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We lead busy lives that take up a lot of our energy, time and focus, and finding time to relax throughout the course of a busy work week isn’t the easiest, but there are ways to escape the daily grind on the weekend without breaking the bank.
Finding the perfect weekend getaway to make your work week dissipate is a great way to relax, but the amount of money you can spend on a hotel, a plane ticket or an expensive activity to take your mind off can leave you cringing.
Instead of busting open your piggy bank and throwing your money at the first opportunity to get out of your hometown, take the time to consider some other weekend getaway options that will make you feel like you did the most when you did the least.
Weekend getaways can be simple and may require you to just head to the next town over, or they may require you to get out of your comfort zone and head up into natural territory where you can disconnect from social media and the rest of the world.
Depending on what type of getaway you seek, you can easily find yourself immersed in a new environment without depleting your savings and still feel like you got a five star vacation for a fraction of the cost.
10 Budget Weekend Getaways
Little weekend excursions are the perfect way to unhinge yourself from the daily stress of work and family life, and finding the right way to execute a quick trip out of town can be simple if you plan ahead wisely.
If you’re looking for the perfect way out of your weekly routine for a few days, take a moment to consider some of these fantastic ways to change your pace and let yourself enjoy life on a mini vacation this weekend.
If you live in the east coast and want to travel somewhere within driving distance, there are quite a few options for you to consider.
If you’re coming from a major hub like New York City, you’re in luck with public transportation thanks to the Long Island Railroad, the MetroNorth and AmTrack which goes to and from major cities along the north east coastline.
There are many ways to get out of NYC, but if you don’t currently live there, it may be the perfect place to go because of it’s rich history and culture.
Here are a few ideas for budget east coast weekend vacations and the best ways to enjoy your time without breaking the bank, even in NYC.
1. Boston, Massachusetts
Getting to Boston from NYC or Philly is easy enough with AmTrack, but if you’re driving you can get directly there in just a few hours from many neighboring states.
Boston offers a CityPass, which allows you to visit some of Boston’s major attractions at one low rate.
For $56 for an adult or $46 per child, you gain access to the Boston Museum of Science, the New England Aquarium, the Skywalk Observatory, and the Boston Harbor Cruise or Harvard Museum of Natural History.
To make this purchase worthwhile, you’ll have to visit at least three of the available attractions, but that is simple to do over the course of one weekend if you have your itinerary in hand and are ready to go!
Other great places to visit while you’re in Boston include Copley Square which is near the Skywalk Observatory, and the Boston Public Gardens where the infamous Make Way for Ducklings sculpture is on display.
If you’re interested in learning about the rich history of the America Revolution that Boston is a part of, you can make your way to the Freedom Trail and download an app that can act as your tour guide instead of purchasing tickets for a guided tour.
The New England Aquarium is not far from these stops, and you can easily make your way there as well within the first day of your trip.
If you’re interested in sightseeing, the Boston Harbor Cruise is a great way to get a bit of history into your trip and see where the Boston Tea Party took place.
Visit the Boston Science Museum to get your dose of interactive education and spend time learning about everything from dinosaurs to nanotechnology in the afternoon.
Boston also has great free attractions to occupy your time there, including the Lawn on D, the Boston Public Library, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Boston’s Children Museum which is $1 on Fridays from 5 to 9 pm.
For a famous town like Boston, finding room accommodations for your weekend may be the most pricey part of your trip.
If you’re alone and willing to cut corners for your sleep accommodations, consider renting a room at a hostel for a few days.
If you are weary of hostels or are not interested in staying in a communal space, consider Air BnB as your temporary housing solution.
Hotels will always cost more, but if you plan ahead or use a hotel booking service, you may be able to get a great deal on a hotel for a few weekend nights.
2. New York City, New York
If you want to visit the Big Apple, but are weary of spending hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on your trip to the city that never sleeps, there are plenty of ways to enjoy free or cheap activities in New York City.
Getting to NYC itself is easy thanks to the three surrounding airports- JFK, La Guardia, and Newark Airport in New Jersey.
There is also Grand Central Station and Penn Station if you’re taking a bus or train into the city.
Once you have arrived, there are plenty of things to do on a budget.
Getting around NYC can be costly if you take Uber or Lyft everywhere.
Instead of spending up to $10 per ride, use public transportation and download subway maps for MTA and their bus services.
You can rent a bicycle at many places in the city, but this may also end up being costly depending on where you go.
MTA fair is $2.75 per ride, and allows you one transfer from a bus to a train or a train to a bus.
To enjoy unlimited rides for the duration of your stay, you can purchase a weekly pass for $33.
This may be the most cost-effective method of getting around!
Depending on which time of year you arrive, there will be different activities for you to do.
In the summer, the city of New York comes to life with major events that have free entry for the public, including cultural festivals, live music, and food expos.
If sightseeing is one of your major desires, walking the High Line in Chelsea will give you elevated views of NYC and is free.
The High Line is just near Chelsea Market where you will find all sorts of eateries and little boutique shops to browse through.
Visiting Central Park any time of year is a great way to escape the sounds of the city and enjoy a bit of nature while staying close to the major parts of Manhattan.
If you’re visiting in spring, summer or early fall, you can easily pack a picnic and enjoy a lazy afternoon sunbathing in Central Park.
Near Central Park there are two major museums, the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Modern Art.
Both of these major museums have a suggested donation of $25 per person, but you can donate as much or as little as you’d like to gain access to the main exhibitions.
You can easily donate $1 per person and see the entire museum in a few hours.
If you’re visiting Manhattan and want to spend some time in Brooklyn, you can cross the Willaimsburg bridge by train, bike, or on foot (it takes about 20 minutes to walk over) and visit Domino Park at the Williamsburg waterfront and get an exceptional view of the Manhattan skyline.
For a guided tour, there are free walking tours of different neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn that you can join to get a little bit of culture and history packed into your trip.
New York City is known to be expensive, but if you plan ahead and choose where to eat wisely, you can spend a weekend in NYC without spending every dime you have.
3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
If you’re interested in a quick weekend getaway to Philadelphia, you can get there easily by bus, train, automobile, or plane depending on how far away you live.
Once in Philly, you can spend around $105 per adult or about $75 per child for Philadelphia’s All-Inclusive Pass which allows you access to over 35 major tourist attractions.
This is one of the best ways to see everything you want to see in Philadelphia including the Adventure Aquarium, the Franklin Institute of Science and the One Liberty Observation Deck.
If you’re looking to go the DIY route and want to check out some of the free attractions, you can easily navigate your way over to the historical Liberty Bell at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.
There’s also the Rocky Statue and Steps that were made famous by the Rocky movies back in the late 1970’s.
There’s plenty of photo ops there, and plenty more around town!
The ever popular LOVE sculpture at JFK Park is photo ready and an excellent landmark to visit.
If you’re looking for somewhere to relax and unwind while you’re on your trip, you can visit the Spruce Street Harbor near the Delaware River and sunbathe after a long stroll through town.
If you’re trying to cut corners on food costs, avoid eating in the major metropolitan areas and find the local eateries for the quintessential Philly dishes like cheesesteaks and roast pork.
Philly’s SEPTA system is their public transportation, and you can use it to navigate around town without spending extra money on cabs or using a vehicle if you’d like to conserve gas while you’re in town.
There are any lodging accommodations available, but many people use the hostels that are popular for travelers in Philly, such as the Apple Hostel or the City House Hostel in downtown Philly.
The west coast of America is full of exciting cities and towns that will bring life and fun to your next mini vacation.
There are a lot of places to go along the west coast, ranging from California’s highlights such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Jose.
If you’re a California native and want to explore outside of the state, you can travel up to Portland, Oregon or even farther to Seattle Washington.
If you want to take it south, you can go to New Mexico or Arizona and find your peace in the west coast deserts.
Here’s a look at a few west coast towns to visit for a quick getaway.
4. Pheonix, Arizona
If you’re traveling around the west coast or wish to take a little mini vacation to a quiet, relaxing place, Phoenix, Arizona may be the place for you.
There are many free or budget activities to participate in Phoenix, and a lot of great places to eat on the cheap.
Air BnB is satisfyingly cheap in Arizona, you can rent an entire apartment for as little as $37 per night!
One great activity to look into for a Phoenix vacation is the ASU Art Museum, which is donation based and you can get access to for as little as nothing to $1 if you so wish.
This museum has world class artists, including works by famous painters like Andy Warhol, and will keep you entertained for hours.
If you want a dose of nature, there is the man-made Tempe Town Lake beach park where you can walk across a color-changing bridge and watch the sun set.
If you feel like spending time being adventurous, you can ride the Light-Rail by purchasing a $4 day pass and check out all of the public art within the different stations.
This is the kind of town where you’ll need a car to get around, but if you want to explore somewhere new and keep the bank from splitting in two, Phoenix, Arizona may be the place for you!
5. San Francisco, California
San Francisco is one of California’s greatest towns.
This city is close enough to other popular areas so if you’d like to move from San Francisco to a neighboring city over the course of a weekend, all you’ve got to do is take a quick drive or train either north or south and find yourself submerged in a new environment.
If you’re interested in seeing San Francisco on foot, the San Francisco Walking Tours allows you the ability to see up to 70 different areas of the city with a free guide.
If you purchase a City Pass, you’ll be allowed admissions to major attractions, cable car rides, and bay cruises at one rate versus paying per attraction.
Alcatraz, the famous former prison that is found on an island not too far off of the San Francisco bay shore, is easily accessible by ferry.
There is not admission fee to enter Alcatraz, but there is a fee for the ferry.
South of the bay you can visit the renowned Yosemite National Park in less than a day’s drive, but it’s better to head there on your way in or out of the Bay Area if you’re driving.
Cabs and ride-sharing services can get very expensive in the Bay Area, so it’s smart to consider using the local transit system known as the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).
Fares are based on how far you travel, and the cards that are given to pay for your fares act as debit cards, so plan your routes wisely as you may over spend if you miss your stop or head in the wrong direction accidentally.
There is plenty to explore in San Francisco and the surrounding areas, making this an excellent place to visit for a weekend or if you’re on a long road trip.
You’ll be able to explore free and cheap attractions, get around fairly easily, and find places to rest your head at night thanks to Air BnB and local hostels for much less than you would pay for a hotel.
6. Portland, Oregon
Portland has become more famous in recent years thanks to its progressive society and the likes of TV shows like Portlandia.
This town is quirky, cute, fun and just might be the perfect place for you to spend a three day weekend.
There are plenty of free things to do in Portland, which makes traveling here on a budget not only a breeze but a pleasant experience as well.
If you’re in Portland, you should take the time to visit the quaint spot known as Mill End Park, the smallest public park in the world.
This park sits right by a waterfront, so after you pay your respects here, you can easily walk over to the waterfront and enjoy the natural views.
If you’re looking to eat well and support the local community during your stay, you can visit the Portland Farmer’s Market over the course of the weekend.
Readers from all over come to the Powell’s City of Books, the largest independent bookstore in existence and one of Portland’s major attractions.
Trying not to buy every good book you see is going to be the most trying part of keeping your budget in check!
If you’re loving the book theme and also want to explore some beautiful architecture, you can visit Portland’s Central Library for that classic library feel and beautiful views.
If you’re visiting in October and want to feel the spooky vibes, you can visit the Witch’s Castle in Forrest Park after a short hike.
You’ll get some fresh air, exercise, and a chance to see if the castle is haunted like legend says.
There’s so much to do in Portland and a lot of the activities are free!
You can easily make your way there and enjoy a weekend of low budget fun!
Choosing to go on a trip in land can be exciting if you’re a east coast or west coast native.
There are many parts of the midwest that are exciting tourist destinations full of adventures waiting for you to explore them.
Some places in the midwest have immense history and culture, and would make a great weekend getaway destination.
Here’s a look at some midwestern towns that will spark your interest and may send you packing your bags.
7. Door County, Wisconsin
If you live the big city life and want to go somewhere that reminds you of sleepy towns from 1990’s films, you’ll love Door County.
This little Wisconsin town is absolutely stunning, especially in the early fall where the streets are lined with trees shedding color changed leaves.
This beautiful town is a great place to get away to with your significant other, and there are plenty of things you can do in a weekend to help you get a sense of what makes this town so great.
On a small island outside of Bailey’s Harbor, you can visit Cana Island, where you can find the remains of a ship that ran aground in 1928 and climb up to the top of a stunning Cana Island Lighthouse Station.
In Door County, you can attend the Plein Air Festival in July and watch master artists create paintings right before your eyes.
If you want to enjoy the spooky side of this sleepy town, you can go on the Door County Trolley Tour and hear some chilling ghost stories and tales of horror for your amusement.
There’s plenty to do in this beautiful town, and if you’re looking for a relaxing getaway that lets you explore a calming place with a few surprises, Door County may be the place for you!
8. Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville, Tennessee is a place rich with history surrounding country music and the classic wild cowboy lifestyle.
Home to the Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville is rife with musical performances and country living ideals.
One place to experience this very culture is the Bluebird Cafe, home to many of Nashville’s famous breakout acts.
You can visit this cafe for free, but there is a $10 drink and food minimum per person to see one of the stellar performances.
If you plan to visit the Bluebird Cafe, you’ll have to make a reservation a few weeks in advance thanks to it’s popularity, but the wait will be well worth it once you’ve experienced the electric feeling of watching a live performance in this venue brings.
If you want to take a stroll through a more homey Nashville scene, you can take a stroll through the Honky Tonk Highway and intermingle with the bustling nightlife filled with music and dive bars to occupy your time.
If you’d like to get historical outside of the music scene in Nashville, there are plenty of museums and other attractions like The Parthenon which is an exact replica of the famous building in Athens, Greece.
There’s plenty to do in Nashville, and you can do so on a budget over the course of a weekend.
This town is filled with joyous music, excellent food, and places to explore.
9. Chicago, Illinois
If you’re interested in visiting the Windy City, there are plenty of ways that you can enjoy this famous city on a budget.
Chicago has it’s own CityPass which allows you to purchase one pass at a low rate and it will give you access to some of Chicago’s most famous attractions including the Shedd Aquarium, the Chicago Skydeck, the Adler Planetarium, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
This is a great way to see some of the most exciting parts of Chicago on a budget, and you’ll be grateful for the experiences!
While in Chicago, you should take advantage of the free guided walking tours that are available and explore some of the most historically rich parts of the city.
This is an exciting metropolitan area that is bustling with activities and life, and you’ll be happy you visited!
It’s a great idea to visit Chicago during its off season to avoid large amounts of tourist and the uptick in prices for attractions and things such as dining.
To avoid spending more than you need to, visit during November and March, but be prepared to brave the cold!
10. New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is famous by many accounts, including its cultural history, the food, music, and mystical legends that surround the town.
If you’re looking to visit NOLA during its most exciting season, Mardi Gras, you can expect to spend a pretty penny on food, accommodations, drinks, and attractions.
This town has all kinds of festivals throughout the course of the year that you’re able to partake in, but if you want to experience NOLA on a budget and avoid the costly expense of a great party, you can visit any time of the year and take advantage of the local life.
If you want to experience some of the history in NOLA, take a trip over to the French Quarter and stroll through this historic area laden with beautiful architecture and the Mississippi River waterfront.
You can take a stroll down Royal Street and check out some of the art galleries packed with gorgeous art.
There’s an incredible amount of things to do on a budget in New Orleans, making this an exciting town to visit.