Check Out One of These 5 Cheap Beach Vacations for Your Next Trip

Find beachside bliss on a budget in South Carolina, Virginia, Florida, California, or Texas and fly affordably.
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Written by Alisha McDarris
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Oceanfront getaways don't have to max your travel budget. Stay thrifty at one of these five destinations, known as some of the best cheap beach vacations in the U.S.

1. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

The skyline of Myrtle Beach on the Grand Strand. (Getty Images)

Long regarded as both a family-friendly vacation destination and a wild spring break hot spot, Myrtle Beach has a little something for most travelers, including those in search of a cheap beach vacation.

In addition to 60 miles of beaches, you’ll find a lot of seafood, live music and shows, and nature to explore, such as the Brookgreen Gardens and Murrells Inlet MarshWalk. Depending on your budget, you can fill your days with shopping and entertainment or simply while away the hours beachside.

Nearby you’ll find plenty of hotels, rental properties and even campgrounds, many of which are budget-friendly. In fact, you can often book a condo or hotel for less than $100 a night.

2. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Aerial view of the Virginia Beach oceanfront looking south at sunset. (Getty Image)

For more laid-back vacation vibes on a budget, head to Virginia Beach. Not that this Atlantic destination is in any way boring. Beyond suntanning, visitors can go to events like the Neptune’s Spring Wine Tasting Festival, the FunkFest Beach Party and the Pungo Strawberry Festival, which offer unique experiences throughout the year.

There are also plenty of concerts to enjoy — including free ones all summer long — and the three-mile long Virginia Beach Boardwalk offers a place to shop and dine or just wander, ride, or roll and enjoy the waterfront views.

For those who want to get outdoors, there’s camping, hiking and biking trails, with miles of waterfront to explore via kayak or paddleboard.

As for where to stay, you can likely find hotels — yes, even beachfront properties — for around $100 a night. It’s a great option for a beach vacation on the cheap.

3. Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Florida

Lauderdale by the Sea near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Getty Images)

If it's a small-town, old Florida-style relaxation that appeals to you, avoid the more expensive cities of Fort Lauderdale and Miami in exchange for Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.

You’ll still be close enough to drive to these lively hotspots if you’re craving more vibrant nightlife, but you’ll stay and play for a lot less (about $130 per night as opposed to $200 or more per night).

Plus, this smaller seaside town is more walkable, there are no high-rises to block your view of the ocean and there’s plenty of beach to stretch out on and enjoy.

Divers and snorkelers will find coral reefs just 100 yards off the sandy beach, perfect for an afternoon of underwater exploration. Visitors can peruse the farmers market at El Prado park fall through spring, take free dance lessons at the popular Beach Pavilion and explore the many places to shop and dine. There’s even a free Pelican Hopper bus so visitors can quickly and easily pop from attraction to attraction.

4. Huntington Beach, California

Aerial view of Huntington Beach, California. (Getty Images)

Located in Southern California between San Diego and Los Angeles, this beach destination offers a welcome retreat year-round, and for much less than those nearby metropolises. And for those looking to surf and stay on a budget, it’s likely a more suitable choice.

Huntington Beach is known as Surf City, USA, but even landlubbers can find things to do. Check out the Huntington Beach Pier for a seaside dinner, fishing or just strolling and enjoying the coastal views. Relax or play on 10 miles of beachfront during the day, then light a fire in one of the beach bonfire pits on the sand as the sun sets.

Peruse the shops and dining options downtown or visit the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve for some birdwatching. Take a whale-watching tour, rent a bike or do as the locals do: grab a board and hit the waves. You can even sign up for a surfing lesson.

Expect to shell out around $130-$150 per night for decent budget-friendly accommodations. This is still less than the average per night in Los Angeles, which is closer to $200 or more per night for a beachfront hotel in Santa Monica.

5. South Padre Island, Texas

South Padre Island, a coastal resort town at the very Southern tip of Texas. (Getty Images)

Texas beaches often get a bad rap when compared to more traditionally idyllic destinations like California or Florida, but for adventure-seekers, South Padre Island offers city amenities close to wild and wonderful oceanfront.

A veritable mecca for kiteboarders and windsurfers, these southern shores are a great place to catch some air from the water and even take a lesson or two if you’re the adventurous type.

Likewise, driving and camping on the sand along the beach anywhere north of Beach Access #5 is not only welcomed, it’s encouraged (but a 4WD vehicle is recommended for much of it).

You can visit the South Padre Island Birding, Nature Center and Alligator Sanctuary, listen to live music at waterfront restaurants, go fishing or just catch some rays and build sandcastles on the beach. There’s even free transportation to many beach access points.

In addition to a number of campsites, you can also book less rustic accommodations for less than $100 a night (though more luxurious stays are also available).

Cheap beach vacations, recapped

Affordable beach holidays can be found in many places, you just have to choose your destination wisely. Avoid large metropolises or more popular beach destinations, instead opting for smaller towns on the outskirts. Your budget will thank you for it.

Stretch your dollar further by booking lodging closer to your trip dates (if you’re willing to risk it) and flying on cheaper days.

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