Need to Escape the Cold? The Best Warm-Weather Destinations You Can Visit on a Budget

Source: @meganstokes
Source: @meganstokes

If you’re itching for some sunshine, longing to ditch a few layers of clothes, and daydreaming of days by the water, a warm-weather getaway may be just what you need. But jetting off to a beach or a fancy resort can be expensive! With the right destination and some savvy cost-saving measures, however, a relaxing vacay is totally within reach. Thanks to the popularity of direct-to-renter sites like Airbnb and VRBO, as well as budget-conscious travel websites like and Google Flights, destinations once thought of as much too pricey are no longer off-limits. For a sunny escape that won’t break the bank, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite affordable warm-weather destinations within the U.S.

1. Outer Banks, North Carolina

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The Outer Banks is far more than the name of a buzzy Netflix original based on the area, though if you’re a fan of the show, living out your Pogue fantasy might be another reason to add it to your must-see list. There are tons of things to do across the various islands that make up the OBX—including climbing sand dunes, hunting for shells, visiting lighthouses, and even diving to explore the many infamous shipwrecks. With plenty of public-access beaches and affordable accommodations, the Outer Banks is a budget-friendly way to get your ocean fix, especially if you visit during the off-season.

2. San Antonio, Texas

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If you don’t mind skipping the beach, San Antonio is the perfect city destination that offers a little bit of everything without blowing your budget. With an incredibly rich culture, the city boasts several historical sites to explore, including The Alamo and San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. You can also cruise down the San Antonio River Walk on a boat tour, shop around the Historic Market Square, visit the Japanese Tea Garden, and, of course, enjoy the city’s famous Tex-Mex cuisine.

3. Charleston, South Carolina

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Charleston may not immediately come to mind when you think of affordable warm-weather destinations, but this southern belle of a city has a lot to offer on the cheap. The city itself is basically a living museum, and one of the best ways to experience it is with a walking tour. Whether you’re into history, architecture, or paranormal activities, you’ll find no shortage of local guides ready to show you the sights. If you’d rather wander on a self-guided tour, don’t miss the pastel-colored mansions of Rainbow Row, the shopping at Charleston City Market, or the sunsets at Waterfront Park. For a day trip away from the city, head south to Folly Beach where you can cool off in the water or lounge around back on land.

4. San Diego, California

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Living there is another story, but visiting southern California can be quite affordable. Consider a trip to San Diego to revel in picturesque beaches, outdoor adventures, and incredible food—all of which won’t cost you a ton. If you’re into gorgeous scenery and marine life, La Jolla should be at the top of your itinerary, while outdoorsy types will love hiking in Torrey Pines State Park. And whatever you do, don’t skip the fish tacos!

5. Miami, Florida

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South Florida has a rep for being pricey, but the truth is that you can definitely enjoy Miami and its surrounding area on a budget. A quick search on VRBO shows gorgeous properties you can book for as low as $200 a night, even in some central areas close to the beach! If you rent a place with a full kitchen, you can prepare most of your meals at home to save some money and spend your days at the free beaches or nearby pool. Plenty of nightclubs also have cover-free nights and drink specials so you can “party in the city where the heat is on” and not spend thousands doing so!

6. Savannah, Georgia

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If you’re craving some balmy weather with a side of small-town charm, it doesn’t get much better than Savannah. Even during the coldest part of the year, the temperatures there still average around 60 degrees, and there are tons of no- or low-cost things to do in and around the city. Start with a stroll through Savannah’s Historic District or Forsyth Park for a dose of history. Between the ornate architecture and the moss-draped trees, you’ll feel like you’ve been dropped into another time and place. Then hit up River Street to shop and snack your way along the waterfront and catch the free ferry to Hutchinson Island for great views of the city. For some beach time, head to the nearby Tybee Island, an idyllic beach town surrounded by golden sand and beautiful blue water.

7. Key West, Florida

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If you haven’t been, the Florida Keys are basically the Caribbean of the United States. Think calypso music, palm trees, fresh seafood, fruity cocktails, and gorgeous, crystal-clear beaches. You can find an affordable beachfront resort to enjoy or, for even more savings, opt for a rental property a bit off the beaten path. You’ll still feel like you’ve been transported to the tropics while saving money and enjoying a bigger, quiet space. Oh, and Key West is ranked as one of the warmest cities in the U.S.!

8. Las Vegas, Nevada

Source: Pexels | Solvej Nielsen

With no shortage of reasonably priced flight deals and hotel packages, Las Vegas is definitely an affordable warm-weather destination. The bigger question is: How can you not blow your budget when you get there? Gambling aside, you don’t have to look too far for deals in Las Vegas. Bars, clubs, and restaurants frequently offer promotions and special events, so even if you stay away from the slots and tables, you can still enjoy all Vegas has to offer! Be sure to take long walks up and down the strip to take in all the sights and sounds.

9. Pensacola, Florida

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Known as the westernmost city in Florida, Pensacola is a gorgeous coastal town with the perfect combination of luxe beaches, rich history, and fun city life. Spend your days swimming and sunning at the beach, or walk around the vibrant downtown area for some delicious food and drinks. Pensacola is also home to some incredible wildlife. Just try to avoid spring break times, as it can be quite the hotspot!

10. Dallas, Texas

Source: Pexels | Nate Hovee

Grab your cowboy boots and head on down to Dallas for a great budget-friendly destination with warm weather, lots of history, and plenty to keep you busy (or not busy at all, if that’s your thing!). Hot tip: Book a CityPass that will get you discounted admission to some of Dallas’ must-see attractions, including the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Reunion Tower GeO-Deck, Dallas Zoo, George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum, or the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. If sightseeing isn’t your thing, spend your days window-shopping and enjoying the warmth and your nights sipping local beers, indulging in delicious barbecue, and enjoying live country music.

11. New Orleans, Louisiana

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While it may not be known for its beaches, New Orleans is an excellent contender when it comes to warm-weather getaways on a budget. Better known as The Big Easy, this Louisiana hotspot has endless hotel options and home rentals—and even some decent hostels! The warm, humid climate pairs well with a plethora of cool cocktails, deliciously seasoned food, live jazz music, and tons of history. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

12. Sacramento, California

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If you live on the other side of the country, flights to the West Coast may be pricey, but once you’re there, you’ll revel in the capital of California and all its warm-weather glory. With an average year-round high of 73 and a mid-summer high in the upper 80s, Sacramento has so much to offer that you can experience for free—yep, free! You’ll find tons of museums, tours, festivals, biking trails, and other day trip excursions to keep you busy and in the green. 

13. Yuma, Arizona

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For some fun, Wild West vibes, head to the southwestern city of Yuma. Go boating or tubing along the Colorado River, take in all the historical sites, and visit the Imperial Sand Dunes. If you’re an animal lover, be sure to hit at least one of Yuma’s three national wildlife refuges. A bit off the beaten path for traditional tourists, Yuma is a great option for those looking to keep warm and stay busy!