Traveling on a budget is so rewarding. Who needs 5-star hotels, elegant restaurants and expensive extras? I've found that my favorite vacation spots are close to home right on American soil. Since I had such positive experiences, I wanted to share a few of my favorite places with you. Although I did not have to clear my savings account or go broke for these "on a budget" one of a kind destinations, they were worth every penny I spent. Here are 5 of my best places to travel, whether you have a budget or not.
This American hot-spot is a great place to go when you can get there. We all know the power of experiencing the Grand Canyon, but there's so much more, whether it's spring, summer, fall or winter, Arizona gets an A-plus from me from the amazing climate to the many affordable things to see and do . It can get really hot, so pack some casual clothes. because if you are like me, the best place to be is outside. The state has done a fantastic job of creating hiking trails, botanical gardens, campsites, outdoor tours and other nature-loving excursions. The state is full of big cities and small towns full of art, culture and history and delicious food. For example, Tucson, Arizona is full of Southwestern and Mexican heritage. There is very little or no entrance fee to see places like Sabino Canyon and Saguaro National Park and then head over to Sedona, Arizona for an opportunity to see 100-plus art galleries and events happening all the time. These are great places to see if you are an art enthusiast or not.
2. Baltimore, MD
I have visited Baltimore many times and it is by far one of my favorite places to see. Seafood is fresh and delicious, as are all the fares in town, and for us with a budget, a dollar goes a long, long way. The steamed crabs are like no other in the world. The National Aquarium is beautifully located right by the Port of Baltimore, and a day spent a day well spent. The beautiful, family-friendly sights, smells and sounds are one of a kind! Located near the harbor, Harborplace and the Gallery offers a great shopping and dining mecca where you can choose what suits your wallet and taste. Depending on the season (remember Baltimore is cold in winter) there is even free entertainment. The American Visionary Art Museum is worth a short walk from the harbor. They charge a fee to enter, but the building itself and the property is full of sculptures and art to see for free. And there are so many other museums to visit during your time in this family-friendly city.
3. Hershey, PA
Hershey, Pennsylvania has become one of the most famous destinations in our country and it offers so many free and cheap things to do. There is a world-class amusement park, a notorious spa that can be one but expensive, but there are also many memorable affordable things to do. Hershey Chocolate World, is a tour that is on Hershey Park grounds but is completely free. It is a wonderful historical tour that is both entertaining and educational. If you travel with children, they will get a free candy sample at the end of the tour where you will be dropped right into the gift shop. There is also the Hershey wagon that will transport you around town complete with kiss-shaped lights on the streets. It was started by Milton Hershey while he was planning the city and continues to this day … it's worth your time. If you have the time (and I would suggest taking time), visit ZooAmerica, Hershey Gardens, Milton Hershey School and the other amazing museums, all located in Hershey, PA.
4. Dallas, TX
In a city that is known for all that great, the cost of visiting is not that bad. We had a bit of an adventurous spirit, so we booked a city PASS that offered discounted prices to some of the city's most popular attractions. We couldn't hit them all, but we saw the George W. Bush (he was president) library and museum and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Pretty cool to add a little culture to your holiday. My travel partners enjoy visiting the zoos so we went to the amazing Dallas Zoo and met two beautiful African elephants and fed a giraffe. There are so many family-oriented events and presentations in this zoo that you might stay for more than a day. Dallas Farmers Market is a must see marketplace. The food, the vendors and the extremely memorable experience are like no other market I have visited. If you go, take a street taco at La Ventana or a pork tamale at El Mero Mero. I have to mention the Trinity River Audubon Center to all of your hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. This urban hardwood forest is an escape from the city into the striking Texas terrain.
5. Nashville, TN
Nashville, the home of country music, American history and so, so much to see and do. First up is the must-see for all the must-see Country Music Hall Of Fame and the infamous Grand Ole Opry. Just the view from the outside of these famous buildings is a must see. Once you get your fill of country music, head over to the beautiful university campuses at Vanderbilt University and Belmont University or head to the Adventure Science Center or Belmont Mansion and spend the afternoon learning something new. The campsites are full of history and tradition and a perfect place to enjoy the outdoors. And we haven't even mentioned Nashville's food. Nashville must be is a melting pot of cuisine. There are all kinds of ticket prices to satisfy any palate. My favorites were found on the food trucks that offered fast, delicious and budget-friendly meals on the go. If you have room for pie, I recommend peach or pecan.