Make Your Escape With These 14 Affordable Weekend Getaways

By Mikey Rox on 18 October 2013 (Updated 26 October 2013) 10 comments

Some people feel that they have to travel far or spend a lot to enjoy a nice vacation. If this is how you think, you may never get away. Don't assume that a little relaxation and adventure is out of your budget. You might be surprised by the number of inexpensive things you can do and see — in just one weekend. (See also: 40+ Cheap, Fun Things to Do This Weekend)

1. Go Camping

Camping is not only easy on your pocketbook, it offers the perfect opportunity to relax and enjoy quality time with friends and family. There is no television, no computer — and depending on how deep you venture into the woods, maybe even no cell service. Take in the fresh air, talk, or simply chill. There is no better way to clear your mind and recharge your body.

2. Hit the Beach

Other than paying for parking, going to the beach is practically free. Sure, you'll have to book a hotel for one or two nights and grab a couple of meals, but you don't have to pay a dime for activities. Bring your bike or skates and hit the boardwalk, or challenge your travel mate to a game of volleyball or Frisbee.

3. City Sightseeing

Staying in the city is anything but cheap, and don't get me started on parking fees. But if you book a hotel in a neighboring suburban city and then take the train or bus, you can enjoy a cheap weekend in the city. Book a hotel in New Jersey if you're headed to Manhattan, or stay in Alexandria, Virginia if you're planning a weekend in the nation's capital.

4. Bed and Breakfast

Looking for a new experience? If so, book a weekend stay at a bed and breakfast. It's the perfect romantic getaway. Enjoy a private room and personal service. And since many B&Bs are located off the beaten path, they typically offer a quieter, more peaceful atmosphere.

5. State Fair

Carnival rides, food, animals, music and other live entertainment — there is no shortage of things to see and do at a state fair. And the best part, admission won't break the bank — $8 to $12 depending on your location. Yes, you have to pay extra for rides and activities. But you have control over how much you spend on extras.

6. Mountain Getaway

Spending a weekend in the mountains might be the prescription if you're looking for a little peace of mind. There is just about something for everyone, and many activities won't cost a cent. Enjoy a scenic drive, rock climb, hike, canoe, or mountain bike. Plus, this is the perfect location to glimpse natural scenery, such as natural bridges, waterfalls and caverns. (See also: 10 Places to Go for Inspiration)

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7. Amusement Park

Amusement park admission prices have definitely skyrocketed in recent years, with many general admission prices around $60. But there are ways to get in for less. Go online and search for discounts or coupon codes, and check the newspaper and grocery bags for coupons. A watchful eye helped me score buy-one-get-one-free tickets to both Six Flags and Busch Gardens.

8. Book a Last-Minute Cruise

If you're within driving distance of a cruise port, you might be able to save big on a last-minute cruise. For example, a four-day, three-night Bahamas cruise from Miami, Florida starts at $179 per person. Not a bad deal considering that this price includes food, entertainment, activities, plus a weekend in the tropics. (See also: Best Travel Reward Credit Cards)

9. National Park

If you're the outdoorsy type, visit one of many national parks throughout the United States. In all likelihood, you're within driving distance of at least one park. Lace up your boots and enjoy some day hiking, or pitch a tent and enjoy a night under the stars. There's also wildlife viewing, bicycling, fishing, boating, and winter activities.

10. Road Trip to Nowhere

Pack the car, choose a highway and hit the open road with no destination in sight. Pretty risky, but so much fun, as you don't know where the road will take you. Check out different cities along the way and tour landmarks. And when you're tired of driving, stop at a nearby hotel and continue your adventure in the morning. (See also: Reasons to Travel Off the Beaten Path)

11. Timeshare Weekend

I know — sitting through a 90-minute presentation for a timeshare that you're not buying is painful at best. But if you're looking for an inexpensive getaway, this might be your ticket. Sit through a presentation, and the resort will comp your weekend visit or discount the regular room rate. And sometimes, they'll toss in dinner vouchers and free tickets to local attractions.

12. Bus Tour

Why drive when you can sit back and let someone else do the work? Bus trips are an inexpensive way to break your boring weekend routine. Plus, some tours include the cost of a hotel for one or two nights. For example, you can take a three-day bus trip from Norfolk, Virginia to Atlantic City, New Jersey for just $238 per person. This includes roundtrip transportation plus accommodations.

13. Tourist in Your Own Town

You don't have to go far to enjoy an inexpensive weekend getaway. Drive 20 or 30 minutes to a neighboring area, book a hotel room and spend the weekend exploring your own city. Maybe there are local museums, festivals, outdoor entertainment, and other activities that you've overlooked. Then again, you may prefer sitting in your hotel room all weekend, enjoying a break from cooking and cleaning.

14. House Swap

Maybe you live in the city and you're looking to spend your weekend at the beach. And maybe your friend by the beach wants to liven things up over the weekend. Why waste cash on a hotel when you can swap houses? Driving to the house will be your largest expense, as there's always the option of preparing your own meals.

Do you have other ideas for inexpensive getaways? Let me know in the comments below.

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Guest's picture
Staycee

All great ideas. More "expensive" than "inexpensive" for anyone living in very rural midwestern states but still fun ideas. I only wish some of these would be inexpensive getaways for me! Camping and hitting the lake are the only ones that qualify. *sigh*

Guest's picture
Pudding

Thank you so much. This is very helpfun and right on time for the summer. There is a lot to do outdoor without spend a fortune.

Guest's picture
Karen

I love Boston. That's my favorite place to see baseball games. Standing room seats for the Red Sox are 25 dollars each. There food is more reasonably priced than Yankee Stadium (sorry couldn't resist). I always forget about wine touring. There's a good one near Newport, RI. It's reasonably priced.

Guest's picture

I am a foodie and a river lover. Most of my expenditure is on expensive foods and visiting nearby rivers for some fun.

Jennifer Holder's picture

Yes! Fairs! Being in the South, there is nothing but old timey fairs and festivals. My fave.

Guest's picture

caping is the most inexpensive way to get a weekend getaway and it is way better than wine tasting.

Guest's picture

I must have done numbers 1,3 and 8 more times than I can count. It is very calming to go for a nice hike or just sit next to the ocean even if you don't have much money to spend on anything else. I used to live right next to water at an Air Force base close to Cocoa Beach,FL and would often just sit out there on the beach in the evening hours and enjoy the beauty of it all.

Guest's picture
Scoutmaster

In the summer we go tubing down a river every week. We invite different folks to go along, switch out the picinic foods, (from fresh fried chicken to subs to bbq ribs) that we put in a cooler to float down with us, and of course lots of sodas! The only cost is our car gas to get there, as we already have the floating rafts & tubes (with extras for those who don't have any) We have extra good treats for our family fun day anyway, so it isn't much more on food.
In Florida, all seniors and disabled can camp at 50% off.
In the summer, alot of movie theaters have $1 days or tuesday date night @ 1/2 off.
At least once a month we have a "Watch fireflys and look for falling stars" duuring the summer
In the fall there are Pow-Wows to camp and have fun (most camp free)

Guest's picture

Camping is a great cheap way to entertain yourselves on the weekend. Most state or national parks have extremely low fees for campsites, and if you are near a place like the Appalachian trail it doesn't cost anything except the price of bug spray and granola bars to go camping for a weekend. Great list!

Guest's picture

bed and breakfast rates are normally way cheaper during the week, nation parks are amazing and random road trips I live for!!