This summer, go on the hunt for warm sands, affordable hotels and cheap eats. Great beaches are plentiful in the U.S. and many are only a quick road trip or short flight away. Some beach towns are charming, overlooked getaways. Others are popular destinations that cope with crowds by offering massive swimming pools and water parks. College kids and families with children in tow will appreciate these destinations for their inexpensive activities, budget rates and restaurants that won’t flatten the bank account.
- Pensacola, Florida
Pensacola is a top budget beach getaway anytime. Unique attractions for this locale include numerous sunken ships for divers, and air shows by the Blue Angels elite fighter-jet pilots.
Fly in to the Pensacola International Airport and stay at an affordable hotel on the white sands of Pensacola Beach. Or save more lodging in Pensacola proper and driving 15 minutes to the shore.
- Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is revamped and welcoming tourists. Many budget-friendly hotels can be found both on the beautiful white sand beaches and within charming towns that are home to huge malls, golf courses, and casinos. Tropical rain forests, 15th-century Spanish forts and colorful colonial buildings are part of the Caribbean vibe. Flights to the U.S. commonwealth are often inexpensive, especially compared to flights to nearby islands like Turks and Caicos.
- Gulf Shores, Alabama
The wide, white sand beaches of Gulf Shores are gorgeous, and tourists can take advantage of the city’s family-friendly attractions such as the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, fishing pier, water park, and golf courses. Affordable mid-range hotels and vacation rentals abound in the area. Many rentals are equipped with kitchens, outdoor pools and laundry facilities.
- Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
Wrightsville Beach is a relaxed beach community bordering South Carolina and only 20 minutes from Wilmington. Here most of the action off the sand can be found on Crystal Pier. Stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and windsurfing are popular, and numerous inexpensive bars and restaurants are available to refuel.
- Cape May, New Jersey
This Victorian resort beach town is a family-friendly locale for those on a budget, especially New Yorkers who will save a bundle by choosing it over the Hamptons. Almost all hotels have inexpensive rates, and activities range from parasailing and paddleboarding to brewery and lighthouse tours. This destination is less than three hours drive from the city.
- Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach offers inexpensive nightlife and golf courses along with 60 miles of sandy shoreline. Hotels offer massive pools and water park complexes, and many provide condo-style accommodations with kitchens and living rooms. Fly in or make an easy drive from cities such as Charleston, Charlotte and Augusta.
- Huntington Beach, California
Huntington Beach’s 10 miles of coastline offer an affordable alternative to more expensive beach towns such as Santa Monica and San Diego. Nicknamed Surf City USA, this town offers waters ideal for surfing and plenty of water and land based activities. Whale watching, trails and horseback riding at the 365-acre Huntington Central Park keep travelers of all ages busy.