School is just starting up, which means some of you may already be getting worn out on homework, driving the kids to the bus, or managing everyone's extracurricular activities. Maybe what you need is a quick weekend trip close to home to ease the stress away! We know all the best spots for planning a trip close to home on short notice with a limited budget. Here are our top destinations for each region in the U.S.!
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone not only holds breathtaking natural attractions for visitors of all ages, but the entrance fee is small, meaning all you need to worry about is food and lodging -- entertainment is cheap! Enjoy miles of hiking and skiing slopes, surprising hot springs and mud pools for the adventurous in America's oldest national park.
Morro Bay, California
Looking for a glamorous California beach vacation, at a fraction of the cost? Morro Beach has been a best-kept local secret for years, but now tourists from all around the region are catching on. On the central coast near the massive Hearst Castle, Morro Bay offers a world-class natural history museum, the iconic Morro Rock, a beautiful harbor, and of course, the largest ocean in the world right down the street.
A structure one billion years in the making is definitely worth any price large or small, but lucky for you, it's pretty hard to put a price tag on entering one of the seven natural wonders of the world. If you're looking for a budget trip in the Southwest, the Grand Canyon is an obvious stop! Many say there are three ways to visit the Canyon: a drive-by on the South Rim, a long weekend spent at the North Rim, or a full week hiking from the north to the south. If your schedule allows it, we recommend spending as much time as possible in this amazing structure!
From Albuquerque to Roswell, there's a perfect spot for everyone to visit in New Mexico -- many of which you can squeeze into a few days with the right road trip plan. Filled with Native American, Mexican and American history all merged into one scenic desert landscape provides tons of fun, intriguing activities and traditions to experience. Stop by the authentic Santa Fe Native American Market for authentic goods, the Roswell UFO Museum if you want to believe, and the Aztec Ruins National Monument to get a glimpse of who inhabited the U.S. land before most of us came across the seas!
Being one of the most highly-populated cities in the U.S., Chicago welcomes tourists from all across the world -- but is a huge vacation spot for Midwesterners. Low-cost activities to check out include high-end improv comedy such as Second City, the iconic Art Institute museum (where you'll find famous works such as the moody diner painting, Nighthawks, and A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte), as well as legendary blues venues such as House of Blues. Navy Pier along Lake Michigan provides endless eats and activities for tourists and locals alike.
The Gateway to the West, St. Louis is easily one of the best budget vacations for Midwesterners due to its many free institutions. Completely free activities include checking out art at the St. Louis Art Museum, catching a musical outdoors at the Muny, learning about physics and biology in a fun environment at the Science Center, and brushing up on your knowledge at the History Museum. The St. Louis Zoo is not only one of the very best in the entire nation, but it's also one of the few ranking so high that are free and open to the public year round!
Great Smoky Mountains
Tennessee's mountain region may hold some of the most popular mountains in the entire U.S. The National Park offers fishing, hiking, and scenic drives like a six-mile Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, all at a low cost where you can even lodge inside the park space. Even on a budget, you can spend a day or two at the 150-acre Dollywood park for authentic Tennessee music, food, and, of course, thrill rides such as the Wild Eagle and Mystery Mine -- maybe even a visit for Parton herself.
Myrtle Beach has become a huge travel hotspot in the past few years, mainly because of it's high-class feel on a very affordable budget. The beach has miles and miles of sand, plus a wildly popular boardwalk, tourist-friendly fishing expeditions, and Ripley's Aquarium, that allows you to get up close and personal with some huge sharks. Even to dine on a budget, the boardwalk's world-class eateries all feature southern-style fare with reasonably priced seafood buffets and oceanfront tables.
Berkshire Mountains, Massachusetts
Between incredible museums and even more magnificent mountains, you can enjoy the Berkshire Mountains region of Massachusetts in rain or shine, warm or cold weather. See one of the U.S.' largest collections of modern art at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, or step back into the 19th century at the Bennington Museum and Grandma Moses School House. When the sun peaks out, hike the Berkshire Mountain range, named one of the "Last 200 Great Places in the United States" by the Nature Conservancy.
Acadia National Park, Maine
One of the most unique national parks in the U.S., Acadia offers mountains, ocean, and pine-scented air for hundreds of miles. Acadia is perfect for budget travelers who want to see an oceanside shore not man-made to be a tourist destination, with sands a bit rough around the edges, including cliffs, trails, and many private beaches for those who want to revel in true nature. For the adventurer family in the Northeast region, Acadia is a perfect last-minute spot.