5 Great Budget Friendly Summer Destinations


If you’re anything like me, summer snuck up on you this year. And, if you’re like me, you’re sitting here at the end of June without a summer vacation booked.

But we’ve got good news. You don’t have to spend the next two months hiding out in the AC, watching Netflix and claiming you’re enjoying a staycation. There are still vacations to be booked and adventures to be had. Whether you want a weekend at the beach, a mountain getaway or an adventure in a new city, the five destinations below fit the bill—and they’re great for last-minute booking.


The mountains, the ocean, the pine-scented air! You may have thought a trip to Acadia National Park was off-limits, but this popular, well-booked area is still a possibility if you’re willing to book lodging a short drive away.

Acadia is for travelers who like their seaside a little rough around the edges, with cliffs, trails, cool ponds (like Bubble Pond, above), and surprisingly empty beaches.

4. TAOS (New Mexico):

This Southwestern town is not only a finalist for Budget Travel’s Coolest Small Town in America 2016, but thanks to its mountain setting, this art-loving town is also literally cooler than you might expect in summer, with highs in the 80s and lows in the 50s.

We love that Taos is home to Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the oldest settlements in America. You can also raft the Rio Grande, get stunning views from the taos Ski Valley lift, drop by an allegedly haunted cantina, and indulge in natural hot springs.

3. YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming):

Who’s up for jaw-dropping scenery, warm western hospitality, and the closest thing to a safari experience that the lower 48 can offer? Sure, lodging in the park can be pricey, but a stay in nearby West Yellowstone, Montana, won’t break the bank.

Best known for the Old Faithful geyser, which won’t disappoint with its spectacular display, Yellowstone is also home to 1,000 miles of hiking trails, 67 species of mammals (including bears, moose, and, thanks to a successful reintroduction in 1995, more than 300 wolves), and ranger programs such as walks, hikes, and campfire programs that can help you get the most out of this crown jewel of the national park system.

2. MYRTLE BEACH (South Carolina):

If you want a dreamy beach vacation, there’s still time to find a deal! Myrtle Beach’s miles of sand, wildly popular boardwalk, charter fishing expeditions, and Ripley’s Aquarium (where you can get nose-to-nose with sharks) will keep you busy while the sun shines.

Sure, we love the beach, but don’t forget that Myrtle Beach’s world-class eateries roll out an irresistible southern-style welcome with local micro-brews, seafood buffets, and oceanfront tables.

1. GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS (Tennessee, North Carolina):

Are you ready for America’s most popular national park (with more than twice as many visitors than the Grand Canyon), a major nearby theme park, and miles of trails and streams?

Head to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for fishing, hiking, and scenic drives like the six-mile Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, and don’t forget to spend at least one day at 150-acre Dollywood (above) for authentic Tennessee music, food, and, of course, thrill rides such as the Wild Eagle and Mystery Mine.


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