We’re spotlighting the best summer vacations for a perfect balance of affordability and fun. After analyzing the average cost of vacation homes across the country, here’s where to go to get the most bang for your buck.
Best Budget Summer Vacations
Ask your cousin or co-worker where to spend summer vacation, and they’ll likely mention a lively city or popular beach spot. We’re all for following trends, but with increased popularity comes inevitable price hikes during summertime in many traveler-favorite destinations.
Here’s the good news: the best summer vacations don’t have to a cost fortune—especially when you book a vacation rental from FlipKey. Whether your idea of an epic getaway is relaxing on the beach, exploring downtown, or hiking backcountry trails, there’s an affordable summer destination here for you.
Prices reflect the average cost of a two-bedroom vacation rental in that destination for a weeklong stay this summer, according to TripAdvisor Rental data. FlipKey is a subsidiary of TripAdvisor.
Best Summer Vacation For: Beach Vibes with City Sophistication
Florida is no stranger to top summer vacation spots, but choose your beach wisely. The more you save on accommodations, the more you can spend on food, water sports, and boat cruises. Delray Beach’s Atlantic Avenue offers gourmet dining, eccentric cafes, and live music, while the Pineapple Grove Arts District boasts more than 20 galleries. The city strip reaches all the way to the shore, which makes Delray one of the rare destinations where the beach and downtown area are truly connected. The cost of a two-bedroom rental here is as much as $1,500 less than other Florida hotspots we analyzed.
Best Summer Vacation For: Appreciating Florida’s Scenery & Wildlife
If you’re set on a summer vacation in the Florida Keys, make it an affordable one. A two-bedroom rental in Cudjoe Key costs only $1,145 on average per week. You’ll be a half-hour drive from the colors of Key West (and save about $800 on your accommodation). Things are quieter in Cudjoe Key, where Mother Nature plays first fiddle. There are two national wildlife refuges and crystal-clear waters ideal for diving and snorkeling.
“I stayed here with a group of my girlfriends for a ‘mommy’ weekend…and it was the perfect getaway. […] We loved being close to restaurants and bars, and when we were too tired to hit the streets, we laid around in comfort all day. I would encourage all my friends to stay here.” – Traveler Review
Best Summer Vacation For: City Life with Southern Hospitality
A best summer vacation (and affordable)…in Atlanta? You bet. Yes, this major connecting hub is one of the biggest (and busiest!) cities in the region, but you can definitely enjoy it on a budget. Whether you want to sample soul food, tour iconic filming locations, or rollerblade along the BeltLine—a multi-use trail connecting 45 neighborhoods—Atlanta offers a host of activities that won’t break the bank. Rent a renovated bungalow or chic townhouse downtown for easy access to attractions like Centennial Olympic Park and Fox Theatre, a historic performing arts venue.
Best Summer Vacation For: A Peaceful Cape Cod Getaway
Located in the heart of Cape Cod, Dennis is the perfect spot to enjoy the wind and waves while catching up on a little culture in between. Take a break from the surf with a scenic afternoon drive along Route 6A—a highway dotted with renowned art galleries—or cap off a sunny beach day with a theatrical performance at the Cape Playhouse. Watch for “Free Fun Fridays” at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, a summer event offering complimentary activities for kids including face-painting and pottery-making. The Cape is one of the best summer vacation spots in the country, and Dennis provides the perfect home base.
Best Summer Vacation For: Active Days & Lively Nights
Colorado isn’t just a good winter escape. With its vibrant mix of outdoor recreation and downtown activities, Boulder offers one of America’s best summer vacations. Go tubing and boating at the Boulder Reservoir, or just lay out a picnic and relax on the beach. You’ll find live music at local venues on any given night. Check out Monday’s “Meadow Music” series at Chautauqua Park, Wednesday’s “Beer on the Bricks” at Pearl Street, or Saturday night shows at Twenty Ninth Street. (Better yet, the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre is less than 30 miles away!) And we’d be remiss not to mention Boulder’s incredible breweries. Book this guided bike-and-brews tour to experience the local beer scene for yourself.
Best Summer Vacation For: Barbecue & Brews
A summer vacation in Dallas revolves around one thing: food. When you’re spending as little as $1,181 for a weeklong stay in a two-bedroom rental, you’ll have extra cash to hit the city’s many food festivals, breweries, and steakhouses. This summer’s main event—the 31st Annual Taste of Dallas—features more than 80 restaurants, food trucks, and craft breweries, plus demonstrations from some of the country’s best pitmasters. It’s true everything is bigger in Texas… except the price tag on your vacation rental.
Best Summer Vacation For: Laid-Back Beach Fun
This walkable town is your classic seaside escape, with a popular fishing pier, local bistros and pizza shops, and affordable beach houses for rent. Be sure to tour the historic Fort Macon State Park, TripAdvisor’s top-rated attraction in Atlantic Beach, followed by a sunset meal at the Oceanana Pier House Restaurant. June also brings the Crystal Coast Music Festival straight to the sand for a unique concert experience.
Best Summer Vacation For: Seafoodies
A clean, peaceful stretch of paradise one reviewer calls “the perfect New England beach,” Wells is known for its refreshing summer temperatures, great surf, and mouthwatering seafood joints. Take an early morning walk along the dunes and keep an eye out for seals and whales during the day. Don’t miss Spiller Farm, known for its excellent produce, fair prices, and summer berry picking. At mealtime, hit Fisherman’s Catch Restaurant. “Best clam chowder in all of New England!” writes one reviewer. “Try the lobster roll!” At just $1,240/week on average for two-bedroom rentals, Wells is a more affordable summer vacation spot than other Maine staples that can cost considerably more.
Best Summer Vacation For: An Award-Winning Beach
Clearwater Beach ranked among the top five Travelers’ Choice Best Beaches in the United States in 2017. If it’s pristine sand you seek, Clearwater might be the best summer vacation spot. The city is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, which means extra entertainment and promotions all summer long. One deal you can enjoy before you even arrive? An affordable beach house from FlipKey, at just $1,244/week for a two-bedroom property. During your stay, you’ll have your pick of top-notch activities and attractions from sunset boat cruises and jet-ski rentals to craft breweries and wineries—not to mention the beach!
Best Summer Vacation For: Sports & Entertainment
Shocked to see Minneapolis on our list of best summer vacation spots? You shouldn’t be—especially given the number of family-friendly activities in the Twin Cities. Start with the annual Minnesota State Fair (located next door in St. Paul), one of the largest of its kind in the US. From the end of August to early September, nearly two million visitors flock to experience a showcase of agriculture, livestock, art, and music featuring more than 1,000 vendors and 900 free shows. The local Major League Baseball team, the Minnesota Twins, are also in full-swing come summertime, and Target Field is considered one of the best baseball diamond experiences in the country. Our recommendation: grab a pint at Cowboy Jack’s or Freehouse before the game—or just stay there and watch it on the big screen! If it’s a light sports night, catch a performance at the famous Guthrie Theater. You’ll enjoy having a vacation rental to retreat to after a day of city adventures.
Best Summer Vacation For: Leisurely Pursuits
With sunny skies and a range of outdoor and cultural attractions, West Palm Beach is one of the best affordable summer vacation spots. Enjoy a game of golf at a number of pristine local courses, or hit the beach and catch up on your reading. You could spend an entire day on Peanut Island, a popular tourist attraction with a bunker built for President John F. Kennedy during the Cold War. The island also includes a museum and plenty of picnic areas, plus biking and walking paths. For those who prefer indoor endeavors, the Norton Museum boasts an exceptional collection of American, Chinese, and European art. Famous performers appear at “The Harriet” and the Kravis Center. Of course, there’s always shopping (one of the city’s favorite pastimes). From designer boutiques to big-name department stores, West Palm has it all.
Best Summer Vacation For: Seeing the Real Music City (A Great Nashville Alternative)
While Nashville may be nicknamed “Music City,” Memphis is a pilgrimage for those who want to visit the birthplace of the blues, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll. On Beale Street, W.C. Handy put blues music on paper for the first time. Elvis, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash all recorded at the historic Sun Records Studio, now a museum with great guided tours. Graceland, the second most-visited home in America (and another tour worth your while), welcomes visitors from around the world who yearn for a peek into the life of “the King.” Beyond the music, Tennessee’s largest city combines Southern tradition and hospitality with modern amenities. You’ll enjoy great dining (don’t miss the barbecued ribs at Marlowes or Corky’s), art galleries, and exciting nightlife.
Best Summer Vacation For: Amusement Parks
Regardless of the season, it’s tough to exclude Orlando from “best of” lists. Put simply, it’s the premier vacation destination for families—and it’s becoming even more popular for adult couples looking to channel their inner child. When it comes to renting a home, Orlando can’t be beat. It’s okay to admit it: as fun as the theme parks are, spending a full day there can be quite exhausting! You’ll appreciate having a more secluded home base than an on-site resort, allowing for home-cooked meals (and more savings!) or relaxing on the patio.
Best Summer Vacation For: American History
Perhaps the best-known point of Virginia’s Historic Triangle (along with nearby Jamestown and Yorktown), the area’s heart and soul is living-history museum Colonial Williamsburg, featuring actors, educational reenactments, and 18th-century shops. Williamsburg claims to be a summer vacation “filled with freedom, fireworks, theme parks, and thrills.” Indeed, there is plenty of fun to be had here by the whole family aside from Revolutionary War history. Spend one day at Busch Gardens riding roller coasters and the next on a kayaking tour of the Chesapeake Bay.
Best Summer Vacation For: The All-American Family Trip
Myrtle Beach is one of America’s top family vacation destinations, and for good reason. Book a summer beach house to save money on the front end and spend that extra cash on memorable experiences your kids will love. Ride on the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, catch a baseball game at TicketReturn.com field, or compete in mini golf at one of 40 different courses. For top-notch amusement, check out the shops, restaurants, putt-putt, and paddle boats at Broadway at the Beach. One TripAdvisor reviewer writes, “[It has] something for everyone. There are jewelry stores, t-shirt shops, candle shops, fudge makers, and the list goes on. The kids can play in the amusement park or feed the fish in the pond. Broadway also has a movie theater and aquarium. You could really spend all day there and everyone would come away with something different.”
Best Summer Vacation For: Local Produce & Microbrews
It’s fair to say Asheville is having a moment. The vibrant city has elevated itself into one of the best summer vacation spots around the country thanks to its numerous farmer’s markets, locally-sourced food scene, world-class breweries, and proximity to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If Boulder is a laid-back session ale, Asheville is a hopped-up IPA. Start your summer stay with some outdoor recreation: a hiking tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway and surrounding waterfalls or a guided stand-up paddleboard tour on the French Broad River. Next, experience downtown Asheville, known for a restaurant scene the community nicknamed “Foodtopia.” Organic, farm-to-table, and hormone-free are a few common adjectives used on local menus. The area boasts more breweries per capita than any city in the US—each with its own unique blends and atmosphere.
Best Summer Vacation For: A Cozy, Scenic Cabin Rental
Leavenworth has become a bustling tourist destination known for its Cascade Mountain scenery, Bavarian-style alpine village, and a packed calendar of festivals and performances. Don’t leave without catching an outdoor show at the Leavenworth Summer Theater. Other top activities include hiking, birding, and horseback riding, but it’s the mountain lakes and rivers of Wenatchee National Forest that really steal the show. The variety of trout and perch is a fisherman’s dream. As hunger strikes, get a true taste of Leavenworth’s German influence with a brat and beer at fan-favorite Munchen Haus.
“The house was right down the street from the heart of the boardwalk, which was awesome! I would recommend this rental to anyone.” – Traveler Review
Best Summer Vacation For: Boardwalk Bliss
Hailed as “America’s Greatest Family Resort,” Ocean City has everything you’d want in an affordable summer escape. It’s safe (many beaches have lifeguard supervision), clean, and kid-friendly. During the summer, every Thursday is family night—think special activities and entertainment at venues all over town—and events like the annual boat parade are particularly great if you’ve got little ones in tow. Gillian’s Wonderland Pier offers rides like bumper boats, a carousel, Tilt-a-Whirl, and log flume, while the famous Ocean City Boardwalk is an all-time classic. Don’t leave without trying the salt water taffy at Shriver’s.
Best Summer Vacation For: Disneyland (And More!)
Disneyland is the main event in Anaheim, but there’s plenty more to do if you’re not the fantastical type. Catch a baseball game at Angel Stadium or taste the incredible array of foods in the Packing District, an upscale food court with local vendors. Grab a bite at The Kroft, dessert at Han’s Homemade Ice Cream, or a drink at The Hammer Workshop. If you’re seeking a Disneyland alternative—less crowded, more low-key rides—buy a ticket to Adventure City, a kid-favorite.
Best Summer Vacation For: The Quaint Tip of the Jersey Shore
In 1976, the entire city of Cape May was declared a National Historic Landmark. That’s one reason why this peaceful seaside getaway is so pristine, from the beaches and natural beauty to its architectural achievements. You can bike almost anywhere, and pedaling across town is the perfect way to take in the stunning scenery. Make sure to get a picture of the Cape May Lighthouse, and the Naval Air Station Museum is great for kids. Willow Creek Winery appeases the grape-lovers, while Cape May Brewing Company is one of the East Coast’s best breweries. Many of the rental homes—from modern bayfront condos to classic Victorian cottages—are close to both the beaches and the charming downtown scene, making Cape May one of America’s best summer vacation spots for all travelers.
This post was originally published on the TripAdvisor Rentals blog. It has been repurposed here with permission.