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The Top 8 Most Expensive Tourist Destinations In The U.S. May Shock You

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There’s no escaping the fact that international travel is expensive – it always has been, but in the post-pandemic world you have to be extra savvy to avoid paying over the odds.

For some, the solution to that may be to try taking a trip somewhere within their own country – something that millions of Americans do every year.

However, a domestic adventure can sometimes still rack up the cost.

Woman looking out over pool in San Diego, California

If you do want to look after the pennies, then a recent ranking of the most expensive tourist destinations in the U.S. compiled by finance company GOBankingRates will definitely be of interest.

The study calculated which destinations are the most expensive by measuring metrics such as food and drink costs, the average nightly rate for the least expensive hotels in the area, and the average cost of air travel.

While there are some cities you might expect to find on a list like this, the end result may be a little surprising for some, here are the top eight:

1. Aspen, Colorado

This mountain town is famous for its skiing, but if hitting the slopes isn’t your thing, there is still plenty to do in Aspen, with luxury hotels and great restaurants.


2. Seattle, Washington

A popular hub in the northwest of the United States, Seattle is not only a vibrant place but also a gateway to some great weekend getaways out of the city.

skyline of Seattle in the sunset

3. Key West, Florida

Probably one of the most popular destinations in the Florida Keys, Key West features stunning beaches and a packed schedule of festivals and events.

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young couple relax on florida beach at sunset

4. San Diego, California

A great fall and winter destination thanks to its warmer climate, San Diego is ever-popular among American travelers, with a good range of off-path things to do too.


5. Boston, Massachusetts

One of the most historic cities in the U.S., Boston attracts many international tourists as well as those from within the country. It’s packed with big-name attractions and also wonderful hidden gems.

george washington statue in boston public gardens

6. Charleston, South Carolina

Award-winning restaurants, quiet beaches, and more museums than you could possibly imagine – Charleston has a lot to offer the curious traveler.


7. Hilton Head, South Carolina

This beautiful island is a great way to sample some of the best beaches on the Atlantic coast and also some of the best golf courses too.

woman walking along beach in hilton head

8. New York City, New York

The ‘Big Apple’ will always be an expensive place to go, but those who have been will always tell you it’s worth it – especially when you try some of its secret tours that can show you another side of the city.

young woman with camera on brooklyn bridge new york

How To Stay On Top Of Your Spending

There are plenty of easy ways to look after the pennies on a U.S. trip.

Something as simple as using public transport instead of taxis and Ubers can really save you money.

Often buses, trams, metros, and overland trains are much cheaper ways to get around, and with slightly slower paces, you may even get to see more of the place you’re exploring.

NEW YORK CITY. The No. 7 subway train running between 33 Street and 40 street station. Empire State Building and New York skyline lit up in the background

Another solid idea is to make a note of all the free things to do in the city you’re headed to. Think museums, parks, and historical attractions.

Another money-saving tip is to mix up the types of accommodation you use. In different cities, it might be hotels, hostels, or Airbnbs that come up cheapest.

Try to stay flexible and explore options you wouldn’t normally use to snag a great deal.

If the place you’re staying has a kitchen, then stock up on some food from a supermarket so you can make yourself lunch each day and save on eating out.

young couple eating sandwiches

Lastly, make sure you plan ahead and have a budget. It also helps to make backup plans in case something doesn’t happen quite how you expected it to, so you don’t end up making a rash decision that could cost you more.

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