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Touring different parts of the United States is a great way to travel on a budget. After all, the U.S. has many different terrains, climates and subcultures to experience. But America’s major cities are expensive and they aren’t getting any cheaper. Looking for a more budget-friendly way to see our country? Take a road trip through less expensive, up-and-coming cities. You’ll come back from these unique vacation destinations with some great stories, an undrained bank account and a lot of unique pics.

Travel On A Budget

Below is a list of cities where you’ll get more bang for your buck compared to the conventional, mainstream destinations. Any one of these exceptional road trip ideas is sure to satisfy your wanderlust.


Enter St. Louis. It’s got craft breweries, deliciously rustic food and quirky charms—just like Portland only a lot cheaper. To experience the best of old St. Louis charm, stay in The Grove neighborhood. The Gateway Arch is an engineering marvel no visitor to St. Louis should miss. And if you love being outside, Forest Park has all the charm of Portland’s smaller public parks. Looking for a cool tour? Anheuser-Busch may not be headquartered in St. Louis anymore, but you can still get a free tour of its brewery. Plus, the city’s art museum is free to all, and you can even catch a major league baseball game in St. Louis.


To get your very own Texas experience while traveling on a budget, try Amarillo. Located on Historic Route 66, there’s plenty to explore. If you’re a fan of Americana, spend time in the Route 66 Historic District. If you love the outdoors, hike Palo Duro Canyon or have a picnic in Forest Hill Park. And don’t leave town without a photo shoot at Cadillac Ranch—a bunch of old Caddies buried in the Texas dirt. Want a unique souvenir? Stop by Lile Art Gallery from some local folk art to bring back home. If you love a bit of culture, visit the home of Buddy Holly in Lubbock, Texas. It’s just a two-hour drive away.


Oklahoma City hasn’t yet hit the big time. While the city has recently acquired an NBA team, it still has lots of room to grow. The landscape is breathtaking and there are museums galore: The Museum of Art, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and the Science Museum Oklahoma complete with an immersive planetarium. If you’re a country music fan, check out Edna’s, the bar where Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert filmed their music video for “We Were Us.” To escape the midday sun and enjoy a tasty sandwich, eat lunch at The Mule. Or for something different – waffle sandwich, anyone? – check out Waffle Champion. And all coffee lovers should get the best cup of brew in town at Elemental Coffee Roasters.


Wait… snow in Arizona? Don’t let Flagstaff’s spot on the map fool you. Its weather acts more like Seattle’s than the Sahara’s. And, yes, you can ski there—and for a fraction of Aspen’s price tag. Plus, there’s much more to do. Escape from civilization and get an out-of-this-world experience when you visit Lowell Observatory to stargaze unhindered by city light pollution. If you visit Flagstaff in one of the warmer months, be sure to tromp around the largest Ponderosa Pine forest in the lower 48. For an outdoor experience with a bit of ancient history to boot, visit Walnut Canyon National Monument and Wupatki National Monument.


If you love old city charm and throwbacks to mid-century America, try Detroit. Once the engine of the American economy, Detroit is back on the rise. Don’t miss seeing this city’s comeback (and evolution) first-hand. Local artisan companies like Shinola are bringing jobs back to the urban core. You can still see the remnants of Detroit’s Golden Age in places like Hitsville, USA (home of Motown and the museum dedicated to it), the Detroit Historical Museum (admission is free) and the Renaissance Center. And if you appreciate architecture, visit the Guardian Building, the Fisher Building and the Detroit Masonic Temple. Don’t forget your camera.

Going off the beaten path not only saves you money, but also delivers unique vacation destinations. So go ahead, take that road trip.

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