Beaches are among the most popular summer vacation destinations where travelers can find a mix of relaxation and fun activities. Whether you enjoy laying out in the sunshine, searching for seashells, swimming, snorkeling or just walking along the beach, there’s typically something for everyone. Watching and listening to the waves crash on the shore can really help you relax and unwind, away from life’s everyday stressors. But some of the costs associated with a beach trip — including dining, attractions and accommodations — can really add up. To help make your next getaway more budget-friendly, we’ve rounded up some tips for finding the best deals.
Tips for finding beach vacation deals
While the cost of a beach vacation has the potential to get pretty high, there are many ways to find more affordable options for everything from meals to lodging. Travel industry experts generally recommend that you book as far in advance as possible, but if you’re willing to take more of a risk, you may be able to find last-minute deals within a week or two of your trip. Check online travel agencies like Expedia, Hotwire, Travelocity and Orbitz — they often have last-minute promotions to help beach resorts and hotels fill available rooms.
To save on dining expenses, try to find a hotel or resort with onsite dining that offers free breakfast or other meal discounts for guests. Some hotels that cater to business travelers host weekday happy hours, so you might find options that throw in free afternoon drinks or snacks. Extended-stay hotels often come equipped with a kitchen, allowing you to save money by cooking a few of your own meals instead of dining out.
One easy way to save on attractions and activities is to search for free things to do at your destination. If you struggle to find fun, free activities, look out for coupon books and discount offers for out-of-town guests. However, activities are one area where you might be willing to splurge a bit to make sure that your vacation is filled with memorable experiences.
Affordable beaches in the U.S.
The United States boasts 95,471 miles of shoreline and a lot of opportunities for finding beautiful beach vacation destinations. Let’s take a look at some of the most affordable options from coast to coast.
Huntington Beach, California
Huntington Beach is known as Surf City USA, a spot where people of all skill levels come to ride the waves. If you’re not a fan of surfing, join other beachgoers as they relax in the sunshine along 10 miles of sandy shores. You’ll also find plenty of food stands along the beach, sand volleyball games and even bicycle rentals.
Pensacola Beach, Florida
Are you looking for a beach in Florida that’s far enough away from the mega resorts and theme parks? Pensacola is a popular destination for relaxing on the beach along Florida’s stunning Gulf Coast. With milder temperatures, white sand beaches and crystal-clear water, the area draws in sunbathers, fishermen and boaters alike.
West Palm Beach, Florida
Are you looking for some non-beach activities while on your beach vacation? West Palm Beach has options for the entire family. In addition to some serious outlet shopping, there’s a 23-acre zoo. The area is also home to a theater, the Norton Museum of Art and free outdoor entertainment like live music on Centennial Square.
Tybee Island, Georgia
Tybee Island, located near Savannah, Georgia, is a popular spot that is known for its warm, gentle waters. Whether you enjoy riding a bicycle as you explore the island, watching dolphins, checking out the sea turtles (be careful not to disturb a nest), going for ice cream or simply wading and swimming in the warm water, you can’t go wrong with a beach vacation at Tybee Island.
Ocean City, Maryland
Ocean City is a classic beach with a bit of nostalgia. You’ll find a carousel, wooden boardwalk, arcade games and beachgoers flying kites. Enjoy theme park fun at Trimper’s Rides, which touts itself as being “the longest running family-owned carnival in America.” A visit to this vibrant beach town will make you feel like a kid again.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach offers more than 60 miles of beautiful beaches to enjoy, in addition to a variety of activities like surfing, parasailing and Jet Ski and Banana Boat rentals. Available accommodations range from hotels and resorts to condo rentals and campgrounds. The area also boasts a variety of family-friendly entertainment options, including a 5D theater, Ripley’s Aquarium, a trampoline park and the famous SkyWheel along the boardwalk. If you’re looking for nightlife, there are plenty of fun bars and lively restaurants here, too.
South Padre Island, Texas
South Padre Island is a hidden gem at the southern tip of Texas. It offers 34 miles of white sand beaches and beautiful clear water. Locals know that the island is a popular party spot for spring breakers, but there are also plenty of family-friendly activities to do in the area. Some of these include fishing, surfing, snorkeling, kiteboarding and bird and dolphin watching. Those who want to skip the activities and just relax on the beach won’t be disappointed either.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
This popular beach destination can be very budget-friendly if you enjoy camping. Staying at a campground in a tent or RV can help you save money compared to the cost of a hotel. And, you can even walk to the beachfront from the campground — a great way to avoid some of the summer beach traffic. If you do want to stay in a hotel, consider staying farther away from the boardwalk to save some money.
Save on transportation
When you’re planning a budget-friendly beach vacation leaving from Chicago or Denver, hotels, dining and entertainment aren’t the extent of your expenses. You also have to think about how you’ll get there. Save time, stress and maybe a few dollars by booking with Avail car sharing. Your trip is protected by Allstate insurance and 24/7 roadside assistance for added peace of mind. Brush the sand off your feet and hop in to get to your next beach destination.