Most Affordable Destinations for Summer Vacation
If you’re strapped for cash but still want to escape this summer, you’re in luck. There are plenty of affordable options, both in the U.S. and abroad. And whether it’s a week spent wandering the winding, European-esque streets of a Canadian city or lounging on a beach in Florida with a drink in hand, we’ve rounded up some of the cheapest summer getaways.
Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
Those eyeing a trip to Europe this summer but who find the flights alone exceed their travel budget should consider Quebec City instead. For those traveling from New England, you can forgo the cost of flights altogether, as you can reach this French Canadian city in under six hours by car. Many of the noteworthy sites are located in Old Quebec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, visitors will find historic buildings and charming, winding streets that give the impression they’ve been transported from some historic European city. Make sure to stop off at the Citadelle, Palace Royal, Notre-Dame Basilica, Frontenac Castle and the Musee des Ursulines de Quebec, which showcases more than 30,000 historical artifacts. If you have some cash to spend, or simply want to browse, explore the shops dotted along rue Saint-Jean. Meanwhile, 8.6 miles northeast of Old Quebec is Montmorency Falls Park, home to the Instagram-worthy, 275-foot falls, taller than the iconic Niagara.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Long gone are the days when Fort Lauderdale was best known for its octogenarian residents chasing early bird specials. Today, you’ll find a much more cultured and vibrant side to this Floridian city. And if you can stand the heat, you’ll find the summer months are the perfect time to visit. Not only have the crowds dissipated -- most tourists will flock here during the winter months -- but rates for hotels and flights are noticeably cheaper. Art and culture lovers will want to head over to Fat Village, located just south of Progresso Village. This district packs an impressive number of exhibitions and gallery spaces into a relatively small space. On the last Saturday of the month, make sure to head over to this space for Art Walk, where galleries showcase new art exhibitions while local artisans sell gifts and goods. If you prefer to simply veg out for a few days, Fort Lauderdale offers plenty of silicon white beaches, with fewer crowds. And for the beer enthusiasts out there, consider paying a visit to one of the microbreweries or beer tasting festivals taking place from June through to August.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
If you’re not bothered by heat and humidity and prefer to spend your vacations outdoors, then Oklahoma City is a destination to consider this summer. While most of the crowds descend on the Oklahoma capital during the autumn months, June through August tends to be quieter thanks to higher temperatures. And with this dip in visitors come noticeably cheaper flights and accommodation options. Cool off with the family and head to Lake Overholser, located in northwest Oklahoma City, for an afternoon of paddleboarding or kayaking. Boards and kayaks are available for rent from one of the local companies. There are also plenty of water activities in the Boathouse District, along the Oklahoma River. And for the flora enthusiasts of the group, pay a visit to the Myriad Botanical Gardens and enjoy the many species of plants and flowers (not to mention the splash fountains) found within the 15-acre space, located downtown.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Outdoor enthusiasts will definitely want to head to Utah’s capital, Salt Lake City, this summer. If you’re flying from the West Coast of the U.S., you can snag flights for less than $200 roundtrip, while those traveling from the East Coast can still find flights for less than $300 roundtrip. While you could spend a good portion of your time checking out the sites downtown and in the Temple Square -- home to the famous Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- head, instead, for the surrounding hiking trails and get back to nature. If you have little ones in tow, consider one of the easier trails like the Ensign Peak hike, ideal for a picnic and nestled in the foothills near downtown. For the more advanced trekkers, there’s the 9,026-foot Mount Olympus, located just on the east side of the city (the trailhead is on Wasatch Boulevard). Though the trail is easy to follow, it’s the steep gradient that trekkers need to watch out for.
Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, Mexico
Foodies should check out Oaxaca City this summer to sample this UNESCO World Heritage Site’s gastronomy scene (including the Oaxaca staple, mole). And thanks to the exchange rate ($1 will get you roughly 18 pesos), visitors won’t burn a hole in their wallet during their stay. Those who visit strictly for the food can take one of the city’s many food tours or cooking classes -- try Seasons of My Heart Cooking School. Or, if you prefer, simply seek out food trucks, dotted around the city, and sample everything from tetelas to Oaxacan empanadas. And if you need to walk off the many culinary delights you’ve tried, consider taking a stroll through the streets of this colonial city to check out the numerous historic buildings. While many sites suffered damage during the 2017 earthquake, plenty have been restored, such as the Santo Domingo Church, known for its baroque facade and its 18th-century Rosary Chapel.
Ashley Bess is an editor turned freelancer writer who describes herself as short, opinionated, recently repatriated, lover of gin and travel and with a head full of useless song lyrics and movie quotes.