The museum is one of only 12 museums in the country dedicated solely to photography and features both permanent and rotating exhibitions. Admission to the museum is also free.
Average Winter Temperatures in Daytona
A high of 68° F and low of 49° F
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is a historic city located on the coast of South Carolina. The city is a popular winter destination for those who want to enjoy warmer weather and soak up some history and culture.
Charleston is home to many great attractions, including the Charleston Museum, the Confederate Museum, and Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.
Cheap Things to Do in Charleston
Looking for cheap things to do in Charleston? You’re in luck! The city is full of activities that won’t cost you a fortune.
Folly Beach is a great spot for a budget-friendly day trip. The beach is just a short drive from Charleston, and there’s no entrance fee. You can enjoy the sun, the surf, and the sand without spending a lot of money.
If you’re looking for some souvenirs to take home, Charleston City Market is the place to go. There are plenty of cheap trinkets and gifts to be found, and it’s also a great place for window shopping.
Another must-visit destination is Johns Island, home to the Angel Tree Oak, a stunning 1,400-year-old tree which is an amazing photo opportunity!
And if you’re interested in history, Charles Towne Landing offers access to the site of the first English settlement in the Carolinas. Admission is just $6-10, making it a great option for those on a tight budget.
Average Winter Temperatures in Charleston
A high of 57° F and low of 43° F
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico and is a popular winter destination for those who appreciate sunny weather and southwestern culture.
The city is home to many great attractions, including the Albuquerque Biological Park, the Rio Grande Zoo, and the Petroglyph National Monument.
Cheap Things to Do in Albuquerque
Albuquerque has no shortage of things to do, and many of them won’t cost you a dime!
Start your visit with a stop at the Albuquerque Museum. The museum is dedicated to the history and culture of Albuquerque and the American Southwest. Admission ranges from free to $6, making it a great option for those on a budget.
Next, explore the Open Space Visitor Center. The center is a great place to learn about the local flora and fauna.
If you’re looking for a cheap activity that’s also romantic, take a stroll through the Botanic Garden. The garden features over 30 acres of beautiful flowers, and plants and offers affordable entrance tickets.
Average Winter Temperatures in Albuquerque
A high of 49° F and low of 25° F
Read more: White Sands National Park (Must-Know Tips, Where To Stay & More)
Tucson, Arizona is a beautiful desert city that is rich in history and culture. Tucson is known as a vibrant, cosmopolitan city.
The city is home to the University of Arizona, as well as many other colleges and universities. Tucson is also a popular tourist destination, thanks to its stunning desert scenery and its proximity to Mexico.
If you’re looking for an exciting place to visit this winter, Tucson is definitely worth checking out.
Cheap Things to Do in Tucson
If you’re looking for cheap things to do in Tucson, you’re in luck! The city has plenty of activities that won’t cost you a fortune.
One of the best free attractions in Tucson is the Reid Park Zoo. The zoo is home to over 400 animals, including lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!).
Another great option is the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The museum is one of the most comprehensive zoos in North America and offers exhibits on topics like geology, astronomy, and Native American culture.
If you’re interested in history, the Pima Air and Space Museum is a must-visit. The museum features hundreds of aircraft on display, from World War II bombers to modern fighter jets.
And if you’re looking for a beautiful hiking trail, check out Sabino Canyon for some unbelievable views.
Average Winter Temperatures in Tucson
A high of 68° F and low of 38° F
Read more: Travel Guide to Tucson, Arizona in a Weekend
Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City is the capital of Utah and is one of the most popular winter destinations in the United States. The city is known for its stunning mountain scenery, world-class ski resorts, and vibrant nightlife.
If you’re looking for a place to visit this winter, Salt Lake City should definitely be on your list.
Cheap Things to Do in Salt Lake City
Utah Olympic Park is a great place to visit for those interested in winter sports. The park offers a variety of activities, including skiing, snowboarding, and sledding. Visitors can also take a tour of the Olympic facilities and learn about the history of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
Historic Temple Square is another excellent place to visit in Salt Lake City. The square is home to a variety of historical buildings and monuments, as well as the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
The Natural History Museum of Utah is another great option for those looking to learn more about the state’s natural history. The museum offers a variety of exhibits on topics such as geology, wildlife, and Native American culture.
Average Winter Temperatures in Salt Lake City
A high of 40° F and low of 27° F
Read more: Big 5 Utah: Mighty 5 Road Trip Itinerary & Guide
Savannah, Georgia is one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the southeastern United States.
It is a thriving city with a rich cultural heritage. The city is known for its stunning architecture, lush gardens, and lively squares.
Visitors can stroll through the cobblestone streets, admire the antebellum mansions, and enjoy the many delicious restaurants.
Whether you’re interested in history or just looking for a beautiful place to relax, Savannah is sure to enchant you.
Cheap Things to Do in Savannah
There are plenty of cheap things to do in Savannah if you know where to look.
For starters, the city offers a free walking tour that is perfect for visitors on a budget. Free Savannah Walking Tours offers 90-minute tours of the historic district, providing an excellent introduction to the city.
If you’re looking for something a little more active, Forsyth Park is a beautiful public park that’s perfect for a stroll or picnic lunch.
And be sure to check out some of Savannah’s historic churches, like the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist or the Trinity United Methodist Church. They are free to enter and offer a glimpse into the city’s rich past.
Finally, don’t forget to explore the Georgia Civil Rights Trail, which highlights important events from Reconstruction through the late twentieth century.
With so many cheap things to do, there’s no excuse not to visit Savannah on a budget!
Average Winter Temperatures in Savannah
A high of 61° F and low of 41° F
Winter is a great time to travel around the United States. Whether you’re looking for skiing and snowboarding or hiking and walking along the beach, there’s sure to be a destination that’s perfect for you.
Do some research and plan ahead, and you’ll be sure to have a great trip that won’t break the bank.
FAQ: Budget Winter Vacation Tips
1. Miami, Florida
2. Tampa, Florida
3. Orlando, Florida
4. Phoenix, Arizona
5. Los Angeles, California
1. Travel in the off-season.
2. Book in advance. Read our guide: How to Find Cheap Flights to Anywhere
3. Use hotel comparison tools and check sites like Airbnb.
4. Avoid tourist traps.
5. Fly mid-week.
Generally speaking, if you’re traveling a short distance, then driving will be less expensive. If you are traveling across the country, flying will be cheaper. Compare the miles driven and the price of gas to the cost of flights and renting a car.
Flights: Scott’s Cheap Flights is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. If you sign up for their email alerts, you’ll receive flight deals at up to 90% off. I have traveled all over the world using their flight deals.
Accommodation: Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.
Travel Insurance: We never travel without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk! We use and trust Visitors Coverage, which we’ve used for the past 8 years.
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