Millions of Americans travel during the holiday season. The holidays are notorious for being an expensive time to travel, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get away for a little rest and relaxation.
Fortunately, there are places you can visit during the holidays without breaking the bank — for under $100 a day. Click through to see 10 options for fun, frugal Christmas getaways.
1. Santa Fe, N.M
New Mexico is known for its picturesque landscapes and natural beauty. Its capital, Santa Fe — which is also the oldest capital city in North America — has a rich, vibrant cultural history. It’s also great for a Christmas getaway, as many hotels are more affordable during this time, and the weather is much cooler.
When in Santa Fe, travelers can tour local art galleries, visit the Georgia O’Keeffe museum for $12, shop at the El Museo Cultural Winter Market and eat lunch at Cowgirl BBQ. Budget-minded travelers can stay at the Silver Saddle Motel for around $50 per night, with breakfast and Wi-Fi included.
2. Myrtle Beach, S.C
You can have an affordable beach vacation in Myrtle Beach, S.C., for your Christmas getaway. Myrtle Beach is part of 60 miles of beach on the Atlantic coast, known as the Grand Strand. It offers a reprieve from cold weather, with an average high around 60 degrees in December.
“People underestimate how cheap a beach vacation can be. If you live within driving distance of a beach, you could easily spend a few days in the sand for less than $100 a day,” said Greg Johnson, founder of Travel Blue Book. “Try renting a condo off of Airbnb and hitting up the local grocery store for dinner and snacks. Since the beach is free (usually), you can easily keep your costs down if you rent the right place.”
For some holiday fun, explore the Festival of Trees at Ripley’s Aquarium for $31.99 per person, which showcases 75 festively decorated trees. Walk down the Myrtle Beach boardwalk and visit I Love Sugar — a 6,000-square-foot candy store — or hop on the Skywheel for $13 per person.
3. Bend, Ore
If you want some outdoor fun with the amenities of a city, Bend, Ore., might be your getaway of choice. It’s a great option for those wanting to explore the Pacific Northwest — it’s less rainy than Portland or Seattle and offers a cozy community vibe.
Lodging options start around $65 per night at Days Inn, including Wi-Fi and continental breakfast. Visitors can take a free brewery tour at Deschutes, go hiking along Tumalo Creek or around Smith Rock State Park, or stop by Mount Bachelor for some fun in the snow. Want to stay indoors? Check out the High Desert Museum for $12.
4. Oaxaca, Mexico
Oaxaca, Mexico, is full of artists and artisans, markets and museums. You can stay at the Hotel Casa Arnel for approximately $41 per night for two people. For $30, travelers can take a three-hour tour of Monte Alban, where you’ll see pyramids, rock carvings, temples, altars and ancient paintings. The price includes round-trip hotel transportation and a professional tour guide.
The Casa Oaxaca el Restaurante comes highly recommended by the Los Angeles Times, with entrees starting at $8. Then, you can visit the Graphic Arts Institute of Oaxaca, which features work by local, national and internationally renowned artists — and admission is free.
5. Moab, Utah
If you’re looking to detox from all things digital, you can explore the great outdoors in Moab, Utah. Moab offers many outdoor activities for frugal-minded travelers.
You can rent a variety of bikes for about $55 per day from Poison Spider Bicycles and hit the challenging sandstone Slickrock Trail. For a cheaper option, consider hiking. There’s Arches National Park, which costs $10 per person. There are also many great trails outside of state parks with free admission, including Culvert (Dragonfly) Canyon, Hidden Valley, Left Hand, Corona Arch and Morning Glory Arch Canyon.
One fun indoor activity is the Hole N” the Rock House, a 5,000-square-foot home with 14 rooms, a bathtub built into the rock and other notable features. The price of admission is $6 for adults. You’ll get a 12-minute guided tour of the house and access to an exotic zoo featuring zebras, bison and other animals. As for lodging, the Red Stone Inn — located a few miles from Arches National Park — has rates around $55 a night for two people and $5 per extra person.
6. Branson, Mo
Branson, Mo., is a vacation destination in the Ozark Mountains. There’s a lot to see at Branson Landing, an outdoor area that includes shopping, dining and entertainment. During the holidays, it’s decked out with a 50-foot Christmas tree, and children can visit with Santa in his Christmas Tree House.
Explore some history and board the Titanic at the Titanic Branson Museum; the box office rate for adults is $27. For a nature fix, you can visit the Dogwood Canyon nature reserve near Branson — a “10,000 acre paradise.” Adults and children can hike from $9.95 to $14.95, and explore waterfalls, bridges and more.
Rooms at the Westgate Branson Woods Resort start at $44 per night with advance purchase. The property has a pool, playground, basketball court and fitness center.
If you want to escape the cold and have some fun in the sun: Bienvenidos a Miami. The city has an average high of 76 degrees in December, and you can stay at an Airbnb starting at $55 per night.
Instead of letting the holidays stress you out, relax with free yoga classes at Bayfront Park near the water. For your arts and culture fix, several museums offer free admission, including The MDC Museum & Galleries of Art + Design, The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum and the Bay of Pigs Museum.
8. Norfolk, Va
For people who love all things nautical, Norfolk, Va., might be the place for a holiday vacation. It’s home to a sailing center, several museums and the world’s largest naval installation. Visitors can stay at the Days Inn Norfolk Military Circle where rooms start at $51 per night with breakfast and Wi-Fi included.
Start your trip off with a tour of the Battleship Wisconsin, a WWII battleship permanently docked next to the Nauticus National Maritime Center on Waterside Drive. Admission is $13.95 per adult. Other Norfolk attractions include the botanical garden, for $11 per adult, and the Virginia Zoo, for $14.95 per adult.
One fun destination is the Mermaid Factory, where adults and children can make their own mermaid creations. Prices start at $12, including a studio fee. A portion of every sale will be donated to organizations that benefit arts in the city of Norfolk and youth in the Tidewater area.
9. Colorado Springs, Colo
This beautiful Colorado city, just south of Denver, has many things to discover on a Christmas getaway. Visitors can stay at Crestwood Suites Colorado Springs, with rooms starting at $54.99 per night.
Red Rock Canyon is a beautiful place to hike, and admission into the park and visitor center is free. You can visit the Colorado Springs U.S. Olympic Training Center, for $5 per adult, to see where some of the world’s greatest athletes have trained. You can also get into the holiday spirit with the Christmas events at Glen Eyrie Castle. A tour costs $9, and you can get tea and a tour starting at $28.
10. The Open Seas
If you want a vacation where you can sit back and relax, a cruise might be for you. Cruises are typically all-inclusive vacations that include food and entertainment. Also, you get to see many sights and only have to unpack once.
“It’s a fun experience, especially with family,” said Stewart Chiron, a cruise industry expert known as The Cruise Guy. “Great food, fun times and no dishes to clean.”
Chiron suggested Holland America Line Maasdam — a nine-night Eastern Caribbean from Miami starting at $699 per person — but there are many holiday packages to choose from. The only way you can spend more than $100 per day is if you opt for expensive extras.