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How To Save Money When Visiting These 7 Expensive U.S. Vacation Hotspots 

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For many people, the summer brings the opportunity to travel and explore places near and far, to kick back poolside, or wander unfamiliar streets, and try new restaurants.

With a large number of Americans planning on traveling stateside, certain domestic destinations are coming out on top as the ones favored the most. 

woman looking out over bridge

While there certainly isn’t a shortage of great places to visit across the USA, there are some places that travelers seem to favor more than others, with price being a big factor in where they choose to go. 

A new study has looked at many of America's top travel hotspots, based on various travel site rankings, and found which locations are the most expensive for a vacation. 

Factoring in the average costs for things such as food and drink bills, the nightly rate for the three least expensive hotels in the area, and airfare, rankings were determined to see which U.S. vacation hotspots have the biggest impact on your wallet. 

uincy Market dates back to 1825 and is a major tourism destination in Boston.

One thing to note is that the accommodation prices analyzed here are for July, which is, of course, high season. So while traveling in the off-season to any of these places is a surefire way to save drastically, we won’t mention that here, as that doesn’t help those who are looking to travel this summer. 

While the cities that ranked the most expenses for a vacation are indeed pricey, it’s important to remember that no matter where you’re headed, there are ways to cut costs.

From free attractions to discount hunting, let’s look at the ways you can cut some costs if a visit to one of these trendy locations is in your future plans. 

Here's How To Save Money When Visiting These 7 Expensive U.S. Vacation Hotspots:

1. Key West, Florida

Average cost for a 3-night July vacation for 2 adults: $2,321

Despite its ranking as the most expensive holiday spot in America, there is plenty to do in Key West for those on a budget. Take a self-guided walking tour, and enjoy some local music for the price of a cocktail in the evening.

Check the events calendar to catch one of the many events that take place around town, or simply head to the waterfront to stroll and take in some spic sunsets, and if you are lucky enough, you might witness the local phenomena of the green flash, we won’t spoil the surprise here. 

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@followmeaway Promise you can do Key West on a budget!! #keywest #WomenOwnedBusiness #florida #budgettravel #tiktoktravel #traveltiktok #floridacheck #thingstodo #vacationmode ♬ Disney – Steven Esso

2. San Diego, California

The average cost for a 3-night July getaway for 2 adults: $2,193

With beaches that are often rated the best in the country, the obvious free thing to do in San Diego is lounge in the sand and enjoy the waves. But, for those who get tired of the beach, there are many options inland that won’t break the bank.

If you are there on a Sunday, you can enjoy a free outdoor organ concert in the famous Balboa Park. Explore the dunes at Torrey Pines State Park, stroll along Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier, or hit up one of the many farmer's markets for free samples and local eats.

Also, the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art’s location in La Jolla offers free admission, so keep that in mind if you are looking to get inside and under some AC. 

@lonelyplanet A day in San Diego on less than $20. How do you think I did? #travel #lonelyplanet #budgettravel #sandiego #cityguides ♬ original sound – Lonely Planet

3. Seattle, Washington

The average cost for a 3-night July getaway for 2 adults: $1,988

Seattle is having a big year, and many travelers are looking to head to this iconic west coast favorite this summer. While it can be pricey here to eat and drink at all the tourist haunts, if you widen your search you can find some cheap (maybe even free) things to enjoy.

Catch a free outdoor movie at one of the city’s parks, oftentimes playing back-to-back features. What better way to spend the evening than with a cheap picnic under the stars and the big screen?

The city is also home to loads of street fairs, summer festivals, and music fests, many of which are free to enjoy, so make sure not to miss these as well. 

@ratchelinseattle Perfect activity for these chilly fall months! ✈️ #seattle #seattletiktok #washington #washingtoncheck #museum #museumofflight #wa #fyp #fall #autumn #happyhour #datenight ♬ if you ask me to – charli d'amelio

4. San Francisco, California 

The average cost for a 3-night July getaway for 2 adults: $1,925

San Francisco is expensive; there is no denying this fact. However, in this favorite vacation spot, there is always something to do that won’t break the bank, from outdoor concerts to mural exploring, free attractions are plenty in the summertime.

A walk along the world-famous San Francisco bridge is always free, and don't miss taking part in a free walking tour (but do remember to tip your guide!) One new thing to see is the city’s newest free park, the Presidio Tunnel Tops, complete with a free shuttle.

Another way to save in San Francisco is by taking advantage of the city’s numerous happy hours, where everything from oysters to champagne is half off in many places. 

@abackwardglance Pt. 1 of the free and cheap things i did while i was in san francisco! Everything did was completely free except the pastries from La Reyna which were $4 for a huge bag of 6-7 pastries! #sanfrancisco #exploratoriumsf #minesottastreetproject #mcevoyfoundation #themission #lareynabakery ♬ Feels Sped Up – Chillos

5. New York City, New York

The average cost for a 3-night July getaway for 2 adults: $1,886

The city that never sleeps might be notoriously expensive for a vacation, but the silver lining is the never-ending free things to do in this urban jungle.

A stroll along the high line doesn’t cost a thing and offers some great views, and walk along the iconic Brooklyn Bridge before chilling at the large waterfront Brooklyn Bridge Park, taking in the views with some cheap famous NYC street food.

Traveling with kids, or just need to cool off? Head to one of the many public pools, beaches or splash pads. Finish your day with one of the many outdoor movies played everywhere from parks to rooftops. 

new york city skyline on a sunny day

6. Aspen, Colorado

The average cost for a 3-night July getaway for 2 adults: $1,871

Aspen might be a winter holiday paradise, but it’s not too shabby in the summertime either. While it cannot be considered the off-season for Aspen, you can find some ways to make your summer getaway to the Rocky Mountains a bit cheaper if you look hard enough.

Most of the budget-friendly ways to enjoy Aspen in the summer involve hiking, mountain biking, trail running, and pitching your tent in the few free campsites that are still available. Use some of the city’s free shuttles to move about during the day, and then hit the town at night.

Many restaurants in town have live music in the summer, meaning you can sit outside enjoying some great entertainment and views for the price of your meal or drinks. 

@visitaspen Planning a trip to the Maroon Bells this summer in Aspen? Our pro tip- take the shuttle! With multiple times per day, easy access and pickup, don't sleep on your chance to witness these epic views! #aspen #aspenco #aspensummer #maroonbells #maroonbellscolorado #hiking #hikingadventures #hikingseason #mountaintown #mountainadventures #summertravel #traveltips #traveltiktok #summeridea #tripinspo #vacationmode ♬ original sound – aspenco

7. Boston, Massachusetts

The average cost for a 3-night July getaway for 2 adults: $1,861

Boston is arguably one of the best cities for a summer trip on the east coast, and yes, accommodation and waterfront lobstah rolls can be very expensive.

But there are so many walking tours you can take for free around the different neighborhoods that those looking to save a bit shouldn’t write the city off.

Visit some of the many museums for their free admission days, and check out some of the city’s free summer concerts for a cheap night out. 

@nowstartsnow The Boston Public Library is gorgeous, serene and FREE. #exploreboston #boston #sightseeing #bostonpubliclibrary #thingstodoinboston ♬ Pure Imagination – Kathleen

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.