10 Best Cheap Vacations in the U.S.

Stats show that these 10 U.S. destinations will tread lightly on your wallet. 

Schooner "Lady Maryland', dry docked for repairs at Chase's Warf at Fells Point Baltimore Harbor
Photo: Greg Pease/Getty Images

Being short on discretionary funds doesn't mean you can't travel — it just means you have to travel smart. One easy way to tackle budget travel is to stay domestic and stretch your dollar as far as it'll go by planning trips to affordable destinations in the U.S.

According to data pulled from Priceline's top 100 U.S. destinations, the 10 destinations below offer the most affordable average daily rates at hotels at all star levels. So, get wandering — without breaking the bank. These are the cheapest places to travel in the U.S.

1. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

USA, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Bricktown, entertainment district, dusk
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Head to Oklahoma's capital — nicknamed the Modern Frontier — for Western cowboy culture, working stockyards and oil wells, a surprisingly buzzy arts scene, and hotels averaging just $89.47 per night. It's an especially low price for a destination with a slew of new improvements and attractions like the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center, 70-acre Scissortail Park, streetcar lines, and more. There are also museums, including the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, and Oklahoma City Museum of Art, but don't miss the opportunity to attend a horse show in the Horse Show Capital of the World — many are free or priced very low.

Oklahoma City is also known for its Bricktown entertainment district, an old warehouse district that transformed into an entertainment hot spot with a scenic canal winding through it. As it undergoes further evolution, expect to see this city get hotter than ever.

2. El Paso, Texas

El Paso and Juarez are illuminated by the natural soft light under a beautiful orange sky
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Don't mess with Texas, and don't ask questions when you find a city that sports average daily hotel rates of $90.95 yet is chock-full of quality attractions like the El Paso Zoo, El Paso Museum of Art, Franklin Mountains State Park, and even the Western Playland amusement park. This Mexican border town, located on the western tip of Texas, also has some deliciously authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants, so arrive hungry. The Magoffin Home State Historic Site, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is also worth a visit, and admission costs only $7.

3. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa is the second-largest city in the state of Oklahoma and 47th-most populous city in the United States.
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Another Oklahoma city, another low average daily hotel rate (this time $93.75). Located on the Arkansas River, Tulsa will delight your eyes with its art deco architecture (mostly in the central Deco District) and your mind with its fascinating history and art, which is best browsed at the Philbrook Museum of Art. Be sure to pay a visit to the Tulsa Historical Society & Museum to learn about the city's history, including the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. And if you're driving in on old Route 66, don't miss the Blue Whale of Catoosa, a quirky roadside wonder.

4. Little Rock, Arkansas

Footpath By Pond In Park Against Sky in Little Rock
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The capital of Arkansas, located on the Arkansas River, Little Rock offers a lot to do and see. Plus, with an average daily hotel rate of $95.93, you'll have extra room in your budget for activities and souvenirs.

While the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, which has a replica of the Oval Office and presidential artifacts, is a top attraction, visitors should also check out the Museum of Discovery, Pinnacle Mountain State Park, Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, and Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, where you can learn about desegregation history. The Big Dam Bridge — ripe for wordplay jokes — is another must-visit.

5. Albuquerque, New Mexico

A hot air balloon floats over the skyscrapers of downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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There's a lot to do and see in the high-desert city of Albuquerque (New Mexico's largest), and each night in a hotel will set you back $98.54 on average. Whether exploring the modern downtown area or adobe-filled Old Town, you can expect a diverse and active destination with rich Native American influence and beautiful scenery. Make sure to include Albuquerque's museums, traditional New Mexican cuisine, and Route 66 on your itinerary. Save room in your budget for a splurge: Albuquerque is the hot-air ballooning capital of the world, making it the perfect place to experience this thrilling adventure.

6. Greenville, South Carolina

Falls Park and the Reedy River located in downtown Greenville's Historic West End.
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Greenville's thriving downtown area makes it a great place to visit, and the average nightly rates of $99.47 aren't too shabby, either. Ride the free trolleys, tour the town's multiple installations of public art pieces, and don't leave without strolling 36 acres of riverside gardens, waterfall views, and a suspension bridge at Falls Park on the Reedy, the "crown jewel" of downtown Greenville.

7. Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

USA, North Carolina, Durham, sign for Brightleaf Square, entertainment complex, set in former tobacco warehouses.
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You'll find stays for $100.18 per night on average in the metro areas of Raleigh and Durham. Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina, is known for its universities (together with Chapel Hill and Durham, the area makes up a region called the Research Triangle), but there's also great hiking, biking, and BBQ beyond the library walls. Check out the Morgan Street Food Hall and Transfer Co. Food Hall in Raleigh and the Durham Food Hall in Durham for memorable eats from the area's culinary talents.

8. Columbia, South Carolina

Drone Aerial View of Downtown Columbia, South Carolina, USA
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Columbia is the capital of South Carolina, but its hotels linger around just $101.46 per night. Don't miss the botanical garden and animals at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden, centuries of art at the Columbia Museum of Art, and the sprawling gardens at the Robert Mills House. For fun that's totally free, walk along the canal at Riverfront Park or picnic on the shores of Lake Murray. Congaree National Park is another local favorite, and kids will get a kick out of the hands-on learning experiences at EdVenture Children's Museum.

9. Baltimore, Maryland

A panoramic view of Baltimore harbor in the afternoon from the Federal Hill Park.
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For being such a major city, Baltimore's average nightly hotel rates of $102.37 are amazingly low. Make sure to visit the Inner Harbor — one of the oldest seaports in America — for shopping, crab shacks, the National Aquarium, and even a Civil War-era warship. While the Baltimore Museum of Art and Walters Art Museum showcase marvels from the past centuries, the American Visionary Art Museum offers a peek into the future (and the funky). Book lovers, meanwhile, will find a literary wonderland at the George Peabody Library. With gorgeous waterfront views and lots of museums, you can spend your days in Baltimore indoors or outdoors.

10. Somerset, New Jersey

Natirar Park in Somerset, New Jersey,
Juan David Moreno Gallego/Getty Images

Not far from New York City, Somerset County boasts hotel rates of just $102.60 per night, a far cry from the typically steep prices found in the city. The surroundings couldn't be more different, either: Somerset County has an abundance of parks, preserves, and gardens to enjoy. Head to Snyder's Farm for fresh produce and u-pick berries during the season or Jersey Cyclone Brewing Company to sample locally brewed craft beers.

Looking for more cheap places to travel in the U.S.? Here's the bottom 10 cities from Priceline's top 20 list:

11. Lexington, KY ($102.69 average nightly rate)

12. Dallas, TX ($102.80)

13. Houston, TX ($103.60)

14. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN ($103.65)

15. Des Moines, IA ($103.74)

16. Detroit, MI ($104.76)

17. Columbus, OH ($104.84)

18. Rochester, NY ($105.09)

19. Charlotte, NC ($105.25)

20. San Jose, CA ($105.73)

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