Everybody has a vacation wish list, especially when the weather turns cold and daydreaming about warmer days becomes something of a hobby.
As you search around online, you begin to get a little click-happy with so many sites advertising the “best-priced family vacation.”
Only, in the end, you realize their price doesn’t quite match your budget. But don’t lose hope!
Here are five truly affordable vacations you can take right now that will give you fun, sun, and satisfaction.1. New Orleans, Louisiana
It may surprise you to know that New Orleans has more to offer than just Mardi Gras. In fact, it’s a great place to visit during any of the winter months.
In the summertime, Louisiana is hot and humid. Like drinking thick, swampy air humid. Trust us, there’s nothing easy about summer in the Big Easy!
But in January, the temperatures average to a high of 63 and rarely drop below 40 at night. That leaves you to enjoy warmer days and cooler nights.
And there is plenty to do and see that won’t cost a penny.
During the day, admire the historic and unique architecture that makes up the French Quarter, or take a free fitness class with ‘Move Ya Brass’. You’re sure to have a blast moving to the jazzy beats that put New Orleans on the map.
Afterward, go cool down at The Country Club. For just $15, you can take a dip in the pool and order frozen cocktails at the poolside bar.
If the kids are in tow, then the Audubon Zoo is a must. Admission is $18.95 for adults and $13.95 for children, but with rare animals such as an albino alligator and the endangered Whooping Crane, it’s worth every penny.
In the cool of the night, check out the live jazz and blues bands at the bars along Frenchman Street, usually for free of charge. Additionally, most bars will offer cocktail and appetizer specials during the week.
Want to dig a little deeper and explore all that New Orleans and her rich history has to offer? You can read about the unique blend of cultures and traditions you’ll find in the Big Easy here.
There are also plenty of reasonable accommodations in New Orleans to choose from, but you’ll get the most bang for your buck staying in a hostel. For just $35 a night, the IHSP French Quarter House is a great choice and is located right in the French Quarter. They even offer free breakfast each morning.
While the thought of staying in a hostel may sound scary, Proud American Traveler tells you everything you need to know about staying in one. We promise, the benefits are totally worth getting out of your comfort zone!
If you have a bit more to spend, then the Catahoula Hotel located in the Central Business District is a great option too. This original and historic Creole townhome offers “boutique” rooms for $100 a night—a great deal for such a charming place to stay.
And for an authentic taste of New Orleans, grab dinner at Café Maspero on Decatur Street by the river. Their menu offers an array of seafood dishes at prices that stay well within your budget.2. Kingston, Jamaica
Does relaxing on a Caribbean beach and sipping mojitos sound like a vacation only a famous actor and his model girlfriend can afford to take?
Well, truth be told, Jamaica is one of the most affordable exotic getaways you can find. Not only that, but you’ll be treated like royalty, as Proud American Traveler has previously shared with our readers.
And Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, offers many of the unique qualities that make Jamaica so captivating.
There are beautiful beaches with several all-inclusive resorts, like Iberostar Rose Hall, that provide accommodations, food, and entertainment for as low as $199 a night. Or, stay at one of the smaller hotels like Shotover Gardens Estate for as low as $30 a night.
Be sure to check out The Bob Marley Museum while you’re here and learn how this reggae icon came to influence generations all over the world. And if you’d like to explore more of the island of Jamaica, renting a car is also an option well within your budget.3. Valparaiso, Chile
According to Forbes, Valparaiso, Chile is known as the “Jewel of the Pacific.” This city is full of life, colorful art, and bohemian music that’ll have you swaying your hips long after you’ve come home.
With temperatures averaging at a balmy 82 degrees in January, Valparaiso is the perfect place to visit in the winter months.
Enjoy a sense of adventure and go horseback riding along the vast Chilean countryside for just $50.
Hang out at Playa Canelo and have a picnic lunch on the sand with blue waters and sailboats off in the distance.
Experience a night of dinner and dancing at one of the most popular eateries, Bar Cinzano. Offering Creole and Chilean cuisine, as well as live tango music, you’ll have an evening full of laughter and fun at an affordable price.
For a quiet evening out, feast on a dime at Antojitos Mexicanos Valparaiso on Bellavista Street. Enjoy authentic cuisine in an atmosphere that makes you feel right at home.
Hotels are also amazingly cheap in Valparaiso, with the quaint Pontoval Bed & Breakfast costing only $25 a night.
Public transportation is also available to see all the city has to offer in culture, food, music, and art.4. Cooperstown, New York
If you love the charm and nostalgia of small-town USA, then Cooperstown is what you’re looking for.
Known as baseball’s birthplace and for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum (which celebrates their 80th anniversary this year), Cooperstown is the perfect getaway to take your mind off the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Stroll down the small streets past the quaint shops, cafes, and antique stores. Wander around Cooperstown Farmers Market and check out their locally grown produce, fresh breads, and artisan cheeses. The freshness will taste unbelievable and the prices will blow you away.
After lunch, enjoy a beer-tasting at Brewery Ommegang for only $10—a fun way to spend a leisurely afternoon.
And for dinner, dine at Origins Cafe with entrees costing around $12. Or, class it up a bit and reserve a seat at the Blue Mingo Grill. Entrées run around $30, but the food is locally sourced and freshly made—with a fantastic view of Otsego Lake.
For the evening, stay at The Railroad Inn, a historical landmark that offers cozy rooms for only $85 a night.
In the end, the peaceful farm country of Cooperstown will have you feeling rested and tranquil, like you stepped right into a Mattie Lou O’Kelley painting.5. Tulsa, Oklahoma
Not many people would think of Tulsa as a vacation spot, but it’s a great place to take the family.
Tulsa offers many new experiences you won’t find in other cities, while still maintaining that unique country charm and hospitality.
For example, the Gilcrease Museum in downtown Tulsa is home to the largest collection of art from the American West. At about $9 a ticket, you can go back to the good ole days of cowboys, tumbleweeds, and saloons.
There are also plenty of terrific independently owned restaurants to try, but Tally’s Good Food Café on Yale Avenue is an absolute must. This classic Route 66 diner comes with checkered floors and serves up greasy, but delicious, classic American food. Order the pizza fries first and then take it from there.
And if you want to blow the kids minds, take them over to the Gathering Place, Tulsa’s riverfront park. It’s free and has several awesome play structures, like a pirate ship and banana slide, as well as interactive art, concerts, and boat rides.
You can also rent a bike to sightsee or use public transportation.
Stay at the stylish rooms at Good Gracious Inn, located just outside the city’s center, for only $45 a night.
All around, Tulsa is a great vacation that will cost you less than one afternoon in New York City!
Sometimes we just need a break from the stress of work, the kids’ sports schedules, and those voices in our heads telling us we can’t afford to get away for a few days.
But now that we’ve told you where you can find a great escape that’s easy on the family budget—and won’t dip into your summer of fun savings—all you have to do is choose where to go!
Please let us know in the comments section if you have been to any of these places and what you enjoyed most about them!