Looking for a cheap vacation? Check these destinations.

ConsumerAffairs

Locations with lots of outdoor activities do the best

Now that spring break is just about in our rearview mirrors, families are starting to think about where to go this summer – affordably. 

A new study from the travel experts at OptimosTravels analyzed over 100 well-known destinations across the U.S., assessing them based on daily meal expenses, public transportation costs, accommodation rates, and attraction fees.

Almost heaven

From top to bottom, the destinations run anywhere from around $3,000 to more than $5,000 if you want to live it up in Maui, Park City, or Aspen.

The affordability of North Carolina’s Outer Banks with its allure of the Atlantic, and Charleston West Virginia with its draw of history and the outdoors, lead the way as the best deals.

Both have an average daily cost of $177 per person, but where the Outer Banks shines is in accommodation cost ($91 per person), meals ($60), and attractions ($11), a week-long stay amounts to $1,237 per person, making it an irresistible offer for a family of four at just $3,247.90, proving that paradise doesn't have to cost a fortune.

Meals are a little cheaper in Charleston ($49), but accommodations are significantly higher ($121), making a 7-day stay $1,242 per person.

Overall, the South and West get most of the Top 10 slots, but there are a couple of surprises like Cape Cod Mass., and Sedona Ariz., two destinations that some people have preconceived notions of being expensive. As far as the remainder of the Top 10, here's what the researchers found... 

3. Helen, Georgia

Helen is a small city in north Georgia about an hour and half from Atlanta. Located along the Chattahoochee River, the city was recently made over to look like an Alpine Bavarian village. Helen stands third with an average daily expense of $185 per person. The cost includes $63 for meals and $110 for lodging, totaling $1,297 per person for a week. Families can enjoy this unique experience for $3,208.

4. Tybee Island, Georgia

Another Georgia entry, Tybee Island's laidback beaches come at a daily cost of $186 per person, with meals at $45 and lodging at $118. A week's vacation for a family of four is reasonably priced at $3,246.

5. Gatlinburg, Tennessee

If you don’t think West Virginia is your thing, you could get close to Charleston’s offerings not too far away. At $91, the lowest accommodation cost is combined with $60 for meals and attractions, with meals at $46 and accommodation at $115 for a 7-day family adventure of $3,463.

6. Sedona, Arizona

For those who want to do all the Wild West they can, Sedona is a good choice because of its proximity to the Grand Canyon, Utah, Phoenix, and Nevada. Sedona ranks sixth in this study, with an average daily cost of $198 per person. A week's stay amounts to $1,383 per person, allowing a family of four to explore for $3,276.

7. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Cape Cod's daily expenses average $207 per person – pretty cheap for New England resort communities – with a week-long visit costing $1,447 per person. A family of four can enjoy this coastal retreat for $3,746 and if they want to spend a little more, add a couple of days in Boston at the front or back of the vacation and, maybe, take a ferry ride to Martha’s Vineyard.

8. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

If you want your family to understand how the U.S. westward movement unfolded, Oklahoma City may be the perfect launchpad with its First Americans Museum and Conestoga Wagons exhibit. Here, a family of four can spend a week for $3,688 with daily expenses at $209 per person.  

9. Bend, Oregon

Another good destination for outdoor enthusiasts, Bend Ore., has a weekly cost of $1,499 per person or $3,762 for a family of four. 

10. Monument Valley, Utah

Completing the list, Monument Valley allows families to experience stunning landscapes at $3,818 for a week. Daily costs are $218 per person, including meals and accommodations, totaling $1,529 per person for a week-long stay.

The whole list

There’s a lot to absorb in Optimos Travel’s list, but if you want to look at all your options, it may be worth checking out everything. Here goes:

Destination

State

Total Cost per Day per Person

Outer Banks

North Carolina

176.72

Charleston

West Virginia

177.46

Helen

Georgia

185.33

Tybee Island

Georgia

186.43

Gatlinburg

Tennessee

192.83

Sedona

Arizona

197.67

Cape Cod

Massachusetts

206.78

Oklahoma City

Oklahoma

209.07

Bend

Oregon

214.17

Monument Valley

Utah

218.44

Palm Springs

California

226.46

Minneapolis

Minnesota

229.78

Portland

Maine

239.75

Niagara Falls

New York

242.37

Virginia Beach

Virginia

243.48

Bald Head Island

North Carolina

245.67

Lake Tahoe

California & Nevada

248.78

Savannah

Georgia

251.39

Los Angeles

California

252.11

Salt Lake City

Utah

253.58

Pittsburgh

Pennsylvania

254.94

Raleigh

NC

255.57

New Orleans

Louisiana

256.3

Laguna Beach

California

256.39

Portland

Oregon

257.53

Big Sur

California

259.31

Kansas City

Missouri

260.72

Las Vegas

Nevada

263.31

Santa Fe

New Mexico

265.44

Branson

Missouri

267.92

Alaska

Alaska

270.07

Philadelphia

Pennsylvania

271.03

Hilton Head Island

South Carolina

271.11

Richmond

Virginia

286.23

Phoenix

Arizona

286.63

Mackinac Island

Michigan

288.33

San Diego

California

293.67

Amelia Island

Florida

295.89

Myrtle Beach

South Carolina

295.97

Yosemite National Park

California

298.39

Seattle

Washington

300.53

Denver

Colorado

304.79

Miami

Florida

306.47

Chicago

Illinois

307.26

Door County

Wisconsin

311.9

Olympic National Park

Washington

321.08

Baltimore

Maryland

335.5

San Francisco

California

341.97

Washington D.C.

District of Columbia

349.83

Atlantic CIty

New Jersey

356.39

San Antonio

Texas

357.81

Boston

Massachusetts

358.91

Detroit

Michigan

360.44

Nashville

Tennessee

364.53

Honolulu

Hawaii

367.48

Anaheim

California

381.74

Austin

Texas

382.33

Orlando

Florida

388.31

Asheville

North Carolina

408.1

Coronado Beach

California

429.39

Napa Valley

California

433.78

Siesta Key

Florida

454.86

Carmel

California

459.03

San Juan Islands

Washington

480.22

Jackson Hole

Wyoming

489.67

Martha's Vineyard

Massachusetts

499.25

New York City

New York

511.74

Charleston

South Carolina

535.68

Key West

Florida

536.67

Santa Monica

California

592.62

Montauk

New York

617.65

Maui

Hawaii

680.24

Park City

Utah

710.08

Aspen

Colorado

761.39

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